September 14, 2009 By Chad Vander Veen
The Roy and Lila Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government announced today that Washington, D.C.'s Data Feeds: Democratization of Government Data was among six finalists to win the Innovation in American Government Award.
D.C. Data Feeds was initiated by the district's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO). Former D.C. CTO and current federal CIO Vivek Kundra spearheaded the project, along with Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chief Procurement Officer David Gragan. The program houses raw data from government agencies in the district's Citywide Data Warehouse. From there, the data is supplied to 325 multi-agency, live data feeds, which citizens can access and subscribe to via RSS.
The Ash Institute selects winners based on four criteria:
The institute said D.C. Data Feeds met the criteria while also using government data to raise civic awareness through program-supported Web sites like the Digital Public Square and the D.C. Data Catalog.
"I think it is hugely important and very different. Many of the most valuable things that governments have done with technology have been to put services online. It's been a huge benefit to the public, who don't have to stop what they're doing and go into government and stand in line and get told they forgot the form and that whole routine," Jerry Mechling, faculty chair of the Kennedy School's Leadership for a Networked World Program, told Government Technology.
D.C. Data Feeds also supports the district's popular Apps for Democracy initiative, which lets citizens access the Citywide Data Warehouse to create Web programs and applications. From iPhone apps to Facebook, Apps for Democracy has helped citizens better connect with government and delivered millions of dollars in estimated value to the district.
The Ash Institute also praised D.C. Data Feeds for its ability to enhance government transparency and accountability.
"The district's Citywide Data Warehouse allows residents to hold their government accountable," Fenty said. "By providing district residents with the resources to make highly informed decisions, my administration can more directly align the services we provide with district residents' wishes."
Other winners honored today include:
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.