Next American City » Columns » To Build or Not To Build (Custom Apps)
To the delight of open government advocates everywhere, an increasing number of cities and towns across the country (and around the globe) are embracing the idea of open data. Yet, data itself is usually just a starting point, and while there are usually a handful of people happy to have access to raw numbers, simply publishing a data catalogue online is not exactly helpful to most citizens. To make open data worthwhile, you need worthwhile applications that use the data in question. Thus, the issue most cities encounter once they’ve decided to unlock their data is what to do about applications. Anyone interested in open government has probably come across some very cool applications that make use of public data (some fun examples here, here and here). Yet, building applications can be expensive and complicated, and many cities lack the budget and expertise to commission such projects (let alone ensure that they will result in useful tools). So most cities have sought out help from third parties.