This is from US Deputy CIO for Open Government Beth Noveck:
Inspired by the President’s call for more open government, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts launched its data catalogue, following in the footsteps of Washington, DC, San Francisco, New York, and elsewhere around the country (as well as cities in Canada and the UK), to provide public access to information by and about government. What makes this exciting is not merely having transportation information available in machine-readable formats, but that professional and amateur enthusiasts can then get together, as they did last weekend, to create new software applications and data visualizations to better enable public transit riders to track arrival times for the next subway, bus, or ferry. Publishing government information online facilitates this kind of useful collaboration between government and the public that transforms dry data into the tools that improve people’s lives. (For another great example, check out what happened when we published the Federal Register for people to use.)
As my colleague John Wonderlich wrote earlier this year in a post about the importance of Recovery.gov, “The Internet has been recognized as having a central — even fundamental — role in enabling oversight and public access.” In the case of the state and city level bulk data you can make the case that the Internet is also being recognized as making people’s lives easier. Just ask anyone in here in Washington, D.C. about checking Metro and bus arrivals online or on your iPhone or Android. There is a large amount of information that our city releases that can be turned into useful applications that make the lives of Washingtonians easier. If you don’t live in New York or San Francisco or Toronto or Vancouver or any other city that has bulk data access, you should really be advocating for it.