TransparencyCamp: Three Challenges


With TransparencyCamp kicking off this weekend, I want to issue a challenge to the entire open government and transparency community to help solve three big, easy problems. Starting this weekend, I’d like us to plan how we’re going to solve these problems, and to have them solved them all by July 4th, 2010. We’ll call it “Data Independence Day.”

These ideas need full participation from as many people as possible and as many ideas as possible to get the best result. As such– in conjunction with Phil Ashlock (who is awesome) over at TOPP Labs (who are awesome) we’ll be working on these not only at TransparencyCamp here in Washington, DC but also at OpenGov West (which is awesome)

Here are the three big problems I want us to solve together:

  1. Build an Open Data playbook. An instruction manual for people inside government to teach them how to open their data. This would range from dealing with the bureaucracy to convince the organization to go “open” to dealing with the technology one needs to go “open”. The resulting document– a 20-40 page HTML/Word/PDF could be given to people inside the government, inside NGOs and inside corporations to help them deal with the tactical issues of going “OpenData”.

  2. Build an open and shared resource: compile a list of all jurisdictions and elected officials in the country. Make it so that the entire community can share in this common resource, and make it so that we can count in it being updated when it needs to be updated. This constantly evolving dataset will support a tremendous number of municipal, state, and nation-wide projects.

  3. Come up with a data exchange format for data catalogs. As we prepare the National Data Catalog for release, and begin to write importers, it’s clear we need to have a model like Google did with GTFS. Let’s create a basic file format for data catalogs, agree to use them so that our platforms will be interoperable, and get government to use it, too.

These three problems can be solved by our community. They can’t be solved by any one organization, or any one person. They need leadership, community, and focus. They’re not hard problems, they just need our focus and attention for a few weeks. Together, we can get organized and make it happen.

Who is in?