The Sunlight Foundation announced a new competition today called Apps for America. This mashup contest follows in the footsteps of recent competitions from the District of Columbia and the UK Government’s Power of Information Taskforce.
The contest is run a little differently in that the mashup must be based on one of the APIs below, and be released under an open source license.
- Sunlight Labs API
- OpenSecrets.org API
- FollowTheMoney.org API
- Capitol Words API
- Sunlight Labs API Lawmaker Dataset
- Sunlight Labs API Lobbyist Dataset
- Sunlight Partytime Database Dump
The first prize is $15,000 which is slightly less that the Showusabetterway or Apps for Democracy contests. Nevertheless, if the results are anything like those achieved by the District of Columbia – 47 Applications being built in 30 days, and an estimated 4,000% return on investment – it’ll be well worth the money.
Jimmy Wales recently outlined one of the ‘core components of a structurally sound, technologically savvy federal government’ as openness of information. These kind of contests, along with the fantastic work of the Sunlight Foundation provide an opportunity to – as Craig Newmark recently commented – ‘Free the nerds‘. Giving others the opportunity to mashup and remix data using publicly available APIs can create – in Ellen Miller’s words – ‘magical‘ things.
Tom Steinberg’s recent post on the Top 5 Internet Priorities for the Next Government identified the Freeing of data as a priority:
Free your data, especially maps and other geographic information, plus the non-personal data that drives the police, health and social services, for starters. Introduce a ‘presumption of innovation’ – if someone has asked for something costly to free up, give them what they want: it’s probably a sign that they understand the value of your data when you don’t.
Liz Azyan wrote a good post recently about Mashups in Government. This covers work from mySociety and other parties, in the area of exploiting Government data to great a more transparent and innovative Government/Citizen relationship.
Such competitions and the resulting applications can only serve to advance the prioritization of free and open access to Government data across a wide spectrum of public life.