Skip to main content
Return to Blog

The Open Data movement is primed to fundamentally shift the paradigm on how citizens interact with their governments. This will be the primary focus for the upcoming gathering of government officials and tech startups: the Accela Engage 2014 conference in San Diego, CA from Aug 4-8.

As of now, state and local governments have been utilizing antiquated data management technologies, which have historically made it difficult for the average citizen to access public information. However, this may not be the case for much longer.

For example, San Francisco, CA, is one city that’s paving the way towards a more efficient, convenient, and open government via the city’s Entrepreneurship-In-Residence program.

This revolutionary new approach is guiding the city of San Francisco against the status quo, placing the task of managing public data in the hands of capable private sector companies. However, instead of outsourcing to overseas firms or using major Fortune 500s to handle the project, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, has called upon smaller local startup businesses.

Open Data Mapping Toward the Future

Accela, a company that provides public sector data management and technological innovation for hundreds of government agencies, is hosting the San Diego conference at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. The overall purpose of the event will be to help train, teach, and network with the brilliant minds that will be attending the conference.

Buildingeye, one of the six startups that were selected by the city of San Francisco, will be attending Accela Engage 2014. The company’s mission is an ideal example of what the Open Data movement is hoping to accomplish.

Essentially, Buildingeye is a web app that receives planning application data (building permits, code enforcement, etc.) from the public sector –and then pins it on a map that’s accessible to anyone with web or mobile access. The map itself is available online 24/7, and it’s easy to use.

So for instance: if a corporation wanted to setup a superstore in a certain area, then local citizens could confirm that the permit application exists through Buildingeye and then react accordingly.

Ciaran Gilsenan, a civil engineer by trade and founder of Buildingeye, has been working to standardize access to this patchwork of data that’s currently being managed by municipal governments. The issue is that, while this data is freely available to the general public, the means of accessing it is inconsistent from city to city. Unfortunately, municipalities with outdated systems become a roadblock in the push for nationwide public data access standardization. It’s an obstacle that makes for inefficient democratic process and government administration, and it also stunts the growth of the local economy.

Revolutionaries For a 2.0 Government

Buildingeye has a vision to provide everyone, regardless of location or municipality, with 24/7, easy access to permit application data. This will require a major shift in the national dialogue, from within the local town hall to inside the DC beltway. Even though the technology exists to accomplish the mission, some municipalities are still hesitant to spend their budgets on the infrastructure needed for standardizing access to public information.

However, the Accela Engage 2014 conference is but a smaller part of a much larger national movement, as the demand for more convenience, efficiency, and accessibility to government information and services continues to grow. Also, it’s going to further solidify the national referendum: this is a common sense issue, a bipartisan platform, and bureaucrats must act now. The only obstacle hindering this transition is government’s natural lack of human, tech, and budget resources.

But that’s essentially why municipalities like San Francisco are putting highly innovative and motivated startup entrepreneurs to the task. It’s because the transition to an Open Data-operated government will happen faster, better, and for far cheaper, than if governments attempted it without private sector assistance.

Innovators Innovating and Brilliant Minds Being Brilliant

The highly anticipated Accela Engage 2014 conference is going to bring private sector entrepreneurs into contact with public sector innovators, facilitating a unique opportunity for progress. The conference’s topics will include:

  • Efficient land management
  • Licensing & case management
  • How the government manages assets
  • 24/7 government apps, services, and integrated data mapping
  • Payment options for government services
  • Civic engagement and insight
  • Movement from paper to web-based apps
  • Software and government app creation

Change We Can Measure

The government’s tech problems in the last decade alone have provoked citizens to demand more out of their tax dollars and the politicians they put into office.

However, the nature of the Open Data movement is not purely reactive to the obvious issue of inefficient and obsolete means of accessing public information and government services. It’s a proactive approach to tackling huge technological challenges, facing Americans in the 21st century.

A sense of excitement and anticipation is throwing the Open Data movement into high gear, and because bureaucrats are passing the baton to startup entrepreneurs and innovators – there is a very real sense that measurable progress can be made very soon.

This blog post was republished with permission of the author. You can read the original post here.


Open Data
Return to top