3. Applications to Open Government

Open government data is a sort of civic capital, a raw material that can be transformed like a diamond in the rough into something far different and much more powerful. While the first chapter covered examples ranging from public safety to airline flight delays, this chapter dives deeper into the sorts of applications that engage citizens with their government or improve policymaking.

The applications in this chapter are divided into four groups:

  • Sunlight as a disinfectant. The first group of applications focuses on using access to government information to weed out corruption in government.

  • Democratizing primary legal materials. In this group applications focus on the direct benefit to the public of access to legal materials, such as access to the law itself.

  • Informing policy decisions. Some information, especially demographic data, helps us understand our own communities better.

  • Consumer products. Applications in this group are products that bring open government to a wide consumer (non-wonk) audience.

These are by no means the only sorts of applications of open government data. Others are described in Chapter 1. The focus of this chapter is applications that use open government data for the purposes of open government.

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