Brainstorming a better commutehttp://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/01/brainstorming_a.htmlNYC BigAppshttp://www.nycbigapps.com/Apps for Democracyhttp://www.appsfordemocracy.org/Data.govhttp://www.data.gov/There are a number of ways to deal with all the publicly available data on the web. Some use it to keep politicians honest, some use it to help develop meaningful housing policies, while others track trains and buses. These are only a few of the potential uses, and governments around the world have been challenging developers and other wonkish types to create new and dynamic applications using large and small data sets released for general consideration. It's a trend that is gaining traction in Britain, Australia, and the United States. In the past year, a number of government entities in each of these places have released data dealing with housing starts, general economic trends, and population figures. Much of this can be attributed to an increased desire for transparency among average citizens, and leaders are hoping to deliver via this exchange of information. This commitment and initiative has resulted in some interesting projects, and a recent contest held by Washington, DC resulted in almost 50 creative applications. Projects from around the world include mashups that map the location of public toilets in Australia and applications that track buses and trains in Boston.The first link leads users to a recent article from The Economist on the subject of public data, government transparency, and innovation. The second link leads to a recent piece from the Boston Globe which talks about the results of a recent initiative sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and MIT's Center for Future Civic Media. The initiative was designed to spur new products and projects that draw on transit data released by the state of Massachusetts. The third site will take visitors to the homepage of New York City's "BigApps" initiative, which has a similar focus. The fourth site leads to the excellent homepage of Washington, DC's Apps for Democracy initiative. Here visitors can learn about the winning applications and view a video about the project. The final link leads to the new Data.gov portal website, which provides access to hundreds of datasets created by various entities within the United States government.


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