June 1st, 2010
12:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Companies capitalize on 'open government'

Washington (CNN) – Ronald Reagan is the father of Foursquare. At least that's what O'Reilly Media CEO and founder Tim O'Reilly said in his keynote presentation at last week's Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington.

In 1983, President Reagan signed an executive order making global positioning system technology, known today as GPS, available for public use.

That decision ultimately enabled new location-based social networks such as Foursquare or Gowalla to use GPS technology and change the way friends interact with each other. Reagan's opening of the GPS data to citizens was an early example of "open government."

O'Reilly co-produced the Gov 2.0 Expo, which brought together government officials, venture capitalists, large technology companies, entrepreneurs and individuals to discuss the latest trends in how the government is using transformative technologies to foster further innovation.

"Government 2.0" is defined, according to O'Reilly, as "making use of web 2.0 technologies to transform government" to be more transparent and efficient. Web 2.0 technologies include social media networks and "cloud computing."

The Obama administration's early commitment to openness with government information has made Gov 2.0 an emerging business sector in America.

"Data is available to anyone who wants to do something with it," said Mark Drapeau, the Director of Innovative Social Engagement at Microsoft and a co-chair of the Expo. "The government does not have all the ideas and skills, but citizens have all the opportunities due to new and open technologies."

Palantir, a data management firm, deployed their software to fuse the disparate public data sets about the stimulus package that the government dumped online. The government hired Palantir to mine the stimulus data for instances of fraud.

"The administration put out all this data to be transparent to citizens, we help government make use of it," said Palantir engineer Alex Fishman, who contributes to the Recovery Board's searching for corruption. "We took all the data and can quickly find the relationships between people and companies that fraudsters try to hide."

Larger companies are also contributing to the Gov 2.0 movement. Cisco is working to create easier ways for the government to work and collaborate more efficiently using "cloud computing," an on-demand way to securely deliver information and content from any connected device, from anywhere in the world.

Government agencies use Cisco's cloud computing to increase efficiency, improve agility, and collaborate more effectively - thereby lowering costs.

Since the Obama administration has made federal data more readily available, more and more companies are competing to build the most innovative resources for both the government and the public.

"The pace of technology is accelerating so people outside government can be more involved in public service," Drapeau said.

Filed under: Government 2.0 • Social Media • Social Networking
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