In 2009, the United States General Services Administration created the home of the US Government’s public data. Under the OPEN Government Data Act, government data is required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats while ensuring privacy and security. Agencies began publishing various datasets for the public to use, giving birth to a movement of people building software, data applications, and digital services with public code and data.
Data.gov was built with open-source software to advance open data accessibility starting at the federal government. Anyone, including local, state, and foreign governments, is welcome to borrow the code behind Data.gov. However, we recognized that federal and state data don’t always match up in terms of priority and formatting, which can impact businesses that depend on these services to operate. That’s why we created DataGovs, which is built on top of the data.gov framework with the goal of advancing the tooling needed to help businesses observe data in compliance with shifting regulatory frameworks. Our focus continues to be helping data teams observe data to focus on growth over compliance in industries that rely on state-level government data policies. Some industries folks do not know comply with this including transportation, cannabis, insurance, and more.
Data itself alone is of not value if there is no way to measure and monitor its quality of it. Depending on which industry you are in this can differ. We have seen advances in criminal justice as strong indicators that problems solve using open data and public code can create impact effects. For example, ClearMyRecord.org is an open tool designed around helping with automated expungement of records, including 155,000+ marijuana convictions in the state of California. Others have adopted the code and in some cases designed this tool to bring similar efforts locally or to their state. But the need for businesses to ensure they comply with Cannabis regulations varies depending on the state. Tools like DataGovs help businesses navigate the policies so businesses can grow and recognize the quality of data towards their data-driven aspirations. Similarly in public safety, BadgeWatch.org is an open tool for police disciplinary records that anyone can copy. But being able to pull and determine the quality of data in each state with public police records takes efforts like DataGovs.com.
The concept of building a for-profit initiative on a service that governments offer is not new. Healthcare.gov and HealthCare.com are perfect examples of this. HealthCare.com raised over $188M in its effort to create a health insurance marketplace that was privatized. In parallel, OpenGov takes on the concept of Open Governments to provide infrastructure to support various levels of government in their operations. Some efforts will directly be focused on mirroring government services using private operations for consumers or businesses to continue to exist.