Communities for Innovation #KMWorld

KMWorld 2013Speaker: Jeanne Holm, Evangelist,, General Services Administration

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: The U.S. government’s open data site,, has blazed a trail for openness, transparency, and innovation. With more than 400,000 datasets from 180 agencies and many U.S. cities and states, the U.S. open data platform provides a wealth of information for citizens, researchers, and entrepreneurs. However, at the heart of is a blend of data, information, and KM principles and practices that provides a platform for innovation. The expression of this is the communities—17 topical areas focused around national priorities such as energy, health, and education. These communities (including allow collaboration amongst citizens, developers, analysts, data journalists, government officials, and business owners to get data into the hands of citizens to help them make better informed decisions.


  • Sharing Government Data
    • Is now required to be the default (with respect to open and machine-readable data) = Project Open Data
    • It is intended to empower people to make better decisions
    • It is an incredible, free collection that allows individuals and businesses contribute to economic growth
    • Enhances learning and development
    • Creates transparency and openness
    • Kickstarts innovation
  • Communities of Practice are key to helping with the change management that is needed to release, spread and interpret data
    • the CoPs are organized by topic: Agriculture, Safety, etc.
    • Some CoPs are organized by specific use cases: Japanese tsunami, earthquake and radiation monitoring, etc. (Real-time earthquake monitoring data is one of their most popular data sets.) They already had lots of sensor nets; they were able to use data and apps from the EPA.
    • They had a data jam to figure out how to help people in an hurricane. They created a bulletin board capability to contact loved ones (see the Red Cross’ hurricane app) and created a means to identify alternative routes when the roads on Google maps are washed out.
    • USAID food security challenge:
  • Open Government Initiative = Project Open Data
    • focuses on transparency and citizen engagement
    • if  you are a researcher that is funded by the government, then any research you do (and the supporting data sets) must be published and available citizens for free. (This has been hugely disruptive for academic publishers such as Elsevier.) The only exception is data that needs to be screened or redacted for personal privacy or national security reasons.
    • The Project Open Data policy is publicly available and can be amended by citizens online. This level of transparency can lead to problems for government agencies that are trying to manage under that constantly changing.
  • Open Data is an Ecosystem
    • it involves a host of players, policies, procedures, technologies, etc.
    • they sponsor open exchanges with citizens
      • question and answer forums at the new Open Data Stack Exchange (They have an arrangement with Google that approved answers will be promoted in Google search results)
      • they host data jams and data paloozas at the White House
        • data jams collect and clean data
        • data paloozas celebrate Open Government wins
      • they connect on a variety of social media platforms (github, Twitter, quora, etc.)
    • Data collections:
      • 100,000 Federal data collegtions
      • 349 citizen apps
      • state, city,  county, local data collections
    • They use open source code that they have made available to local and state governments that want to adopt the Open Data Policy
      • New York state is one of the leaders: they have 6500 data sets available to the public so far
    • All the data is federated to facilitate search
  • How the open data is being used — here are a few examples:
    • NOAA weather data and the Air Force’s GPS capability power billion dollar industries
    • data that rates recovery rates at specific hospitals is fed into the iTriage app so once the app helps you do an early diagnosis on your health condition, the government data will tell you which hospital is best for your condition.

2 thoughts on “Communities for Innovation #KMWorld

  1. Thanks Mary, great conference and glad to be able to share what so many in the open data ecosystem in the U.S. have been doing.

    1. Jeanne,

      Thanks for a terrific presentation. The work and you and your colleagues are doing is impressive. It was fabulous to see the good uses to which the data have been put. I look forward to hearing more about it.

      – Mary

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