In September of 2008, Vivek Kundra (then DC CTO, first Federal CIO) asked iStrategyLabs how we could make DC.gov’s revolutionary Data Catalog useful for the citizens, visitors, businesses and government agencies of Washington, DC. The Data Catalog contains all manner of open public data featuring real-time crime feeds, school test scores, poverty indicators, and is the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.
Our answer was to hold an innovation contest where we put the data in the hands of our talented citizens, and gave them cash prizes and recognition for their efforts in developing technology for their neighbors and city government. We therefore created Apps for Democracy – a contest that cost Washington, DC $50,000 and returned 47 iPhone, Facebook and web applications with an estimated value in excess of $2,300,000 to the city.
Apps for Democracy has inspired similar movements in over 50 countries and cities around the world.