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Federal CIO's aim is government data as accessible as iTunes music

Apr. 5, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel wants to make free government data accessible online and via mobile devices as easy as downloading music on iTunes.
Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel wants to make free government data accessible online and via mobile devices as easy as downloading music on iTunes. (Thomas Brown / Staff)

Citizens should be able to download free government data online as easily as they download songs on iTunes, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said Tuesday.

The first step in offering such services online and via mobile devices is to open data on health care, energy and other subjects to the public. That means "to digitize everything that we do as the new default," VanRoekel told government and industry workers at the Federal Office Systems Expo in Washington.

The administration plans to revamp the website http://www.data.gov/">data.gov this year and change how it builds, consumes and delivers data across the board, he said. This is an opportunity to break down silos of application development across government. VanRoekel said agencies have provided access to data on government websites, mobile applications and other formats, but those solutions aren't interoperable.

The administration also is expected to release a governmentwide mobile strategy early this month to improve delivery of government information, products and services.

VanRoekel also used the music website Pandora, which provides listeners with suggested songs based on their music preference, as an example of how to help citizens use government data.

How can government help the public find related data sets across agencies? "We need to think about government, really, as a platform," said VanRoekel.

He wants to see more systems built around government data, similar to the applications the Weather Channel and others have built using weather data.

His goal is for government to serve as the "middle layer" that provides access to data in new formats on which the public can develop new uses, he said.

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