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Sunlight Labs Offers $25,000 For Apps 59

Andurin writes "With the launch of, Sunlight Labs is offering $25,000 in prize money for developers who create apps that use newly-released federal government data. is paving the way for citizens to become more engaged with their government, by providing for the first-time a clearinghouse of federal data in developer-friendly formats. The Apps for America 2 contest aims to find the best applications that rely on, whether it be a client application, an iPhone app, or data visualization. Also, the first, second and third prize winners will receive airfare and hotel placement for a trip to Washington DC. While in Washington, DC, they'll attend an awards ceremony at the Gov2.0 Summit by O'Reilly Media and TechWeb."
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Sunlight Labs Offers $25,000 For Apps

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  • I applaud this effort. We need more contests like these to help promote open information access, and ultimately gain a competitive edge over other countries. (I'm looking at you China!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kramulous ( 977841 )

      Don't just look at China. Getting tax-payer funded data out of any government in Australia is impossible. Each government department just protects their own interest.

      I applaud this effort as well. Credit where credit is due.

    • As do I.

      Now what would really be nice is allowing the public to access NOAA [] real-time data from all of their research sites and present it in a manner than Joe Sixpack himself can appreciate (you can from some agencies but not in a nice parse-able format).

      The sheer amount of data these labs have / collect is amazing. IMHO if we present this data so 'everyone' can reach it, then maybe we can excite more youngsters in a science based education or career.
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:36PM (#28058961)
    "Wanna find the targets in the US most vulnerable to terrorist attack? There's an app for that!"
    • by emag ( 4640 )

      "... you just won't be able to take a video of them, or send an MMS"

  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) <> on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:52PM (#28059163) Homepage

    ...'FBI Most Wanted' Concentration []. Pretty clever!

    • I love the easy to read design [] once you click any of those links. I know, I know. Work in progress.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

        What's wrong with an RSS feed? Looks good to me...

        • Wow, I must have been asleep at my desk-completely misread the description of what that was linking to. I must have been expecting the description of how it worked within the link, I don't even know. I'm blaming the 12-5 happy hour at my work.

  • I'm wondering, is it possible that by using all this data, the government is in essence, spying on back on us, monitoring the usage of the data?
  • Crap data (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yold ( 473518 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:01PM (#28059263)

    Wow these are some amazing data sets . []

    It is limited to geological, environmental, and weather datasets. Ohh yea, and the usability of the website is about as good as you'd expect from the government.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )

      Yep. It's spending and campaign contribution data I want to see side by side.

    • It is limited to geological, environmental, and weather datasets.

      Among the "raw" datasets which demonstrate that this is incorrect:
      Global Trade - World Copper Smelters
      Patent Grant Bibliographic Data (2009)
      Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) Files, All Data, 2005
      Benefits Data from the Benefits and Earnings Public Use File, 2004
      Interactive Access To National Income and Product Accounts Tables
      Office of Advocacy's News Update File

    • Hmm... who stops you from building a site that just pulls the stuff in the background, and does fancy processing stuff with it? :)

      I mean, after all, you own the data. (You belong to the people of the nation, who own the country and rule over the government, do you?)

  • about making those divs/viewports/things-containing-the-checkboxes a little bigger here []? There are 30 checkboxes and you can only see two at a time; I feel like a Cylon!

  • CDC data for communicable diseases with a nice google map overlay seems a prime mobile app to me.

  • Horoscope Prover (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:08PM (#28059311) Homepage
    There is divorce data. There is also birthday data. The astrologists also tell us which zodiac signs go together. This'd be a prime way to statistically prove or disprove their claims: see if divorce rates are higher between mismatched zodiacs.
  • I once made a bot which graphed Xanga. Each person was a node, and there was an edge between A and B if A had a link to B in his/her profile. We could maybe graph the US this way. See who knows who and through which people. Then you can do fun stuff like try to find the two most disconnected people (longest path... too bad that is NP-Complete), or see if the 6 degrees of separation thing is true.
    • by Yold ( 473518 )

      Too bad there is no census data on the website.

    • My bad. Two most disconnected people would be finding all pairs shortest paths, and then finding the longest one. That's P! But sibling is right - the fact that there is no census data impedes this effort more.
  • I think one underestimated the combined laziness of the masses if you think that simply having easy access will encourage "citizens to become more engaged with their government". At least not in any significant numbers.

    • by FLEB ( 312391 )

      It's like the old anti-DRM argument, though-- it only takes one bright person to crack it. In this case, it only takes one bright person to use the raw data to make the easily-digestible app that provides the right info/interest/ease to get people to start thinking. Not everyone needs to be a developer to be engaged.

  • Leave it to the government to publish data that Google can not read.

    Have you ever had anyone mention the library of congress web site as a great resource for example?

    • Actually, that's a rather good source for old public domain maps. Granted, you have to modify the URLs by hand if you want full resolution copies in something more widely readable than JPEG2000 (or at least it did the last time I needed an old map).

  • is a super idea, long overdue, but, the available of data in a computer usable form is very scarce. Certainly the EPA has more than a handful of CSV or XML downloads available from its databases. Everything should be public this way. It's just going to take millions, if not billions of dollars, to get there. Shall we start bidding?

  • Are you sure you didn't mean:

    " is paving the way for citizens to become more /enraged/ with their government"

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears