Thursday, July 28, 2011
Government websites will be open for hacking Friday in San Diego.
The main government Web site 1.usa.gov is sponsoring the event. It invites technology entrepreneurs and the curious alike to sift through massive amounts of data. They hope a brainstorming session will result in innovative ways to consume, translate, and distribute information on government websites.
The event is being hosted by San Diego-based Measured Voice, an internet consulting firm. Jed Sundwall, the main organizer, said Hack Day is a call for the public to take advantage of the infinite amounts of information available to us.
"This data is a public good," Sundwall said, "especially government-produced data."
Federal government Web sites contain more data than the average citizen knows what do do with, much less interpret. Sundwall said if someone can take this data in its raw form and find a more efficient way to use it, the possibilities are endless.
"This has been done before and with great results," said Sundwall. "Everyone from The New York Times to NASA has called on regular folks to find solutions to greater issues."
Measured Voice, along with Bitly, an online URL-link shortening service, San Francisco-based OpenGeo, and USA.Gov are hosting simultaneous events nationwide, hoping for a similar outcome.
The difference is that these companies have paired with the federal government to track every single click on their websites. Having collected this data, Hack Day attendees can sift through it to find trends in how, when, where, and why people visit government Web sites.
"By knowing what citizens are interested in, we can find ways to make the information on these sites easier to interpret," Sundwall said.
"Hackers" can also find business opportunities in this. The information in these Web sites can be compared to that of the National Weather Service. It is readily available and can be used for anything from a smart-phone application to a new Web site altogether.
The event is being held at the Ansir Innovation Center on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa.