A lot of value in free government data

A man uses a laptop computer at a wireless cafe.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: President Obama's expected to soon name a special commission to come up with a plan to tackle the nation's huge budget deficit. Now the panel would be bi-partisan, it would present a plan after the November mid-term elections. Something else on the front burner is government transparency. It was a campaign promise Mr. Obama touted while running for president. The White House has ordered by the end of the month some high-value government data be made available online at data.gov. And as Brett Neely reports, open government may be good for business.


Brett Neely: You may think the government just churns out paperwork. Michael Daconta sees all that as valuable information.

Michael Daconta: When you think about how much work actually goes on in the federal government, whether it's research or whether it's operational-type work, there's just massive amounts of data.

Daconta is a computer expert who helped set up data dot gov. He says the site is a potential goldmine for clever entrepreneurs.

Daconta: To actually exploit that data takes other Web sites that would then turn around and use that data from data.gov.

Whole empires have already been built from government data made public, says Jake Brewer of the Sunlight Foundation advocacy group. He says look at the Weather Channel -- that's now worth billions.

Jake Brewer: That is all taking live information, but that's government information that's been made free, many years ago.

Brewer thinks if the government really follows through, entrepreneurs will create more jobs than the stimulus package has.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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