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Discussion Continues on Apps for the Environment Webinar with Open Data Leaders

2011 August 12

We hosted a webinar yesterday to discuss what the government can do to help developers use publicly-available data, and our team certainly learned a lot from your thoughts and ideas. Thanks to our moderator, Alex Howard of O’Reilly Media, and speakers Jeremy Carbaugh of the Sunlight Foundation, and Michaela Hackner and Kurt Voelker of ForumOne, participants were treated to presentations and discussions that raised important issues in apps development, and how EPA can help meet these evolving needs.

From the Twitterverse, Professor James A. Hendler provided insight into semantic web, and Ryan McKeel out in Colorado discussed how he views the path of its adoption. The comment that seemed to make the biggest splash from Dr. Hendler (as in is still retweeting) was:

“@jahendler NO NO NO NO NO NO NO – “one ontology to rule them all” is NOTHING to do with Semantic Web #greenapps

Some other, less humorous observations made during the webinar include:

  • Developers can request EPA data in different formats by submitting their request on a forum (please use EPA’s Data and Developer Forum).
  • Challenges like Apps for the Environment don’t just aim to produce apps – they should be geared to form communities that can support long term innovation
  • Providing SQL tables will help developers create faster, saving them hours of labor.
  • Clean, machine-readable data is a challenge for the federal government, as years of data collection have led to many formats that began before challenges were a possibility. Open Data is growing slowly as data is converted from older formats, however.
  • EPA and other Federal agencies want developers to tell them what is wrong with the data, how to make it more accessible and manageable.

TechPresident had supportive things to say about Apps for the Environment, including, “The interesting bit is that the EPA has pulled out the stops to get developers to build applications using their data. An introductory video enthusiastically reiterates that developers keep the rights to whatever they build. An EPA developers landing page includes possible apps and data sets that might be worth using.” Thank you for noticing!

We will post the Webinar and transcript on our webinar site in case you missed it. You can follow the conversation as it continues on the #GreenApps hashtag, or for more details from the event take a look at the presentations: Apps for the Environment Developer Webinar

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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