imageIn my role as a Technology Evangelist dedicated to Public Sector (State & Local Government (SLG) specifically), I spend a lot of time reading, pondering, presenting, and talking to developers about the power and importance of Open Data for cities. As far back as 2002 there were approximately 19,000 municipal governments throughout the US and about 30,000 incorporated cities; Today that number is around 35,000 cities. So the surface for impact is huge! At every opportunity that I have to engage developers I constantly evangelize the multi-dimensional value of embracing open data but more specifically city related open data.

Developers can have a profound impact at the local level by targeting cities for new innovative apps leveraging Open Data. One of my on going goals is to evangelize developers at all levels, to help them see/rip the emerging economic, environmental, political, and societal opportunities offered by open data and mobile/cloud solutions for cities.

Last year www.data.gov launched a new branch of its open data services to include cities (http://ities.data.gov). This is a key enabler that allows developers to start familiarizing with the open city data and start visualizing and building new solutions.

Also last year, a group of seven CIOs decided to pursue open data for their cities in a way that promotes uniformity across cities. The group is call G7 (or Group of Seven). and it represents the following 7 cities:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • San Francisco, and
  • Seattle

(read more about it here http://www.governing.com/columns/tech-talk/col-cities-share-data-software-applications.html)

The key catalyst for success is for cities to open their data to the development community and informally come together to envision new possibilities, new ways of using old  and new data; all this can translate into cost saving for cities looking to serve the public better. The altruistic nature of this endeavor it is sure to attract the interest of a lot of citizens, developers and city leaders.

Developers interested in explore this emerging market can start making a difference and potentially making money TODAY! Windows Azure Marketplace was designed precisely to address the present and future demand for Open Data. This link https://datamarket.azure.com/browse/Data is a good starting point to explore the data available now. The service user experience is such that you can navigate through the datasets in diff views and format without writing a single line of code. Then when you decide to build a solution the platform provides industry standard ways to access and consume the data.

Complementing Windows Azure Data Marketplace is Azure Mobile Services makes the process consuming cloud data a breeze. It offers developers concrete interfaces to deal with Data, Users, send messages via Push Notification and access other Services, all from either a Windows Store, Windows Phone 8 or iOS application.  Check this tutorial to see how you can add a cloud-based backend service to a Windows Store app.

The time to reimagine cities is here, are you ready for your big local impact?. Make your city a better place to live, build a mobile Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 app that consumes local data.

If you have an idea that you would like to discuss further please feel free to let me know by filling out this short form. You can also check the resources below under RE-IMAGINE EVERYTHING. Consider GenerationApp that program offers an amazing array of free resources to get you started fast on building your next local impact app.

Do you have an Open City idea? Feel free to drop me a comment or email me at joel.reyes@microsoft.com and let’s talk about it.

THISE RESOURCES BELOW ARE AN EXCELLENT STARTING POINT. PLEASE EXPLORE IT.

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