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Microsoft has introduced the Open Government Data Initiative, a program to help government agencies host their data on Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Azure cloud computing platform and make it available to developers through a programmatic API.
Microsoft is releasing a free, open source software development kit that gives agencies, or third parties with access to that data, the tools they need to host their data in Azure and provide programmatic interfaces to the data via REST. By default, OGDI churns out data in the Atom format, which can be consumed in any number of ways, including but not limited to .Net, Ruby, PHP, and Python. OGDI can also handle geospatial data.
A number of demonstration data sets are up on a reference beta site for OGDI, including a number of data sets on Washington, D.C. (like building permit and crime locations) and per diem spending rates for the General Services Administration. If the data has associated location data, Microsoft's beta site also shows how the government data can be mapped onto a Live Map.
As a citizen developer, you can use this data to build innovative applications, visualizations and mash-ups that empower citizens with improved access to government information. Exhibit your creativity and talent by working with leading-edge cloud computing technologies.
If you are a government developer, you may be able to make your data-based applications more relevant to citizens, agency staff, and partners by combining cross-agency data in new and compelling ways.
As a federal, state, or local government agency, you can submit your data to the OGDI repository for use by external developers, government or civilian. Contributing to OGDI increases citizen access to your data, putting data in citizens’ hands in new, convenient, and helpful ways. Submissions from all government agencies and organizations are welcomed.
For more information, see Open Government Data Initiative. To Browse, query, and view sample datasets, see Data Catalog. For more information about how to access the data in your software, see For Developers.