What Is The Vision For Open Government Entrepreneurship? by @cheeky_geeky /via @mikealfred
Tim O’Reilly often explains Open Government, or Government 2.0, as “Government as a Platform” on which citizens and build things for each other and participate in their government (rather than treating it like a vending machine). The co-founder of Personal Democracy Forum and techPresident Andrew Rasiej has a similar notion that he terms WeGovernment.
Right now, Open Government looks a lot like an app marketplace. There are innumerable meetups to discuss the topic matter, apps contests to prove the principle of community action, government challenges rebranded as something innovative, and a variety of small companies and individuals taking stabs at making the government’s vision of transparency and open data, improving collaboration, and increasing participation a reality.
But what if one were to ask, “Who are the highly influential / fastest growing / most profitable entrepreneurs leveraging Open Government?” Could you answer that question? And do lists like GovFresh’s recent “Ten Entrepreneurs Changing the Way Government Works” truly represent the full range of what’s possible with Open Government entrpreneurship topics, business models, and ambition? What about this list from Alan Silberberg, an “innovator, thought leader and a leading analyst on Government 2.0″?
What Is an Open Government Entrepreneur?
The classic example of terrific public use of open government data isn’t very sexy, but you nevertheless probably take advantage of it nearly every day. Does the word Accuweather mean anything to you? The data that Accuweather and similar organizations use very often comes from the Federal government’s National Weather Service, operated by NOAA. The private sector weather market is worth roughly $1.5 billion – and it’s built on open government data stores.
Accuweather isn’t an app, or a website, or a loosely-joined group of people working toward a common goal in their spare time. Accuweather is a business, founded by a graduate student in Pennsylvania decades ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with releasing an app, running a website, or fostering a community. But are those examples of entrepreneurship? And are apps contests and volunteer groups sustainable long-term citizen-driven solutions for peoples’ needs? Do you trust them?
Bootstrapped startups can lead to long-term profitable business success independent of the ecosystem of angel investors and venture capitalists. Will the Open Government community graduate from mainly working with Web 2.0 tools and iPhones to working on far-reaching sustainable software and other infrastructure that truly serves the majority of citizens, and may even start turning a profit by… actually selling goods and services? Will they build trust with customers and citizens over time?