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By Brian Robinson

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Agencies try to exploit 'free' data model

I was wondering how the business models would emerge to justify Data.gov and similar government Web sites. Here’s one out of Massachusetts: Get the free market to do government’s job for it.

At least that’s the message I’m getting out of this story about how public agencies there are hurrying to get data into databases so software developers will build iPhone apps and similar products and save those agencies from having to develop their own applications.

It’s government on the cheap, though the story talks about “improving” government service.

Maybe this is the way for cash-strapped government agencies to go. Stop pretending you are there to provide a service yourself, just become a data aggregator and let others innovate and deliver those services for you.

There’s a caveat here, however. Right now, businesses are exulting about all of the free data government will provide to them. But what happens when they discover they are actually doing government a favor – actually, doing work for the government -- and start demanding a fee for the job?

UPDATE: Not to slight what other governments are doing, of course, since this seems to be a growing trend. Here's a story on what San Francisco is attempting, for example

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Posted by Brian Robinson on Feb 02, 2010 at 7:27 PM


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