The task of pulling together a complete, standardized inventory of all of its data is an enormous task for agencies—one Martin admits could be an overwhelming challenge.
"It's very simple for us," FEMA's Tonya Schreiber said. "If it doesn't work in the field, then it doesn't work." Put another way: "If you can't get your job done in a disaster, then you can't get your job done."
Even if they're computer-savvy, mobile employees still need training to avoid the adverse effects of using chat, audioconferencing and videoconferencing tools at work, the Rand Corp. says in a new report based on research commissioned by the Air Force.
"I do think that apps, app contests, coverage thereof and other related activities can help make people more aware and knowledgeable about problems," said Tom Lee, director of Sunlight Foundation's Sunlight Labs. "Gridlock, in particular, might benefit from more awareness."
In the DigitalGov blog post, Justin Herman, lead for social media in the Center for Excellence in Digital Government, offered a few examples of the API's potential uses. One could aggregate the activity from all of a department's Twitter accounts or track mentions of a certain topic across all federal accounts, he wrote.
This last fiscal year was a watershed for the Veterans Administration Department's telehealth services, which provided nearly 1.4 million consultations to almost 500,000 patients, 30 percent of whom live in rural areas where they may otherwise have limited access to VA healthcare, according to a presentation (.pdf) from Adam Darkins, VA chief consultant for telehealth services.
Application programming interfaces, or APIs, can serve as the foundation for the mobile applications the White House's digital government strategy demands. Codeathons and challenges are one way agencies can generate APIs from their data, said Nick Skytland, program manager of the open innovation program at NASA, during a Sept. 19 webinar hosted by the General Services Administration's DigitalGov University.
The General Services Administration's competition platform Challenge.gov is currently hosting 10 challenges around accessibility, said Tammi Marcoullier, program manager of Challenge.gov. "We'd like to see more of this. We know that there are parts of the community on the technology side that just really need to get more involved and inclusive," said Marcoullier during a Sept. 6 event called "Developing with Accessibility," hosted by the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
The Census Bureau July 26 released application programming interfaces with the hopes that developers will create web and mobile apps related to population and economic data. The APIs tap previously-opened demographic, socioeconomic and housing data sets from the 2010 Census and the 2006-2010 American Community Survey.
The Obama administration will issue in November more "robust and thorough" requirements for using application program interfaces, as required by the Digital Government Strategy, said a General Services Administration official during a July 19 webinar hosted by the GSA's DigitalGov University .