Open Data Applications

With President Obama’s Open Government Directive and news about’s overhaul, more and more people have been talking about the benefits of open data. Yes, this includes greater transparency and a more accountable government, but it also gives birth to useful apps that use these newly available datasets.

A lot of these apps have been made for competitions like Sunlight Lab’s Apps for America and various cities’ own initiatives like NYC BigApps. Understandably, they provide appealing incentives for programmers. (If not the recognition, the cash prizes are appealing).

All that said, these competitions have spawned very useful apps. Here are 5 that we feel are great examples of the good that can be done with government data:

This We Know  Explore U.S. Government Data About Your Community 11 150x150 Open Data Applications
1. This We Know (
This We Know is a excellent tool that provides a wealth of information sourced mainly from You name a place and it tells you what we know about that location – things like demographics or the number of factories in the area. It’s also presented in a very clear fashion, condensing data into an easily understandable and still useful format.

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2. StumbleSafely (
This app from DC literally helps you stumble safely home. It uses data on crime and geography to map out safe routes from the more (in)famous bars in the city, no matter what time you like to party – day, evening or night.

photo 185 150x150 Open Data Applications
3. NYC Way (
An iPhone app, NYC Way provides you with a plethora of useful information for locals and tourists alike right at your fingertips. Location aware, it draws from a bunch of various datasets from the Data Mine and gives you facts about nearby zoos, wi-fi spots, emergency rooms, and a lot of other useful places to help you find your way in the big city.

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4. EveryBlock (
This one’s not yet available in Austin, but it does have versions for 15 cities across the nation. EveryBlock provides you with a newsfeed of things going on around a user specified address or location in these cities. It also allows you to browse by topic and track trends overtime.

ikid 150x150 Open Data Applications
5. iKidNY (
Not all apps are useful just for adults – this iPhone app, iKidNY, helps you find kid-friendly places all over the NYC. It provides you with locations and information about activities, kid-friendly restaurants, playgrounds, and even changing tables and subway elevators.

If you want to look at more apps, these competitions’ submission galleries are worth a look:
Apps for America 2
Apps for Democracy
NYC BigApps

Did we miss out on your favorite app? Let us know! We’d love to check it out.


  1. Pingback: To Open or Not to Open Data: A Private Organization’s Dilemma |

  2. Michael Schnuerle December 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Now that the submission period is over, check out these 2 submissions using restaurant health inspections and 311 service calls. Maps, heatmaps, and mobile versions!