GOOD 100: Meet Todd Park, Fueling Innovation Through Free Data

Posted by GOOD HQ

Todd Park is the United States Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President. Previously, he was the CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where his idea to use crowdsourcing to collect health data and release information to citizens online was widely celebrated. Park also spearheaded the White House Innovation Fellows program, which brings innovators and experts together from outside of government to collaborate on challenges that lead to change nationwide.

Park says one of his biggest projects in 2013 is scaling up the Open Data Initiatives program – an effort to make government data and information resources publicly available and easily accessible, in a machine-readable format, as fuel for innovation, entrepreneurship, and scientific discovery. Using the National Weather Service as a model, which began making its weather data available for free electronic download a few decades ago, Park hopes to allow entrepreneurs to utilize the data to create improvements on our lives and generate billions of dollars in annual economic value.

“Through the Open Data Initiatives program, we are working hard to replicate and expand upon these successes,” Park says. “Thousands of major government data resources across fields such as health and medicine, education, energy, public safety, and finance have been posted in ‘computer-readable’ form for free public access on the www.Data.gov website.”

All data sets posted to Data.gov are rigorously checked to ensure that privacy is in no way compromised. The data are non-personal, Park says, along the lines of information about the weather, hospital quality, financial products, the energy efficiency of appliances, and more.  

“A growing array of entrepreneurs have built new products and businesses aided by these data – such as companies that are helping Americans fight credit card fraud, save money on their energy bills, or find the best doctor or hospital -- creating good jobs in the process,” Park says.

Through hackathons, meetups, and digital outreach, Park and his team will continue to get the word out to entrepreneurs and the public about the growing array of free data resources that are available as fuel for innovation.

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