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The online Community Health Data Initiative

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People in Washington see that they can make useful data available to the public, and citizens can build really useful stuff around that data, in the spirit of public/private partnership. That can even include the creation of new businesses... and jobs.

Next step, lots coming from the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, specifically from the Community Health Data Initiative.

They're inspired by NOAA - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  NOAA supplies the bulk of the weather data used in the US -- in high quality, usable form, for free and without restriction.  Citizens use that data to better inform the public, often creating serious businesses around that.  The deal is that HHS might become the "NOAA of community health data."

It also includes making new data available, showing taxpayers where the money goes, since this is about government that gets citizens what they pay for.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says it way better than I can:

The bet here is that the thousands (and I do mean thousands) of data
sets that HHS maintains could actually support some useful applications -
applications we can't even imagine yet - in the same vein that the
weather data produced by the National Weather Service generates so many
services and businesses.  To some extent, these data have been available
before, but they've been hard to get to.  The difference here is that
HHS is planning to make access to the data easy and beyond that, make
them available in ways that most lend themselves to application
development.  It's a conscious strategy to enable others to add value to
these government data.

This is new from HHS, real, and about government that gets stuff done.