There’s a new topic posted on the US Government APIs Google group inquiring about instances of government agencies using pay models for government APIs.
My default answer to this is no, that we should treat it much like we do other public goods. Just like any venture, government agencies need to reconfigure their budgets and IT operations to provide a public API offering.
In this day and age, government needs to take into account that data and APIs are a twenty-first century public offering. If agencies are trying to justify data/APIs from a budgetary perspective, the first step would be to reallocate funding priorities and eliminate antiquated services these offerings replace.
Pay for the data, streamline IT processes that make it easier and cheaper to publish data, eliminate outdated operations they replace and empower third-parties to leverage that data and provide more market-based public services. If we’re going to start charging for data/APIs, we need to first do a holistic assessment of what the ecosystem looks like if we’re going to innovate our thinking around it, as opposed to looking at it from a micro perspective.
I can see in high-usage cases where there may be some merit to charging for data usage, but we’re still a long ways away from that discussion. Let’s innovate first before jumping into pay-for-use fees.
Would love to hear other opinions on this. Share your thoughts.
Code for America’s Catherine Bracy has a great TED Talk on civic hacking and one of America’s greatest civic hackers, Ben Franklin, inspired a brigade of do-good developers across the world.
Her Mexico City anecdote is an especially inspiring example of civic hacking at its best, as Bracy says, creating “a twenty-first century ecosystem of participation. They’re creating a whole new set of ways for citizens to get involved besides voting or signing a petition or protesting. They can actually build government.”
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Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services
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Our hackathon beat photographer, 5 year-old Elias Fretwell snaps a picture of Code for America’s Jack Madans summing up the vibe at OpenOakland’s CodeAcross 2014 event today.
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Photo courtesy Pete Peterson
Davenport Institute’s Pete Peterson has spent the last seven years working with local governments on improving their approach to public engagement. Now, he’s running for California secretary of state on a platform centered around civic innovation.
Photo courtesy of Piqua, Ohio.
GovFresh 2013 Small City of the Year Piqua, Ohio, is a shining example of the old adage “small is beautiful.” With its multi-pronged approach to engaging citizens, Piqua is proof that it doesn’t take a big city budget to execute big civic ideas.
Perhaps the biggest civic open source story of 2013 was the government of New Zealand’s copying of the United Kingdom’s gov.uk code to begin building a new version of its own website, now located at beta.govt.nz.