FCC hosts developer day focused on open government innovation

Will a rebooted FCC.gov become a platform for an ecosystem of applications driven by open government data? If that vision is going to come to fruition, the nation’s pre-eminent communication regulator will have to do more than just publish open data sets in machine readable formats online: it will have to develop a community of software developers that benefits to creating such applications.

Monday’s FCC developer day is a first step towards that future. Whether it’s a successful one will be in part predicated upon whether the applications created by the “civic hackers” present help citizens, businesses or other organizations do something new or ease a given process.

UPDATE: One key member of the open government community is the founder of Development Seed, Eric Gunderson. Gunderson has been involved in some of the most innovative mapping projects in open government over the past few years, along with the development of the platform for the new data.worldbank.org. If you’re looking for an unvarnished assessment of the meaning of the FCC’s effort and developer outreach, look no further:

Does it make sense to experiment? “In an online world, the best ideas can and do come from anyone, anywhere,” said FCC chairman Genachowski in a prepared statement. “Tapping into the innovation happening at the edge and in the cloud is a no brainer. The FCC’s first-ever Open Developer Day imports a best practice from the tech industry to help improve accessibility. It is part of our ongoing effort to harness technology to transform the FCC into a model of excellence in government.”

As the statement hints, addressing the requirements of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act that President Obama signed into law last month.

In order to meet that goal, the FCC is taking an open government tack, asking the civic development community to contribute to that effort. The agency’s first data officer, Greg Elin, explained more about the constituents for today’s dev day on the Blogband blog:

Programmers from the Yahoo! Developer Network will be on hand to demo their tools and provide guidance. They will give an overview of YQL, their query language which allows developers to “access and shape data across the Internet through one simple language, eliminating the need to learn how to call different APIs.” We will also see a demonstration of their YUI Library, a set of “utilities and controls … for building richly interactive web applications.”

An undertone, pervading a significant strand of the discussion, will be the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. In signing the act last month, President Obama said the act “will make it easier for people who are deaf, blind or live with a visual impairment to do what many of us take for granted…  It sets new standards so that Americans with disabilities can take advantage of the technology our economy depends on.”

The full day event will start at 9:00am and take place in Washington, DC at FCC headquarters. All developers are welcome free of charge. Bring a laptop and RSVP soon. If you’re not in the DC area and are unable to make it down here, we will be live streaming portions of the day. You can also join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #fccdevday. To email questions write to livequestions [at] fcc [dot] gov. You can participate by visiting Accessible Event, and entering the event code 00520237

For more context on what the FCC is trying to accomplish with FCC.gov/developer, watch a speech from the chairman and managing director Steve Van Roeckel at the 2010 Gov 2.0 Summit, below:

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.


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