Open Government

with Aneesh Chopra

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Commercial potential is a catalyst to find big problem solutions

Aneesh Chopra

Assistant to the President and Chief Technology Officer, Author, Entrepreneur

Lessons Learned

Government is at its best when it invests in the building blocks of an innovation economy.

As tech changes the fabric of our lives, citizens need protection and regulations.

Openness in government encourages people to use our data to make useful tools.

Billion dollar opportunities are born at the intersection of open data & regulated economic sectors.


Lesson: Open Government with Aneesh Choprah

Step #6 Catalyst: Commercial potential is a catalyst to find big problem solutions

Well, there are three views. The first is that government is at its best when it invests in the building blocks of an innovation economy, so technology in the context of the industries of the future, it very much sees an R&D role, making sure that we've invested. If you take a look at the origins of Google and National Science Foundation Research and Development Grant, any number of case studies, I think that a dozen sectors of the IT economy that are worth of billion dollars or more had their origins in federal research. So there's an investment aspect of how government sees technology.

Then there's a rules of the road aspect. The Internet has become such a pervasive resource to change all our lives, inevitably it's going to change how we interface with regulated sectors. How we deal with banking, and education and healthcare. And with that, becomes the need to have ever more robust privacy and security protections.

A second way that government sees technology is to ensure that it can be properly deployed across our daily lives by ensuring that rules of the road make it work right and protect us against when it can work wrong.

Last but not least, is a lot of what we have been talking of what we have been talking about today, as a catalyst for transformational change in the areas that the economy that desperately need the change the most: fixing health care, improving renewable energy, addressing the idea of personalized learning so every child has the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. These national priorities will be informed by and transformed by technology innovation. I think that's the three lenses under which we've seen the government look at the technology question.

My ideal scenario is both sides share the things that matter to them and benefit. So if I'm a tech company, data is the oil or the fuel of the 21st century economy and the government has lots of data. So it is hopeful that companies in the tech industry will naturally gravitate to making requests of government to make more data available to fuel their own private commercial applications.

Similarly, government has got a lot of service delivery, and the desire to see more entrepreneurial personalization recommendations to help people make better choices and to live better lives; and therefore, an encouragement on the tech sector to take the government data and make useful tools, for example, helping veterans find jobs, by opening up more veterans-friendly job posting data, among others.

These two, what I will call self-interested models, might allow for natural collaboration but I actually think there is a third opportunity. And that is new businesses and industries will be born at the intersection of open data and regulated sectors of the economy that could not have envisioned what was even possible.

So health care now will create a new billion dollar industry, because companies will take newly available government data to solve a problem that they never thought they had a chance to solve, but for the fact that new information has been made available. So the true interface of the two will create billion dollar opportunities.

While I think there is room for a selfish view as to how one should motivate in the public domain, I think the commercialization potential is going to be a real catalyst for innovation in this space. McKinsey estimated this to be a 3 to $5 trillion economic opportunity in terms of surplus value to the global economy and that's a terrific opportunity to go after.

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