Earlier this month, more than 300 public safety stakeholders from the private, nonprofit, and academic sectors participated in the Second Annual White House Safety Datapalooza. The event showcased innovators who have utilized freely available government data to build products, services, and apps aimed at empowering Americans with information to make smarter, safer choices— from the vehicles we drive to patterns of crime in our neighborhoods to the products we buy and the food we eat.
At the event, top officials from across the Administration discussed how Federal agencies are working to tap into the power of open data to advance public safety in creative and powerful ways. Announcements and new commitments from the public and private sector included:
- The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs highlighted a new Application Programming Interface (API) that allows developers to integrate Travel Warning and Travel Alert datasets into websites and mobile applications, including tourism guides and online travel websites, so that U.S. citizens have information about international travel risks—such as health alerts, ongoing crime and violence, or frequent terrorist attacks.
- The White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Department of Energy launched standardized hashtags (#PowerLineDown #NoFuel and #GotFuel ) to enable citizens to report important emergency information, such as downed power lines or whether a gas station has fuel, across social media platforms during a disaster. The Weather Channel has committed to publicizing these hashtags to its 100 million+ web visitors and TV viewers. Geofeedia, a social media monitoring service, committed to offering a free version of their service to first responders, disaster survivors, utility companies, and Federal, state, and local governments.
- The Food and Drug Administration announced openFDA, a new initiative that will provide easy access to FDA datasets that support the agency’s regulatory mission, help educate the public, and save lives.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency Presidential Innovation Fellow and The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency highlighted the development of “GeoQ”, a tool that crowdsources geo-tagged photos of disaster-affected areas to assess damage over large regions.
- TaskRabbit, a company which includes a network of over 20,000 vetted workers across the country, announced it will provide a dedicated portal for crisis-recovery efforts that can serve as an interface for relief organizations to request help during a disaster and connect with high-skilled workers that are willing to volunteer their time.
- The U.S. Department of Energy Presidential Innovation Fellow previewed “Lantern”, a mobile app that provides helpful information and assistance during a disaster. The mobile app is designed to provide consumers timely disaster preparedness tips and recommendations, allow consumers to report and access information on power outages and fallen power lines, and help users find fuel and report the status of gas stations.
- The National Institute of Justice highlighted its Ultra High-Speed Apps Challenge to promote the development, use, and evaluation of criminal justice software applications that are compatible with ultra-high-speed networks to help support criminal justice and public safety practitioners in emergency situations.
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a “Safer Products App Challenge”, calling on innovators to create applications and tools that help raise awareness of consumer product recalls and of the more than 17,000 consumer product reports submitted through SaferProducts.gov.
You can view all the announcements HERE.
Building on this momentum, in the afternoon, agencies hosted a series of “Safety Datajams” aimed at encouraging participants to build out the public safety tools of tomorrow. Participants brainstormed ideas for building next-generation ultra-high speed apps for law enforcement officers; leveraging USDA data to protect against salmonella illness; developing innovative ways to improve disaster response and recovery; protecting against hearing loss in the workplace; and increasing awareness of recalled consumer products. We are excited to see how these datajams materialize into impactful projects. Our sincere thanks to all of the participants!
Congratulations to every entrepreneur, developer, researcher, and public servant who presented their incredible innovations at the Second Annual White House Safety Datapalooza. We look forward to collaborating further with the safety data community and can’t wait to see what new products, services, and tools get created!
Brian Forde is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer
Francisco Reinoso is the Director of IT Strategy at the U.S. Department of Transportation