How We Will Work with the Public
Active and increasing engagement with the public is at the heart of what this Open Government Plan is all about.
As described in the Transparency section following, HHS will be releasing large waves of new data. In our view, it is equally critical to help foster public use of this information. HHS will therefore be engaging in a proactive new program of monitoring, stimulating, and incorporating innovative and beneficial public uses of our data.
- Beginning 3Q 2010, on our Open Government website and through systematic dialogue with key stakeholder groups (overseen by our Data Council), we will solicit examples from the public of how our data has been used to generate benefit. We will seek to compile at least 30 such examples (insights, applications, visualizations, etc.) by the end of 2010 for publication on our Open Government website. This will help us shape our future data release strategy on an ongoing basis.
- We will establish an online forum in 3Q 2010 on our Open Government website that facilitates public discussion of barriers to innovation using our data (e.g., data format, lack of metadata, etc.). Through this forum and other channels, we will seek to gather a list of at least 10 such barriers for publication and discussion of next steps on our Open Government website by the end of 2010.
- We will initiate “HHS Apps Challenges” – a public competition for the most innovative and beneficial applications built utilizing our data. In the spirit of energetic execution of our Open Government Plan, we have already executed two such challenges and launched a third since the debut of our Plan on April 7:
- A competition for best visualization of community health data as part of the Sunlight Foundation’s Design for America competition -- see http://sunlightlabs.com/blog/2010/design-america-winners/ for results, announced at the end of May)
- A challenge to innovators to develop applications using HHS’s community health data for debut at a Community Health Data Forum jointly hosted by HHS and the Institute of Medicine on June 2 – see http://www.hhs.gov/open/datasets/initiative_launch.html to view a webcast of the amazing results, and read more about the Community Health Data Initiative below
- As part of this Community Health Data Initiative, HHS has collaborated with Health 2.0, Sunlight Foundation, and others to launch a third challenge, the Health 2.0 2010 Developer Challenge (www.health2challenge.org), with resulting applications to be showcased at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco in October
- Through the Community Health Data Initiative (a core “Open Government Flagship Initiative,” described in that section of our Open Government Plan), we are pioneering an approach that seeks both to (1) make key HHS data available and easy to access by the public and (2) proactively encourage a growing array of innovators from the worlds of technology, business, academia, public health, and health care to engage with the data and turn it into applications that create significant and growing public benefit
- The Initiative embodies the philosophy of “open data” and data sharing that is at the heart of our Open Government Plan. The core principle is that the government can help trigger enormous public good by implementing the idea of “government as platform,” supplying ever greater amounts of high quality, free government data to the public and marketing the availability of this data – which can then be turned into useful insights, applications, products, and services by private and public sector innovators from across the country, working with engaged consumers, providers, civic leaders, employers, researchers, and others
- The creation of a public-private “ecosystem” of data supply and use is the central objective of the initiative. We are proactively marketing HHS data on community health care, health, and health determinant indicators to innovators who can turn it into applications and programs that benefit the public. We are evangelizing energetically on behalf of the Initiative at conferences and other public forums and on the web, seeking to get many organizations and individuals outside HHS interested in participating in the Initiative’s ecosystem. We are working closely with organizations such as the Institute of Medicine and Health 2.0 to hammer out how we can all facilitate the ecosystem’s growth and development
- As showcased at the June 2 Community Health Data Forum, co-hosted by the Institute of Medicine and HHS, the Community Health Data Initiative is off to a very exciting start (see http://www.hhs.gov/open/datasets/initiative_launch.html). At this event, attended by 400 people in person and 300 people online, innovators demonstrated more than a dozen amazing applications that had been built or significantly improved using HHS data in less than 90 days, in response to an initial challenge issued by HHS in March
- We are setting the goal of at least 100 organizations meaningfully involved in the Community Health Data Initiative by June 2011 – defined as supplying data to the Initiative ecosystem or having built applications as part of the ecosystem
- We are also energetically exploring the potential of Semantic Web to enhance the value of our data and the ability of the public to engage with it. At its heart, the Semantic Web is an innovative extension of standard Web technologies to better deal with data on the Web, by providing a means to give Web addresses to data elements so they can be linked. As the Web of linked documents evolves to include the Web of linked data, we're working to maximize the potential of Semantic Web technologies and realize the promise of Linked Open Government Data at HHS. Since the one year anniversary of the launch of Data.gov this past May 2010, Data.gov is now one of the largest providers of semantic data. HHS is pleased to be leading this community of practice and their collaborative activities inside the Data.gov Program Management Office. In addition, we are working across HHS to best leverage the opportunities that this technology presents to linking HHS open government data across agencies, leveraging our federal government-wide Open Government for Health workgroup and Data Council to catalyze and coordinate these efforts. We believe that data quality and value will improve as more people engage with the data. In light of this, we'll begin to explore social media tools to facilitate the creation of metadata vocabularies and curation of their corresponding instance datasets, with both seen as objects of social collaboration. We think that the 'Social Data Web', where we combine the features and capabilities of the Social Web and the Web of Data, is a powerful idea that will lower our coordination costs and allow independent evolution and interlinking across government information domains while enhancing data quality. There are inspiring examples of socially managed data sites and many existing and emerging tools with strong Semantic Web support to leverage that we intend to explore in the future.
In addition, we will also foster public use of our data by publishing not just raw data, but also tools that help the public gain insight via the data. Exemplifying this approach are tools that have debuted with the launch of our Open Government Plan and that are described in more detail in the next section: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Dashboard, which allows users to easily visualize and investigate Medicare spending on hospital services; FDA Track, which allows users to see FDA performance across more than 90 FDA centers and, when fully implemented, will track over 300 performance measures and 80 key projects; and data.medicare.gov, which allows users to explore and socialize CMS quality and patient satisfaction data on hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and other providers with unprecedented flexibility and ease. And as described in the Transparency section, more such tools are on the way, such as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Dashboard, coming in 4Q 2010.
As discussed further in the Participation and Collaboration section of the plan, the very essence of our Participation and Collaboration plan is to broaden and deepen engagement and collaboration with the public to advance the health and well-being of the country. To this end, we have compiled a database of participation opportunities across HHS and published it on our Open Government website http://www.hhs.gov/open/stayconnected/facdb/index.html and engaged in the creation of a Participation and Collaboration internal consulting operation (launched 2Q 2010) and Community of Practice that are working to identify best practices, develop a menu of tools that HHSers can use to execute Participation and Collaboration initiatives (formally debuting in 4Q 2010), help implement beta applications of practices and tools, and disseminate lessons learned across HHS. See the Participation and Collaboration section for more. And our Community Health Data Initiative, discussed earlier, is a critical flagship initiative for HHS from the standpoint of not only data transparency, but also participation and collaboration. One key policy deliverable from the Initiative (coming in 3Q) is documentation of the core transparency/participation/collaboration “play” embodied by the Initiative, for general policy approval and replication across other dimensions of HHS and other government work.
Finally, we plan to continue to engage the public energetically on the evolution of our plan itself, including the following activities:
- Continuous, ongoing solicitation of comments on our Open Government Plan, via our Open Government website (www.hhs.gov/open) (currently live)
- Quarterly Open Government status reports to the public, published on our Open Government website, and soliciting public feedback and comment. The first report will happen in 3Q 2010, reporting on progress in 2Q. We commit to posting feedback on user comments 45 days after each quarterly report is issued, which will cover both user feedback on our status report as well as general comments received on our Open Government Plan since the last quarterly report
- Periodic public webinars/conference calls introducing key Open Government ideas and initiatives, for solicitation of public comment
- Posting of our full 2010 HHS Strategic Plan, in which Open Government has been designated a key Secretarial priority, on our Open Government website in July 2010 for public comment
All of the above to be managed by the senior officials we have designated as accountable for Open Government strategy and implementation at HHS: the Chief Technology Officer and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
I found it fascinating how much effort HHS is putting into public awareness. The tools that they are trying to implement and the showing of the public how to use them is really helpful. I know it is always extremely hard for me to find information that I am looking for and then when I do find it its so hard for me to use. I also think that it is great how they are using technology to really increase the awareness. I think the use of apps will really make a difference on how the public uses and finds information from HHS.