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Open Data Is Also About Accessibility: Hosting Government and NGO Data in Amazon’s Cloud

Location: Ballroom III Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 1 rating)

Opening up data isn’t an assurance that it will be used – or even seen. The other piece of the open data puzzle is to make it accessible, in a technical sense. This session will introduce ways to make data more technically accessible by hosting it in the cloud.

Some government data has long been publicly available, but much of it was only available as zipped files on unreliable FTP servers. NGOs have run into similar issues, with many having amazing data – that’s often locked up in PDF files. What does this mean? That the data was free but underutilized, and a cottage industry of for-profit CD-makers and data compilers sprung up around the issue.

Now with cloud hosting, these agencies have a better way to make data public, and one that’s easy to put out and access and affordable. From a cloud computing server, you can now instantiate and connect to data within minutes and perform analysis, visualization, and extraction immediately. You can then take the results and redistribute them with cloud-computing power or protect them behind a firewall. Bottom line, it makes data more usable, useful, and used.

Tom MacWright

Development Seed

Tom is a GIS developer at Development Seed, where he has been the lead architect of our open source mapping stack that combines Mapnik with Drupal to create beautiful custom maps. Tom’s work has led him deep into cloud hosting and computing research, where he is pioneering ways to leverage cloud services to support international development work. He recently collaborated with Amazon Web Services to get 125 GB’s of TIGER U.S. Census data hosted in the Amazon cloud, making this important public data set more accessible and easier to work with than ever before.

In addition to mapping, Tom is also an experienced open source developer who has spent most of his time programming in Drupal. At Development Seed, he has helped build large, complex websites and communications tools for organizations like the New America Foundation and Human Rights Watch.

Tom received degrees in Computer Science and Religious Studies from The College of William and Mary.