Another problematic website that recently made more than its fair share of international headlines could prove to be an object lesson in both the benefits and the challenges of open data: HealthCare.gov. Healthcare was the subject of the Obama administration’s earliest and most spirited open data work. For example, the administration convened “health datapaloozas” to explore how data-driven innovation might improve healthcare, and HealthCare.gov itself is populated with data extracted from Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurers. We haven’t reaped those rewards yet, but it’s become increasingly clear that successfully building businesses—or historic public policy—on the promise of open data will be hard work. Perhaps, though, that’s what makes it an exciting prospect.
- Nancy Scola is a New York City–based journalist whose work focuses on the intersections of technology, politics, and public policy. Previously, she was associate editor and lead writer at the techPresident website.