Fork Your Government: Github Opens A Portal For Wonks

Imagine all the governments... sharing data, web toolkits, and apps.

GitHub, the repository for open-source code and happy hub for collaborative software building, has started a "government" portal to aggregate public-spirited projects in the areas of open data, open government, and open source. The idea is to save money, promote civic participation, and improve functionality, accessibility, and transparency through the use of open source. Sound utopian?

Consider GitHub-hosted projects like "the forking of Chicago." This doesn't involve deep-dish pizza. Instead, the city has started to release data sets for things like bike routes and building footprints, inviting citizens to improve, update, and build upon the data.

Or look at Canada's Web Experience Toolkit, a treasury-funded, user-tested framework for building government websites that are interoperable, accessible, and mobile-first. Or Streetmix, a civic web app that makes it easier to visualize and participate in city planning projects (like, say, traffic impacts from Apple's new HQ in Cupertino).

That last app was built by participants in Code for America, the O'Reilly-spawned project that places programmers in city halls across America for yearlong fellowships. We should expect more geek/wonk wedding announcements like this coming out of CfA's annual summit, taking place in D.C. right now.

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