May 9, 2013 | by

How Obama’s Open Data Order Could Save Lives, Energy Costs And Make Cool Apps

Ronald ReaganReaders may have noticed this morning that their geekiest politically oriented friends are freaking out like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Today, the big man in the White House signed a rare executive order that all federal data be made freely accessible in a form that can be utilized by software developers, lovingly known as “machine-readable format.” Below, we compiled a list of some of the coolest applications developed with government data and, below that, a brief explainer about why this new initiative matters.

1. Global Position System Data: If you’re a fan of Google Maps, then you can thank Ronald Reagan for releasing the government’s satellite data to digital cartographers. After Korean Airlines Flight 007 was notoriously gunned down over Soviet Airspace in 1983, the Gipper thought it was strategic for airlines to be able to locate any plane in real time. Now, GPS is used in everything from maps to Yelp.

2. Saving Lives: San Ramon, Calif., firefighters worked with local hackers to develop an iPhone app that automatically locates the nearest CPR-certified citizen to a heart-attack happening near them. And the potential for more life-saving apps is huge.

Read the full post by Gregory Ferenstein on TechCrunch.