Today, Google.org’s VP, Matthew Stepka, announced that the non-profit arm of Google is going to be giving a large sum money to Sunlight Foundation and mySociety to promote civic innovation through technology. Specifically, its Civic Information API will help fuel new applications and services for places worldwide. Big and small.
Here’s what Stepka had to say about the initiative:
We’ve seen developers use our Civic Information API to bring election data to citizens in new and exciting ways. Our live election results maps have been viewed by billions around the world, bringing real-time transparency to elections in Egypt, Mexico, Ghana, and more. Last week, we launched the Kenya Elections Hub for citizens to access the latest news and resources for the country’s presidential election.
Sunlight Foundation and mySociety will be given $3.7 million to continue their innovation in civic leadership. By helping communities engage in a closer relationship with their government, Google hopes that the world can have more “open and innovative societies.”
Here’s what the money will be used for:
We are providing $2.1 million to the Sunlight Foundation to grow their programs for open government data, with a focus on making civic information for U.S. cities transparent, available, and useable. By opening up information at the city level for developers as well as citizens, Sunlight is creating opportunity for new ideas that can have an impact in local markets.
We are also supporting mySociety, providing $1.6 million to build a global platform to equip developers with tools and resources–such as open source code–to more easily and quickly launch new civic apps and services. This initiative can promote collaboration between civic-minded technologists, regardless of geography. For example, a civic app created in Finland might be easily replicated 9,000 miles away by a developer in Chile.
As you saw above, the company highlighted its Kenya Elections Hub as an example of why these initiatives are so important. That hub provides citizens with detailed and accurate information about the candidates, as well as links to all relevant news stories:
Google, through Google.org, has taken a long-term interest in providing sets of data in an open way, hoping that technologists all over the world would see it as a way to spread information and help their fellow man out. Google is most valuable in collecting the world’s information and then setting it free again in a structured way.
The company is putting its money where its mouth is, which is certainly not a bad thing.