A chief selling point of the government’s open data drive is the slew of profit-making Web and mobile applications private sector entrepreneurs can build with raw government data.
Federal officials haven’t named many concrete examples, though, of how entrepreneurs have actually used government data except for the go-to examples of weather and GPS data, which have grown into billion dollar industries.
That’s why it was refreshing to hear Federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park plug the iTriage app during a presentation with Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel at Fedscoop’s Innovation Summit Wednesday.
Here’s the story from Park:
“It sounds like a TV episode. It’s actually very dramatic and interesting. Pete Hudson, an ER doctor from Denver Colorado has seen one too many patients who have difficulty accessing the right healthcare at the right time. So, as opposed to just grousing about it, he decides to partner with a friend who’s tech oriented and they found a company called iTriage in Denver that leverages open government data about where all the healthcare providers are as well as other datasets to power a new app called iTriage on the mobile web that allows anybody to enter their symptoms and, based on where they are, identifies the best local provider of healthcare for them.”
And his pitch:
“It got started like 8 seconds ago and it’s been downloaded 6 million times. It has a 60 percent rate of usage six months after download, which is an order of magnitude better than the average iPhone or Android app. It has about 3 to 4 million mobile sessions a month and a 5-star rating on the app store. They hired 72 people, I think, over the last year-and-a-half or two and they have 33 open positions in Denver. They just got bought by Aetna and Aetna’s currently scaling them with a major investment across the country. So it’s just a phenomenal example of how access to open government data can power entrepreneurship that improves access to healthcare in really meaningful ways, creates jobs, grows the economy and unleashes all kinds of awesomeness.”