By shining a light on the Federal Government’s work in prizes, crowdsourcing, and citizen science, we hope to inspire more of this collaborative and innovative approach across the globe.”

This quote from a recent blogpost,Using Citizen Engagement to Solve National Problems, by the White House Office of Science and Technology’s Cristin Dorgelo, Assistant Director for Grand Challenges, and Corinna Zarek, Senior Advisor for Open Government, sums up our intention for creating data challenges at NASA.

We’re thrilled to announce that the International Space Apps Challenge is one of several programs featured in the White House application for the Open Government Partnership’s new Open Government Awards, which recognizes efforts to improve government policies and to better serve citizens through two-way engagement. The inaugural theme for the 2014 Open Gov Awards is Citizen Engagement, which is defined as the “mechanism(s) by which citizens participate in and have influence on the design and implementation of public policy and services, with the ultimate goal of making government more open, responsive, and accountable to their needs.”

The Open Government Partnership, which launched in 2011 with eight participating countries, provides an international platform to foster greater transparency and accountability, improve governance, and increase civic engagement worldwide. In four years, participation has grown to 64 participating countries, as seen in the map below.

Map of Open Government Partnership Participating Nations

The White House application highlighted four initiatives, including Space Apps. The Citizen Archivist Dashboard engages citizens to help unlock the historical records of the government through the US National Archives and Records Administration. Citizen researchers are tagging, transcribing, and cataloging more than 12 billion Archive records. The Federal Communications Commission is working collaboratively with industry, academia, public interest organizations, and others to develop open and transparent platforms to measure broadband performance through its Measuring Broadband America project. The related FCC Speed Test App measures volunteers’ mobile broadband performance throughout the United States using crowd-sourced smartphone applications. The US Geological Survey engages citizen scientists and professional scientists through Nature’s Notebook to collect biodiversity information to advance science, inform decisions and communicate with the public about the changing environment. NASA’s Space Apps Challenge engages global citizens to create web and mobile solutions for future space missions and to improve life on Earth. This year, solvers created innovative methods to monitor air, water, and urban pollution, track environmental mishaps, and alerts to warn citizens of weather and health-related disasters, as well as track the asteroids and celestial events.

In order to apply for the Open Gov Awards, a government agency is required to make a compelling case that their country’s initiatives are effectively engaging citizens AND is being institutionalized within government. The organizers encourage applicants to include validation from civil society partners. We were fortunate to have Space Apps New York City organizer Mike Caprio of StartUpBus submitted an AWESOME letter on our behalf to be included in the US application. Thanks Mike, you ROCK-et! The awards ceremony will be held in NYC this September. Let’s hope Mike will welcome us to his city as an Open Gov Award winner. Fingers crossed.

You can follow the Open Gov Partnership on Twitter or Facebook.

About Beth

Open Innovation Program Manager

NASA Headquarters