Digital Capital Week is in full swing

November 7, 2011

The second-annual Digital Capital Week, also known as DC Week, has started, and tech experts and developers are flooding into the nation’s capital for the weeklong forum, which examines ways that tech, government, the non-profit sector and other areas intersect.

Panels will range from the serious to the light-hearted, with events ranging from an Open Mic Night about living with HIV/AIDS in the District to a discussion of how technology figures in fashion design.

Among the many issues under discussion is how, exactly, the average user can take advantage of the wealth of open government data available online. While several agencies post information that can be accessed by anyone online, it often requires long searches and wading through confusing spreadsheets of coded data.

On Thursday, panel members from organizations and companies will discuss data transparency and the best ways for average people to effectively use government data, including making apps based on the information. The Environmental Protection Agency recently sponsored a competition to reward the best apps that used some of its data,

The winning app, Light Bulb Finder, made by the Eco Hatchery, provides consumers with information on switching from incandescent to energy-efficient bulbs. The runner-up, Brighter Planet’s Hootroot, uses data from the EPA, Department of Transportation and other agencies to let users know what their carbon footprint is for any given trip on foot, by car or other mode of transportation. Makers of the five winning apps will speak at the forum about how the government can take its data and make it useful for the average person.

The tech discussions run all week until Friday. Event co-creator Peter Corbett told the Post’s Steve Overly that the event has roughly doubled in size — more than 10,000 people were registered to attend as of Monday afternoon.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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