Google is donating $3.7 million to two organizations that are working to make government data more open, available and transparent to citizens in the United States and around the world.
Google.org has awarded $2.1 million to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, and $1.6 million to mySociety, a U.K.-based group, according to a Jan. 16 post by Matthew Stepka, vice president of Google.org, on the Google Public Policy Blog.
The donation to the Sunlight Foundation is aimed at helping the group to "grow their programs for open government data, with a focus on making civic information for U.S. cities transparent, available and useable," wrote Stepka. "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."
The donation to mySociety is aimed at building "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," wrote Stepka. "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."
The money is meant to foster the open availability of information so that people can be better informed, according to Stepka's post. "Both organizations are working to bring together a larger community—governments, developers, companies, nonprofits and citizens—with an interest in improving societies. By creating these open platforms today, we can open doors to ambitious new solutions in the future."
The Sunlight Foundation's Website says it works to use the power of the Internet to push for greater government openness and transparency, while providing new tools and resources for media and citizens. "We are committed to improving access to government information by making it available online, indeed redefining 'public' information as meaning 'online, and by creating new tools and Websites to enable individuals and communities to better access that information and put it to use," the group says on the site.
The group mySociety says on its Website that it "works to help people become more powerful in the civic and democratic parts of their lives, through digital means."
The donations are being made through Google because "the Internet is redefining citizenship in the 21st century," wrote Stepka. "Technology is helping people to connect, engage, and contribute to society and each other like never before."
One place where that has been visible recently is in elections around the world where software developers have used Google's Civic Information API "to bring election data to citizens in new and exciting ways," wrote Stepka. "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."