[[wysiwyg_imageupload:137:height=99,width=70]]Imagine you were a reporter and wanted to compare budgets for each of the 50 states. Or, you wanted to compare the official schedules of governors in 20 states? Dan Oblinger, Program Manager at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration) suggests that if there were a single cloud for state and local governments, possibly supported by the federal government, the release of data to reporters and the rest of the public could be modernized and streamlined.
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Journalists say now that when they ask for government records, often they get print outs of electronic documents with black marker used to redact certain sections. These releases can be hundreds of pages long, and completely unsearchable electronically. This is taking place in a context where newspapers are closing and reporters are being laid off. The number of employed investigative reporters is declining and therefore there are fewer people to keep government at all levels - national, state, local - accountable to the public.
For example, suppose all states kept their birth, marriage, and death certificates and their court and police records on this single cloud. Whatever format any single state used for its data, the cloud could provide the support to convert it into other useful formats (I understand now that this kind of conversion perhaps is often too costly for any single locality or state to support). For the public who wanted to use these data, they could access it in a format useful to them, not just in the format the state/local government uses.