Business registration as a framework for local data

In Crowdsourcing local data the right way I envisioned a different way for businesses to register with state governments. In this model, state governments invite and encourage businesses to be the authoritative sources for their own data, and to announce URLs at which that data is published in standard formats. Instead of plugging data into the state’s website, a business would transmit an URL. The state would sync the data at that URL, assign it a version number, and verify its copy (tethered to the URL) as an approved version. The state would also certify the URL as a source of additional data not required by the state but available from the business at that URL.

For businesses with calendars of public events, one kind of additional data would be those calendars. A while back I met with Steve Cook, deputy commissioner of Vermont’s department of tourism and marketing, to show him the Elm City “web of events” model. We discussed the central challenge: awakening event promoters to the possibility of using their own calendars as feeds that would flow directly into the statewide calendar. How do you light up those feeds? Steve got it. He pointed to another section of the building. “Those guys run the business registration site,” he said. “On the registration form, we already ask for the URL of a business’s home page. How hard would it be to also ask for a calendar URL if they have one?”

Exactly. And by asking for that URL, the state awakens the business to a possibility — authoritative self-publishing of data — that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred to it. This hasn’t yet happened in Vermont. But if Carl Malamud ever becomes Secretary of State in California I’ll bet it will happen there!

3 Comments

  1. Jon, Shame on you. The government does not belong as the provider, nor is it good at this type of activity. Registration can and should be done without government involvement when the participants understand the values and are willing to expend the time and effort to accomplish the task as a result. Government certainly would benefit as a participant, however.

  2. Government already /is/ the registrar for businesses. So let’s leverage that relationship by adding value in a loosely coupled way. I’m not suggesting the government provide any additional data. Rather, that it promote a standard way for the businesses it already registers to publish their own data.

    1. If the government participates as a provider of information in your system with your standards that is good and I believe that is what you are saying. Good luck in that.

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