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The Opportunity Project and CISCO's DevNet Create Conference Attendees Harness Open Data to Create Public Solutions

Since launched in 2009, nearly 200,000 data sets have been posted for public use, including data on everything from public safety to affordable housing to weather. Access to that information is relevant to all of our daily lives, but for some people, it could be the key to keeping a roof over their heads or connecting them with the job they need to keep their family financially secure.

For Charlie, an artillery specialist preparing to retire from the Army, information on job opportunities and training programs can help him translate his skills into a civilian career and succeed economically.

For Michael, a veteran experiencing homelessness, information on the locations of homeless resource centers and job opportunities can help him get back on his feet and remain in supportive housing.

For Jo, a teen experiencing homelessness, information on wifi hotspots, shelters, and safe restrooms can ensure she has a safe place to sleep and a shot at a new job.

Federal and local open data sets can provide Charlie, Michael, and Jo with all the information they need to thrive, but only if they are translated into practical resources.

That's why developers are so critical to solving problems facing people across the country, and why the Department of Commerce (DOC) is leading The Opportunity Project. We need you to use your skills to help translate open data into useful solutions for people.

The Opportunity Project is a process that we launched to help you do that. Our team at DOC brings together developers, policy leaders, and grassroots organizations to co-create digital tools that use federal and local data to provide families, local leaders, and businesses with information about resources like jobs, affordable housing, quality schools, and transportation.

We provide access to curated federal and local datasets, and leave it to people with lived experience and developers like to you to transform that data into digital tools that help people solve problems in their everyday lives. We know that collaboration yields the best results, that developers and designers from outside of government have valuable talent, and that data is only as useful as the tools we have to understand it.

Since its inception, The Opportunity Project has catalyzed dozens of new digital tools that help solve local problems, such as:

  • Opportunity Score uses Census and Redfin data to help families find affordable housing close to jobs they can access in less than 30 minutes a car.
  • FindYour.Town uses Census, USDA, and many other federal data sets to help communities develop their economies and make best use of the resources available to them.
  • Pathfinder uses data from DOL's Open Skills API to help military families and other job seekers find local job and training opportunities that match their unique skillsets.

You can view more tools build with government data at

Recently, we've kicked off a new Opportunity Project sprint, with tech companies and nonprofits collaborating to create digital solutions with high-value open data. Our partners at the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and the Census Bureau have identified key problems facing members of the public like supporting youth and veterans experiencing homelessness. By connecting public, private, and local organizations with open data from Commerce and other federal agencies, we hope to create tools that are human-centered and functional that will create economic opportunity for all Americans.

We're excited to bring The Opportunity Project to Cisco DevNet Create to connect talented developers with this effort.

We hope you join us, and we can't wait to see what you build!

Authors: Drew Zachary, Radhika Bhatt, Commerce Data Service


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