Thoughts on FCC Open Developer Day

November 12, 2010

The FCC held its first open developer day on Monday, November 8th. 

Greg Elin, the FCC’s Chief Data Officer, presided over the day’s sessions attended by more than 100 developers, executives and federal agency personnel.

The focus for the day was accessibility and innovation. The FCC began by outlining its objectives for implementing the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

Yahoo, AOL and IBM were some of the companies represented. Yahoo presented a set of developer tools (YQL and YUI Libraries) for working with APIs, accessibility components and feeds to prototype apps quickly.

An NCR funded startup, apps4android, demoed a number of applications that improved accessibility for people with disabilities. The apps included readers, magnifiers and scanners.

Befitting the occasion, there was no lack of hacking during the day. Three groups produced applications from FCC, census track and other open source data:

– App 1, led by Yahoo, used geolocation to identify min/max download speeds to display on a web page

– App 2, led by CompuTech, used an input location and latitute/ longitude to return FCC license data in an iPhone app

– App 3 used GIS data and map tiles to build views of broadband and wireless coverage across the world

It was great to see Chairman Genachowski and Managing Director Steven VanRoekel actively participate in the hacking process by probing the teams of developers, contributing to their specs and observing their collaborative work on creating these apps. They listened carefully, asked questions and offered input. Hands on indeed.

A developer wiki was launched at the conference. Visit and contribute here.

Full video proceedings are available here.

We learned at the conference that the FCC, practicing what they preach, will be re-launching its website and XML feeds some time in the new year. Accessibility for all is the goal. Certainly good news. 

Congrats FCC on an informative and productive event. May the hacking continue!

Greg Fawcett, Politics-360

Greg Fawcett currently serves as founder and CEO of Politics-360 and was responsible for developing the Mobile Future application. Politics-360 is a Mobile Future coalition member whose mission is to develop mobile applications and social networks for membership organizations, Labor, elected officials, candidates and corporations with a public interest. For more information, click here.