Advancing National Service

How This Veteran Went from the Open Sea to Open Data

February 13, 2015
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How This Veteran Went from the Open Sea to Open Data
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The Got Your 6 Storytellers exemplify all that veterans have to offer.

As a Counter-Terrorism Officer in the U.S. Navy, Ian Kalin says that he fired expensive cannons at imaginary targets in the sea.

“Not a lot of terrorists floating in the middle of the ocean back then,” he jokes, pointing out how the service he was being asked to deliver was “completely disconnected from the actual needs of our nation.”

That experience helped shape Kalin’s path to becoming director of open data at Socrata, which helps public sector organizations improve transparency and service.

Kalin asks the audience at his Got Your 6 Storytellers talk where they would prefer to spend an hour: at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Apple Store?

“The truth is that there is a big disconnect that we feel in our consumer lives compared to the services we’re receiving from our governments,” he says, addressing the widening gap between our expectations and what our government is able to deliver. “We have higher expectations because innovative products and services are making our lives better everyday.”

He also tells a story about a salmonella outbreak in jars of peanut butter. While he never would have checked the Food and Drug Administration website for the voluntary product recall, Google Shopping Express sent the grateful young dad a note saying the product he bought was at risk and even offered to reimburse him the $5.84 he spent.

Governments cannot empower people by themselves,” Kalin says, emphasizing the importance of public private partnerships to help governments improve their customer service.

Watch the video to learn how Kalin thinks open data can help us “improve the quality of our collective democracy.”

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