Alex Howard

Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is the Government 2.0 Correspondent for O'Reilly Media. Before joining O'Reilly, Howard was the associate editor of at TechTarget. His work there focused on how regulations affect IT operations, including issues of data protection, privacy, security and enterprise IT strategy. Howard's previous work experience includes working in operations for an e-business consultancy, as a knowledge broker for a management consulting firm, as an apprentice to a master home builder and, very briefly, as a garde manger at an outstanding Italian restaurant.

Data for the Public Good Data for the Public Good
by Alex Howard
February 2012
Ebook: $0.00

Real World Applications Panel: Education and Government Real World Applications Panel: Education and Government
by Peter Clark, Alex Howard, Steve Midgley
March 2011

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Towards a more open world

May 01 2013

Last September, I gave a 5 minute Ignite talk at the tenth Ignite DC. The video just became available. My talk, embedded below, focused on what I’ve been writing about here at Radar for the past three years: open government, … read more

Linking open data to augmented intelligence and the economy

April 30 2013

After years of steady growth, open data is now entering into public discourse, particularly in the public sector. If President Barack Obama decides to put the White House’s long-awaited new open data mandate before the nation this spring, it will … read more

White House Science Fair praises future scientists and makers

April 29 2013

There are few ways to better judge a nation’s character than to look at how its children are educated. What values do their parents, teachers and mentors demonstrate? What accomplishments are celebrated? In a world where championship sports teams are … read more

Sprinting toward the future of Jamaica

April 18 2013

Creating the conditions for startups to form is now a policy imperative for governments around the world, as Julian Jay Robinson, minister of state in Jamaica’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, reminded the attendees at the “Developing the … read more

Predictive analytics and data sharing raise civil liberties concerns

April 11 2013

Last winter, around the same time there was a huge row in Congress over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), U.S. Attorney General Holder quietly signed off on expanded rules on government data sharing. The rules allowed the National … read more

Sensoring the news

March 22 2013

When I went to the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival to host a conversation with NPR’s Javaun Moradi about sensors, society and the media, I thought we would be talking about the future of data journalism. By the time I left … read more

The City of Chicago wants you to fork its data on GitHub

March 19 2013

GitHub has been gaining new prominence as the use of open source software in government grows. Earlier this month, I included a few thoughts from Chicago’s chief information officer, Brett Goldstein, about the city’s use of GitHub, in a piece … read more

GitHub gains new prominence as the use of open source within governments grows

March 08 2013

When it comes to government IT in 2013, GitHub may have surpassed Twitter and Facebook as the most interesting social network.  GitHub’s profile has been rising recently, from a Wired article about open source in government, to its high profile … read more

If followers can sponsor updates on Facebook, social advertising has a new horizon

March 07 2013

This week, I found that one of my Facebook updates received significantly more attention that others I’ve posted. On the one hand, it was a share of an important New York Times story focusing on the first time a baby … read more

Untangling algorithmic illusions from reality in big data

March 04 2013

Microsoft principal researcher Kate Crawford (@katecrawford) gave a strong talk at last week’s Strata Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. about the limits of big data. She pointed out potential biases in data collection, questioned who may be excluded from it, … read more

Governments looking for economic ROI must focus on open data with business value

February 25 2013

There’s increasing interest in the open data economy from the research wings of consulting firms. Capgemini Consulting just published a new report on the open data economy. McKinsey’s Global Institute is following up its research on big data with an … read more

White House moves to increase public access to scientific research online

February 22 2013

Today, the White House responded to a We The People e-petition that asked for free online access to taxpayer-funded research. As part of the response, John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, released … read more

VA looks to apply innovation to better care and service for veterans

February 21 2013

There are few areas as emblematic of a nation’s values than how it treats the veterans of its wars. As improved battlefield care keeps more soldiers alive from injuries that would have been lethal in past wars, more grievously injured … read more

Personal data ownership drives market transparency and empowers consumers

February 13 2013

On Monday morning, the Obama administration launched a new community focused on consumer data at While there was no new data to be found among the 507 datasets listed there, it was the first time that smart disclosure has … read more

Looking at the many faces and forms of data journalism

February 07 2013

Over the past year, I’ve been investigating data journalism. In that work, I’ve found no better source for understanding the who, where, what, how and why of what’s happening in this area than the journalists who are using and even … read more

Investing in the open data economy

February 05 2013

If you had 10 million pounds to spend on open data research, development and startups, what would you do with it? That’s precisely the opportunity that Gavin Starks (@AgentGav) has been given as the first CEO of the Open Data … read more

NASA launches second International Space Apps Challenge

January 31 2013

From April 20 to April 21, on Earth Day, the second international Space Apps Challenge will invite developers on all seven continents to the bridge to contribute code to NASA projects. Given longstanding concerns about the sustainability of apps contests, … read more

Open data economy: Eight business models for open data and insight from Deloitte UK

January 28 2013

When I asked whether the push to free up government data was resulting in economic activity and startup creation, I started to receive emails from people around the United States and Europe. I’ll be publishing more of what I learned … read more

Making open data more valuable, one micropayment at a time

January 23 2013

When it comes to making sense of the open data economy, tracking cents is valuable. In San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee’s administration has reinvigorated city efforts to release open data for economic benefits, entrepreneur Yo Yoshida has made the … read more

Want to analyze performance data for accountability? Focus on quality first.

January 10 2013

Here’s an ageless insight that will endure well beyond the “era of big data“: poor collection practices and aging IT will derail any institutional efforts to use data analysis to improve performance. According to an investigation by the Los Angeles … read more

14 big trends to watch in 2013

December 22 2012

2012 was a remarkable year for technology, government and society. In our 2012 year in review, we looked back at 10 trends that mattered. Below, we look ahead to the big ideas and technologies that will change the world, again. … read more

Big, open and more networked than ever: 10 trends from 2012

December 22 2012

In 2012, technology-accelerated change around the world was driven by the wave of social media, data and mobile devices. In this year in review, we look back at some of the stories that mattered here at Radar and look ahead … read more

Six ways data journalism is making sense of the world, around the world

December 20 2012

When I wrote that Radar was investigating data journalism and asked for your favorite examples of good work, we heard back from around the world. I received emails from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Canada and Italy that featured data visualization, explored … read more

DARPA and Defense Department look to a more open source future

December 18 2012

As the United States military marches further into the age of networked warfare, data networks and the mobile platforms to distribute and access them will become even more important. This fall, the (retired) eighth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs … read more

Making dollars and sense of the open data economy

December 11 2012

Over the past several years, I’ve been writing about how government data is moving into the marketplaces, underpinning ideas, products and services. Open government data and application programming interfaces to distribute it, more commonly known as APIs, increasingly look like … read more

The United States (Code) is on Github

December 06 2012

When Congress launched in beta, they didn’t open the data. This fall, a trio of open government developers took it upon themselves to do what custodians of the U.S. Code and laws in the Library of Congress could have … read more

As digital disruption comes to Africa, investing in data journalism takes on new importance

November 29 2012

This interview is part of our ongoing look at the people, tools and techniques driving data journalism. I first met Justin Arenstein (@justinarenstein) in Chişinău, Moldova, where the media entrepreneur and investigative journalist was working as a trainer at a … read more

U.S. Senate to consider long overdue reforms on electronic privacy

November 27 2012

In 2010, electronic privacy needed digital due process. In 2012, it’s worth defending your vanishing rights online. This week, there’s an important issue before Washington that affects everyone who sends email, stores files in Dropbox or sends private messages on … read more

Investigating data journalism

November 26 2012

Great journalism has always been based on adding context, clarity and compelling storytelling to facts. While the tools have improved, the art is the same: explaining the who, what, where, when and why behind the story. The explosion of data, … read more

An innovation agenda to help people win the race against the machines

November 14 2012

If the country is going to have a serious conversation about innovation, unemployment and job creation, we must talk about our race against the machines. For centuries, we’ve been automating people out of jobs. Today’s combination of big data, automation … read more

Charging up: Networking resources and recovery after Hurricane Sandy

November 02 2012

Even though the direct danger from Hurricane Sandy has passed, lower Manhattan and many parts of Connecticut and New Jersey remain a disaster zone, with millions of people still without power, reduced access to food and gas, and widespread damage … read more

NYC’s PLAN to alert citizens to danger during Hurricane Sandy

October 30 2012

Starting at around 8:36 PM ET last night, as Hurricane Sandy began to flood the streets of lower Manhattan, many New Yorkers began to receive an unexpected message: a text alert on their mobile phones that strongly urged them to … read more

What I learned about #debates, social media and being a pundit on Al Jazeera English

October 22 2012

Earlier this month, when I was asked by Al Jazeera English if I’d like to be go on live television to analyze the online side of the presidential debates, I didn’t immediately accept. I’d be facing a live international audience … read more

San Francisco looks to tap into the open data economy

October 19 2012

As interest in open data continues to grow around the world, cities have become laboratories for participatory democracy. They’re also ground zero for new experiments in spawning civic startups that deliver city services or enable new relationships between the people … read more

Data from health care reviews could power “Yelp for health care” startups

October 17 2012

Given where my work and health has taken me this year, I’ve been thinking much more about the relationship of the Internet and health data to accountability and patient-driven health care. When I was looking for a place in Maine … read more

The missing ingredient from hyperwired debates: the feedback loop

October 03 2012

What a difference a season makes. A few months after widespread online frustration with a tape-delayed Summer Olympics, the 2012 Presidential debates will feature the most online livestreams and wired, up-to-the-second digital coverage in history. Given the pace of technological … read more

Four key trends changing digital journalism and society

September 28 2012

It’s not just a focus on data that connects the most recent class of Knight News Challenge winners. They all are part of a distributed civic media community that works on open source code, collects and improves data, and collaborates … read more

Congress launches in beta, doesn’t open the data

September 19 2012

The Library of Congress is now more responsive — at least when it comes to web design. Today, the nation’s repository for its laws launched a new beta website at and announced that it would eventually replace, the … read more

A marriage of data and caregivers gives Dr. Atul Gawande hope for health care

August 30 2012

Dr. Atul Gawande (@Atul_Gawande) has been a bard in the health care world, straddling medicine, academia and the humanities as a practicing surgeon, medical school professor, best-selling author and staff writer at the New Yorker magazine. His long-form narratives and … read more

President Obama participates in first Presidential AMA on Reddit

August 29 2012

Starting around 4:30 PM ET today, President Barack Obama made history by going onto Reddit to answer questions about anything for an hour. Reddit, one of the most popular social news sites on the Internet, has been hosting “Ask Me … read more

Balancing health privacy with innovation will rely on improving informed consent

August 23 2012

Society is now faced with how to balance the privacy of the individual patient with the immense social good that could come through great health data sharing. Making health data more open and fluid holds both the potential to be … read more

With new maps and apps, the case for open transit gets stronger

August 13 2012

Earlier this year, the news broke that Apple would be dropping default support for transit in iOS 6. For people (like me) who use the iPhone to check transit routes and times when they travel, that would mean losing a … read more

The risks and rewards of a health data commons

August 09 2012

As I wrote earlier this year in an ebook on data for the public good, while the idea of data as a currency is still in its infancy, it’s important to think about where the future is taking us and … read more

Palo Alto looks to use open data to embrace ‘city as a platform’

August 02 2012

In the 21st century, one of the strategies cities around the world are embracing to improve services, increase accountability and stimulate economic activity is to publish open data online. The vision for New York City as a data platform earned wider … read more

On email privacy, Twitter’s ToS and owning your own platform

July 31 2012

If you missed the news, Guy Adams, a journalist at the Independent newspaper in England, was suspended by Twitter after he tweeted the corporate email address of a NBC executive, Gary Zenkel. Zenkel is in charge of NBC’s Olympics coverage. … read more

Mobile participatory budgeting helps raise tax revenues in Congo

July 30 2012

In a world awash in data, connected by social networks and focused on the next big thing, stories about genuine innovation get buried behind the newest shiny app or global development initiative. For billions of people around the world, the … read more

Esther Dyson on health data, “preemptive healthcare” and the next big thing

July 26 2012

If we look ahead to the next decade, it’s worth wondering whether the way we think about health and healthcare will have shifted. Will healthcare technology be a panacea? Will it drive even higher costs, creating a broader divide between … read more

Mr. Issa logs on from Washington

July 25 2012

An interview with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) on open government, personal data ownership, a digital Bill of Rights, Internet freedom, regulation, and more. read more

Rethinking regulatory reform in the Internet age

July 25 2012

As the cover story of a February issue of The Economist highlighted, concerns about an over-regulated America are cresting in this election year, with headlines from that same magazine decrying “excessive environmental regulation” and calling for more accurate measurement of … read more

Do citizens have a ‘right to record’ in the digital age?

July 25 2012

When Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) and I talked this summer about his proposal for a digital Bill of Rights, I followed up by asking him about whether it might be more productive to focus on the rights that we already … read more

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