Since its 2016 launch, the Opportunity Project, an open-data Federal program that partners public and private organizations to solve tech problems, has completed 100 products via nationwide virtual sprints, Director Drew Zachary announced at a March 3 FCW Citizen Engagement Summit.
She highlighted how the Opportunity Project helped groups overcome key tech challenges, such as lack of geospatial mapping in Puerto Rico and hurdles to innovation in Chicago, by bringing Fed problem solvers in to make a direct impact in the community.
“Bringing people down and forcing them to experience the thing directly really changes our understanding of problems and our ability to solve them,” Zachary said. These local roots are the epicenter of the problem, and the solutions created can often be expanded and applied to other tech use cases.
Through the Opportunity Project, the Census Bureau is also “curating a smaller and more manageable number of datasets” streamlining stakeholder data management. A beta version of these datasets, on workforce and with geospatial challenges coming soon, is now live on the agency website.
“Data discovery is really hard for people outside of government and even for people inside of government,” Zachary said. “The things that we have tried to fix that are curating datasets and bringing people together to actually understand what they need.”
On May 15, the Opportunity Project will launch the TOPx Agency Toolkit to expand outreach efforts to other Federal agencies. It will include a detailed version of their sprint facilitation process and technical support from the Opportunity Project team. Then, later this year, the project is planning two tech sprints focused on “natural and built environments.”