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Open Data for a Clean, Secure Energy Future

July 12, 2012 - 2:35pm


Notes from the May 25th Energy Data Jam in Stanford California | Credit:

Notes from the May 25th Energy Data Jam in Stanford California | Credit:

Ed. Note: Energy Department officials, including David Danielson and Patricia Hoffman, attended the second Energy Data Jam in New York City on Monday. The first Energy Data Jam was held at Stanford University in May. This entry is cross-posted from the White House Blog.

Freely available data from the Federal government and other sources can be a powerful input to private sector innovation. Open data can spur entrepreneurship, empower citizens, and create jobs. As just one example, data from the US Global Positioning System (GPS) have been utilized by entrepreneurs to power navigation systems, precision crop farming tools, and other innovations that add over $90 billion in value to our economy each year and have improved the lives of Americans in many ways.

The Obama Administration recently launched a series of Open Data Initiatives—in healthpublic safety,education, and energy. The Energy Data Initiative (EDI) aims to help Americans benefit from entrepreneurial innovation enabled by open energy data from the US government and other sources. By working to make energy data more available and useful to entrepreneurs, we’re confident that new products and services will continue to emerge to help American families and businesses save energy and money, protect the environment, and ensure a reliable energy future.

With this goal in mind, staff from the White House, Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency participated in an “Energy Data Jam” yesterday at the Google offices in New York City. Yesterday’s event was the second “Energy Data Jam” this year and included approximately 50 private-sector leaders from energy companies, finance firms, real-estate developers, Web start-ups, and other digital innovators.

One of the goals of the half-day workshop was to brainstorm how publicly available datasets might be put to use in the continuing transition to a clean energy future. Participants brainstormed ingenious new ideas for products, services, features, and apps that could be built using open energy data as an input. If you have an idea or an example of an innovation (a product, service, website, app, or feature) that uses open data as an input, you can let us know by sending an email to:

Open data can also include companies that make private-sector data more accessible to their own consumers using open industry formats. A recent example is the Green Button Initiative, a White House catalyzed, industry-led effort that provides electricity customers with easy and secure access to their own energy usage information in a consumer-friendly and computer-readable format. Thanks to commitments from industry to date, over 31 million households and businesses will be able to securely download the details of their own energy usage with a simple click of an actual "Green Button" on websites of electric utilities and retail electric providers.

The Energy Data Jam also highlighted the role energy data can play in lowering the cost of and improving access to energy financing, especially around commercial building upgrades. Accurate and robust building energy performance data can help investors and lenders better gauge risk and gain confidence to finance building energy upgrades, ultimately leading to new construction jobs.

Later this year, we plan to hold an event to celebrate private-sector energy and environmental innovation fueled by open data.  If you’d like more details about this upcoming “Energy Datapalooza,” please send an email to