One of the Department of Energy’s flagship open government initiatives, Open Energy Information (OpenEI), was on display at the recent National Science Festival. Ryan McKeel, an engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, talks about how OpenEI provides access to data, models and tools in the following clip:
OpenEI is “open” in any number of important ways, including open source and open linked data, as Debbie Brodt-Giles, the OpenEI project leader, notes in an Amazon case study (OpenEI is hosted on Amazon’s Web Services platform). “Key platform software for OpenEI includes Apache, Semantic MediaWiki, MySQL, and OpenLink Virtuoso,” she wrote. “Customization to meet the specific needs of OpenEI has been performed primarily through PHP. Common deployment and operations for OpenEI have been automated using various AWS command-line tools.”
As McKeel pointed out in the interview, a recent mashathon pulled all of that open data into a mashup that shows residents the cost of energy, usage rates and potential savings around the country. The mashup also provides access to incentive information. For instance, the incentive programs in the District of Columbia are all available with a click. That addresses a concern Micah Sifry articulated: people need a way to take personal action when they are presented with information.
Chris Davis, a Ph.D. researcher at Delft University of Technology, took an in-depth look at the applications and insights that can be mined from Department of Energy data. “One of the points I wish to get across in this exercise, is that it’s not just an analysis of renewable energy trends, but rather it’s an analysis of U.S. Government data, grabbed live from a wiki that has been opened up to public contributions,” he wrote. “This is truly revolutionary, although perhaps under-appreciated or unnoticed by many.”