Posted by Nik Garkusha
Open Platforms Lead, Microsoft Canada

With all the open data that’s been made available by cities, states and countries worldwide, it makes sense to explore new ways to connect that data into various apps. At many Microsoft-hosted events, including this week’s Make Web Not War Hackathon, the objective is just that – to explore these new scenarios offered by open data and find ways to translate it into powerful apps and visualizations. 

This open data trend is increasingly relevant because of the substantial value in judiciously sharing data as a means to transform government services delivery. By enabling access to the data, individuals are empowered to draw their own conclusions and use the data to engage in their communities.

Last week I blogged about two perfect examples of Windows 8 apps that harness the power of open data and support community engagement, specifically the geo-enabled open source templates “Finder” and “Hero”.

Built by the awesome crew at RedBit Development, Finder and Hero are near-complete Windows 8 apps. This means if you know HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you can grab the code from GitHub here, change the configuration to point to your own data feed, customize a few bits, and you’re done!

With Finder (pictured here), users can locate points of interest on a map (e.g., buildings, historical locations), with a sortable menu, as well as options to click for more “details” or “directions”.

With Hero, users can crowd-source location-based data (e.g., fix-my-street type scenarios), with a way to submit and map points of interest.

For more on how to get started with either of these templates, RedBit Development’s Mark Arteaga has created great quick start guides here.