If you’re looking for profitable Web business ideas in the coming years you may want to look at this so-called Government 2.0. The US government aims to make statistical data and other information available to the public so the the Internet’s next big opportunity lies in tapping that information to boost government transparency, efficiency, and responsiveness.

Here are the highlights of an article published in BusinessWeek:

Tim O’Reilly, founder of technology publisher O’Reilly Media, likens the effort to Interstate highways, the global positioning system, and the Internet. Those public investments all unleashed private-sector innovation. Similarly, by giving everyone access to government data, “you don’t have to do all the innovating yourself,” says O’Reilly, who hosted a Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington, D.C., on May 25…

…One way governments encourage innovation from entrepreneurs is through apps contests. These offer prize money to developers who build software applications using public data. New York, Washington, and Portland, Ore., have all started competitions. Federal agencies have sponsored efforts aimed at expanding broadband access and reducing childhood obesity. Even the Pentagon has gotten on board with an “Apps for the Army” challenge for soldiers. All told, more than 350 apps that tap into public data have been submitted to such contests, some of which are ongoing…

…Of course, plenty of public agencies resist openness, and startups that want to sell to or partner with the government often face frustrating bureaucracies. Yet even small steps by government, such as releasing public data, can create new business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Says O’Reilly: “This is one of those amazing outcomes where the government does something small that has a huge impact on the economy.”

Source: Great Business Ideas

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