Too many people are struggling to get their foot in the door on the job. Too many workers face unsafe or unhealthy workplaces. And too many workers fear what might happen if they speak up about back wages, overtime pay, or simply being treated fairly under the law.
These are big challenges for our nation’s workers, and they require innovative ideas from all over the country to tackle them.
Our agencies regularly produce mountains of data on enforcement actions, employment, unemployment, wages, and other topics. This information can be useful for those struggling to find a job, workers looking for ways improve their skills, and consumers who want to know that the businesses they use value safe, healthy, and fair workplaces.
We know this data is valuable, but we also know that we haven’t thought of every way to put it in the hands of the American people — at home, at the office, or on the go.
So earlier today, the Labor Department launched two application development contests on www.challenge.gov. Each contest offers prizes of up to $35,000 for award winners who develop the most innovative applications using publically-available DOL data.
The Occupational Employment Statistics app challenge calls on developers to use data from our Bureau of Labor Statistics to help people plan their education, find the skills they need, make informed decisions about potential career changes, know what to expect when the move to a new town, or negotiate better pay and benefits with employers. The data needed to create these application is already available to everyone – our challenge to developers is to help us deliver the information in a way that’s easily accessible, understandable, and actionable.
The second contest — our informAction app challenge — will showcase data from our Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD). We are looking for innovative ways to deliver this data that will increase public awareness of the laws enforced by DOL to ensure fair and safe workplaces. Consumers and workers should be able to view inspection and compliance information from the hotels, motels, restaurants and retail stores they shop at, and use it to take educated action.
Again, all this information is already available to anyone who wants it — we’re just challenging the developer community to package it so individuals can make educated decisions about where they shop, stay, or eat. If you’re the person who makes sure to buy organic produce at the grocery store, or only stays at hotels that use environmentally friendly cleaning products, don’t you also want to know those businesses have strong safety records and treat their employees fairly?
To help programmers, we have launched a dedicated site — http://developer.dol.gov — that will make it easier to incorporate DOL data into software thorough Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs).
So we want developers to be creative and use Labor Department data — the public’s data — in ways we haven’t even considered to help people find good jobs, take the next step in their careers, or spend their money at businesses that comply with health and safety laws.
The top entries in each contest will receive up to $35,000 in prize money, and submissions are due by September 14, 2011. We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with!