Imagine walking around the streets of DC with your mobile phone in hand. You "point" to, say, a building or a bridge and an application on the phone allows you to detect whether the project is a beneficiary of some of the $787 billion allocated by the US Government American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The amount of money spent for the building and the name of the beneficiary are also displayed. Public spending could not get more transparent – and tangible – than this. Science fiction? Not anymore, thanks to the augmented reality mash-up just released by the ever inspiring folks at Sunlightlabs (hat tip: David Osimo).
Call me naïve or hopelessly technophiliac, but, as I argued before, an application along those lines, displaying projects funded by development agencies around the world, could go a much longer way to make the case for donor integration and coordination than many meetings. It could also help workers in the field and potential new donors make more informed decisions: a way to address both "web attention" and "web intention" deficit disorder (borrowing the helpful distinction proposed by Nova Spivack). Or, to put it another way, a visualization milestone towards the building of collaborative markets for aid.
Development Squared can’t come fast enough.
PS. For those who might be interested, I have started collecting examples of Development Squared in action via delicious (tag: developmentsquared) and twitter (#developmentsquared)
Photo Credit: Sunlight Labs