Augmenting the reality of the economic stimulus

recovery data app

Sunlight Foundation

Keeping tabs on government spending is now as easy as taking a leisurely walk down the street. With $5.7 billion awarded to Colorado that’s a lot of moola to track.

The Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan mashup of government accountability and open data tools, released a pretty cool augmented reality app that visualizes the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contracts. The app works on both iOS and Android devices.

Sure, the stimulus may seem like old news after the initial political firefight when it passed in 2008. Aside from the silly charges of socialism flung around in the heat of the vote, stimulus funding is still funneling through the states.

Tonight’s State of the Union address is widely expected to center on the nation’s still queasy economy. Political watchers hint that President Barack Obama will reprise his soaring Osawatomie speech. Except this time the audience is a recalcitrant Congress (cough, Doug Lamborn) rather than soaring homage to Teddy Roosevelt-styled economic bipartanship last spring to rural Kansans.

Why does this matter?

Obama’s May speech hit some notes important to Colorado’s startup and tech sector:

In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries. And by the way, if we don’t have an economy that’s built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won’t all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance. Because if we want an economy that’s built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering. This country should not be known for bad debt and phony profits. We should be known for creating and selling products all around the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.

Not impressed? You can always play SOTU bingo and shout every time the president utters the word “science.”