Dr. David Van Sickle, for example, demonstrated "Asthmapolis," a data platform to help patients and public health professionals track the geography of asthma attacks by attaching a real-time sensor to an inhaler that records the time and location of its use. Empowered by this information, patients may be able to avoid asthma hotspots and reduce costly hospital visits through prevention.

By posting all information about government spending on technology contracts in an easy-to-visualize format, US Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra is empowering citizens to hold their government accountable for how taxpayer dollars are spent. Launched in June 2009, the "IT Dashboard" has spurred greater oversight of IT spending at agencies like the VA, where Secretary Shinseki and CIO Roger Baker ordered the review of all 282 major IT projects, resulting in the stoppage or slowdown of approximately two-thirds of them and the ability to re-allocate $300 million dollars in this fiscal year to address higher priorities such as reducing the disability benefits backlog.

Many small efforts combine big.

I spent time with a lot of Republicans and Democrats at PdF, and there was a lot of excitement about this kind of thing, from the staffers on up.