We've been covering the topics of open government and open data since nearly the start of The Changelog. More recently, we covered the city of Chicago being on Github and how they open sourced various datasets for civic and commercial usage. Needless to say, the topics open government and open data is something we hackers get excited about.
From the readme:
Much of the data in government coffers is contained in spatial databases. A large percentage of government spatial data is ESRI software. While the common interchange format, the ESRI Shapefile, is easily exported and imported by many other softwares, this data file format (the Shapefile) is not intrinsically part of the www ecology.
Basically, many government agencies use proprietary software, such as ESRI software, to do their day to day data storage and analysis, but getting that data out and into an open data format like CSV, JSON, or GeoJSON takes some extra effort -- esri2open helps to solve this problem.
Check out the project on GitHub to learn more and help improve it!