Cat, nice post. Thanks.
Sounds like you described the internet here ;-). But seriously, it rings true. When I was working for the city of Antwerp a few years ago, we developed a strategy for ‘city as an operating system’ based on this analogy. In real life cities provide infrastructure for its users to go about their life, business,… In ‘digital’, city governments never really did that.
So we devised (and started to develop) a digital city platform as a set of APIs, an SDK,… The idea being that these tools could then be used by other (internal + external) external people to develop applications. The objective? Facilitating and unlocking people’s innovation potential and get a lot closer to real user needs.
I’ve since left and I’m not sure where they’re at at the moment, but have a read through this if you’re interested to find out more. http://antwerpen.digipolis.be/#/en/blog/digipolis-antwerp-city-platform-as-a-service