What is Open Data?

Government by legal processes collects a significant amount of data about people, properties, licenses, crimes, public health and a wide variety of other entities. With the onset of IoT and the growing digitalization of government processes, almost everything can be measured, monitored and networked. Such data from different sources can be combined and “mashed up to produce new insights and new businesses. The progress of the Big Data Ecosystem makes this happen with affordable cost and efficiency. This data is a new digital currency which can drive the next generation of urban infrastructure, policies and government operations. Governments over the world are making this data open for use by a wide range of users, including citizen activists, businesses, other government departments, the research community and government employees. 

Open Data Intellectual material is:

  1. Legally open: available with minimal restrictions on terms of use
  2. Technically open: accessible in a machine-readable format for wide use

Traditionally government has published this data on a web portal and called it open data. Actually, what needs to be done to have a process of opening data with a legal structure to undergird the ongoing process, for authenticity, optimal use and safety.

There two requirements to leveraging open data for maximum benefits in government operations:  

  1. Open data policies create clear lines of responsibility for the management and oversight of data publication, create official spaces for public participation around data selection and publication, and ensure sustained commitment from a government—all of which increase the value of the data to its potential users. They are also imperative to enforce the secure and ethical use of open data.
  2. Open data architecture and standards – Data from different sources will have a different format, different storage, and different metadata. To make it effective use it need to roll up in a common standard format, clean it, aggregate it and then make it available so that it is easily accessible to others.

For setting up above two key building blocks Data Science skills and Data Platform become important. Many cities worldwide are appointing The City Chief Data Scientist to evangelize and accelerate towards open data government.

Benefits of Opening Data

  • Increasing government capacity at low cost, benefitting the broader range of people
  • Encouraging innovation from businesses, data-focused centres, academic researchers, software entrepreneurs, and open data activist groups.
  • Improving internal quality and use of data, by a proactive online posting of public data and cross-department access.
  • Increased transparency and accountability of the government, a tool for rooting out corruption, holding officials accountable, and promoting public trust by broadcasting information about government functioning.
  • Increased citizen engagement, two-way communication between authorities and citizens help identify and meet challenges much faster