Friday, 2 March 2012

Open Data Monthly Review 02/2012

A review of latest news and blog posts in the field of open data.


IN THE NEWS:

Open data consultation exposes IT cost and capability worries
The Cabinet Office has revealed concern over whether the public sector's IT is up to the job of supporting more transparency, from responses to last year's open data consultation.

Is open data under threat?
Many advocates of open data were dismayed by developments in 2011
On the face of it, 2011 was a very good year for the open data movement, which argues that certain information, such as non-personal government data, is more valuable when it is shared freely. In the chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November, amid public sector pay caps and downgraded growth forecasts, George Osborne announced that the government is to create an Open Data Institute, chaired by open data advocates Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt.

OKF Software Chosen to Power Open Data Portal
The Open Knowledge Foundation’s CKAN software has been chosen to power the European Commission’s new open data portal. The article reports, “The European Commission (EC) has awarded a contract to create an open data portal website, where data produced by European Commission services will be freely available.

Open data tsar calls for change in government mentality

The government needs to move to a "presume to publish" mentality to keep its much touted open data strategy alive, according to one of its key information advisors, Nigel Shadbolt.

Viability of Open Data plans questioned
Responses to the Cabinet Office’s Open Data plans have questioned whether government IT systems and staff can deliver an enhanced “right to data.”
The Making Open Data Real consultation, published last August, is part of the government’s drive to publish more data across the public sector and to stimulate a market for its use.

Media entrepreneur leads open data city audit

An audit of open data activity by local authorities in England's largest 40 cities is being carried out by the organiser of the UK's first open data cities conference, with initial findings to be revealed in April.

Wandsworth open council: better data for armchair auditors
Paul Martin, chief executive of Wandsworth council, says raw data is meaningless. The Open Council initiative aims to make it comprehensible. There is now a huge quantity of information about public services and spending in the public domain – but it is impossible to make sense of it.

Europeana opens up Europe’s cultural data for innovators
Europeana, an online resource whereby people can explore the digital resources of Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections, has published data pertaining to 2.4m objects for the first time under an open metadata licence.

The problem with Open Data
Recent initiatives have dramatically increased the range of previously “closed” data being made “open” by the government, including data sets on travel, weather and healthcare. This data can then be used by anyone to create great new products, business opportunities and community services.

From open data to a closed Internet

Within the tech community, there is much angst about whether the web is about to be “closed”. Will it be controlled by companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google, or will it remain “open” to all? Will individuals be able to reach any content they choose? Will developers be able to serve users on any platform?

Open data: now it's business's turn, says Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed his government's pioneering of open data as a money-spinner for private companies. In a speech billed as a fierce defence of business, the prime minister pointed to a "new industry springing up", to interpret the blizzard of information flowing from Whitehall. Since coming to power, Cameron's government has made it possible for the outside world to view more than 35,000 files, through the website www.data.gov.uk.

Open Knowledge Releases Open Data Handbook 1.0
The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) announced the 1.0 release of the Open Data Handbook today. The 1.0 release is the culmination of a project that started in October 2010 at a book sprint in Berlin as the Open Data Manual. The Open Data Handbook provides the introduction to what open data is, why organizations (particularly government) would be interested in providing open data, and how to go about it.

New Contest: Making the Most of Open Data in Finland
The Open Knowledge Foundation has announced a new Finnish data journalism app contest. THe contest is being organized by Finland’s leading national newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, in order to find better data visualizations. The post states, “For many journalists today, it’s not a lack of open data that’s the problem, but a lack of the skills and off-the-shelf visualizations needed to make that open data useful to them. A year ago, the Finnish government decided that in principle all data generated with taxpayer money should be free.”

Open data – forward strategy
A few people from central government have asked to talk to me recently about open data as they look at their strategy beyond legislation. I thought I would write down repeated themes to save on more meetings.  The conversation is normally about how data can be used for the public good as opposed to, say commercial re-use and generally geeing people up to reuse open data that one bit of government sweated blood to get another bit of government to publish.

EIF Dinner Debate: Open Data
The EIF (European Internet Foundation) hosted a dinner debate on Open Data, also known as the Public Sector Information (PSI), at the European Parliament, Brussels on Tuesday 24th January 2012. Attendees came from a broad range of commerce (including Microsoft, Facebook and Google), education, NGOs, national and regional government departments, and the European Commission and European Parliament.

IN THE BLOGS:

How can visualization help citizens use open data?
Open data refers to the free access and reuse of government data — excluding private information such as personal medical data. The concept of establishing a portal for open data is fairly new. (http://ibmresearchnews.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-can-visualization-help-citizens-use.html)

Announcing the School of Data
Today, we’re announcing plans for a School of Data. The School will be a joint venture between the Open Knowledge Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). We also welcome other organizations who would like to participate.

How to get your city to pass an open government policy

Today, the Raleigh City Council passed an Open Source Government Resolution, unanimously, promoting the use of open source software and open data. The resolution includes language that puts open source software on the same playing field as proprietary software in the procurement process. It also establishes an open data catalog to house data available from the city.  

From Freedom of Information to Open data … for open accountability
How is the open Web been changing accountability and transparency? Filipe is going to share two ideas: 1. The Web is making the Freedom of Information Act (FOIOA) obsolete. 2. An open data policy is necessary to keep freedom of information up to date, and to move toward open accountability.

Open data is going global
More than 50 countries have now signed up to making data more open.
In our last post we talked about the release of data from the Department for Education and how important it was for many people in the UK. However, the purpose of this blog is to spread our net wider as we look to how we can improve transparency across the world. Some might ask why the UK should be interested in other countries and their work on transparency. Can we really gain anything from working with them? Well, quite simply yes. We have much to learn and much to share.

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