Posts Tagged ‘open government data’

Setting Government Data Free

taAs July 4 approaches, the subject of open government data can’t help but be on many U.S. citizens’ minds. That includes the citizens who are responsible for opening up that data to their fellow Americans. They might want to take a look at NuCivic Data Enterprise, the recently unveiled cloud-based, open source, open data platform for government from NuCivic, in partnership with Acquia and Carahsoft. It’s providing agencies an OpenSaaS approach to meeting open data mandates to publish and share datasets online, based on the Drupal open source content management system.

NuCivic’s open source DKAN Drupal distribution provides the core data management components for the NuCivic Data platform; it was recognized last week as a grand prize winner for Amazon Web Services’ Global City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge in the Partner in Innovation category. Projects in this category had to demonstrate that the application solves a particular challenge faced by local government entities. As part of the award, the NuCivic team gets $25,000 in AWS services to further support its open data efforts.

Read more

Helping Citizen Searches For Government Services

Photo courtesy: Flickr/Arjan Richter

By 2016, ABI Research has it, as much as $114 billion could be saved worldwide through the implementation of online e-government services. It predicted that investment in these services is set to increase from $28 billion in 2010 to $57 billion in 2016, and that the number of users will nearly triple over the forecast period.

Here in the states, according to a 2012 survey by GovLoop, 83 percent of respondents say that they can access government-oriented customer service efforts via a website. And the number of people who are taking advantage of the ability to access information and services on government web sites is pretty significant, even going back to 2010, when the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 82 percent of American Internet users – 62 percent of adults – were doing so. Among its findings at the time were that 46 percent have looked up what services a government agency provides; 33 percent  have renewed a driver’s license or auto registration; 23 percent have gotten information about or applied for government benefits; and 11 percent have applied for a recreational license, such as a fishing or hunting license.

Given the interest in accessing information via the Internet about government services by the citizenry — not to mention accessing the services themselves, and not only in the US but abroad — it makes sense for governments to put an emphasis on customer service online. The Govloop survey finds that there’s room for some improvement, with the majority of respondents rating service a 3 or 4 on the scale of 1 to 5. Perhaps additional help will come from some efforts in the semantic web space, like a vocabulary for describing civic services that government organizations can use to help citizens using search engines hone in on the service that’s their true interest from the start.

Read more

New York City: Taking Smart — And Semantic — Steps To Its Digital Future

Every day New York City is getting closer to being the Digital City of the Future. It’s a long journey, though, and one that the semantic web community can lend a hand with.

At this week’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference in NYC, Andrew Nicklin of the Office of Strategic Technology and Development, NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) provided a look at what has been accomplished so far, and what’s on the to-do roadmap. Recent months have seen accomplishments including the passage of Local Law 11 of 2012 – the “most progressive legislation in the U.S. as far as cities being mandated to open data,” Nicklin said in an interview with The Semantic Web Blog before his keynote address at SemTech. “It ensures permanency for our program past any administrative changes….The whole notion of open data doesn’t go way because it is written into law.”

Read more

Defining Open Government Data

Anupama Dokeniya has written an article for the World Bank blog discussing open government data. Dokeniya writes, “Even as the language of ‘Open Government’ has picked up steam over the past couple of years – driven initially by the ‘Obama Open Government Directive’, and further boosted by the multi-lateral Open Government Partnership –  the use of the term has tended to fairly broad, and mostly imprecise, lacking a shared, consistent definition. As Nathaniel Heller of Global Integrity, a key player in the OGP, cautioned in a recent blog: ‘The longer we allow ‘open government’ to mean any and everything to anyone, the risk increases that the term melts into a hollow nothingness of rhetoric’.” Read more

Linked Open Government Data: Dispatch from the Second International Open Government Data Conference

“What we have found with this project is… the capacity to take value out of open data is very limited.”

With the abatement of the media buzz surrounding open data since the first International Open Government Data Conference (IOGDC) was held in November 2011, it would be easy to believe that the task of opening up government data for public consumption is a fait accompli.  Most of the discussion at this year’s IOGDC conference, held July 10-12, centered on the advantages and roadblocks to creating an open data ecosystem within government, and the need to establish the right mix of policies to promote a culture of openness and sharing both within and between government agencies and externally with journalists, civil society, and the public at large.   According to these metrics the open government data movement has much to celebrate:  1,022,787 datasets from 192 catalogs in 24 languages representing 43 countries and international organizations.

The looming questions about the utility of open government data make it clear, however, that the movement is still in its early stages.    Much remains to be done to to provide usable, reliable, machine-readable and valuable government data to the public.

Read more

UK Publishes Open Data Command Paper

The Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom has published an Open Data command paper. According to the office, the paper “sets out how we’re putting data and transparency at the heart of government and public services. We’re making it easier to access public data; easier for data publishers to release data in standardised, open formats; and engraining a ‘presumption to publish’ unless specific reasons (such as privacy or national security) can be clearly articulated. From the Prime Minister down, central Government is committed to making Open Data an effective engine of economic growth, social wellbeing, political accountability and public service improvement.” Download the full paper here. Read more

Closing In On A Million Open Government Data Sets

A million data sets. That’s the number of government data sets out there on the web that we have closed in on.

“The question is, when you have that many, how do you search for them, find them, coordinate activity between governments, bring in NGOs,” says James A. Hendler, Tetherless World Senior Constellation Professor, Department of Computer Science and Cognitive Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a principal investigator of its Linking Open Government Data project lives, as well as Internet web expert for data.gov, He also is connected with many other governments’ open data projects. “Semantic web tools organize and link the metadata about these things, making them searchable, explorable and extensible.”

To be more specific, Hendler at SemTech a couple of weeks ago said there are 851,000 open government data sets across 153 catalogues from 30-something countries, with the three biggest representatives, in terms of numbers, at the moment being the U.S., the U.K, and France. Last week, the one million threshold was crossed.

Read more

Good, Clean Government Data

Benjamin J. Balter recently discussed the need to publish open government data that is developer-friendly. He writes, “Despite increasing public support (as well as a number of executive mandates) publishing public data in a machine-readable format is not as simple as pressing the ‘publish’ button. Why? Equally important as exposing the information itself is fostering a vibrant developer ecosystem around it. By making the publishing agency, not the public, responsible for making information immediately useful, government can lower the barriers associated with consuming its data and introduce additional citizen services at little to no cost to the agency.”

He continues, “Good, clean data may be surprisingly difficult to come by, especially when working with government systems that have been coupled together over decades. Data standards and conventions change, mechanisms of data collection evolve, and the data itself may be interpreted differently as new policies are introduced. Read more

Journal of Community Informatics Publishes Special Issue on Open Gov Data

Tim Davies recently discussed two new publications covering open data. The first is a Special Issue of the Journal of Community Informatics on Open Government Data (OGD). According to Davies, the issue brings together “four new papers, five field notes, and two editorials that critically explore how Open Government Data policies and practices are playing out across the world. All the papers and notes draw upon empirical study and grassroots experiences in order to explore key challenges of, and challenges to, OGD.” Read more

Taking Inspiration from Open Government Data Initiatives

You don’t have to read very far into your iPad news app to learn the latest about government dysfunctionality, debt, and defaults, whether in the U.S. or abroad. It’s all a little overwhelming, and can’t help but have an impact on how so many nations’ citizens view their present circumstances and their futures, too.

Amid so many negatives, perhaps we can take some inspiration from the fact that this month will see the Open Government Data Camp 2011 being held in Warsaw, Poland. Think about that for a minute: A country that not all that long ago was controlled by an iron fist and blocked from the free world by the Iron Curtain is the host site for the Open Knowledge Foundation event — an undertaking that is very much focused on making government data more transparent and interoperable and transformative for the societies whose governing bodies adopt open data principles and values.

Maybe thinking about things in that light will help anyone discouraged by current events to hope still for a brighter future. Among the presenters at the event discussing how open data can be essential to realizing transformation is Bernadette Hyland, co-chair W3C Government Linked Data Working Group and CEO of 3 Round Stones. Hyland also will be co-conducting a half-day Government Linked Data Workshop during the course of the camp. Hyland’s speech, a report on the progress of the W3C Government Linked Data Working Group, will hone in on why it’s important to share government information and the benefits to be attained from doing so, including transforming how governments serve their citizens in the 21st Century. (The W3C Government Linked Data Working Group is chartered to produce standards and document best practices for the publication of governmental data.)

Read more

NEXT PAGE >>