Civic Awesome: Open Data in the News for the Week of September 7, 2015
The international scene lit up with open data efforts this week, from the USAID’s new proactive policies to the World Bank’s emphasis on sustainability-minded use of public data. Meanwhile, Louisville, Kentucky, gave its people a 69 percent increase on its open data promise.
By establishing an open data policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is building “better relationships with its partners,” and using that data “to help people in different countries tackle significant issues,” comments Derek Major in GCN.com. The recent CIO Council report, “Leveraging Data Through Partnerships,” details the concrete measures USAID took to create its policy. These range from placing data stewards in every operating unit to creating the online Development Data Library, “where USAID staff and partners can upload datasets for public release.” The report also details USAID’s open data payoffs: better, timelier disaster response after the Nepal earthquake, strategic water management in North Africa, and more.
The City of Louisville, Kentucky, “is staying true to its promise to provide open data to the city for analysis, research and creative use,” reports Melissa Chipman in InsiderLouisville. In its second annual Open Data Report, the city noted the addition of 49 new datasets to its portal, “a 69 percent increase.” The new datasets include crime data, sidewalk repair services, and restaurant inspections. Mayor Greg Fischer, Chipman notes, “has been lauded for his commitment to providing data transparency,” and Louisville “is one of 16 U.S. cities working with the White House regarding data innovation.” Mayor Fischer touts the benefits of open data, including “saving city staff time and taxpayer money,” and the innovations from people “taking raw data and turning it into creative and useful applications.”
The UK’s public sector spends a lot on consultancy fees, says the Open Data Institute (ODI), and it’s time for those contracts to be public. In Computer Weekly, Lis Evenstad reports on ODI’s efforts to demonstrate potential savings from making the data public. In analyzing available U.S. government data to provide examples, ODI has found “that smaller suppliers may provide cheaper consultancy rates than larger ones.” ODI wants the UK to make available this same type of data, to enable government staffers and the public to spot cost differences and to “encourage greater direct spend on more cost-effective smaller suppliers.”
“Data is probably one of the most valuable and least-used assets of modern governments,” says Joel Gurin in FedScoop.com. Increasingly, nations and nongovernmental organizations are creating open data initiatives to capitalize on the efficiencies it offers, and to drive sustainable development. Studies from the World Bank and other institutions “have shown a growing number of Open Data applications around the world, from water management social enterprises in India to agro-businesses in Ghana.” The World Bank has pinpointed four major categories of sustainability benefits, from job growth to information sharing within government.