Civic Awesome: Open Data In the News For August 1, 2014
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…it’s…Open Data! This week, we find lots of big, optimistic 30,000 foot views of open data and its amazing, transformative powers.
“The Bill with the nerdy name has the potential to revolutionize government,” says Wired as it takes a look at the recently passed Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (or DATA Act.). The DATA Act will require all federal agencies to open and standardize their spending data. Wired predicts the coming of many more great civic apps as a response, but also calls for more data liberation, which could spur, according to a McKinsey & Company study up to 5 trillion new dollars a year in the global economy.
Actually, that same McKinsey study is the jumping off point for this look at the economic impact for open data. Other studies, focused on industry verticals find, for instance, growth of about $20 billion a year to agriculture in the US. Open data has created five business models that didn’t exist even ten years ago. They are: suppliers, aggregators, enrichers, application developers, and enablers. In total, these new businesses are valued at $1 billion or more.
Open data is transforming more than just the economy, it’s can also fuel social change and increase citizen participation in government .
“Beyond the rationales of increased efficiency, reduced costs, increased productivity, and economic growth that will spur the release of open data, there’s a considerable potential for open data releases to extend to positive social justice, environmental, educational, public safety and health outcomes,” says this article’s author, Alex Howard. Because of this opportunity, governments need to look past just releasing financial data to opening access about data which has the power to effect social change, as well. In addition, Howard calls for newly published data to be considerate of not only fueling “applications and services that favor people who are already privileged in society.”
Citizen participation is at an all-time low, VentureBeat tells us, citing some bleak numbers on election turnout. But, open data is giving people new ways to interact with and access government. Sticking with the voting example, Paul Allen recently invested in a company building a platform to enable online voting. There is also opportunities for citizens to influence government directly by funding their favorite projects, bypassing government gate keepers who usually decide how funds are distributed.