Civic Awesome: Open Data News for June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014 12:02 pm PST | Data as a Service
Open data is not only flourishing, it’s useful in countless ways — from improving your health to growing the economy to studying clouds (the fluffy ones in the sky, not the server variety) and that’s just this week’s open data news!

The Business Case for Open Data

There are plenty of anecdotes about how open data can catalyze economic growth. This Omidyar Network study finds that, by implementing open data policies, G20 countries could increase their cumulative GDP by $13trillion over the next five years, because open data attracts private infrastructure investment, creates jobs, strengthens tax systems, and fights corruption. Omidyar Network goes on to make recommendations for how the G20 countries can agree on data standards and encourage the release of public sector data.

Open Data is Bolstering Business

Almost on cue from Omidyar’s suggestions, acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews announced plans to release government data which he hopes will create opportunities for new startups, as well as improve decision making for existing businesses. The Commerce Department is working with other government agencies and will also seek advice from the private sector when determining which data sets are most valuable.

The Impact of Open: Keeping You Healthy

Sure open data is chock full of informational nuggets and can help trim fat, but is it actually good for your health? In preparation for an event looking at the social impact of open data, the Sunlight Foundation has posted this thorough analysis of how open data can and is transforming healthcare, including Louisville’s smart asthma inhalers and Chicago’s Health Atlas. The post also looks at privacy concerns, fragmented collection methods, and other stumbling blocks to bringing about change in the healthcare sector.¬†

NASA Launches Open Data Earth Science Challenge

NASA is banking on open data transforming our understanding of climate change and reducing carbon pollution. In partnership with Amazon Web Services, NASA announced a series of workshops as well as long-term hacking challenges to achieve this end using sound science. (Even offering $60,000 in prizes for apps or algorithms that enable climate resistance.) As part of this two-part event, NASA is opening a wide range of data, including climate projections dating back to 1950.

Making the Most of Open Data

Okay, so open data is good for business, health, and the environment, there’s just one wrinkle according to this article — there are very few people consuming open data and putting it to meaningful use. A report by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) finds that the problem is that too many government employees and citizens are not digitally literate. NASCIO makes a few recommendations about how to move past “just posting data online” and actually getting people involved in its consumption.


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