Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For November 21, 2014
Whether you’re up north where it’s shifting from autumn into winter, or down south where spring’s giving way to summer, there’s no doubt that change is in the air. What’s true for the seasons is also true for open data, as this week’s news stories all focus on change.
The parliament of South Australia has adopted laws to protect government employees from being sued because of the publication of open data. The legal change is a reaction to a perceived bottleneck in the liberation of data, as civil servants try to decided whether or not publishing government information could lead to that employee being sued. Hopefully, the legislation will alleviate these concerns and help stem the tide of what some politicians and critics have called a “culture of default closure.”
Despite numerous executive orders and mandates, the building of repositories, and international partnerships built to secure the openness of government data, more remains to be done to ensure that President Barack Obama’s open data legacy is secured. Although the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) has somewhat codified federal financial transparency, Congress should do more to require the government’s open data directives truly be enacted as the law of the land. According to this article’s author, Joshua New, since open data receives bipartisan support, even the incoming Congress and Obama as a “lame duck president” should be able to work work together to achieve these ends.
The British Museum, Nesta, and the Open Data Institute launched the Heritage and Culture Open Data Challenge, calling on startups, social enterprises, communities, and individuals to develop solutions to better engage people with UK heritage and culture. All entrees must use at least one of the United Kingdom’s open data sets, including those made available by the British Museum. Applications are open now through February 5, 2015. Three selected finalists will be given “£5,000 and a support package to develop their ideas to then compete for a prize of £50,000 to launch their product.”
Although health data can be some of the most tricky to open, due to privacy concerns, there are enough quality data sets being released that Information Week created this list of the top nine startups using open data to make people healthier. Check out the full slide show or (spoiler alert) here are the startups as ranked by the article: Aidin, Biodigital, Clear Health Costs, iTriage, Purple Binder, Flatiron Oncology Cloud, Iodine, Predilytics, and Propeller Health.
Like many federal agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) needs to meet open data mandates. Unlike other agencies, NOAA is dealing in many terabytes of data each day (more than twice the size of the printed Library of Congress, each day, in fact.) While this data has a huge amount of value to private industry (like The Weather Channel) NOAA has been unable to adequately liberate its data for public and commercial use, so the agency is looking to partner with the private sector to house the vast amounts of data. As such, NOAA is now conducting market research and developing ways of confirming that data being viewed on public sites are not compromised, before it seeks issues requests for proposals on such a public-private partnership.