Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For The Week Of February 20, 2015
Chaos theory suggests that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a typhoon halfway around the world. From naming the U.S.’s first Chief Data Scientist to an open data law moving out of a state senatorial committee, this week we see both the metaphorical typhoon and the fluttering of gossamer fueling the tide of open data movement.
The Obama administration furthered its commitment to open data and data-driven government by naming America’s first Chief Data Scientist on Wednesday. Dr. DJ Patil, who previously worked with such data-centric organizations as Salesforce, PayPal, and LinkedIn, as well as at the U.S. Department of Defense is joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP.) “As Chief Data Scientist, [Patil] will help shape policies and practices to help the U.S. remain a leader in technology and innovation, foster partnerships to help responsibly maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data, and help to recruit and retain the best minds in data science to join [OSTP] in serving the public,” according to the White House announcement.
This week, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided open access to more than 50 years of its publications, research, and economic data for the first time. Launching what ADB calls an “Open Access Repository” containing 2,100 data sets, the bank hopes to fuel more efficient and effective development programs for the international community. According to its head of publishing, ADB committed to “open access is based on the principle that publicly funded research should be circulated as widely as possible so that the knowledge can be built upon, which may lead to new and innovative ideas for development in Asia and the Pacific.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan launched an open data platform for the Motor City, in addition to signing an executive order requiring nine major city agencies begin publicly posting their data. As launched, the portal contains crime, building permit, and housing data, as well as information on city contracts and financial transactions. Mayor Duggan is expected to issue another executive order requiring his administration’s appointees to also publicly disclose their financial interest with the city.
Draft of a policy requiring Western Australia to open data is available for public comment between now and March 6, 2015. As currently written, the policy would require the “proactive” release of datasets under creative commons licensing, while still reserving the ability of some agencies to charge for “higher value datasets or information that comes with a cost of publication.”
On the other side of the world, the State of Maryland looks poised to amend its law allowing government agencies to charge citizens for access to GIS data. As mentioned in the January 30th Civic Awesome, Maryland’s Council on Open Data recommended the repeal of a law currently permitting the State to charge for GIS (but not other forms of) data. A bill introduced by Senator Bill Ferguson, who serves on the Council, now appears poised to pass through committee and onto the full State Senate despite opposition form the Maryland Association of Counties.