What’s Next for Open Data? Industry Experts Offer Their Take
At the recent Data Transparency 2016 event, more than 1,000 government, nonprofit, and industry leaders committed to open data gathered to learn best practices and share insights. The Data Foundation and Grant Thornton Public Sector seized this moment to interview leaders in the open data movement, using their feedback to create “The State of the Union of Open Data,” a report assessing the current landscape and future of open data. Here are some of the major themes from the report:
The U.S. federal government is committed to releasing unprecedented levels of federal spending data going forward: The volume of data published has grown tremendously in recent years, with federal agencies sharing open data publicly, even ahead of the DATA Act’s full implementation. Kevin Merritt, Socrata’s founder and CEO, describes these agencies as democratizing data “by making information that was previously difficult to find and interpret more widely available to the public.” Merritt points out that releasing open data increases governmental transparency and also makes “government more responsive to people’s needs.”
The benefits of standardized data are undeniable: Publishing data is important, but standardization enables comparisons and analysis, and increases the value of the datasets. Brandon Pustejovsky, the Chief Data Officer at USAID, describes standardization as “extremely important,” but not yet routine.
“Standardization will become more of a priority as we get these initial steps in place. But when moving forward, we can’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” cautions Pustejovsky.
We are at the beginning of an open data revolution. Predictions are diverse. Many of the interviewees agreed that the publication of government data related to their fields has improved over the last few years. Data is important to strong government, but beyond that, there are wide possibilities. Open data may be used to combat fraud, inform investors, level the playing field for businesses working with the government, and improve policy-making decisions.