Open Data Is Not for Sprinters by Andrea Di Maio.
Andrea’s comment on the UK special envoy who was “disappointed” with open data usage was to point out that government should be making better internal use of open data, to justify the open data programs.
His view was challenged by a member of an audience who said:
open data is for the sake of economic development and transparency, not for internal use.
I do not disagree of course. All I am saying, and I have been saying for a while now, is that to realize this vision will take quite some time. Indeed more data must be available, of higher quality and timeliness; more entrepreneurs or “appreneurs” must be lured to extract value for businesses and the public at large from this data; and we need a stream of examples across sectors and regions to show that value can be generated everywhere.
A more direct answer would be to point out that statements like:
Opening up data is fundamentally about more efficient use of resources and improving service delivery for citizens. The effects of that are far reaching: innovation, transparency, accountability, better governance and economic growth. (Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Raw data, now!)
Are religious dogma. Useful if you want to run your enterprise or government based on religious dogma but you may as well use a Ouija board.
The astronomy community which has a history of “open data” that spans decades. I find the data very interesting and it has lead to discoveries in astronomy, but economic development?
The biological community apparently has a competition to see who can make more useful data available than the next lab. And it leads to better research, discoveries and innovation, but economic development?
The same holds true for the chemical community and numerous others.
The point being that claims such as “open data leads to economic development” are sure to disappoint.
Some open data might, but that is a question of research and proof, not mere cant.
A government, for example, could practice open data with regard to its tax policies and how it decides to audit taxpayers. I am sure startups would quickly take up the task of using that data to advise clients on how to avoid audits. (They are called tax advisors now.)
Or a government could practice open data on the White House visitor list and include non-tour visitors, some of them, in the thousands who visit every day. It’s “open data,” just not useful data. And not data that is likely to lead to economic development or transparency.
Governments should practice open data but with an eye towards selecting data that is likely to lead to economic development, innovation, etc. By tracking the use of “open data” now, governments can make rational decisions about what data to “open” in the future.