What is open government data? What is it good for? [FILM]

Open government data broadly refers to public sector records that have been made available to citizens. For a canonical resource on what makes such releases truly “open,” consult the 8 principles of open government data. Today, the Open Knowledge Foundation has released a terrific new short film entitled “#opendata” that offers expert perspectives on what open government data is and how it can be useful to society.

#opendata from Open Knowledge Foundation on Vimeo.

For more information, visit OpenGovernmentData.org. The film has already been translated into Czech, Spanish, Hungarian and Chinese. If you’d like to volunteer to translate it into another language, the makers of the film are actively seeking help.

In the broader context, The Economist‘s support for open government data remains salient today: “Public access to government figures is certain to release economic value and encourage entrepreneurship. That has already happened with weather data and with America’s GPS satellite-navigation system that was opened for full commercial use a decade ago. And many firms make a good living out of searching for or repackaging patent filings.”

In the United States, the open data story in healthcare is particularly compelling, from new mobile apps that spur better health decisions to data spurring changes in care at the Veterans Administration.

As Clive Thompson reported at Wired this month, public sector data can help fuel jobs, “shoving more public data into the commons could kick-start billions in economic activity.” In the transportation sector, for instance, transit data is open government fuel for economic growth.

Thompson focused on the story of Brightscope, where government data drives the innovation economy. “That’s because all that information becomes incredibly valuable in the hands of clever entrepreneurs,” wrote Thompson. “Pick any area of public life and you can imagine dozens of startups fueled by public data. I bet millions of parents would shell out a few bucks for an app that cleverly parsed school ratings, teacher news, test results, and the like.”


About Alex Howard

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.

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