This video provides context for open data.
- [Teacher] Let's begin by briefly exploring the role of open government in the 21st century. Before defining open government, I'd like to address the state and needs of our communities. Governing and government has never been more complex. It's also more vital than ever. Communities have increased needs and expectations. Over half the population of the world now lives in an urban environment, and the United Nations says that up to 3,000,000 more people will join them every week.
By the middle of the century, over 70 percent of humanity will live, work, and play in a city. With this kind of change, enormous pressure is being exerted on existing systems. These include the ability for cities to provide adequate public safety, for clean and low-cost energy to be provided to everyone who wants it, for transportations to support the needs of communities, and for existing infrastructure to be maintained and expanded. These are just some of the challenges today and ahead of us all.
For our communities to have a chance at meeting these challenges, there will have to be a deep partnership between people and government. The government cannot afford anymore to go at alone, and it has to admit it doesn't have all the answers or skills. And our communities want to have a voice in a way to help make change happen. An often heard criticism of government is that it's not open enough and transparent about how decisions are made. Without openness and an entry point for citizens, confronting challenges together is constrained.
This is where open government comes into play. Open government is defined as one with high levels of transparency. This means that anyone should have access to government-held information and be informed about government proceedings. In addition, open government is about increased citizen participation and collaboration through the use of technology. For governments and communities, creating open government is a conscious decision. The state of open government across the world is highly uneven, but there is progress.
In this course, we'll talk about that progress and lots of great examples of open government in action. Let's talk about a fundamental quality of open government. This is the need to be transparent. Being transparent means providing community visibility to the same information that government leaders and staff have access to. By far, the biggest area to consider here is data. While so much of government is about dealing with constraints, almost everywhere in the world, governments have access to an abundance of data.
This is data that they collect and store in the course of doing business. This is data, for example, about crime, about housing, about energy, about complaints, and about elections. It's data on thousands of important things that make up any community, whether it's a town, city, state, region, or country. At the heart of open government is making most of this data available. I say most because as you can imagine, there will continue to be data that is protected, say, for privacy reasons like your social security number, or for national security, like revealing vulnerabilities in our power grid.
We don't need the bad guys getting that data. The data that is made available to anyone who wants it in a form that is usable and computer-friendly, we'll come back to that later, is called open data. The best way to define open data is for us to briefly describe eight essential principles. We'll start with the importance of open data being complete. Data sets that are provided should not be just a partial set or just one piece of the data. Where possible, open data requires the complete data or given data set.
For example, if a government releases crime statistics for 2015, it should be for the whole year, not just January, April, and say September. Next is the quality of being primary. This means that the data is from its source and is in its most granular form without being aggregated or modified. Let's use the example of visitors to a park. To be primary, the data should include all data that was collected on visitors. It shouldn't be grouped by, say, age or gender.
While data may be processed for its final use for particular government need, open data should be the raw collected data. Another quality of open data is being timely. This is quite simple. It means that data should be made available as soon as possible. For example, if a government collects information on air quality, as soon as that data is collected, it should be made available. With data in general, the more current it is often results in it being more valuable to those who want it.
Next is accessibility. Quite simply, open data should be available via the internet without any restriction. To make that happen means it should be available in multiple formats, and not require any special technology to access. A file format such as comma-separated values, a CSV, one where computer attributes are separated by commas, is very favorable as it is so broadly accepted by computer systems. Now here's an important quality of open data. It must be machine-processable.
If there's one aspect of open data that really helps define it, it's this one. Machine-processable means that the data is easily consumed and processed by other computers and applications. Like accessibility, a CSV file is perfect. This contrasts with a file where data is made available as an electronic scan of a physical document. The nondiscriminatory quality of open data means that it's available to everyone without the requirement of, say, registering for the data.
For example, users of a government's open data portal should not have to create a login name and password in order to access that data. Next, the nonproprietary requirement means that no one has exclusive control over the data. This could happen if the data was only made available in a computer format that required an expensive piece of software. If data is made available in a special format, other formats such as a CSV file should also be made available. In the spirit of open data, it should have the maximum accessibility and usage qualities.
Finally, open data must be license-free. This means that data should not be subject to any copyright, patent, trademark, or trade secret regulation. Of course reasonable privacy and security restrictions would be allowable. As an example of license-free, the open data should not require that the consumer of the data seek permission to use it. It will be assumed that no attribution is required, and there are no restrictions on use. Keep in mind these eight principles as we focus on open data as an essential component of open government.
Dr. Jonathan Reichental introduces real-world use cases for open data, as well as the steps you need to take to develop and operationalize an open data program. He also explains how data scientists use open data to tell stories and drive data visualizations. Along the way, he provides numerous examples of open data in action: improving government, empowering citizens, creating opportunity, and solving public problems.
- Understanding what open data really is
- Current open data efforts around the globe
- Open data in action
- Designing an open data governance process, including policies
- Monetizing open data
- Storytelling with open data
- Selling the value of open data
- Measuring the value of open data