If Government Data Could Fix Traffic Chaos and Protect Our Homes from Flooding, We’d Use It… Right? Wrong!

open data

By Yves Vanderbeken

September 25, 2015

Slowly but steadily since 2008, governments around the world have come to accept that Open Data (defined as government data that is deliberately shared in a machine-readable format for free reuse by others) is here to stay. Widely backed by senior government executives in most countries, the movement towards Open Data typically starts with government entities establishing an Open Data platform and publishing Open Data sets.
Examples of the citizen benefits of this increased data transparency include:But what value does Open Data create, and who needs to work together to realize this value?

  • First-generation citizen-centric applications such as “find my nearest hospital” and “where are the public toilets”
  • Access to real-time advice on how to avoid congestion on the roads – alternative routes, likely wait times, available options for vehicle parking and overnight accommodation, and more
  • Timely reminders to prepare for changing weather conditions – remember to buy emergency supplies for your home, check around your premises, fill up at the gas station, etc

The list of added-value services that can derive from Open Data streams is virtually limitless. Hackathons and similar competitive events have been held by many governments, particularly in the US and the UK, to stimulate ideas among corporates, NGOs and individuals (entrepreneurs, IT programmers, students and academic institutions).

A hurdle to Open Data uptake is that, for some years, governments tended to prioritize data quantity over quality. And of course companies can’t use inconsistent data sets full of errors. That’s why we’re not yet efficiently fixing traffic chaos and protecting people’s homes. Before Open Data becomes a trusted and valuable input source for applications and information analytics, governments must demonstrably recalibrate their standards and processes. Also what’s required is genuine collaboration between all parties. This will enable corporate investors to find the correct data sets and bring them together in a consistent manner to realize long-term, profitable business potential.

So the good news is that, instead of publishing supply- and quantity-driven data sets, more and more governments are now shifting towards partnerships with industry to produce demand- and quality-driven data sets. Governments understand that the real value of Open Data will come from industry and the added value that companies can bring to the public.

Are you ready to participate in a new open dialog with your government to align the production of data sets to the services your industry wants to produce?

Read the white paper to learn more:

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YvesYves Vanderbeken is an HP Enterprise Services account chief technologist and lead enterprise architect for the Flemish government and local governments (Flanders). Since 2011, Vanderbeken has been a core team member of the Flemish government’s Open Data team. He defined the technical strategy for setting up the Open Data platform and extracting, transforming, and publishing information in a consistent manner. He is the co-author of the Open Data Handbook published by the Flemish Government in February 2014. Vanderbeken coaches and advises various departments on their Open Data Master Plan and how to disclose data from their source systems to the Open Data platform, ensuring data quality and consistency across data sets.

 

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