Creating more value from your Open Data initiatives | Articles | FutureGov - Transforming Government | Education | Healthcare
"... Increasingly Open Data discussions are shifting from their early focus on the governance benefits of transparency, to a more focused conversation around economic impact. This echoes the early days of e-government - where many e-services were developed for their own sake, rather than with a clear public benefit in mind. 'In Australia, New Zealand and around the region, we are seeing new drivers for Open Data,' explains Thomas. 'It is increasingly being seen to have an economic dimension. Opening up data will stimulate businesses by US$3 trillion in the United States alone.'Esri provides tools to enable government organisations to move beyond merely ‘opening up’ their data, and instead provide the geospatial context that makes the data more usable, and therefore more valuable. 'The early adopters of Open Data initially found a lot of spreadsheet data - such as the salaries of public officials - to be popular,' reveals Thomas. 'But as more and more data was released, we have been told by government that around 80 per cent of the Open Data that people actually use is really maps and geospatial information.' It turns out that the kind of Open Data sets that are most popular cover the same things that citizens ordinarily look for - government buildings and service locations, parks, waste management routes, and the like. In all of these cases maps make more sense than a spreadsheet ever would. The Health Department in the US state of New Mexico released a lot of health data in the expectation that it would kickstart the development of new health applications. When Thomas and his colleagues searched for evidence of new health applications, they did not find many - and yet the health data had been downloaded over 156,000 times. In a population of 2.2 million, this was a lot of downloads. Who was downloading all this data - and why? 'It turned out that the health data was being downloaded by other government agencies, churches, not for profits - basically people involved in health and social services work,' he explains. 'That wasn’t something that we expected, but we came to the conclusion that Open Data was really driving collaboration.' Thomas notes that government is still in the infancy stages of figuring out what Open Data is for, and how it can be put to best use. There will necessarily be a lot of trial and error, and different communities will define value differently ..."