Open Data Monthly Review 12/2011

A review of latest news and blog posts in the field of open data.


IN THE NEWS:

Legal proposals have been announced which will make what European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes in her blog calls a “treasure trove” of public data available with minimal charges for anybody to access and use. It is a move she says will stimulate a market worth tens of millions of euros as well as increasing transparency of governance.

The use of open data could be a critical factor in determining the success or failure of the UK’s growth agenda, according to a report from business advisory firm Deloitte.

Opendata, Google style

Which countries in the world have the highest debt? Where do people release the most CO2 into the atmosphere? Are there any signs that inflation is rising in Europe? How is the provision of broadband facilities progressing? Open data, publicly accessible data that is usually released by government institutions, can provide answers to such questions – if the data can be found and analysed. 


City of Burlington Launches Open Data Pilot Project
The City of Burlington is opening another access point to city information with the launch of an open data pilot project called Open Data Burlington. As a part of their ongoing e-Government strategy and commitment to enhancing transparency and accountability to residents, this pilot project will study how open data will work for the city, including the benefits to the city.

This morning, the House of Representatives took a tremendous step into the 21st century when the Committee on House Administration unanimously adopted “Standards for the Electronic Posting of House and Committee Documents & Data.”

From 2009, fiber optic cable deployment falling connectivity costs have dominated Africa’s tech headlines. This year, the focus shifted from infrastructure to content and value added services to capitalize on investments, as both the public and private sectors provided incentives to developers. Technology is expected to be Africa’s growth frontier and government services have been cited as a major driver, providing opportunities for business growth and better citizen participation. 


Challenges to EU’s Open Data Strategy
The government has been commended for, but warned about the implications of its new open data strategy. Commentators have stressed the importance of data quality and data manegement in operating the enormous vault of information held by the government, as well as recognising the importance of data sharing for economic competitiveness and public sector costs.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under fire for his office’s denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, with critics in the local and national press and blogs taking the mayor to task for shielding public records from public view. Underscoring this lapse in transparency is Emanuel’s vow to foster “the most open, accountable and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen.” Cities like Boston, Phoenix, and Seattle all routinely release such information, according to reporting by the Chicago Tribune’s David Kidwell, implying that they do transparency better.

One of the striking features of some of the most successful startups over the last ten years – companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter – is that their infrastructure is based almost entirely around open source. Of course, that shouldn’t really be surprising: open source allows people to get prototypes up and running for the price of a PC, which is great for trying out ideas with live code. And yet despite these zero-cost origins, open source software scales up to supercomputing levels – the perfect solution for startups that hope to grow. 


iSOCO Collaborates With Ikastea, the New Portal of the Basque Country Educational Community
Alongside the Basque firm Teccon, the IT company is responsible for developing the web platform of the Basque Government Department of Education, Universities and Research. Ikastea is centralising the large flow of information and educational resources available in a single site, segmenting content according to the target audience and enabling the participation of students, parents and teachers. The portal brings together the various sources of the educational universe and incorporates a variety of initiatives such as Open Data.

IN THE BLOGS:

Is open data just a glorified form of publishing or can its benefits go beyond transparency and reusability? How do you take open data beyond the realms of traditional publishers and data sources and spur people affected by the data to participate and contribute new ideas/data about development (and in effect become open data/development partners)?

Whatit will cost to free the rest of UK government data (spoiler: £0)

First, the good news. The UK government has made good on its promises to release open data across government in 2011, and this year has seen a dizzying sequence of open data announcements, most recently in the Open Data Measures in the Autumn Statement. Not only has the government opened the data, but it has put in place institutions (like the Transparency Board), portals (like data.gov.uk) and funding (through Technology Strategy Board). This is all profoundly good news and has enabled the growth of a cadre of open data companies like Cycle Streets, Open Corporates and my own company Placr. We are racing to build new companies built on the open data and we are already paying taxes that go back into the Exchequer, offering free services to the public and value-added offerings to businesses.

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