Making government more useful through data

A very interesting working group formed recently to drive better transparency in government through data. The Open Government Data organization has a simple aim:

“The group is offering a set of fundamental principles for open government data. By embracing the eight principles, governments of the world can become more effective, transparent, and relevant to our lives.”

They proposed that data will be considered open if it complies with the following qualifications:

1. Complete
2. Primary
3. Timely
4. Accessible
5. Machine processable
6. Non-discriminatory
7. Non-proprietary
8. License-free

This is a promising approach to driving high impact changes in the way government serves its people. Giving everyone greater access to relevant information that they already own is a noble pursuit.

I’ve explored this a little myself in some investigations of access to crime data [1, 2].

It’s no surprise that Adrian Holovaty of the Chicago Crime mashup fame (and now Every Block) is one of the founding members. Of course, there’s no better advocate for the free flow of information than Lawrence Lessig. And Tim O’Reilly will be a strong foundational force here. I’d love to see Jon Udell join, too, as his work has inspired a lot of people (myself included) to think differently about exposing and sharing data like this.

Good luck, guys!