Column:What Excites Me About Open Data

Friday, March 19, 2010
As a public servant who is often frustrated by the lack of information-sharing within public sector organizations, I can only wager a guess at what it is like to try to get information when you are outside them.

Naturally, whenever anyone mentions open data I get excited.

I get excited about the efficiencies I think it can create within and between public sector organizations.

I get excited about how I think it may shift workflows.

I get excited about how it can change the relationship between governments and citizens.

I get excited by the fact that it should allow governments to provide more efficient services at the click of a mouse, while freeing up resources to nurture a closer relationship between government and citizens when it makes sense.

I get excited about getting access to information that is otherwise buried under an immense transaction cost.

I get excited about the possibility of serendipitous discovery of partnership opportunities.

I get excited about a robust management framework that I think an open data regime will require.

I get excited about the internal human resource reallocation that I think will follow an open data regime.

I get excited about the fact that open data helps build a public service culture based on stewardship, one that is okay with outcomes that aren't entirely predetermined, one that is about enabling innovation.

I get excited about open data because it gets us closer to the idea of government as platform; a platform that enables both those on the inside and on the outside to innovate.

From Excitement to Action

I get excited when I see Chuck Shawcross, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Information Officer at Environment Canada stand up at the last Web 2.0 Practitioners meetup, self-identify as a champion for open data, and issue a call to action.

I get excited not only because of the immense value of such an undertaking, but because I know many of the people working on the initiative.

These are good people, people who care, people I am proud to call my friends.

Get Involved!

If you are a part of the (Canadian) federal family and would like to get involved with this initiative I would encourage you to visit the Open Data page on GCPEDIA directly. Moreover if you happen to have some time today there is a meetup planned.

If you are outside the Canadian Federal Government and have an interest in Open Data writ large, feel free to drop me a line; if I can, I would be happy to connect you with others.