Open government, open data and innovation

Linda O’Brien writes on open data as part of a wider innovation agenda

monitor-933392_1920Within the last week we have seen the release of The Open Government Partnership Third Open Government National Action Plan for the United State of America.  This Plan not only reaffirms the government’s commitment to open and transparent government but recognizes the importance of public access to data, open educational resources and to open science data, research and technologies in catalyzing innovation and business entrepreneurship. Amongst the many excellent initiatives are specific commitments to:

  • ensuring “Data must be accessible, discoverable, and usable to have the desired impact of increasing transparency and improving public service delivery” (p.10). More specifically Open Data National Guidelines will be developed and public feedback tools will be put in place to facilitate the release of open data.
  • Expanding access to educational resources through open licensing and technology by making Federal grant-supported educational materials and resources widely and freely available. (p.3)
  • Advancing open science through increased public access to data, research and technologies. All Federal agencies that spend more than $100 million per year on research and development are required to “implement policies and programs to make scientific publications and digital data from Federally funded research accessible to and useable by scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, students, and the general public” (p.9)

It is great to see recognition of the broad spectrum of “open” in a single document. I would argue that making government data open we also contribute to national innovation and entrepreneurship – and in that I am in good company!

Just this week ago the Australian government announced the establishment of a public private partnership, DataStart,  to drive data-driven innovation in Australia. The announcement notes that “Data-driven innovation added approximately $67 billion to the Australian economy in 2013[i] It is estimated that the Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute over $100 billion (4% of GDP) to the Australian economy by 2033[ii]”. This initiative is to “find, incubate and accelerate innovative business ideas that leverage openly available data from the Australian Government”.

DataStart is one of the first initiatives of the newly formed Data Policy unit under the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet. This brings together data policy and digital strategy, placing data at the heart of the Federal government’s agenda.  A brilliant initiative and one to watch.

About the author:

Linda O’Brien is  Pro Vice Chancellor (Information Services), Griffith University and is on the Board of ODIQueensland

[i] PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Deciding with Data – How Data Driven Innovation is fuelling Australia’s economic growth, September 2014

[ii]  Price Waterhouse Coopers, The Startup Economy Report, 2013