Open Data: What Do We Know?

Across the world government’s are pushing Open Data and extolling its many benefits. But what’s happened?

Some sites have begun collecting Open Data success stories. Some are potentially life saving as with routes for the Amsterdam Fire Brigade. There can also provide more day-to-day help with bin collection dates, missing bus stops and the now famous Denmark public toilet locater

A new site from New Zealand is also collecting stories with examples from the UK including a comparison site that uses Open Data to compare a whole variety of things to an online tax calculator.

One of the most famous, and visually interesting, is the site ‘where does my money go?’, which allows you to see how much of your taxes goes where.

One of the more interesting, and perhaps controversial, aims of Open Data particularly in the US and UK, relates to crime prevention. This includes creating crime maps  which have prompted debate on whether such initiatives need more contextual information and about who could use it and to what ends. A similar debate is happening in the US as several states push for online criminal registers for everything from violent crime to dangerous pets.

The media, in the UK the particularly the Guardian, are also starting to use new data sources. It has used the data to look at spending from, as it puts it, private schools to coal as well as David Cameron’s kitchen (s) and chocolate based staff away days. There are some more interesting examples of data journalism here.

As this article points out, there’s a lot we do not know. It may depend on lots of unpredictable factors including how long politicians support and fund it and who uses it. Technology plus human behaviour has a way of doing the unexpected.

One thought on “Open Data: What Do We Know?

  1. Pingback: FOI LIVE 2011 « constitutionunitdotcom

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