open government data [English]

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Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ Data that is created or accumulated in the public sector and is available to anyone, and that may be used for any purpose and is in a structure that facilitates its use at little or no charge.

General Notes

Open government data is distinguished from open data on the basis that it must meet different expectations, based on principles that the data must be complete, primary, timely, accessible, machine processable, non-discriminatory, non-proprietary, and license free.


  • Davies 2013 (†330 ): It doesn’t just matter that governments are publishing data: it matters what that data is. Whilst countries may boast of the hundreds of datasets they have published online, if these are not the data demanded by citizens, or the kinds of data that can enable transparency, accountability, innovation and greater inclusion, then there may be little potential for an OGD [open government data] initiative to deliver impact. (†331)
  • Hendler et al. 2012 (†353 ): Open-government advocates have argued that there are many advantages to governments sharing the large amount of information they collect with their citizens and others. These benefits range from a more transparent government to the creation of public-private partnerships that can drive innovation and startup activities outside the government and improve service provision within it. One particular focus of such data sharing is open government data (OGD), the sharing of machine-readable datasets covering government activity. (†339)
  • ITrust Research Project 9 Proposal, 2013 (†389 1-2): Similar processes [as Open Data and Big Data] can also be found in support of Open Government initiatives where the goal is to achieve greater transparency and demonstrated accountability through making known the availability of government records documenting decisions and actions (as distinct from the more passive FOI world where access is dependent on citizen requests). The stages involved in creating and making available online versions of government records and data involves the creation of various versions of the records and data, some of which involves digitization. (†425)
  • Open Government Data 2014 (†532 ): Data produced or commissioned by government or government controlled entities Data which is open as defined in the Open Definition – that is, it can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone. (†848)
  • Open Government Data 2014 (†532 ): ¶ 1. Transparency. In a well-functioning, democratic society citizens need to know what their government is doing. To do that, they must be able freely to access government data and information and to share that information with other citizens. Transparency isn’t just about access, it is also about sharing and reuse – often, to understand material it needs to be analyzed and visualized and this requires that the material be open so that it can be freely used and reused. ¶ 2. Releasing social and commercial value. In a digital age, data is a key resource for social and commercial activities. Everything from finding your local post office to building a search engine requires access to data, much of which is created or held by government. By opening up data, government can help drive the creation of innovative business and services that deliver social and commercial value. ¶ 3. Participatory Governance. Much of the time citizens are only able to engage with their own governance sporadically – maybe just at an election every 4 or 5 years. By opening up data, citizens are enabled to be much more directly informed and involved in decision-making. This is more than transparency: it’s about making a full “read/write” society, not just about knowing what is happening in the process of governance but being able to contribute to it. (†849)
  • Open Government Data 2014 (†532 ): 1. Complete All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security or privilege limitations. ¶ While non-electronic information resources, such as physical artifacts, are not subject to the Open Government Data principles, it is always encouraged that such resources be made available electronically to the extent feasible. 2. Primary Data is as collected at the source, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms. ¶ If an entity chooses to transform data by aggregation or transcoding for use on an Internet site built for end users, it still has an obligation to make the full-resolution information available in bulk for others to build their own sites with and to preserve the data for posterity. 3. Timely Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data. 4. Accessible Data is available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes. ¶ Data must be made available on the Internet so as to accommodate the widest practical range of users and uses. This means considering how choices in data preparation and publication affect access to the disabled and how it may impact users of a variety of software and hardware platforms. Data must be published with current industry standard protocols and formats, as well as alternative protocols and formats when industry standards impose burdens on wide reuse of the data. ¶ Data is not accessible if it can be retrieved only through navigating web forms, or if automated tools are not permitted to access it because of a robots.txt file, other policy, or technological restrictions. 5. Machine processable Data is reasonably structured to allow automated processing. ¶ The ability for data to be widely used requires that the data be properly encoded. Free-form text is not a substitute for tabular and normalized records. Images of text are not a substitute for the text itself. Sufficient documentation on the data format and meanings of normalized data items must be available to users of the data. 6. Non-discriminatory Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration. ¶ Anonymous access to the data must be allowed for public data, including access through anonymous proxies. Data should not be hidden behind “walled gardens.” Non-proprietary Data is available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control. ¶ Proprietary formats add unnecessary restrictions over who can use the data, how it can be used and shared, and whether the data will be usable in the future. While some proprietary formats are nearly ubiquitous, it is nevertheless not acceptable to use only proprietary formats. Likewise, the relevant non-proprietary formats may not reach a wide audience. In these cases, it may be necessary to make the data available in multiple formats. License-free Data is not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed. ¶ Because government information is a mix of public records, personal information, copyrighted work, and other non-open data, it is important to be clear about what data is available and what licensing, terms of service, and legal restrictions apply. Data for which no restrictions apply should be marked clearly as being in the public domain. ¶ Compliance must be reviewable. (†851)
  • Open Government Guide 2013 (†355 ): "Open Data is the idea that data should be freely available for everyone to access, use and republish as they wish, published without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. Public sector information made available to the public as open data is termed ‘Open Government Data’. Governments and their contractors collect a vast quantity of high-quality data as part of their ordinary working activities. Typically this results in the state becoming a powerful data monopoly able to structure and homogenize the interactions between itself and its citizens. These one-sided interactions are expensive and unresponsive to citizens’ needs and can unnecessarily restrict government activities, as well. ….¶ Where many public records laws and policies regulating the right to information [link] have traditionally relied on reactive disclosure, meaning public information has to be requested before it is shared, a government fully engaged in open data is choosing to proactively disclose information - meaning public data is released as it is collected and before it is requested. Put another way, the vision of open data is for government information to be ‘open by default’. Open data also has a number of technical implications, with special consideration given to the particular formats chosen for data release. Open formats are those that are structured and non-proprietary, allowing the public and the government to extract maximum value from the information now and in the future." (†342)
  • Shadbolt et al. 2012 (†352 ): OGD [Open government data] will make an important contribution to the LDW [linked-data Web]. Its quantity will help deliver the network effects expected from the LDW, its provenance is clearer than that of many other types of data, and it is often seen as high quality, trustworthy, and neutral. (†337)
  • Shadbolt et al. 2012 (†352 ): Releasing OGD [open government data] is not solely a technical problem, although it presents technical challenges. OGD is not a rigid government IT specification, but it demands productive dialogue between data providers, users, and developers. We should expect a "perpetual beta," in which best practice, technical development, innovative use of data, and citizen-centric politics combine to drive data-release programs. (†338)
  • Tauberer 2012 (†357 ): "Open government data differs from conventional open government policies in the same way that “data” differs from “information” or “knowledge.” The conventional open government movement relies on the disclosure of records, such as who is paying who, who is meeting with who, and records of government decisions and findings. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and at the state level freedom of information laws (FOIL) are laws that grant the public access to these sorts of government records. Each FOIA/FOIL request is for a particular record. FOIA/FOIL create a direct relationship between the government and the information consumer. …¶ Open government data is the type of disclosure suited for mediators, whether they be journalists, programmers, statisticians, or designers, who transform the originally disclosed bytes into something very different and of a greater value to a consumer. And so it is ironic that open government data faces resistance in government because open government data is not the future of e-government innovation: it is a new technological approach to the sort of information dissemination that has always existed. The best argument for open government data that I’ve heard is that this is how consumers already get their information, although they don’t see it in those terms. Whether you are a politician who wants to shape the debate or an administrator who wants to reduce the cost of processing FOIA requests, you have to show up to the party to have the chance to participate, and that party has always been the information mediators. As Derek Willis of The New York Times put it to me, it’s as simple as this: people go to Google to find information, so governments ought to make sure their information is findable on Google if anyone is going to see it. That means more than making sure your website is indexed. It means working with all of the “engines of information,” as Willis put it. The presumption of openness established by FOIA/FOIL is still important for open government, of course, but FOIA/FOIL stop short of guiding how government data can be disclosed in a way that promotes this sort of mediation." (†344)
  • Tauberer 2012 (†357 ): "Open government data might simply be the application of “open,” as in the sense of the OKD [Open Knowledge Definition], to data held by the government. I find this too weak to be a definition of open government data. For instance, the OKD allows governments to require attribution on reuses of its data, which I believe makes government data not open (more on that later). Or, open government data might be the synthesis of “open government” and “data,” in which case it refers to data that is relevant to government transparency, innovation, and public-private collaboration. But perhaps the open government data movement cannot be decomposed according to its words. Justin Grimes has pointed out to me that, looking at its history, the movement has come out of three very distinct communities: classic open government advocates whose focus has typically been on freedom of information and money in politics, open source software and open scholarly data advocates, and open innovation entrepreneurs (who might include both Gov 2.0 entrepreneurs and government staff looking to the public for expertise, such as in Peer to Patent). To each group, “open” means something different." (†345)
  • Tauberer 2012 (†357 ): "My goal, and the theme of this book, is to treat open government data as more than just the sum of its parts: it is “Big Data” applied to Open Government. That means a definition must draw from not only open data (i.e. the OKD) and open government (transparency, innovation, and collaboration) but also from the qualities of Big Data. In the definition of Big Data that I adopted in Chapter 1, Big Data has two parts: 1) it is data at scale, and 2) it allows us to think about the subject of the data in a new way. Big Data data is data that is amenable to automated analysis and transformation into novel applications. …¶…[O]pen government data has the following defining qualities: “Open” or “Accessible”: Data must be online and available for free, in bulk, with no discrimination, and without the need to agree to a license that waives any rights the user might otherwise have. “Big Data” or “Analyzable”: The complexity of today’s governments necessitates the use of automation in any serious application or analysis of government data, such as to search, sort, or transform the data. Data must be machine-processable following the general guiding principle of making choices that promote analysis and reuse. Properly implemented open government data also has these desired qualities: “Open” or “Accessible”: Data should use non-proprietary file formats appropriate for the intended use of the data, be documented, be posted permanently, and use safe file formats. “Accurate” and other aspects of data quality: Governments should provide the lowest-level granular data and should make data interoperable through coordination. Data should also maximize accuracy and precision at a reasonable cost to the data user. “Authentic” and questions of process: This category of principles addresses how a data release should address human needs such as relevance and trust. The principles include timeliness, digital provenance, the use of public input, the need for public review, the dangers of endorsements, and general priorities for government agencies." (†346)
  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. open data): The rationale behind open government data can be considered as twofold.[Brito, 2008] First, advocates contend that making government data available to the public in open formats increases government transparency and accountability. Second, open data should enable third parties to leverage the potential of government data through the development of applications and services that address public and private demands. (†1071)
  • Yu and Robinson, 2012 (†496 p.181-182): The popular term “open government data” is, therefore, deeply ambiguous–it might mean either of two very different things. If “open government” is a phrase that modifies the noun “data,” we are talking about politically important disclosures, whether or not they are delivered by computer. On the other hand, if the words “open” and “government” are separate adjectives modifying “data,” we are talking about data that is both easily accessed and government related, but that might or might not be politically important. (Or the term might have a third meaning, as a shorthand reference to the intersection of data meeting both definitions: governmental data that is both politically sensitive and computer provided.) (†759)