Monday, 17 June 2013

Disentangling Open Data from Open Government

Last week I presented a paper at the 13th European Conference on e-Government.  My paper is a preliminary testing of Yu and Robinson's framework for evaluating characteristics of public sector data using data from the UK's portal.

Over the previous decade a number of initiatives within European Union (EU) Member States, in particular the UK, have attempted to open up access to public sector data for broader economic and social uses.  Driving some of these initiatives has been the ambition to increase the transparency of public bodies and, as a result, improve the democratic process.  Other initiatives have had an economic agenda that see the opening up of public sector data for commercial exploitation as a way to stimulate economic activity and growth.  In the UK, the launch of the website in 2010 combines both these ambitions by making over 8,000 public data sets available for third parties to download and build information services on top of. This paper examines a sample of these data sets as well as some of the applications that have been developed from them and uses a conceptual model developed by Yu and Robinson (2012) in the US.  The model provides a basis for determining the technical characteristics of the data (is it adaptable or inert) as well as the primary purpose of the data (is it to improve service delivery or public accountability).  Based on the analysis of the sample of data sets from the website, it is concluded that Yu and Robinson’s framework provides a useful basis for separating the technical characteristics of public data from the purposes to which they can be put.  Further refinements of the model are suggested that would allow governments to benchmark their public data initiatives against programmes in other countries.

Full paper available here: Open Data and Open Government


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