Next Step in OGD Websites

What DataUsa is doing could be – I guess – the next step in the evolution of Open Government Data websites. It’s the step from offering file downloads to presenting data (and not files) interactively. And it’s a kind of presentation many official statistical websites would surely be proud of.

César A. Hidalgo from MIT discusses the philosophy behind this. More at the end of this post; at first a short look at this website.

snip_datausahome

Bringing data together

Merging data from different sources may have been the most expensive and challenging task and the conditio sine qua non for the existence of this website. And perhaps it’s more an organizational than a technical challenge.

Seven public data sources are accessible via DataUsa

snip_datausa-datasources

Presenting data

Adapting to what internauts normally do, the main entrance is a search bar;

snip_datausa-homesearch

 

Thematical and geographical profiles are available, too. But in a hidden menu.

The presentation of the data is a mix of generated text and various types of graphs.

snip_datausa-graph3

snip_datausa-graph

 

The option above every graph allows to share, embed, download, get a table and even an API for the data.

snip_datausa-data3

 

And finally thematical maps provide other views and insights:
snip_datausa-map

Storytelling

But the fascinating part is Stories
snip_datausa-storiessnip_datausa-stories2

Various authors write stories focussing on special topics and using the presentation techniques of the site.

Background

A glossary explains technical terms and the About Section presents the authors and their aim:
‘In 2014, Deloitte, Datawheel, and Cesar Hidalgo, Professor at the MIT Media Lab and Director of MacroConnections, came together to embark on an ambitious journey — to understand and visualize the critical issues facing the United States in areas like jobs, skills and education across industry and geography. And, to use this knowledge to inform decision making among executives, policymakers and citizens.’

And this leads to the
Philosophy behind 

César A. Hidalgo, one of the websites’ authors explains why they did what they did in a blog post with the title ‘What’s Wrong with Open-Data Sites–and How We Can Fix Them.’

Here’s the design philosophy in a visual nutshell:

snip_datausa-design

 

‘Our hope is to make the data shopping experience joyful, instead of maddening, and by doing so increase the ease with which data journalists, analysts, teachers, and students, use public data. Moreover, we have made sure to make all visualizations embeddable, so people can use them to create their own stories, whether they run a personal blog or a major newspaper.’

And:

‘After all, the goal of open data should not be just to open files, but to stimulate our understanding of the systems that this data describes. To get there, however, we have to make sure we don’t forget that design is also part of what’s needed to tame the unwieldy bottoms of the deep web.’

 

 

OGD: Oil, Gold, Democracy ?!

Open Government Data (OGD) are seen by many people as the new gold of the digital age. So Neelie Kroes (Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda Data) in her Opening Remarks at the Press Conference on Open Data Strategy in Brussels, 12th December 2011:

“Just as oil was likened to black gold, data takes on a new importance and value in the digital age. … Public data, generated by all administrations in Europe will become automatically re-usable. It will feed new applications and services. … We calculate that public sector information already generates €32 billion of economic activity each year. This package would more than double that – – to around €70 billion.”

OGD Portal

Since September 16th 2013 Switzerland has its Open Government Data Portal, too. It’s based on CKAN and is filled with about 1600 files, mostly statistical data.

2013-10-14_OGDPortalCH
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OGD: Economic Impact

And Switzerland has its own report (by Adelheid Bürgi-Schmelz ) assessing the economic importance and impact of OGD. It’s a broad evaluation of methods and results (in German) with a long summary in English:
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2013-10-14_OGD-CH-Summary

‘Conclusion
From an economic perspective, Switzerland would benefit from an introduction of OGD. The Swiss federal administration would obtain efficiency gains provided the compensation issue for federal offices can be settled. But ultimately, the issue whether OGD should be introduced in Switzerland is subject to political decision making.’ (p.14)  “Information is the currency of democracy.” Thomas Jefferson (p.8)

2013-10-14_ImpactOGDCH

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Ex post?

Are the now published data by several governments the data needed? What’s their impact after first evaluations?
These questions are more and more of interest. And governments are starting initiatives to ‘sell’ open data with specific actions. So the White House in January 2013 with its showcasing the best government data sources (and here):

‘We at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy ‘had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled’.

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OGDalphatopics

Evaluation by ODI ?

2013-10-14_odi

The website of the Open Data Institute in London provides some information about how open data are used. An interesting guest blog shows the situation on the local level.

And a press release of ODI (December 2012) gives an example in the field of prescribing practices:

MILLIONS OF POUNDS IN PRESCRIPTION SAVINGS IDENTIFIED IN OPEN DATA

‘…. This project is an example of how open data can be used to help services run more effectively and efficiently. In using open data to highlight trends, we see where we can do better and make improvements. Inefficiency in any system often results from poor or incomplete information about the overall picture. This is something that open data can address as Prescribing Analytics so dramatically illustrates. The analysis should be required reading for all GPs as they seek to make best use of their resources. …’. (ODI’s Chairman, Nigel Shadbolt).

To do

These are just some examples of evaluation work. It’s a fascinating and important work to be done in this field. And it’s worth to be done systematically.

See also https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/open-data-literacy/

Open Data Census

Open Data Census

The Open Knowledge Foundation OKFN publishes first results of its Open Data Census, just before the G8 summit in Ireland where this topic will be discussed.

2013-06-15_OGDCensus

‘The Open Data Census is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation, with the help of a network of local data experts around the globe. It measures the openness of data in ten key areas including those essential for transparency and accountability (such as election results and government spending data), and those vital for providing critical services to citizens (such as maps and transport timetables). Full results for the 2013 Open Data Census will be released later this year. –Source OKFN

The Open Government Partnership

In order to foster the knowledge infrastructure by opening data and to ‘make governments better’ several countries joined the Open Government Partnership.

From the OGP Website: ‘The Open Government Partnership is a global effort to make governments better. We all want more transparent, effective and accountable governments — with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations. But this work is never easy. …. The Open Government Partnership is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of governments and civil society organizations.

2013-06-15_OGPDeclaration

To become a member of OGP, participating countries must embrace a high-level Open Government Declaration; deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation; and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.
The Open Government Partnership formally launched on September 20, 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States) endorsed an Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans. Since September, OGP has welcomed the commitment of 47 additional governments to join the Partnership.’

OGD – the statistical point of view

The World Wide Web has set the standard: vast amounts of information are freely available and ready for use. And the aim of many open data initiatives is for this to become increasingly true for government data as well. Although official statistics have been offering this service for a long time, there is still a need for action in order to meet important open government data criteria: data catalogues, licensing and machine-readable data formats to name a few.

Read more in this article published in the December issue of ValueS, the information magazine of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.

2013-01-11_OGD-ValueS

Open Government Data Benchmark: FR, UK, USA

Finally there’s a very interesting comparison of OGD in three leading countries.

qunb did it . Have a look at this presentation.

1) There are lots of duplicates on OGD platforms

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2) There are very few structured data yet

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3) Apps are the real challenge

There are different strategies fostering the developmemt of Apps made with open data. The U.K. method seems to be one of the most productive

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The presentation in French

OGD events

There’s a lot of activities in the realm of Open Government Data OGD in the past few days.

opendata.ch

In Switzerland the second opendata.ch event was held in Zürich on 28 June (agenda and documents in German).

Presentations from Rufus Pollock and Nigel Shadbolt (in English) will be available on opendata.ch.

Zürich used opendata.ch 2012 as a marketing occasion for its eZurich OGD Portal opend the same day. It could become a catalysator for more such portals in Switzerland.

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Open Government Data Studie Schweiz

On the same day a comprehensive study about OGD in Switzerland was published with some recommendations:

Handlungsempfehlungen für Politik, Verwaltung und Öffentlichkeit

  1. Politischen Willen für OGD äussern
  2. OGD freigeben und publizieren
  3. OGD nutzen
  4. Umgang mit OGD lernen
  5. Die Wirkung und den Nutzen von OGD empirisch untersuchen
  6. Die Technologie für OGD erforschen und weiterentwickeln
  7. Schlussbemerkung: …. dass wir den “Swiss Way of OGD” postulieren: Nicht (vergeblich) auf das grosse, koordinierte, zentral und top-down geführte Programm warten. Sondern dezentral, föderalistisch und lokal ansetzen, Daten freigeben, Beispiele schaffen, anregen und anstossen und auf die überzeugende Kraft des demonstrierten und erlebten Nutzens von OGD setzen.

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And newly published: UK government’s white paper on open data

‘The government’s newly published white paper on open data makes a number of commitments that if carried through will keep the UK at the forefront of a recent and growing open data revolution.’ In these words Nigel Shadbolt announces the new white paper in The Guardian (28 June 2012).

Yearly Re-use Turnover

And one argument in favour of OGD can be heard more and more often: The positive effect of OGD on the economy. Nigel Shadbolt gave some examples in opendata.ch 2012: i.e.  32 billion Euros in the EU countries…

See also the figures from open data Spain:

‘At the national meeting of open data initiatives in Spain new figures were reported on the size and volume of the re-use market in Spain. … that the volume of business activities directly connected to the re-use of public sector information is between 332 and 550 million Euros per year.’

And here’s more of this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/public-leaders-network/blog/2012/jul/10/european-governments-race-open-data?