How Open Data Can Revolutionize a Society in Crisis

Beth Noveck at BrinkNews:”…These myriad open data success stories, however, depend on the political will to be transparent and collaborative. There is a looming risk that governments will only post what is expedient and noncontroversial while seeking recognition for their proactive disclosure—a practice increasingly referred to as “open-washing.” Governments of all political stripes refuse to disclose data when they should. The data to be found on government websites is not always the information most in demand by journalists, activists, and researchers.

Especially as political administrations turnover, there is a risk that change will result in a failure to collect and publish important data. These practices will be subject to the vagaries of politics.

The genie should not, however, be put back in the bottle.

Open data appeals to both right and left politically: the former sees open data as a pathway to smaller, more efficient government and the latter sees open data as a tool to pursue more effective social programs. The bipartisan interest in evidence-based approaches to governing should fuel greater demand for access to administrative information of all kinds—including the data that agencies collect about companies, workplaces, the environment, and the world beyond government.

Government data should be open in part because of the ill-effects of secrecy, but also because taxpayers have paid for the collection of this data by government in its role as regulator and researcher.

It is a pragmatic tool to make government and companies more accountable at solving social problems and to help communities make better informed buying decisions. It helps create jobs and generate entrepreneurship. Perhaps of paramount importance, open data can advance civil rights and help us to govern more legitimately and effectively….(More).