Open Government Data, Exciting New Project

Last June I wrote about open data, after attending a session by Keith Andrews at PolitCamp Graz. I continued the discussion on that topic with others, which now has turned into a new and exciting project.

Wouldn’t it be great if we, as citizens, could have access to already public data and information in a way that we can choose? So that we can build applications on top of that data that are useful to us and others? It’s what Hans Rosling has been pleading for passionately at TED conferences (video 1, video 2), and what he turned into practice at Gapminder. It is also the rationale behind the British government project Show Us a Better Way, where ideas are collected around putting government data to good use. After all, we paid for the collection of that data through taxes, and they are public already, so why not try to find additional worthwile uses ourselves, and get more results from our taxes?

It would be great wouldn’t it? That’s why the Ministry for Interior Affairs here in the Netherlands asked me and James Burke (Lifesized) to work on some appealing examples of reusing government data and opening up that data for the wider public (with APIs and some simple tools) in the coming months. At the same time we will create a map of possible government datasources to open up, and the people involved with maintaining those data sources, as well as collect ideas, examples, wishes, and needs from citizens around open government data.  We will also create some practical advice for civil servants on how to go about opening up government data sources they maintain. This is all part of a wider programme around ‘Open Government’ aiming at more transparancy.

What would you like to have available in terms of government data, to reuse in your own mash-ups? What kind of applications would you like to see, that uses or needs government data as a source, if it were available in the right format? What kind of ideas do you have about finding additional uses for government data? What examples do you know of that you think are valuable, fun or exiciting? I would love to hear from you on those questions. Because that would allow us to make clear to the government that there is a need for opening up government data in this way.

I am looking forward to hear your tips, ideas, and remarks on this project!

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10 thoughts on “Open Government Data, Exciting New Project

  1. josien kapma

    I would like to be able to see a map and see cadastral data (landownership, transactions, cost per ha). It might be fun to somehow combine the data of agricultural subsidies (http://www.farmsubsidy.org/) as well.
    I would also like to see a map and see all the SME’s in that area (data of register of commerce).

  2. Hans de Zwart

    Hey Ton,
    Great project! I really look forward to the results. The sort of data that comes to mind that I would like developers to have access to is:

    • Geodata
    • CBS Statistics
    • Transportation data, especially information about public transportation and delays
    • Democratic data about our politic process

    I am not sure what application would be built, but am I sure that just having the possibility there will inspire the creativity of many developers!

  3. Jeroen van Bemmel

    I think it would be very nice to follow the registration of newly born babies online in real-time. Something like an RSS or Twitter feed of postings with the first name and place of birth.
    Privacy wise, I believe permission of the parent filing the birth is sufficient (perhaps opt-out).
    Then, statistics on the number of children born, visualization of new births per region, statistics on most popular names for boys and girls, etc. are derived data.

  4. Jon Husband

    Just re-reading this post, forgot to congratulate you on what seems as if it will be a very exciting project indeed.
    And please say hi to James for me.
    On another note, maybe we can chat voice to voice someday soon ? I am missing talking to you.

  5. harris_jon

    Hi, I’m sure i won’t be the first, but check out mysociety.org and especially their newest bit of kit
    http://www.mysociety.org/2009/06/01/say-hello-to-mapumental/
    the sourcecode for which they released via twitter today. they’re @mysociety.
    I’m @harris_jon
    p.s. i’m not connected to mysociety at all, other than as a user so probably best to talk to them direct about any questions you have

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