Back in April, I was part of the annual Open Data ThinkTank, put on by the Strategic Policy team at the Office of Finance and Services. The ThinkTank is one of the ways that open data practitioners from inside government can connect with and share experiences with industry and users of open data.
My role was to adjudicate as part of a panel of judges on a ‘myth busting’ session. Teams were given one of nine commonly-held myths around open data, and were challenged to come up with evidence-based responses to effectively “bust” the myth. Out of nine myths, six were ‘busted’, identifying three myths where more work was needed.
Based on my experience talking with data custodians and people working in information management more generally, some of the myths definitely rang true. There can be hesitation, for example, in releasing datasets that may not be ‘perfect’, or in not knowing how people might use the data. The good news, however, is that there are tools and approaches available now to circumvent some of the risks – perceived or real – that could come with releasing datasets, such as tools for generating data quality statements that alert users to any possible gaps or other issues with the data. In addition, as the Minister noted in his opening remarks, NSW is slowly building a new culture around the release of data and attitudes to risk. A culture that will help agencies to in being more transparent, and more open to the ideas and input of the community in the development and delivery of government services. (more…)