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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.

Myth busting on open data

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.

A survey was taken of the over 190 participants seeking views on top priorities for the NSW Government’s Open Government team to consider. At the conclusion of the day, the top three priorities identified by the group were announced:

  1. a value proposition for release of data
  2. partnerships between government and non-government; and
  3. priority release schedule for government data.

You can read the full report here.

About the author

Cassie Findlay is a Senior Consultant with Recordkeeping Innovation. In past roles, Cassie has worked strategically at the whole of public sector level on digital recordkeeping, training and open data / open government initiatives. In planning for and establishing the NSW Government’s first Digital State Archive, she gained practical experience in designing and implementing a large and complex technical and procedural infrastructure for keeping digital information. She was also responsible for a number of open data initiatives and the design and launch of OpenGov NSW, the NSW Government’s website for published information Cassie has a Masters degree in information management from the University of NSW and particular strengths in digital recordkeeping and information management strategy, digital preservation, training and communications design and delivery, systems design and implementation, and open data.