Opening Up Government Data


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Presentation from the Web Directions Government 08 Conference, Canberra, Australia
May 19, 2008

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  • Thanks for inviting me come along and talk to you about some of the issues associated with opening up government data. The ABS collects, analyses and disseminates a huge volume of information that covers a range of different topics. I represent the part of the organisation that collects data on people and dwellings through our five yearly Census of Population and Housing. But the ABS has a vast array of data on the environment, the economy, a range of social issues, industry data etc… We collect a lot, and publish a subset – and we recognise that there are many stories inside our data that don’t get told. The challenge for us, and for governments across the world, is to open up more of out data and let the users of our data find the stories themselves.
  • Opening Up Government Data

    1. 1. Opening up Government Data Jenny Telford Director of Census Products and Services Australian Bureau of Statistics
    2. 2. Opening up ABS Data <ul><li>How far we have come </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Case Study of the 2006 Census Output </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. How far we have come <ul><li>The past </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data available in paper publications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘paper on the web’ era </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The present </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content designed for the web </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive applications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The future </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More interactivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data as a service </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Case Study: 2006 Census Output <ul><li>Aim to make data: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Timely </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accurate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessible </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. 2006 Census Output Objectives <ul><li>Provide a range of products aimed at meeting individual user needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tourists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvesters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Miners </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Better access to more data </li></ul><ul><li>Changes to delivery not content </li></ul><ul><li>Improve the quantity and quality of our metadata. </li></ul>
    6. 6. The Product Range
    7. 16. TableBuilder <ul><li>High end application for experienced users </li></ul><ul><li>Create custom tables direct from unit record data </li></ul><ul><li>Confidentiality built into the application </li></ul><ul><li>Range of formats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>csv, xls, mid/mif, esri, GML, etc… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create tables, maps and charts </li></ul>
    8. 17. Where to next? <ul><li>Opening up data even further </li></ul><ul><li>Data delivered as services </li></ul><ul><li>Increased emphasis on geospatial display </li></ul><ul><li>Aggregating Census data with other sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mashups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maplets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Widgets </li></ul></ul>
    9. 19. Opening up data – the challenges <ul><li>Protecting our reputation/brand </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity of open data </li></ul><ul><li>Protecting respondent confidentiality </li></ul><ul><li>Equity of access to all </li></ul><ul><li>Making data comparable </li></ul><ul><li>Technical challenges </li></ul>
    10. 20. Protecting our Reputation <ul><li>ABS has a reputation for quality accurate data </li></ul><ul><li>Direct link between reputation and response rates </li></ul><ul><li>Risk of mashing up ABS data with data from a less reliable source </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of direct control </li></ul>
    11. 21. Data Authenticity <ul><li>Can you trust what you see? </li></ul><ul><li>ABS brand = Quality and Trust </li></ul><ul><li>The digital watermark </li></ul><ul><li>“ Official Source” stamp </li></ul>
    12. 22. Confidentiality is key! <ul><li>Protect the privacy of individuals and businesses </li></ul><ul><li>CORE value – cannot be compromised </li></ul><ul><li>Range of technical and procedural protections in place </li></ul><ul><li>Adds technical complexity </li></ul>
    13. 23. Equity of Access <ul><li>Key ABS principle </li></ul><ul><li>Aim to make our data as accessible and usable as possible – for all </li></ul><ul><li>We can’t possibly publish data in every format </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the quest for open standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Google gadgets, Yahoo widgets etc… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The potential of RSS </li></ul></ul>
    14. 24. Data Cohesion – making things comparable <ul><li>Importance of standards </li></ul><ul><li>Changing classifications </li></ul><ul><li>Time series </li></ul><ul><li>Comparing geographic areas – not as simple as it sounds </li></ul>
    15. 25. We don’t just publish numbers <ul><li>We publish metadata (and a lot of it) </li></ul><ul><li>Fitness for purpose </li></ul><ul><ul><li>you decide </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quality Statements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>need to carry a link with the data. </li></ul></ul>
    16. 26. Copyright and IP issues <ul><li>Policies aim to promote (but not abuse) use of ABS data </li></ul><ul><li>More aligned to the past </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright - the 500 cell limit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does this still work? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Creative Commons </li></ul>
    17. 27. The risk of being too interesting <ul><li>2006 Census results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1.7 million hits in the 3 hours after release </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CPI is every quarter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>300 hits per second at 11.30 am </li></ul></ul>What would these numbers look like if we had automated data feeds as well as static data!
    18. 28. The future <ul><li>Some things will continue </li></ul><ul><li>Continued push to open data </li></ul><ul><li>More data, more formats, more uses! </li></ul><ul><li>Data as a service </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities and challenges. </li></ul>