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Open Data - Open Government - Open World

I tend to be a little dramatic at times, especially when looking at how one group influences another group and how they all end up in a bizarre and intertwined symbiotic relationship. I recently participated in the Australian Meta Data conference and waiting in anticipation for the New Zealand event, would like to share my thoughts on how governments around the world are starting to publish or make available taxpayer funded data. Governments such as the USA, UK, Norway, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand are pioneers in this movement right now.

I would like to share with you what have I learned and observed while out and about with the movers and shakers in the field of Gov. 2.0, Semantic Web and open data. The three major stakeholders, each asking their own what, why and how questions, are:

  • Governments
  • Citizens
  • Businesses


The government is a stakeholder in publishing and making tax payer-funded data available and easily accessible.

Why make the data available?
Tax payers should receive the benefits of public data generated by their governments while ensuring that the proper privacy concerns and policies are in place.

What's in it for government?
Making data available and easily accessible will help Government tap into the natural momentum of both businesses and citizens and help accomplish immediate and long terms goals, all the way from citizens influencing and participating with government policy to businesses creating employment, products and services using this open data. This momentum will support citizen participation with government and increases in tax revenues.

How can they do it?
Governments have three options to get this done.

  1. Host and publish data themselves using industry technology accepted standards like OData, JSON, XML, KML, GeoRSS and ATOM feeds
  2. Host and publish their data to agencies like http://data.govt.nz, http://data.gov.au, http://data.gov.uk, http://data.gov
  3. Host and publish their data to the cloud, Microsoft Dallas


The citizen is a stakeholder in influencing government policy, demanding improved government services and participating with government to the betterment of society.

Why consume the data that is available?
Citizens can now better organise local grass root community initiatives using the data to influence government policy, highlighting where government is doing well or not so well and highlighting the ills of society. This enables citizens to work with non-profit and government organisations to heal these social ills using the data as the catalyst.

What's in it for citizens?
Citizens can now participate and influence government policies and services by helping government focus on the most important aspects of what citizens believe are and should be the priorities. This initiative will put the citizens back in charge of their governments and encourage truly interactive behaviour with governments.

The feedback citizens provide by interacting with the open data will allow government agencies and businesses to take note and listen. Citizens, through their participation and feedback, will automatically create another sort of open data – their own feedback – to provide business and government with valuable data they can use themselves.

How can they do it?
There are several ways citizens can do this.

  1. Use available applications like Microsoft Excel’s PowerPivot, Geo Spatial Mapping software and data mash-up initiatives
  2. Use their favourite social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to highlight and organise grass root initiatives
  3. Pass along the information to media outlets and non-profit organisations


The business is a stakeholder in creating employment, products and services that positively influence society and ensuring that government can sustain relevant programs through tax revenues.

Why consume the data made available?
Business can now determine what citizens really care about and using the government data and citizen feedback to create market opportunities, products and services that can be used in conjunction with all the data that becomes available.

What's in it for business?
Opportunities to really understand the market shifts and demands based on real data and interactions with that data.

How can they do it?
There are several ways businesses can do this.

  1. Create online applications that citizens can use to interact with open data, while also provide subscription services beneficial to citizens
  2. Create new innovative products and services using the government open data, citizen feedback and their own unique contribution to both these data sets
  3. Help build the next generation Semantic web capabilities making the data more meaningful and useful

It’s my belief that these three stakeholders can effectively work together to accomplish short term and long term benefits. The benefits of government making data available and easily accessible will encourage citizens to interact with and help government make the right decisions, while business can create new employment opportunities, products and services that will ultimately increase tax revenue, enabling government to more effectively serve their citizens.

Posted by: Henk Verhoeven, Solution Architect | 14 June 2010

Tags: Gov 2.0, Open Data, Semantic Web

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