The Open Data deal 

Over the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time in airport lounges and hotel rooms, giving me the chance to observe recent news events on TV, as well as those great “call us now we’ll give you” adverts.  This got me thinking about Open Data and what more Australians could do with all the valuable information that governments are continuing to push out.

The Open for Business Report, written by Nicholas Gruen and commissioned by Omidyar Network, released in June this year had some very interesting findings about the potential for open data.

  • Estimated value of open data is US$13 trillion over five years, calculated by scaling the McKinsey Global Institute results and including these in the corresponding G20 agenda.
  • The 2013 McKinsey Global Study estimated unlocking the value of open data at a figure of US$3 – 5 trillion annually across seven sectors.
  • Gruen ties Australia’s cumulative contribution to GDP, and estimates this at AU$16 billion per annum or around 1% of GDP over the next five years.
  • Gruen estimates the total potential value of open data to Australia as approximately AU$64 billion per annum.

The Australian public sector is continuing to contribute to the open data agenda with the NSW state government last week launching its open data dashboard, driving its “open by default” policy. The Queensland and Victorian governments are continuing to release datasets with both releasing in excess of 1500 in 20 different categories. It’s not yet clear, however, if (or when) we will see a consolidated approach to open data in Australia. While all tiers of government are making efforts, there has not been a clear direction to coordinate these efforts.

Is it time for businesses and academia to get involved and help grow the economy and improve public services? Could the Australian Government do more and follow the UK by embracing the Open Document Format? It would be great to see an Australian approach to open data.

In my home state of Queensland, I’d like to see the state government take the next step.  Perhaps updating the Right to Information legislation to explicitly include open data would be a good start.  The cherry on top would be for the Queensland Government to sign up to the G8 Open Data Charter Principles.

If governments continue to take a proactive approach to open data, we are sure to see industry and academia follow suit in making a difference.