At their recent annual summit in Ireland the Group of 8 rich nations — including the United States — formally agreed that opening up government data is good policy. The new G8 Open Data Charter sets out five basic principles for open data. The agreement is incredibly progressive, and clearly states the crucial principal that government data should be “open by default.” Whether the agreement is meaningful in practice remains to be seen, but it is a very important statement of basic principal. In the preamble, the charter explains that:
Open data can increase transparency about what government and business are doing. Open data also increase awareness about how countries’ natural resources are used, how extractive revenues are spent, and how land is transacted and managed. All of which promotes accountability and good governance, enhances public debate, and helps to combat corruption. Transparent data on G8 development assistance are also essential for accountability.
The G8 Open Data Charter lays out five fundamental open data principles.
- Create an expectation for “Open Data by Default,” and require good reason before keeping any closed.
- Prioritize data by releasing as much as possible as quickly as possible and listening to user feedback.
- Release data in open formats under open licenses, in machine-readable and -usable forms.
- Share best practices for releasing open data, and publish standards for collecting and processing data.
- Foster innovation by providing developers and civil society with the resources to unlock the value of open data.
Back home in New York State, we hope to see all five of these principles incorporated in the final version of the state’s Draft Open Data Handbook, which was published last week. The final Open Data Handbook will be issued in September. New Yorkers who support open data should answer Governor Cuomo’s request to contribute your recommendations via Github or directly to the state ITS. Reinvent Albany will complete our comments on the state’s handbook later this Summer. Like the G8, we hope to join with other leading open data “nations” and reach a consensus on a data “charter” we can send to the state.