This Week in Open Data and Transparency: White House opens doors for open data

President Obama made friends with data evangelists last week as he signed an executive order mandating government agencies to make all information system data available for public use in machine readable format. The executive order was quickly followed by an Open Data Policy requiring all agencies to collect information in a way that makes public dissemination and information processing possible (exclusive of security risks of course).

 The big hope of the Obama administration is that releasing this data will spur economic growth, and many are looking forward to see what entrepreneurs and innovators will be able to do with the newly available data. Just recently the US Department of Health and Human Services released open data on billing for the 100 most common treatments and procedures in 3000 US hospitals; Highlighting a difference of $30,000 for the same treatment at two different hospitals. I’m seeing huge potentials here.

While largely seen as an important step towards increased transparency, some are already submitting “patches” to the new open data policy. In particular, Joshua Tauberer pointed out that instead of requiring data to be license-free, it requires open licenses. Tauberer noted that this creates the perception that government data is closed by default until an open license is obtained.

In true competitive, or simply comparative, spirit, The Guardian matched the POTUS’s open data executive order against Prime Minister David Cameron’spublic letter on open data. Key points: US used the power of the Executive Order, which the UK doesn’t have, as well is required data to be in a machine readable format (Say no to PDFs!), and set deadlines, while the UK requested immediate action, but didn’t give specific deadlines.
Weekly updates are written by Taryn Davis of Development Gateway; email her your tips for next week's update to get a shout-out in the post.
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