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New report asks: How should the Australian Govt approach open data?

16 May 2017

How should Australian government organisations applying open data initiatives to support information sharing? That is the main question put forward by a number of NSW agencies in a new report.

The research report, titled Conditions Enabling Open Data and Promoting a Data Sharing Culture 2017, looks at how five international jurisdictions — New Zealand, the UK, US, France and Canada  — are using open data. 

“The first of its kind in Australia, the research demonstrates how Open Data is being achieved internationally through an examination of leading jurisdictions. The research acknowledges NSW’s progress and, importantly, offers new and significant insights to inform our approach to opening up valuable NSW data resources,” explains Elizabeth Tydd, NSW Information Commissioner, CEO of the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC).

She believes that opening up data is both a contemporary and useful way to open up government, provides better accountability and encourages meaningful public participation.

“In practice the research has highlighted how diverse, inter-connected and context-specific each country’s approach has been. In particular, it is clear that precisely because of the breadth of action some leading countries have taken it is difficult to isolate the particular contribution of any one element. However, the existing legislative and policy settings have informed advances in Open Data in the jurisdictions examined,” the report says.

The report, commissioned by the IPS and conducted by a team of experts from the University of New South Wales, identified six ‘enablers’ that are actively being used in open data countries.

Those enablers include leadership; legislation; policy; regulatory; culture and collaboration; and operational enablers. 

“The research builds on a recent IPC community attitudes survey which found strong support for Open Data in NSW: 83 per cent of respondents agreed that de-identified information should be used to inform the planning and delivery of government services and enhance collaboration with the public in the development of government policies,” Tydd says.

The report also suggests that New South Wales could take on practical aspects such as: 

  • Adopting the International Open Data Charter
  • Improving collaboration with the broader community, much like New Zealand’s ‘Social License’ initiative
  • Taking an anticipatory approach to regulation to ensure privacy is maintained
  • Publishing a complete catalogue of all datasets, including restricted datasets

The report was a collaborative effort between IPC, the Data Analytics Centre, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Data61, the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation and the Department of Justice.

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