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5/12/2014
02:50 PM
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White House Issues Open Data Action Plan

Agencies must incorporate feedback from users to prioritize efforts and improve data as part of G7 Open Data Charter pledge.

5 Online Tools Uncle Sam Wants You To Use
5 Online Tools Uncle Sam Wants You To Use
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The Obama administration has issued a new US Open Data Action Plan calling for agencies to solicit feedback from government data users to improve the quality of government data and prioritize its release to the public.

The 20-page document, released May 9, builds on a pledge made by US officials at a June 18, 2013, international Open Data Charter meeting of G7 leaders to publish a roadmap for improving the availability and use of government data for the public.

The release also coincided with the first anniversary of President Obama's executive order requiring federal agencies to make government data open and machine readable by default.

The plan commits the US to four actions aimed at advancing the usability of open government data:

1. Agencies will improve the way they describe and publish their data sets by "better focusing on users needs." Administration officials have tasked the General Services Administration and the team responsible for Data.gov, the government's central public data portal, to conduct regular usability tests to determine whether users can complete essential tasks. The GSA will also provide free training to agencies on ways to improve the usability of data sets and APIs used by the public.

[Governments around the world embrace the potential of open data policies. Read: Open Government Data Gains Global Momentum.]

2. Agencies will work with public and civil society organizations to prioritize open data sets for release. They will also solicit feedback on data sets that could be made open but are not yet publicly available.

3. The US government will take added steps to help innovators use open government data to develop products and services. Agencies, for instance, will begin working with New York University's GovLab to conduct Open Data Roundtables between companies and government data owners to determine ways to improve the quality and usability of agency data.

4. The administration has also agreed to assign members from the latest group of Presidential Innovation Fellows to help accelerate work on a series of data innovation projects, including initiatives using climate observations, census and economic data, Earth observation data from NASA, tax administration data, and data in support of veterans.

The action plan includes a list of data releases scheduled in 2014 and 2015 intended to support public and business services. For example, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will offer its entire digitized collection to software developers to make educational apps and tools.

The 2013 Open Data Census shows the US and UK lead in data openness. See an enlarged chart and more on Open Knowledge Foundation website.
The 2013 Open Data Census shows the US and UK lead in data openness. See an enlarged chart and more on Open Knowledge Foundation website.

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and Federal CTO Todd Park, writing jointly in a White House blog post Friday, said these latest steps would build on prior open data efforts across the health, energy, climate, education, finance, public safety, and global development sectors to "unlock troves of valuable data -- that taxpayers have already paid for" -- and to make those resources "more open and accessible to innovators and the public." The new steps will also make "information about government operations more readily available and useful" in ways that will lead to "a more efficient and transparent government."

The plan "turns ideas into implementation," said Joel Gurin, senior adviser of the GovLab and former chairman of the White House Task Force on Smart Disclosure. "The Obama Administration has been an international leader in establishing government open data principles, including the principle that most government data should be open by default. That's the right goal, but it's going to take a while to achieve." He praised the action plan for getting feedback from innovators. "That's an approach that can get the most value from open data most quickly."

Hudson Hollister, executive director of the open data advocacy group Data Transparency Coalition, also applauded the President's Open Data Action Plan for committing the federal government "to publish its information in a machine readable way, work with civil society, improve data sets based on feedback, and prioritize high-value data."

Hollister said he was surprised the White House made no formal mention of another open data development that occurred May 9 -- the president's signing of the DATA Act, the nation's first open data law. "The DATA Act's successful implementation will be essential to delivering on those commitments" contained in the US Open Data Action Plan.

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Wyatt Kash is a former Editor of InformationWeek Government, and currently VP for Content Strategy at ScoopMedia. He has covered government IT and technology trends since 2004, as Editor-in-Chief of Government Computer News and Defense Systems (owned by The Washington Post ... View Full Bio

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jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 5:26:01 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
An interesting discussion but who mentioned consumers in the first place?

It's announcement filled with "will do" statements, and very few "are doing" and "have done" - which means I can read between the ilnes and assume that this is largely vaporware (as it were) so far. As to who will use the data, well almost certainly not the average consumer; they'll get bits and pieces fed to them by whoever can be bothered to mine the data for what they consider to be interesting statistics (undoubtedly the shocking ones not the mundane or predictable ones). That is, of course, whenever the "will do" list becomes a "did" list, at some point in the future.

As a side note, I don't particularly care whether the statistics are packaged by Narrative Solutions' Quill, or by a journalist or somebody else. Not all the data is necessarily of the type that might directly lend itself to statistical analysis anyway, so maybe there's a little more hope for the world than MedicalQuack suggests :)

 
MedicalQuack
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MedicalQuack,
User Rank: Moderator
5/12/2014 | 6:47:11 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
No problem and my apologies for not having my spell check turned on either:)  That's another bad side effect of writing code, it destroys your spelling too:) 
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2014 | 6:35:11 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
I appreciate your points, and concede, I do not make my living writing software. So yes, there's a certain disconnect between the promises and the reality. I'd just say that for a long time, the reality has been the government refused to make its data available and it's a noteworthy to see leaders not only in the US, but in countries all over the world grasp why making it available is a good thing.
MedicalQuack
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MedicalQuack,
User Rank: Moderator
5/12/2014 | 6:15:30 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
I see what you are saying, but look at the fraud in healthcare...as a comparison and it's always work to say a step ahead and it's not being done to well.  I like technology and challenge those all the time who have never written software as you tend to have a "virtual" view instead of the real world and it takes time to find fraud for sure and nobody likes it, self included.

So what do we do, stop everything until we have our software and fraud all taken care of, of course not but do we want food grown...there's the real world if you will.  Software is freaking hard to write and complex.  My word of advice, is be careful with stats and analytics and look at the big picture here because it will never be perfect, so do we want less fraud or less food:)


I call this "The Grays" and it's happening everywhere and most recently at the Phoenix VA to where people died with executives chasing stats.  Even the White House is just one big template as I have said for a few months and all models in the software world don't work in the real world.  So again I have this talk with people all the time when assessing judgements.  Doctors deal with the real world all the time and we have a name for that, patients. 

So again I look at Monsanto for what they are a a whole with all their subsidiaries and what they do. 

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2014/03/virtual-worlds-real-world-we-have.html

I'm not that smart but in developing software I very well know the illusions of a proof of concept at times as been there done that. You mgiht want to hash around what the virtual and real values are here if you want.  The real world comes back to bite though all the time:)

WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2014 | 5:56:40 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
MedicalQuack, I might offer another example then for consumers and farmers: Farmers pay a lot for premiums for crop insurance (its actually in the event of bad weather.) But as much as 20% of crop insurance pay out is for fraudulent claims.  That's huge (compared to 1-2% for property insurance fraud). So if you could reduce the fraud, and reduce the premiums, that would help farmers, and consumers. Analyts looking at FSA and NASA open government data and satellite images can now detect fraudulent crop claims in the making.  Don't know about  you, but as a taxpayer, and a food buyer, I think that's a good thing.

 
MedicalQuack
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MedicalQuack,
User Rank: Moderator
5/12/2014 | 5:27:01 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
I hear you as well and there is some value but again it's not for the consumer.  You mention Monsanto and I look at what they do as a whole too and it's the small persona again too when you look at the link below with putting a 75 year old farmer out of business over violating IP property on "seeds"...oh there's so much subsidiary actions going on today too.

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2014/02/big-data-in-farming-back-to-data.html

So on the other side of the coin you have information here being used partially by farmers on crops but and this is a big but the policing of coporate America to do it and after the story above, I Monsanto as a whole gave me a little different opinion. 
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2014 | 5:18:10 PM
Re: So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
Medical Quack, sorry for the data overload.  And you're probably right, while consumers do benefit from weather, GPS and some medical data (ie i-Triage), this development probably isn't of much relevance to consumers, but it may to business folks and it does to our Government IT readers.  To that point, I would ask: So was the sale of the Climate Corporation to Monsanto, for nearly $1 billion last year, which directly benefits from open government data policies like this, just another piece of meaningless news?

 
MedicalQuack
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MedicalQuack,
User Rank: Moderator
5/12/2014 | 4:18:08 PM
So Over Rated...this is big news for media not consumers..
This is not a big deal for consumers, peiod.  What's wrong with people in making this such a big deal in the news..is it "click bait"?  Seriously though what does the consumer get out of this..absolutely nothing and when folks can get the data they can query with other data and sell it. 


We are drowining in data news and frankly I'm tired of tweeters that act like magpies on twitter to think this is just earth crashing news and I suppose that's the subliminal condtioniong that has been going on. 


Again why is this such big news?  We had that with the CMS doctor data base and I was absolutely correct when I said it would be a media event a year before the data was release and that's what it was.  Bots can be used to write media as well, like Narrative Science shown here.

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2014/04/hhs-to-release-data-from-cms-on-what.html


Or you can get into LongTail and it can even do videos...so again I'm tired of data news..and journalists would like to write hard news but they are all starving for money and need click bait ad revenue.

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2013/12/quantitated-justification-for-believing.html


All the data news makes for some of the most boring stuff out there and sure there's some real use for some of it but we're overloaded.  I understand out CMO and CIO are working hard but darn put this in it's perspective and cut the garbage on this being such a huge asset for consumers when it's no.  Frankly public companies that are cash rich should spend more money with onlines newspapers so wouldn't be stuck all of this as they would have money to operate and provide decent hard news.

It does how how selfish we are and stupid too if you will as these public cash rich companies just sit by and let the media die in esssence.  Stock trading software looks for news and that's moves and trades stocks. 

 

 

 

WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2014 | 3:32:37 PM
Incremental step
On its own, the US Government's action plans to advance Open Data don't look particularly agressive or forward thinking.  Getting feedback from data users seems like a no brainer. But in the context of where governments, including the US Government has been - e.g. from a culture of need-to-know, to a need-to-share culture - on top of the mandate to make government data open and machine readable by default, these plans are necessary, albeit incremental, step in the right direction.

 
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