Below is some information about the dataACT initiative, which is underway right now! GovHack was unfortunately a little early for their launch, but we will definitely work with them on another ACT GovHack later on.
dataACT is a project being carried out within the ACT Government to publish government datasets on a central web portal, within the overall context of its Open Government initiatives. The Chief Minister has given considerable support to Open Government over the past year and has stressed its benefits in increased accountability and transparency. dataACT will further support the Open Government initiative.
To date, the Government’s main use of its extensive data holdings has been to use them to deliver specific services such as bus timetables, sportsground bookings and RSS feeds of traffic incidents. With dataACT, raw data will be published where possible, enabling the community to see it in its unprocessed form – and if they wish, to use various software products to analyse the data or to develop their own applications to discover linkages to other data, perhaps by using mapping services. Examples of such applications elsewhere are the Trulia US Crime Maps (http://www.trulia.com/crime/#) or the Bike Share Maps (http://bikes.oobrien.com/)
The main feature of the dataACT service will be a data portal where datasets can be uploaded from ACT Government systems. This portal is expected to be in operation in the latter half of 2012. However, a portal without data is no use – which is why there is a concerted effort to identify possible datasets that can form the initial collection on the portal.
The Government is working with the community to identify datasets that satisfy these criteria:
- they must be “high value”, that is they must be the type of data that members of the community will be interested in examining and combining with other data to form meaningful combinations
- they must be in a state where relatively little effort is needed to convert them to a form that can be manipulated; for instance a table extracted from an annual report in a PDF may contain a useful dataset, but it cannot be further manipulated unless it is converted to something like a CSV format
- they must not contain confidential data or data that might be used to identify individuals
- they must not represent data that is already subject to legal restrictions.
Some of these datasets may represent data that is already used to provide services – for instance ACTION publishes bus timetables on its website and the Economic Development Directorate offers a sportsground booking service. There is no suggestion that publishing datasets on dataACT will remove the need for these services; in fact there will be links to these online services from the portal. What we can expect is that different people will find different uses for our data or different connections that can be made from published datasets.
In publishing the datasets, the Government will pay careful attention to licensing to ensure that users are well aware of the restrictions attached to the data. The intention is for the default licence to be CC-BY, which will permit a whole range of uses but will require that the user or developer to acknowledge where they got the data.
The ACT Government is embarking on this project because it believes Open Government is here to stay and this is just the latest of a long line of reforms to the way government presents itself to the community.
While we cannot be sure of the shape that new forms of processing and applications will take, we know that the appetite for new datasets will be huge. So far, the UK Government provides more than 8400 datasets, New York City has almost 1000. With the assistance of resources identified by the community and ACT Government Directorates we can expect that there will be many more uploaded to the portal than the initial collection – and future policies are under development to require that publication of appropriate data be considered in all future systems.
For information about the overall project, please contact
Mick Chisnall, Executive Director, Government Information Office
email@example.com Phone: 6207 0612
Christo Norman, Director, Shared Services Planning & Innovation
firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 6205 4747
Kerry Webb, Manager, Shared Services ICT Policy Office
email@example.com Phone: 6207 0239