Australia leads the pack with open government data

Australia is leading the pack with investments in open government data, according to figures released by the Global Open Data Index that offers a snapshot of international trends. 

An annual benchmarking of open data access initiatives has placed the Australian government as leading the pack in the international arena, together with the sharing information with constituents and the industry.

The Global Open Data Index (GODI), published by The Open Knowledge Institute, is an annual global benchmark that ranked how well nations publish open government data against 14 categories. In this ranking, Australia finished equal top alongside Taiwan on the index that had assessed 94 countries.

The Australian Government was on track with its commitment to making data more openly available, according to the GODI index. This trend was mirrored by key states, including NSW, Victoria, and South Australia that had strived to create open government programs.

The outlook for open government and data access also comes under the spotlight at the Annual FST Government NSW conference being held Wednesday 17th May in Sydney.

According to Angus Taylor, the federal assistant minister for cities and digital transformation, the GODI ranking confirmed the Australian government was on track with its commitment to making data more openly available. “I am delighted, but not surprised, to see Australia being ranked as the best in the world when it comes to open government data,” he said.

Data access was one of the earliest success stories for the Australian government. “We increased the 500 datasets available in 2013 to more than 20,000 datasets currently. This has delivered real benefits in innovation.”

Among the federal initiatives, the Geo-coded National Address File was released in February 2016. This was used for a wide range of business and operational programs. These initiatives included infrastructure planning, business planning and analysis, logistics and service planning, emergency and disaster response. Another example was the National Map that offered a better understanding of datasets to create new businesses and applications.

“I’m delighted to see that our steadfast commitment to open data has been recognised globally by a renowned independent assessor,” minister Taylor added. “We must now ensure that we keep this momentum going in order to fill the gaps highlighted by the global index and build on our initial successes.”

The Commonwealth’s “Public Data Policy Statement” had flagged data as being a strategic national resource. The government repository of information assets held considerable value in terms of growing the economy, improving the delivery of services, and transforming outcomes for policy.

Access was reinforced by moves to optimise the use and reuse of public data, while releasing non-sensitive data as open by default. The private and research sectors were also encouraged to extend the value of public data.

The non-sensitive data comprised anonymised data that did not identify an individual or breach privacy or security requirements. Requests for access to public data could be made via data.gov.au or directly with the government entity that held the data. Where access to data was denied by an entity, users had the option to appeal the decision by using a public request functionality that was available through the data. gov.au site.

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