I’ve joined a new endeavor this week—the U.S. Open Data Institute. Today is just day #2 for me, and for the organization. The US ODI is modeled on the UK-based Open Data Institute, a year-old organization that’s bridging the gaps between government and the private sector. That’s what we intend to do at the US ODI—help government, businesses, non-profits, and individuals make more effective use of the data being produced by governments and, in some cases, businesses. That’ll be done largely through facilitating collaboration between existing organizations and government agencies, and also by working one-on-one with government agencies who need help opening up their data. Neither is particularly glamorous—basically playing matchmaker and running a free IT help desk—but it’s what needs to be done to unlock the annual $3 trillion in economic value that’s waiting to be capitalized on. A whirlwind of activity has surrounded the establishment of this organization, to which I’ve largely been a stunned witness, with particular credit going to the Knight Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Open Data Institute, Daniel X. O’Neil, and Max Ogden, although dozens of other people and organizations played important roles.
For a lot more detail, see the Knight Foundation’s announcement of their $250,000 in funding, my blog entry on their site about the US ODI, the White House’s blog entry, US ODI board chair Daniel X. O’Neil’s blog entry, or Robinson Meyer’s especially fun and detailed Atlantic article.
This sounds like a fascinating project with much potential. Lots of links to read here.
Small side note: I’m still reading through it, but I’m a little bothered by a facet in the McKinsey report in one of the metrics for Education: Matching students to employment. It was a sad read and seems like re-creating the wheel in many instances – instead of grades, students get open badges. A lot of the same canard, instead of an employer training a candidate for the job, subsidize the position by making schools train employees versus educating the masses. Also, basically reverting school guidance counselors to counseling students on their futures instead of acting as psychologists for troubled students – but with big data it can be privatized? Well, there’s definitely potential value in this metric or lever as they refer to it.
I noticed Forbes recently released a “30 under 30” piece and there’s a gentleman listed who is also working with government data:
That OpenGov project seems like a tool for those in government positions to make decisions versus making all that data public. Not that making data usable is a bad thing, but making it usable and accessible to all is better.
I’m simply fist-pumping excited about this and I believe great things are going to come of it. In many ways what this group does is makes it *permissible* for government to publish open data. Once the permission barrier is breached, good quality data and formats are possible.
I’ve enjoyed reading for years Jenni’s blog where she explains the challenges of data interchange. You are in for a fascinating experience with this.
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