Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: Government Cloud

Blog Feed Post

How Open is ‘Open’ ?

LONDON - FEBRUARY 12:  Queen Elizabeth II shak...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

There has been a recent burst of enthusiasm for making raw data produced by and for Government more ‘open,’ and this must surely be welcomed. Long-running grass-roots efforts such as Tom Steinberg’s mySociety and The Guardian’s Free Our Data campaign continue to innovate, but in an environment that is suddenly more receptive to their ideas. Edge-case adoptions of RDFa and other ’semantic’ specifications, perhaps, are at last moving from being merely the preserve of a few isolated enthusiasts.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee now walks the corridors of power in London and Washington and elected officials (and even the Opposition parties) at least claim to be listening to his call for ‘Raw Data, Now!’ and his talk of Linked Data, URIs, and the rest. How far we have come, but we have much further still to go.

‘Open’ and ‘Transparent’ Government is nothing new. It’s been talked about for a very long time, and there has been some progress. Part of the issue, I think, comes down to interpretations of ‘open.’ Just because it’s possible to download some Government data doesn’t necessarily mean it’s practical for most interested parties to do so.

If a national library puts all of its catalogue online for free, but requires you to query it via an obscure industry protocol, is that ‘open’ ? If they then throttle access so that it would take an inordinately long period of time to ‘copy’ their catalogue, is that ‘open’ ?

If a National Statistics agency makes all of their research freely available, and provides access to thousands of opaquely named csv files by listing them on a web page, is that ‘open’ ?

If a Government department makes all its research reports available online as Microsoft Word files, is that ‘open’ ?

A purist might strenuously assert that none of these are ‘open.’ Most, certainly, are far from ideal… but they still serve a real purpose in making the innards of Government more accountable. How good should be good enough in 2009?

Going the other way, does a Health Authority have to make my medical records visible to the world before it can be called ‘open’ ? It seems almost unthinkable, but extremes of viewpoint do have an annoying habit of quickly becoming that absurd.

The current enthusiasm for ‘Open’ is closely associated to Tim Berners-Lee’s talk of Linked Data and the newly pragmatic Semantic Web, and Berners-Lee provided a short note last week on his current views. Contrast Tim’s discussion of the ways in which Government data should be linkable with the Sunlight Foundation’s attack on the US Federal Government’s transparency flagship, Recovery.gov, for not making any real data available in the first place.

If we can’t even get the existing raw data out of Government as often as we’d like, there’s a long way to go before Berners-Lee’s grander vision can be achieved. He recognises this, of course, writing;

“Government data is being put online to increase accountability, contribute valuable information about the world, and to enable government, the country, and the world to function more efficiently. All of these purposes are served by putting the information on the Web as Linked Data. Start with the ‘low-hanging fruit’. Whatever else, the raw data should be made available as soon as possible. Preferably, it should be put up as Linked Data. As a third priority, it should be linked to other sources. As a lower priority, nice user interfaces should be made to it — if interested communities outside government have not already done it.”

(my emphasis)

To get much further, and to make that progress sustainable, there’s a requirement for a very real shift in attitudes at the heart of Government. Openness (of data or anything else) shouldn’t be a tactic to distract from worse news elsewhere, or a short lived knee-jerk response to the latest embarrassment. Rather, it should be a deep-seated presumption to underpin policy, systems design and more.

Data from Government should, quite simply, be freely and easily available. As a matter of course, and without prevarication. Unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.

For all the talk of ‘open,’ that is very far from being true today. The presumption is ‘closed.’ The mindset is (largely) ‘closed.’ ‘Open’ has to be fought for, and ‘Open’ has to be justified. ‘Open’ has to be championed, endlessly, tirelessly, thanklessly.

The exact opposite should be true. Then (and maybe only then?) Berners-Lee and his colleagues can build something wonderful.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the tec...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "IoT Now" was named media sponsor of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...