This week I attended two workshops by data.gov.au. This post is about Introduction to Public Data. What is public data you ask? It is information collected or generated by the Australian Government. So stuff like your taxes, ABN’s, census or where electoral borders are. But, what is data.gov.au’s part in all this? They are encouraging government entities to publish their public data openly on their platform, provide agencies with their expertise to solve really knurly data problems and overall enhance public servants data literacy.

Recently Australia released a couple of policies surround data and its use, you may know them as the Public Data Policy Statement and the National Innovation and Science Agenda. These two documents give you an idea of what our government would like to see data achieve, and I think data.gov.au is one of the vehicles they are using to get it done.

Great, so we have some guiding documents and some really awesome people to help get Australian data there. But you are probably wondering how do I know if my data is good enough, or even if anyone wants it. At a minimum, data.gov.au wants Government entities to produce data that is:

  1. machine-readable and in a spatially-enable format
  2. high quality with easy to use and freely available API access
  3. with descriptive metadata
  4. using agreed open standards
  5. kept up to date in an automated way
  6. under a Creative Commons By Attribution licence

Data.gov.au have also done a bit of investigating to find out how people are using government data and who they are.

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Cases Studies

And in case you weren’t already convinced of the capabilities public data opens up for innovation and agencies. Here are a couple examples of what can be done with open data.

Citymapper is a great transport app that uses APIs to grab relevant data about the best mode of travel for you and your travel route. Imagine it is raining, you need to catch public transport to get somewhere but you don’t want to get wet. Citymapper can do that because it has access to open public data and APIs about, for example, all the sheltered bus stops in a city.

Earlier this year Buzzfeed released a story about match-fixing and gambling in tennis. But, what made this story so popular is that Buzzfeed provided access to their methodology and the data they used to create their story. Data, others have re-used to continue the story.

Ground Truth are a Victorian company and they have something called Pozi Connect. Pozi Connect uses data that agencies upload to data.gov.au to creates cool services like this Yarriambiack’s defibrillator map.

Next, I’ll post about another next data.gov.au workshop I attended this week Publishing and Using Data on data.gov.au.

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)

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