Using the data

February 27, 2011

Having had all the fuss about getting open data out of government, which has been partially successful, I’d already been aware of OpenlyLocal keeping track of what was going on. Now there’s a new site on the block that is attempting to get work done on and with the data, it’s called ‘making a difference with data’.

Its site design is by Boilerhouse, which is the consultancy behind Vicky Sargent (well done Vicky), who plays such a part in Socitm‘s branding and PR, so it’s fairly attractive and well laid out. There’s also a good range of commentators including Michael Cross, a freelancer possibly best known (at least to me) as a long running observer on e-government and government IT in the Guardian.

I think this site is important since, as Vicky will understand,  with staff reductions in government there will be limited resources to produce anything from open data, let alone produce the data. So, it has to be seen that the production of the data is of value to the citizen, and that may only come from there nationally being tools to use on the data made available and to confirm transparency.

Semantic web

January 5, 2011

For all those out there wondering about how e-government and the semantic web join up, I can offer an additional resource.

A chapter in a new book has been kindly made available by Southampton University as an e-print. The chapter is written by government advisor on open government and e-government Nigel Shadbolt, along with Kieron O’Hara, Manuel Salvadores and Harith Alani.

As an example, the book picks upon and bizarrely my own council just before it had published its spending data in October 2010.  However, the chapter’s conclusion is important since it says :

“the technical issues are not intractable, even if managerial and political problems require a great deal of will and skill to solve. And as will be seen in the next section it is possible to launch national initiatives where the costs are dramatically smaller than those associated with traditional large-scale IT projects, in part because the main effort is in persuading the government to publish data in SW formats that support rapid reuse and exploitation outside government.”

This does not allow for the expected large-scale redundancies in government back-offices and the effect that will have on providing IT resources to actually deliver the goods, especially as, more importantly (from my local government view) it states a few paragraphs earlier:

“any central e-government application has to obtain the required information from heterogeneous local sources, and motivating such municipalities to cooperate requires a deep and sympathetic identification of their requirements and constraints, and some transfer of resources downward (e.g., for provision of new methodologies and tools).”

I suspect this is essential reading for anyone wishing to keep on top of the way government ICT might progress in 2011, especially in the UK.

Gartner Open Government model

July 8, 2010

Andrea Di Maio announced on June 28 2010 the publication by Gartner of their Open Government Maturity Model. I don’t have access to the research note and he states that they will ‘socialize’ the model at forthcoming events, and it’s a little unclear without the supporting materials. However, at first (and even second and third) glance it doesn’t appear dissimilar to the ‘Ladder of Participation’ by the late and much referenced Sherry Arnstein that I discussed in March 2009.

What would be interesting to see from the research notes is their approach to social media, who should be in charge and what element of public value is most important? Mind you, whether any local authorities will take sufficient notice to restructure their IT and communications around the model remains to be seen.

I also ponder what efforts can be made by small local authorities, in these financially difficult times,  to be seen to be more open and one solution appears to be through openlylocal, and advice can also be derived through the appropriate IDeA Community of Practice. I still believe some work on local government standards in these areas might pay off in the long term and save us getting crucified by suppliers as usual, or has someone done it?