Open Data Going Global

Open Data took another leap forward at this week’s G8 Summit in Long Erne, Northern Ireland, as member countries signed an Open Data Charter to spur the release and use of government-held data to advance economic opportunity, spur innovation, and increase accountability around the world. 

The Open Data Charter outlines principles that member countries—the US, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan–will act on, including an expectation that all government data will be published openly by default, and that signatories will work to increase the quality, quantity, and re-use of released data. 

The G8 Open Data charter builds upon recent historic steps the US has taken domestically. On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13462, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, directing efforts to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs and others as fuel for innovation and economic growth.

When the Federal Government decided years ago to make weather data from satellites and ground stations public, it gave rise to an entire economic sector that has contributed billions to the economy and today includes weather newscasts, weather apps, commercial agricultural advisory services, and new insurance options—in addition to the vast public benefits derived from those activities. And more recently, as demonstrated by the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, we have seen entrepreneurs using open health data to power applications and services that help people throughout the country make informed healthcare decisions. Open government data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agencies is central to the data-powered revolution underway in health care today.

Opening government data to make it accessible and useful while continuing to protect sensitive and private data is a growing movement—but is still in its early stages, especially globally. That’s why this week’s G8 commitment to open data is a big deal. It signifies to the world that G8 member countries are serious about unlocking government-held data, and are committed to work with data users to grow our global economy, address global challenges, spur research and innovation, and provide greater transparency and accountability to our citizens.

During a side event preceding the G8 Summit, the US and UK governments announced that they are seeking partners to launch a Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative this fall to increase the quality, quantity, and timeliness of available data to support agriculture and nutrition efforts—as well as increase the number and diversity of stakeholders who are applying data-based solutions to improve agriculture and nutrition. Learn more about this exciting initiative here.

Learn more about the G8 Summit here.

Nick Sinai is US Deputy CTO

Marina Martin is Senior Advisor to the US CTO

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