NSW govt opens data to public

By on 4 June, 2013

NSW Open Data_630

The NSW state government has released its draft open data policy, which aims to make state-owned data – including spatial data – available to the public at no charge, where possible.

The policy will apply to all government departments, statutory bodies and shared service providers while state-owned corporations will be exempt although it is recommended they adopt it. The public are invited to share their views on how NSW can make information more accessible.

The 14-page document says the data should be provided free of charge where appropriate “to encourage its widespread use for innovation, achieve the maximum value from the data for the citizens of NSW, and to enhance transparency of government”.

“Where it is not possible to provide data free of charge, or this is not suitable in the circumstances, data will nonetheless be provided at a reasonable price.

“Factors affecting pricing decisions include the public interest and the effect of other policy or legislative provisions,” the policy said.

High-value and requested datasets will be prioritised for release according to demand from citizens and industry or where they can improve service delivery.

“In some cases, even data perceived as low-value or for which there is no current demand, may reveal hidden potential. Simply making data available for discovery enables individuals or organisations to identify new and innovative uses for it.”

Data should be in a format that is easy to use, transform and reuse, in addition to being easily discoverable and searchable.

Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce said the policy “was developed in close collaboration with stakeholders and will ensure NSW maximises the benefits of open, transparent and accountable government”.

Mr Pearce said the policy reflects international best practice in open data and draws on experiences in the US, Britain, New Zealand and Canada as well as other states and in Canberra.

Australian Information Industry Association CEO Suzanne Campbell said: “We applaud the announcement and it’s consistent with the AIIA’s Smart ICT election platform”.

Ms Campbell said that making data open would “motivate innovation” and showed that the government embraced the fact that it can contribute significantly to solving real-life problems associated with data.

The policy, government data and links to datasets will be housed at www.data.nsw.gov.au. Submissions close on June 17.

You can download the draft policy [PDF] here.

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