[open-government] Defining Open Government Data?
Javier Ruiz Diaz
javier at openrightsgroup.org
Thu Oct 21 16:32:40 BST 2010
very well put. Whatever is agreed during the conference in terms of OGD definition, this should be part of the OGD manual.
On 21 Oct 2010, at 15:06, Brian Gryth wrote:
> Good points. Technological penetration is a topic of import to this discussion and open government in general. It is an issue in the developing world, but also in parts of the developed world. There are parts of the United States that have no to limited board band access. The infrastructure just does not exist. In addition, there are local governments in the United States that do not have digitized records and very limited IT infrastructure. (Helping these communities move to an electronic world is one of the long term goals of the opencolorado.org project I am part of in the US). So in short, thankfully one of us was thinking outside of the Web access box.
> Also I see your point on the non-commercial access/use license. But I wonder if applicable copyright law would already allow such use independent of a license? It seems that the educational type use you contemplate would fall within the fair use doctrine (at least in the United States). However, I should stop there because I am not a copyright attorney and anything I said would be speculative and could not be reasonably relied upon.
> That being said. Addressing the non-commercial idea maybe worth considering. It is always best to eliminate risk of infringement. So perhaps the approach should be something like meeting the full definition is best, but if you just can't get there the guidelines/principles/framework should encourage state entities to release the data under a more limited non-commercial use license. I suppose I am getting at your suggested five star model.
> Thanks every one for the great discussion. Hopefully I can actually find time to revise the draft definition started by Jonathan in the next couple of days.
> Brian Peltola Gryth
> On Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 2:18 AM, Tim Davies <tim at timdavies.org.uk> wrote:
> Hello Brian, all
> Two quick questions/thoughts:
> - On non-commercial
> Brian said: "One other point, I see no value in excluding commercial use of government data. Very good services have been create using government data. For instance, weather and GPS data. A license that precludes the commercial use of government information is of little use beyond the academy and think tanks."
> The other significant group missing from that list of 'academy and think thanks' is wider citizen groups & civil society. There are many possible uses of open government data for holding states to account; for scrutinising local services; for improving local provision; etc. which can occur without rights to commercial data use. These are often direct uses of government data (e.g. finding out a key fact about local planning; comparing statistics for your area against others when lobbying local politicians) rather than 're-uses' which do require greater latitude in licensing.
> These democratically focussed and non-commercial uses may only constitute 10% of the total possible uses of OGD when commercial use is permitted. However, they are significant in their own right: which is why I've suggested that there may be justifications for some acknowledgement of non-commercial data as 'open within a limited sense' (clearly not 'fully open' which requires no restrictions on re-use).
> So 'fully open data' should allow commercial use; but there is a form of democratic openness which doesn't require commercial re-use rights, and that surely has some place in an open government data definition?
> - On global applicability and technology-specificity.
> Comparing to the open science definition: if we're looking towards globally applicable principles / definitions - how far should those be internet-centric? Whilst Internet penetration is rapidly rising, I can imagine many contexts in which the most practical sharing of open data may still use physical media (practically working with data tends to require fairly high bandwidth environments).
> The open science definition focusses only on data being internet-accessible: which should be part of the base-line of any definition; and it's fairly reasonable (although not entirely) to assume the science community have access to adequate bandwidth Internet connections (and there is no in-principle obligation on the scientist in one country to ensure a scientist in another country has the resources to access the scientific data they have published). However, when it comes to state data, published in part on the basis of citizen-rights to that data, there may be a greater responsibility on the state to ensure citizens have effective access to the data published - which might mean thinking about other (additional & complementary) routes to making data available.
> (N.B. I'm not suggesting that such routes should be explicit in a definition or principles. Rather that if definition/principles want global applicability then such definition/principles need to be sensitive to (a) differences in technology diffusion across the world; and (b) sensitive to future changes in technology that might render terms obsolete (only really an issue for a definition - principles are easier to 'update' over time without complications).
> All the best
> On Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 4:33 AM, Brian Gryth <briangryth at gmail.com> wrote:
> Jonathan and Tim,
> Furthermore, Jonathan you point us to the science definition, which states,
> "By open data in science we mean that it is freely available on the public Internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyse, re-process, pass them to software or use them for any other purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the Internet itself. To this end data related to published science should be explicitly placed in the public domain."
> With the exception of the public domain bit, I think this definition would work in the government space. Public domain licensing would be to exclusive, even if preferred. If we can get government to release data under the least restrictive license possible that would be ideal.
> More illustrative of what we need are recommended principles for government, like those of Panton Principles, http://pantonprinciples.org/.
> The principles outline thus far are a starting point, (i.e. license/legal, technical/format, social). I am concerned that we are creating a definition that will dissuaded rather that encourage. Let us not create a box so restrictive that only but a few can get into.
> One other point, I see no value in excluding commercial use of government data. Very good services have been create using government data. For instance, weather and GPS data. A license that precludes the commercial use of government information is of little use beyond the academy and think tanks.
> Again these thought are my opinion and I may be miss guided.
> Brian Peltola Gryth
> On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 3:24 AM, Jonathan Gray <jonathan.gray at okfn.org> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 8:39 AM, Tim Davies <tim at timdavies.org.uk> wrote:
> > Hello all,
> > This is a really useful discussion. Some thoughts below...
> > On the question of a definition
> > I'm sceptical about the value of a solid-line definition which says some
> > things are in - some things are out - when it comes to open government data.
> That would be exactly what the definition would be. ;-)
> Like F/OSS definitions. About baseline compliance. I think that part
> of the value here would be in being able to say you must do X and Y
> *at a bare minimum* to make sure your stuff (government data) is open.
> > The Open Definition already provides a solid definition of a particular
> > notion of openness - and at most a short FAQ on how this applies to
> > government data should cover providing a sense of a gold-standard for
> > something being 'formally' open.
> Exactly, but it is isn't yet widely adopted as a standard. I hope in
> this discussion we can draw out any domain specific
> points/assumptions/etc. A bit like the Panton Principles build on
> opendefinition.org for science:
> > Models like the 'Five Stars of Open Linked Data'
> > (http://inkdroid.org/journal/2010/06/04/the-5-stars-of-open-linked-data/)
> > are far more useful in both helping people assess their current openness,
> > and providing a motivational structure for making data available.
> > An adapted version of the 5-stars, talking about licenses in place of
> > linked-data etc., and adding a 'social openness' step at the end may be one
> > route to a definition.
> Hmm.. I would almost be tempted to say we should separate this into:
> (i) are we talking about 'open government data' or not? (definition/standard)
> (ii) are we doing this *well* -- e.g. is it connected to other
> resources, are we doing 'social stuff', is there good documentation,
> etc. (principles/guidelines/star ratings)
> > A good definition for the end-user should be able to be re-formulated into a
> > set of questions, such as:
> > (License) Is your data published under a license that allows it to be
> > re-used by anyone, or placed into the public domain so there are no
> > restrictions on re-use?
> > (Format) Is your data accessible to humans and machines in a structured way?
> > (As a good rule of thumb, if it's possible for a re-user to take a copy of
> > your data, load it into standard software, and edit that copy easily, it's
> > machine-readable).
> > (Social) Have you worked to ensure that citizens and other potential
> > re-users of your data have access to the additional information, tools and
> > resources that they would need to make effective use of your data?
> > Social openness
> > The last point there is my attempt at some sort of social openness clause.
> > Clearly it isn't unambiguous (what's 'effective', or enough effort in
> > 'working to ensure'?) but it tries to capture what might be the steps
> > governments (and wider communities are encouraged to take) to ensure the
> > data is usable and used in practice.
> > The practical openness of any dataset is not a property only of that
> > dataset, but also of the tools-chains available; access to knowledge and
> > skills; access to meta-data; etc. - and government clearly has a role to
> > play in promoting access to and development of those resources - but the
> > responsibility is shared with civil society / citizens / communities /
> > business.
> Fully agree that social stuff is important -- this is mostly what I work on. ;-)
> At the same time I can't help think it might be useful to pick out
> properties of the data for certain practical purposes. If government
> doesn't do certain things (adding correct metadata, connect with other
> data sources, allow commenting, ...) then others (like mySociety,
> OpenlyLocal, Sunlight Foundation) can possibly do it. If its not under
> an open license, then legally speaking, no-one can do it. If a dataset
> is in a weird format but under an open license, then someone can
> convert it to something more useful (like numerous people have done
> with COINS or Eurostat).
> I guess the main danger about having a definition that is too basic
> and sparse is that we lower expectations -- and people think once they
> comply with the definition (e.g. once that they have done the legal
> and technical stuff) that is enough, and they don't need to do
> anything else. I guess my feeling is that this is a question of
> strategy, and we should work to build a culture (in advocacy, in
> policy making) where its clear that this often isn't enough (e.g. with
> talks, manuals, guidance, websites, ...). This also applies to things
> like funding prototypes, to having data registries and so on. There
> isn't a universally applicable recipe to getting things right, but we
> can certainly provide guidance and instruction based on
> evidence/experience from around the world.
> I think the main danger not having a definition is that people will
> start applying the term 'open government data' to material with
> available via an API (e.g. with limited number of queries, or onerous
> contractual obligations or registration procedures).
> Finding a path (or at least plotting several possible paths) between
> Scylla and Charybdis is exactly what I'd like to try to achieve in
> this discussion. ;-)
> > The one point in here which might be slightly separate, around providing
> > 'additional information' (in practice, meta-data and guides/handbooks
> > etc.).
> > Would a separate meta-data term of the 'definition' be useful?
> > Different sorts of openness: commercial and civic?
> > I'm sure it's a debate that's been over many times, and one it seems OKF
> > have a fairly settled position on - but I do think it's worth the
> > distinction between: 'civic openness' and 'commercial openness' being made -
> > particularly for the broadest possible use of a definition.
> > If a government does not wish to make data available for commercial re-use,
> > but accepts free access to machine-readable data for citizens to use in
> > non-commercial ways - that has significant potential benefits for democracy
> > - and should be recognised as an open data policy; albeit only providing
> > 'civic/democratic openness' and clearly shown to fail on 'commercial
> > openness'.
> Hmm, I'm *really* not convinced that we should call material released
> under non-commercial licenses 'open government data'. That doesn't
> mean it isn't valuable or important!
> What do we gain by counting NC stuff as open government data?
> Recognition for civil servants who have run up against
> 'insurmountable' internal barriers? What do we lose? Its much harder
> to convince people to move to non-NC licenses from NC licenses if they
> are convinced that both are fully open. This is really important for
> an interoperable data commons (e.g. combining things with Wikipedia,
> Open Street Map, etc). Otherwise we have a two tier eco-system: one
> tier for commercial operators and one for everyone else. Also if
> companies have to pay for data licenses for 'open government data' are
> they going to be inclined to share back their modifications with
> everyone else? Suspect this could have some pretty undesirable
> consequences for the open data 'ecosystem' down the line.
> > Of course - this moves from single unified definition more towards
> > 'framework' - but, as above, my sense is that definitional frameworks,
> > rather than exclusionary definitions, are a better route to go...
> > Other points
> > One other point that might have a place in a framework would be around
> > 'Making Connections'. Perhaps (connected) is the top of a five-stars of open
> > government data?
> > (Connecting Data to Information) When you publish information (charts /
> > tables / reports) based on your data, do you provide a clear link back to
> > the original data, and any other information re-users would need to
> > understand how the information was generated?
> > (Drawing
> > on http://practicalparticipation.co.uk/odi/report/2010/2-3-data-and-information/)
> > (Connecting Data) Do you use linked-data approaches to make connections
> > between your data and other datasets.
> > Hope these are useful inputs...
> Yes -- finding this discussion really useful. In particular we should
> articulate why we want a definition in the first place. Added notes
> for a preamble:
> > All the best
> > Tim
> > -
> > +44 (0)7834 856 303
> > @timdavies
> > http://www.timdavies.org.uk
> open-government mailing list
> open-government at lists.okfn.org
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