[open-government] OGD in the IT system procurement cycle

Jose M. Alonso josema at webfoundation.org
Mon Oct 31 14:56:05 GMT 2011

Hi Antti,

El 31/10/2011, a las 15:24, Antti Poikola escribió:
> Hi,
> On 31.10.2011 15:05, Tracey P. Lauriault wrote:
>> That does not mean we should not be moving towards more open formats, and more importantly toward interoperability, 
> Interoperability and government IT systems using data from other gov systems is the key to *sustainable* OGD development. I recently made a small research and found out that my home city Helsinki uses around 400-500 IT systems, out of which only a small portion are anyhow interconnected.
> I got the inspiration to my original post from David Eaves talk in the Open Government Data -camp in Warsaw, here is a quote from him: "Our goal is to make data platform one that not only citizens outside of government can build on, but one that government reconstructs its policy apparatus as well as its IT systems at top of. Achieving this will ensure that open data gets hardwired right into government and so cannot be easily shut down." ( http://eaves.ca/2011/10/21/the-state-of-open-data-2011/ )
> My hope is that in the future the public sector web sites / portals for example would be built *on top of* a robust and open data layer. This would mean that the user interface is separated from data and the same data interfaces that are used for the portal it self could be offered for anybody to access the same data. Two questions:
> -> Is this idea good or bad or something in between?

I fully agree with this. I've been trying to convince gov people to put Open Data in the DNA of the government systems for quite some time already. There are many issues to this. As an example, one is that many think of portals and the need to launch one while most of this work is done at the back-office.

I've been also playing with the idea of what I call the "Open Data switch". Provided the above is achievable and that most gov systems have "data buses" to share and integrate information, it should be doable to switch it on/off. Sometimes automatically as some rules are met, sometimes manually. This is long to explain, but I know of at least one project doing it this way, and another one seriously considering this approach. Sorry I cannot mention them yet.

> -> If it is good, then how should it be written in the procurement documents?

With care. I'd think in policy terms first, then make the needed requirements for technical systems to fully and easily support technical implementation.

I remember a couple years one of the cases we collected at the W3C eGov IG on how the US Data Privacy act could be easily modeled using an Ontology:

You need to account for much more than the technical bits but have the technical ones support the policy implications as better as possible.

-- Josema

>> I want my public service to share data, and it is up to me to work on the conversion, for now, and I think it is reasonable that we ask government to build interoperable systems and at the very least provide services to convert formats, but I do not think it is reasonable to expect all government institutions to toss what they are doing now, and waste the millions spent on enterprise wide systems. But we can ask that those legacy systems become interoperable and that new systems be more open.  
> This is a very important point as well, thanks for reminding me about it.
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