National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

5 reasons why good governments should embrace open data

Jonathan Reichental is the CIO of the City of Palo Alto, Calif., and one of the world’s leading proponents of open data. Why is he so big the idea of giving citizens access to the data their governments collect? Because even in times of recession and debt, he said on our Structure Show podcast this week, the one thing governments always have in abundance is data. And it belongs to the people.

However, Reichental noted, open data doesn’t just mean available data. One key notion is that the data should be available in the formats people need — including those that are readable by machines — so they can do the things they need to do with it. “That machine readable concept is an important, important criteria that differentiates open data from just accessing data,” he said.

Here are some highlights from our interview, in which Reichental states his case for why governments should undertake the work of making their data open and makes clear that we’re just in the early stages of the movement. While some cities such as Palo Alto are exposing valuable data as APIs in near real-time, the vast majority haven’t even taken the first step. If you’re interested in the transformative power of data — and in transforming governments — you’ll want to hear the whole thing. Continue…
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