Open Data, Open Government: Why & How

Last time we checked in with Garrett Dunwoody, San Mateo County’s Open Data Manager, we talked about cybersecurity as it relates to open data for Cybersecurity Month. We also went over the definitions of open data and open government. Since then he has moved from the county’s Information Services Department and now works out of the County Managers Office on budget, performance, policy, and Open government initiatives. Today, we continue our conversation, but this time focusing on the why of open data and its relationship with open government.

Let’s get broad: Why open data?

Garrett: Open data segues into, and is the easiest tool for, open government. It’s honestly the first step because it’s tangible, useful, and you can do things with it which have results. Open data initiates the move towards transparency which is the ultimate goal of open government.

Providing people with raw and unfettered data shows not only what government is doing, but on what data is valuable in the decision making process. Releasing data also provides people access to data. Depending on the tools available within an agency’s data portal, tools can be built into the portal that allows for analysis and visualization of the data. This process gives constituents the opportunity to turn data into information. As we’ve seen over the last few years, people are doing pretty great things with data that used to just sit around on government hard drives. Continue>>>