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Open data in Victoria

The DataVic Access Policy directs Victorian government agencies to make most data open (available). The Policy is supported by the open data directory, a fantastic resource for government departments and developers.

Alfred D 31 May 2017

Open data

Open data has been making waves as the way forward for a while now, and came to the fore again in Australia when the Productivity Commission released a detailed report that included some very specific recommendations (see our blog The power of open data for more info on the report and how open data can drive transformation in our society).

DataVic

In August 2012, the Victorian Government endorsed the DataVic Access Policy for implementation throughout the Victorian Government. The current (updated) version is dated August 2015 and provides a clear direction for the use of data.

Open data directory

Importantly, the Victorian Government also has its open data directory, where datasets can be easily searched, or browsed by 15 categories:

  • Business
  • Communication
  • Community
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Environment
  • Finance
  • General
  • Health
  • Planning
  • Recreation
  • Science and Technology
  • Spatial data
  • Society
  • Transport

These datasets can be used by other government agencies and independent developers to create new apps and websites, such as MelbournePT or mapping pedestrian, bicycle or car crash hotspots (TripRisk).

The Policy

The basic high level takeaway from the Policy is: “Making datasets freely available to the public is the State’s default position and where possible agencies must make datasets available with minimum restrictions, including the proactive removal of cost barriers.” There are 13 key actions in the Policy, covering everything from open as default, to the default licence type (Creative Commons Attribution), and who’s responsible for the agency’s datasets. Given privacy concerns are always front-of-mind for the public, one of the key actions is that: “Personal, health and/or confidential information must be de-identified and aggregated.”

In terms of what agencies need to do, the Policy outlines five major steps:

  1. Identify a dataset
  2. Prepare the dataset for publication
  3. Select a licence
  4. Publish the dataset
  5. List the dataset at data.vic.gov.au
  6. Manage the dataset

The Policy also discusses which datasets should NOT be made available — “Datasets must be made available unless access is restricted for reasons of privacy, public safety, security, law enforcement, public health and compliance with the law.”

After the introduction and some info on making data available, each chapter of the Policy covers one or more of the 13 key action areas. The main chapters cover: identifying datasets to be made available; identifying which datasets must not be made available; preparing datasets before making them available; licensing datasets; publishing datasets; developing and procuring datasets; commercialising datasets; and accountability for datasets.

The Policy provides a clear direction (and action points) for government agencies in Victoria. It’s also quite an easy read!

Salsa Digital’s take

Salsa Digital recognises the potential of open data and has been involved in various open data initiatives. As government Drupal/govCMS specialists we’re primed to position open data to different agencies and contribute to overall awareness and adoption throughout Victoria (and Australia). This commitment has been further solidified with our recent win as the successful vendor to enhance, support and host data.vic.gov.au. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with the Department of Premier and Cabinet assisting Victorian agencies with the DataVic access policy.

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