7 September 2020
Alfred Deeb

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Open data in action

Open data is relatively more mature in governments around the world. The ‘base’ level in government is open data portals, across both the federal and state levels. We’ve seen the creation and refinement of these open data portals happening in Australia over the past few years and more and more agencies are opening up their datasets by adding them to the portals. These portals are a central place where citizens and industry can discover, explore and use open data sets. Ultimately this allows governments to support co-creation and co-innovation with citizens and industry. Australia’s federal and state open data portals are:

One very important layer of open data is the use of open APIs, something that governments around the world are tapping into.

Open APIs make open data machine-readable, which supports programmatic access. This facilitates co-innovation and co-creation by enabling citizens and industry to build new platforms and technologies that underpin the government data.

A great Open API example relates back to the US’s 311 service. In 2010  Open311 launched to help standardisation across the 311 service. The 311 concept has continued to expand. For example, Europe took Open311 and built on, with  CitySDK, which focuses on city services around participation, mobility and tourism. And in the UK and Australia, Open311 has been used in conjunction with  FixMyStreet to help citizens report local problems.

For example here in Australia, the recently launched Consumer Data Right uses APIs to transfer data, if clients decide to use the service. Also at the federal level, Australia has an  API portal, where government departments can register their APIs for citizens and industry to discover and use government APIs.

There are also more emerging applications of open data, such as autonomous cars and the use of vehicle-generated data. Driverless cars have a critical dependency on the road laws. To enable autonomous cars, governments around the world need to open up the road laws as APIs, so cars can ‘read’ and obey the rules. Obviously security, resilience and scalability are paramount to protect the open APIs from any interference or failures. We also recently blogged on the potential of vehicle-generated data.

Traditionally government has been responsible for both the data and the service for citizens. However in the new world, government can focus just on the data and open up their APIs to enable citizens and industry to create better digital services to deliver the data. This does, of course, put a responsibility on government to ensure practices and policies around open data and open APIs are clear, safe and robust.

The series