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Top Secret Government Information? Not anymore…

This week on Spark, Dan Misener posted some interesting thoughts on open, accessible government data. A few days later, Spark radio host Nora Young interviewed Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer who is introducing the concept of open government data out on the West coast.

Upon Councilor Reimer’s recommendation, Vancouver City Council recently passed a motion to make its government data “open and accessible to everyone where possible, adopting open standards for that data and considering open source software when replacing existing applications.” So basically, they are going to make their existing and future information available online to anyone and everyone.

Councilor Reimer says that this move will “allow the city to improve transparency, cut costs and enable people to use the date to create new useful products, including commercial ones.” Obviously, the city must still respect security and privacy concerns when it comes to certain data, but for the most part, they will be freely sharing “the greatest amount of data possible”.

 A few other cities like Toronto, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco have started moving in the same direction. Just last week, the White House launched a website solely devoted to open government information. In my opinion, Data.gov is a surprising move from the U.S. government. The purpose of the site is to “to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.” Not exactly the kind of openness I would expect from the government who has spent much of the past decade peering over its own shoulder to make sure there’s no one sneaking up from behind.

I find this new level of government transparency very intriguing. I think Councillor Reimer is correct in saying that this move will benefit the City of Vancouver; however, I also believe that with any new initiative there are new problems to face and challenges to overcome. This will be an interesting story to follow!

What do you think?

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June 1, 2009 - Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site

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