Who Is Using Open Government Data?

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Since the adoption of the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government in August 2011, New Zealand’s government agencies have been releasing their high-value data for innovative reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. By June 2012, 75% of all government departments had already released their data, and the majority had plans to do so in the future.
And yet, as the open government folks like to say, you’re only as good as your last reuse.  This is why Creative Commons licences are so important: they allow members of the public to share, remix and reuse public data, without having to ask permission in advance. Going by download figures from platforms like Koordinates, more people are viewing and downloading publicly funded data. But what about reuse?
There are a few great examples coming to light. Last week, the government’s ICT hub published two new case studies. The first, on the ANZ truckometer, has received a lot of media attention since its release in April. Using traffic volume data released by NZTA,

“ANZ selected key routes and applied statistical techniques to smooth out anomalies and gaps. The result is a strong correlation between traffic flows and predicting economic growth or decline as measured by GDPdata from Statistics New Zealand. ANZ has found that, in general, light traffic flows give a 6 month heads-up on the direction the economy will take and heavy traffic flows give an even more accurate picture 6 months later.”

The second case study looked at the Charities Register, a tool released by the Charities Commission in June 2011. The Register offers information from over 25, 000 registered charities for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. Since this initial release, the Register has been used by:

  • funding bodies like The Southern Trust;
  • government bodies like the Ministry for Social Development and the Families Commission;
  • media organisations;
  • students and researchers;
  • local government bodies, like the Manawatu District Council; and,
  • volunteer portals, such as that under construction by Student Job Search.

These are, of course, just a couple of examples of how government data is being released and reused–there are many, many more. Some of these are up at Open Data Stories. Creative Commons and the good people in the New Zealand Open Government Data and Information Programme will continue to release more case studies in the weeks ahead. Look out for these, check out some of our older case studies, and get in touch if you’ve been reusing openly licensed government data. We’re always keen to hear what you’ve doing.

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