Open Data & Policymaking
[image courtesy Wordle.net]
Hal Varian, the chief economist for Google has frequently said that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be a statistician. With the explosion of available digital data its not hard to see what he's getting at. Now think about the impact of that data on decision-making processes of all types -- including public policy.
A recent article picked up by Innovation Daily, “Is a National Dashboard for Open Data on the Horizon?” poses the question: Can government agencies link together the far-flung data sources coherently so that citizens can find what they're looking for? And can open data be packaged and presented in a manner that decision-makers and the public can use to affect policymaking? He discusses ideas for a “national dashboard.”
What an all-encompassing national dashboard would look like is unclear, although some think it could be modeled after or integrated into Data.gov, the online data portal Kundra launched in spring 2009, shortly after he joined the White House. The online data clearinghouse makes a wide range of data sets from various federal agencies available to the public in different formats. Some states and cities emulated the concept by opening data portals of their own, which offers a further opportunity for creating a connected matrix of such Web sites. Vein added that it's possible that governments that have released transparency apps and data tools on the iPhone -- San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, to name a few - would someday offer them at a one-stop online storefront. It could very well be built upon the existing Apps.gov, another of Kundra's innovations.
But it's presumptuous to assume that only government will drive the creation of a national dashboard. Seline's effort is among several that are surfacing in the private sector. Another possibility is that this nationwide collaboration could become a public-private partnership.
The Kauffman Foundation, for its part, has long been pushing for more data that policymakers and the private sector can use to develop positive and impactful policies, programs, products and services. I recommend that you check out Data Maven
, a blog on new data on various aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation.