Open government data - free, publicly available data that anyone can use, reuse, and republish - is being recognized as a resource with great social and economic value. But a number of challenges still need to be solved if this resource is to realize its full potential. Today, March 24, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Center for Open Data Enterprise are co-hosting the first of four Open Data Roundtables to make open government data more accessible and usable.
These Roundtables are being held at a time when new uses for government data are being developed almost daily. New and established businesses are finding novel ways to use data on weather, finance, demographics, energy, and more. The Obama Administration has launched programs using open data in education (the College Scorecard), criminal justice (Police Data Initiative), urban neighborhoods (the Opportunity Project), health (Open FDA), and other areas that are critical to citizens.
The 2016 Open Data Roundtables will address four major issues that relate to federal data:
Protecting Privacy: March 24, 2016. Many significant federal datasets contain personally identifiable information (PII) that should not be released to the public. However, these datasets can have enormous public value if they are released with granular data or "microdata" that allow for new kinds of analysis. The Open Data and Privacy Roundtable will explore how to open granular information while protecting privacy.
Improving Data Quality: April 27, 2016. Organizations that want to use open government data face challenges related to data quality. This Roundtable will identify strategies and solutions that can help improve data quality across agencies in an efficient and scalable way.
Applying Research Data: May 18, 2016. Government-funded research creates highly valuable data, which may come from work conducted within federal facilities, funded extramural research, or collaborative projects between government and industry scientists. This Roundtable will explore how to best manage, share, and apply government-funded data from these sources.
Leveraging the Private Sector: June 15, 2016. This Roundtable will address how government can best leverage private-sector expertise and capabilities. Public-private collaboration can help support federal open data programs, but legal, policy, and operational concerns can make it difficult for agencies to work with the private sector. By overcoming these obstacles, government agencies can work with the private sector to improve the quality, accessibility, and usefulness of their data.
The Open Data Roundtables are based on work that the Center for Open Data Enterprise has previously done with federal agencies. In 2015, the Center brought together hundreds of federal officials and data users in action-oriented dialogues designed to identify high-value datasets and develop better ways to use them. The outcomes included a new Department of Transportation initiative to study crash-related injuries, feedback to improve Treasury's new federal spending website, and recommendations to improve Department of Labor data for job-seekers. These dialogues showed the value of sharing ideas and insights between experts with technical, policy, and legal backgrounds from federal agencies, academia, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations.
To learn more and share your ideas and expertise, please check out the Data.gov 2016 Open Data Roundtables page.