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Australia tops global open data index

George Nott | May 8, 2017
Government spending and land ownership categories highlighted for improvement.

Australia has topped a global index of how well nations publish open government data.

In the initial release of crowd-sourced survey, the Global Open Data Index (GODI) - published by The Open Knowledge Institute - Australia finished equal top with Taiwan out of 94 nations assessed.

For each category of open data - such as government budget, national statistics, water quality and election results - countries are scored on their openness. Metrics include if the data is available in a machine-readable format, how up to date it is, and if it's downloadable at once and for free.

The worst performing areas of Australia's public sector data related to 'government spending' and 'land ownership'. Water quality, air quality, weather information and draft legislation were also picked out for improvement.

"By having a tool that is run by civil society, GODI creates valuable insights for government's data publishers to understand where they have data gaps," an Open Knowledge Institute spokesperson said. "It also shows how to make data more useable and eventually more impactful. GODI therefore provides important feedback that governments are usually lacking."

The initial ranking can now be contested before the final results are issued on June 15.

France, the UK, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Brazil, United States and Latvia, are ranked in the top ten. Among the worst performing countries are Malawi, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Myanmar.


Benefits to innovation

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor welcomed Australia's ranking.

"I am delighted, but not surprised, to see Australia being ranked as the best in the world when it comes to open government data. Data was one of the earliest success stories of this Government as we increased the 500 datasets available in 2013 to more than 20,000 datasets currently - and this has delivered real benefits in innovation," he said in a statement.

The government has run a number of initiatives relating to open data over the last few years. For example, it's Open Data 500 Report identifies how public sector data is being used by enterprise. The latest report found the most commonly used data was geospatial and mapping data, followed by environmental data, demographics and social data, and positioning/GPS data.

Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University are using Landsat satellite data to produce maps of Australia's surface water patterns. Work is currently ongoing to "apply this rich data to many more government and commercial problems", the government said. Last month the government launched federal and state spatial dataset platform - theLINK (Location Information Knowledge).

"The Geo-coded National Address File, which was released by the Government in February 2016, has been used for a wide range of business and operational purposes, such as infrastructure planning, business planning and analysis, logistics and service planning, emergency and disaster response," Taylor added.


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