« Open Public Data: Then What? »

Le blog de l’Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) britannique publie la version anglaise de l’article de Daniel Kaplan « L’ouverture des données publiques, et après ? »

We tend to assume that the opening up of public data will only produce positive outcomes for individuals, for society and the economy. But the opposite may be true. We should start thinking further ahead on the possible consequences of releasing public data, and how we can make sure they are mostly positive.

All of us who advocate the opening up of public (and other) data for reuse by citizens, researchers or entrepreneurs, hope that something good will come out of it. What “something” we have in mind probably differs. The same goes for what each of us considers “good”: I may believe that creating commercial value out of free-to-use public data is good, while others may not. I may hate crime maps because they stigmatize without solving anything, while others may think they save lives. That’s fine. In fact, that’s even the basic reason why we should support open data: because it provides the common grounds upon which different agents, with different motivations, will create different things – with God, or Darwin, eventually knowing their own.

Drawing the consequences

Yet things may not be that simple. The opening up of public data is a vast, complex, never-ending process that encompasses thousands of different actors. It shifts information, power, and responsibilities, in ways that are difficult to foresee. Its consequences will probably be felt in many different areas: the business of service organizations, decisional software, participative democracy, job requirements for civil servants, budget funding of public agencies whose job it is to produce data, media economics and content, etc. And depending on how we open up public data, and on what we do on top of making data accessible, some of these consequences may be less positive than most of us would like.

So let’s start thinking in terms of consequences. Let’s imagine we won: A very significant share of “public-service information” (PSI) has become available for access and re-use, in machine-readable format, at little or (generally) no charge. A few years down the road, what consequences has it had on the daily lives of citizens and firms? On innovation and growth? On the ability of public agencies to reach public-interest goals (think environment or social care)? On democracy and public spirit?

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La version originale en Français >>|FR

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