Release of data.gov.au
The new data.gov.au site has now been released and I invite you to explore, access and reuse the data available on the site. The release of public sector information in the form of datasets allows the commercial, research and community sectors to add value to government data in new, innovative and exciting ways.
Data.gov.au plays a crucial role in realising the Australian Government’s commitment to informing, engaging and participating with the public, as expressed in its Declaration of Open Government and Freedom of Information (FoI) reforms. It is the Australian equivalent to similar overseas sites such as the United States’ data.gov, the United Kingdom’s data.gov.uk and New Zealand’s data.govt.nz.
Agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Geoscience Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) already release large amounts of data to the public. An important goal of data.gov.au is to provide a broader range of agencies the opportunity to similarly release more data online.
More than 200 datasets are accessible through data.gov.au. Thanks to contributions from Australian Government agencies and libraries, this number is growing rapidly. The release of data.gov.au replaces the data.australia.gov.au beta site, which was developed for the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s Mashup Australia contest in 2009.
Data.gov.au offers new features for both the public and government agencies. People can:
- suggest datasets they would like released by Australian Government agencies, which AGIMO will forward to relevant agencies;
- participate on the site by rating and commenting on datasets;
- provide feedback and suggestions for site improvements; and
- contribute submissions of mashups or data-based initiatives they produce.
The site also offers:
- support for hosting datasets in a cloud-based storage solution (alternatively, agencies can continue to store datasets on their agency site and provide a link through data.gov.au);
- a showcase of mashups and prominent Australian Government data-based initiatives; and
- links to other Government data catalogues such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Spatial Data Directory and the Queensland Government Information Service. These and various other data sources will continue to exist separately from data.gov.au, however future updates will also make their data holdings discoverable directly through data.gov.au.
Australian Government agencies have been encouraged to make data open and reusable for the public through data.gov.au. AGIMO, in conjunction with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, is preparing best practice guidance to assist agencies with the technical aspects of publishing public sector information. Additionally, guidelines are being developed by the Attorney General’s Department to assist agencies with licensing public sector information, with the goal of encouraging the use of open licences.
Benefits of open data will be demonstrated in the upcoming Libraryhack competition, to be held in May 2011. The Libraryhack organisers have asked residents of Australia and New Zealand to develop new and innovative ways of using library data. This will encourage increased use of library data and digital collections, and provide additional resources that can be combined with data from Government agencies to increase our understanding of Australian society.
I encourage you to visit data.gov.au and suggest data that should be made available or other improvements to the site. Your feedback will assist with future enhancements of data.gov.au as the Government works to release greater amounts of data online.