Government 2.0 Taskforce » licensing Design by Ben Crothers of Catch Media Tue, 04 May 2010 23:55:29 +0000 en hourly 1 Hack, Mash and Innovate: Contests Coming Soon Thu, 13 Aug 2009 03:11:21 +0000 Mia Garlick It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that #gov2au is planning to hold some contests.

No surprise because our guiding document (the terms of reference, you read those in detail, right?) said we would “fund initiatives and incentives which may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish government 2.0 objectives.” No surprise because other international efforts at more open/ Web 2.0-y government have also held contests. No surprise because contests are fun and get all of us engaged.

Our current thinking is for three contests to be held…

# a makeover:

what? a select number of Australian government agencies will work collaboratively with each other and with community experts to build a new widget or online presence.

why? the Internet is now the most common way Australians last made contact with government. However,  feedback suggests that there is considerable room for improvement in relation to searchability, useability etc. In addition, attempts to introduce more Web 2.0 tools into government websites have met with challenges and technical difficulties. This contest will combine the highly skilled and innovative ideas of those in the community with present architecture and information requirements of government websites. The purpose is to identify the best ideas and possibilities for government websites, free (for a limited time and purpose) of the usual legal, process or other constraints that may apply when agencies work to upgrade their websites or develop online tools. The aim is to imagine the possibilities with government websites to inform the Taskforce’s work and to possibly provide agencies with useful suggestions, models and solutions.

Tell us… what kinds of features would you like to see government websites have or what tools governments could, or should, offer; which government websites you think work well, which ones leave room for improvement….

# a government innovation contest

what? a contest to recognise, incentivise and showcase existing Web 2.0 innovators in the Australian Government.

why? despite existing constraints, various government agencies are trying and succeeding at innovative uses of technology, including Web 2.0, and promoting greater openness.

Tell us… which agencies you think are doing government 2.0 well so we make sure they get the nomination form for the contest.

# an open access to PSI + the ‘tools of liberation’ contest

what? we are working to make some datasets from various jurisdictions available on open access terms and in formats that permit and enable reuse. If we find that an agency is willing to make data available but can’t because of a legacy system, we will outline the technical requirements and post it as a challenge to build and open source a tool that will help that agency (and possibly others) “liberate” the data.

why? discussions about the benefits of open access to PSI are often overshadowed by a focus on the risks and issues. However, much of the PSI which would be made open access for greatest community benefit does not raise these issues. An open access contest will showcase how something as simple as, for example, toilet data, public transport information, water information or census data, can deliver benefits to the research, commercial and community sectors.

As a practical matter, open access to PSI raises many challenges, some of which may be “hidden” (for want of a better word), e.g. the best data may be in legacy systems and difficult to make available to the public. This contest would incentivise people to develop open source tools that will facilitate and enable open access to PSI, particularly legacy PSI. The release of these tools could further the Taskforce’s objectives by providing tangible methods of enabling greater open access in future and potentially form the building blocks for a “” platform.

Tell us… what data you would like to see included in the contest.

What are the prizes? Great question. We’re still figuring out the details. Money, sure. However, we’re also trying to get creative. For the New York City BigApps contest, one prize is dinner with New York mayor Michael Blomberg. So tell us what, aside from money, would make you want to particpate more…

Don’t like these ideas? Got a better one? Great – we will shortly be launching a brainstorming and ideas site so that you can tell us what we missed. Or you can tell us now in the comments.

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"Its gunna cost ya" – who pays? Mon, 13 Jul 2009 22:40:31 +0000 Seb Chan Hi I’m Seb Chan.

I’m really excited to be on the Taskforce. And you can read about what I do over at my work blog at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

I’m simplifying things a bit for brevity here but one of the big issues around access to government data is that of cost.

Creating, collecting, and preserving data costs. Whilst your taxes are paying for this, many government agencies have also been asked, over the years, to generate revenue from selling data and/or access to it.

This revenue sometimes generates a profit, but other times it doesn’t even remotely get near covering the cost of selling it. The business units that sell this data rely upon clarity in terms of intellectual property in order to develop their business models and thus they’ve been encouraged to operate to protect their own interests and data (even when they might now run counter to those of the community).

Add to this the complexity of government IT systems and where there are legacy systems involved, getting the data out can incur substantial costs. At the very least there are time and resource costs. And because of prior policy decisions around outsourcing there are also now often third party fees payable to outsourced IT service providers.

So this is a tricky area to venture into and there need to be some clear ways of addressing questions around these matters.

With my team I’ve done a fair bit at the Museum around the Creative Commons licensing of all our text-based research content on our website as well as the release of a whole lot of historical images to Flickr with ‘no known Copyright restrictions’. Now we do run a business unit selling images, and we sell our text-based research through the exhibitions and publications we produce.

So how can we justify “giving it away”? Well, our mission is closely aligned with education and to better serve citizens, students and the community it makes sense to. Perhaps surprisingly, it also makes good business sense in the digital age.

One of my team at the Powerhouse, Paula Bray, recently published a paper looking at the cost implications of making these historical images available for free via Flickr. As it turns out, we are selling more now than ever before – even though ‘customers’ can get them from Flickr for free! (In fact our referrals from Flickr which result in sales are up too!)

Similarly the ABS is finding out that since they’ve made their data freely available the online usage of their data has shot up. This results in new business opportunities just as others evaporate.

The Inquiry Into Improving Access To Victorian Public Sector Information & Data covers these issues in some detail in Chapters 7 (Pricing) and 8 (Technical Infrastructure).

However all this extra usage also ends up generating additional costs. Think of all the extra enquiries, the extra requests that this extra usage and access generates. At the Powerhouse making our collection research more accessible, more usable, and  more ‘open’ we have seen the volume of public enquiries more than triple and we struggle with answering all the enquiries we now get from all over the world. For us, this is an exciting opportunity – but it is also a huge challenge.

So how are we, as a society, going to pay for all this data – not just the collection and storage, but access and increased usage?

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