Open Data Trends in 2017

Open Data is still in its nascent stages. While cities, countries, private sector and government organizations put forward a myriad of models to increase re-use and bring value to Open Data there are some things that have happened in 2016 that will make 2017 special. Forget about crystal gazing, these experts have some strong views about Open Data trends in 2017!

2016 was the apex of several trends

  • 2016 culminated with the end of the Obama Administration. This was the first US Presidential Administration to enact executive orders to unlock and publish data systemically.
  • The Open Government Partnership reached a maturity level that saw nations join and leave.
  • Open Data and Open Source have become somewhat conflated and often tied together. This trend has been on the uptick for several years.
  • Globally, the last decade has seen the rise of social media. Social media is now a mainstream daily event in the lives of most people connected to the Internet.
  • Open Data has been analyzed and forecasted by large, well established research firms such as Forrester and Gartner.
  • Open Data now has an ecosystem of vendors that regularly compete for business and the UX of these platforms is becoming more, not less homogeneous.
  • Programmatically accessing data is more than norm now than ever in human history. This does not take away from the fact that less than half of the world’s population (46.1%) has access to the Internet (2010 and 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme [PDF file]. United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)).
  • The amount of data being published is growing exponentially but in terms of readiness for re-use we have a long way to go. (2016 Open Data Barometer 3rd Edition for the current state of readiness of Open Data among 92 countries).

Open Data Trends in 2017

With that being said we took an informal survey of some of the leading minds in Open Data to ask them to prognosticate on what to expect in 2017. These are not platform specific. These predictions speak to social, political and policy aspects of Open Data.

Joel Gurin

President and Founder at Center for Open Data Enterprise

In 2017, the Sustainable Development Goals – adopted by the U.N. in fall 2015 – will become both a driver and an organizing principle for Open Data worldwide. The SDGs set out goals for addressing poverty, hunger, climate change, and over a dozen other critical challenges in ways that can be carried out at a national, state, or local level. Open Data will be essential both to monitor progress on these goals and to provide information to help achieve them. Moreover, the SDGs supply a framework that will help agencies organize and publish data at every level of government.

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Amy Gaskins

Founder at Panopticon, Inc.

It’s ironic, but at the federal level, the Intelligence Community agencies are going to continue leading the way in opening data and public-private partnerships. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) is committed to opening its unclassified satellite repositories, particularly for global humanitarian relief efforts. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has also recently released 12 million pages of declassified documents online in an effort to help curious citizens research everything from UFOs to the Vietnam War without having to trek to the National Archives.

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Hudson Hollister

Executive Director, Data Coalition

Congress is going to take the lead on open data in the federal government in 2017. Expect Congressional hearings on the ongoing implementation of the DATA Act of 2014, which requires every federal agency to start reporting its spending as open data starting this May. And I’m expecting Congressional action, too, on new proposals to mandate Open Data in other areas, including the Financial Transparency Act to mandate standardized data fields across all financial regulation and the OPEN Government Data Act to make open data the default for all federal information. All of this is happening because our Coalition members, including OpenDataSoft, are supporting a robust campaign on Capitol Hill to educate Congress on how open data can deliver better transparency, efficiency, and automation.

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Christina Schönfeld

Business Developer at OpenDataSoft

After years of a rather cautious approach towards Open Data, the German Federal Government is poised to issue an Open Data bill, paving the way for an increase in open data projects at a national level. Until now, the topic has been driven by local communities launching portals targeted primarily at developers and experts. While the bill is only directed towards government agencies and ministries at the federal level, the topic of Open Data is now gaining in popularity, with German national newspapers frequently reporting on it. At the same time, the demand for data visualizations in order to reach citizens beyond the small developer community is increasing. And, finally: the first organizations are moving forward in their attempts to publish real time APIs to truly exploit the benefits of Open Data.

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Jed Sundwall

Global Open Data Lead at Amazon Web Services

I foresee more organizations opening data in bulk. While open data APIs will continue to thrive, a lot of developers and researchers want the flexibility that comes from being able to get an entire dataset at once. I also anticipate more datasets being released to support machine learning research, similar to the SpaceNet data opened up by DigitalGlobe, CosmiQ Works, and NVIDIA in 2016.

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Nicolas Terpolilli

Chief Data Officer at OpenDataSoft

2017 is the year where people stop opening data because of principles. Instead, opening data will happen because they’ve got a goal in doing so. Hence I see two trends around this idea. First I think we’ll see an increasing number of original use cases of data opening and a broader spectrum of ways to open data. Second, I think there is no way Open Data can thrive if it doesn’t become more intelligent itself. We should then see more links between data and probably more data networks effects between both people and data.

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Bianca Wylie

Head, Open Data Institute Toronto & Associate Expert, Open North

2017 is the year to increase focus on procurement reform for new government software and systems. This makes it an important advocacy area for the open data and open government community. Data and tech used internally for government operations to provide services to residents is priority number one. From here, as part of new purchasing requirements for internal systems, easier and more accessible (read: APIs) open data can be published by default. But it won’t all happen this year – patience and persistence will be required.

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Jason Hibbets

CityCamp NC Co-Chair, Code for Raleigh Brigade

When I look broadly at the state of open data, there is tremendous opportunity ahead of us. Looking at what we can accomplish in the new year, 2017 will be the year that open data finally gets the storytelling power it deserves to accelerate its adoption even further and help more people understand the needs, desires, and dependencies for open data.

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Angeles Navarro

Business Developer at OpenDataSoft

Open Data as a tool to fight corruption and poverty in Latin America

In Latin America, there is a bright future with regards to Open Data. Many countries in the region have had a national portal for quite some time now –Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador, PerĂș, RepĂșblica Dominicana. Civil Society Organizations have been the key drivers for these policies with an aim to reduce corruption and impunity, which are two of the main problems in the region that accentuate poverty and inequality.

As of today, 12 Latin American countries are part of the Open Government Partnership, and there are several events and initiatives happening in the region constantly: OGP meetings, the annual OpenData regional event: ConDatos and Abrelatam, as well as the annual OAS open government fellowship, which aims to strengthen local leaderships to improve open data initiatives.

The OGP subnational pilot project has also motivated countries to replicate these exercises at subnational level. For example, the Open Mexico network (Red #MXabierto) has 39 subnational entities, engaging to start their local open government action plans which entails necessarily opening data.

The evangelization period is still ongoing, but as it has been said in the latest international forums, the “honey moon” period is over, and all of these initiatives need to start delivering results in terms of social impact. The basis have been set and keep being strengthened, but we will very likely see great advances and innovation in the region with regards to open data during the next couple of years.

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David Portnoy

Enterprise Data Architect and Analytics Product Manager for Demand-Driven Open Data

All government administrations tend to obscure data that’s contrary to their agenda.  Given the stated drastic reversals in policy in key areas, I’d expect many data sources to lay unmaintained or be removed entirely.  Examples might be data furthering the goals of Obamacare (at HHS) or preventing climate change (at EPA and DOE) that shows data contradicting new policy.  It might be up to outside organizations to ensure that previously released data is maintained.

Given the lack of financial disclosure during the campaign and delays in submission of background check paperwork for cabinet appointments, it remains to be seen if this administration is willing to continue to be a proponent of government transparency and accountability.  That said, there’s a good chance that they might be champions of leveraging government data assets to drive business interests.  It’s likely that data owners could use this justification to ensure that existing data sources are maintained and new sources are released.

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Jason Hare

Open Data Evangelist at OpenDataSoft

‘Open Data’ as a term will start to become deprecated as the pressure on governments to make data available increases. Awareness of data both as an asset and as a conversation starter is what will drive this pressure on governments of all sizes. At the US Federal level most of the effort will be on sustaining existing programs and finding ways to comply with newly enacted legislation. At the local state and municipal level we will see non-traditional public sector actors like health and education start to emerge as Open Data producers and consumers.

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The bottom line

From the strengthening of Open Data in LATAM and the drastic reversals in US policy in key areas, this year’s ride may not be perfectly smooth.

But Open Data will also affect new key players: non-technical users, citizens unaware of the power of Open Data, the Intelligence Community, the US Congress, and more! It is also the year when APIs will become the requisite point of entry for developers and machine-based systems.


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