A Glimpse into the Future of Open Government

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Open government is coming to a city near you. It’s clear that citizen populations won’t have it any other way. Or is it?

Over the past several years, many countries have been taking some unprecedented steps to foster inclusion and transparency in local and regional government. More than 200 open data projects were announced within the first year of the launch of data.gov.uk and the movement has continued to expand.

There’s a data revolution happening and governments around the world are increasing transparency and fostering a cultural shift in accountability by opening their data and using data visualization tools to share it with their constituents. What are our predictions for the future of open government?

“The evangelical phase of the open data movement is coming to an end. The movement no longer needs to preach the virtues of unfettered openness to get a foot in the door.”

Martin Tisné, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network

Benefits of Open Data

“…a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is afraid of its people.”

American President John F. Kennedy, 1962

Governments around the world have been opening data over the past several years, improving transparency around the use of community resources while increasing participatory democracy. Governments adopting the open data philosophy have fostered a stronger give and take between the constituents they represent and governance decisions.

Aggregating citizen data and then using data visualization tools to share the information back with the public is a cyclic process that goes to the heart of the open data movement. The idea is that this transparency will improve civic participation and help foster a collaborative effort between governments to solve some of the world’s biggest problems like climate change, poverty, hunger, and disease.

Clearly, the open data movement has been a powerful disrupter in how governments operate. In addition to creating a more transparent democratic process, the Center for Data Innovation suggests that the flow of data between organizations in the public and private sector has an economic value of $1.1 trillion.

The economic and social benefits of open data have been clearly established by a number of coalitions, including the Open Government Partnership. But how will these initiatives change in the next ten years, given the shifting face of governments and the impact of increasingly intelligent technology?

Government Open Data in Ten Years

“Data are just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful.”

Chip & Dan Heath, Authors of Made to Stick

The rise of handheld digital technology will continue to heavily influence the open data-driven government of the future. The challenge for 2025 is to disseminate the data in a way that is meaningful to the average person. The audience of the future will demand an improved UX (user experience) across all digital devices. Improving user interfaces and making data meaningful via data visualization tools could lead to future social change as constituents demand action based on their understanding of the data at their fingertips.

Beyond improving how users experience the data, smart cities are focusing on how we deploy technology to improve the lives of the people living in our communities. The smart city of the future will leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to capture more data, then allow data sharing designed to successfully impact transportation, healthcare, education, energy, water consumption and many more areas that will improve infrastructures and the cities that surround us.

Digitization allows for personalization, and increasingly, consumers are demanding this level of attention to detail. Gartner suggests that city-sponsored open data initiatives will require delivery platforms that improve the lives of constituents; for example, software that not only captures and disseminates a bus schedule but also suggests alternative travel options.

Fostering the Open Governments of the Future – the OGP

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”

Dalai Lama

The movement to create open data culminated last year in the Open Government Partnership, a meeting of more than 4,000 participants from 80 governments to discuss their recommendations for the future of the open data movement.

The meeting was a push toward broadening the reach of the open data movement while expanding inclusive and responsive governments around the world. While the OGP shared initiatives like the Partnership for Resilience & Preparedness, a data-focused global collaboration around climate change, the group also discussed the role of open government in curbing populism.

The OGP meeting suggested that nationalist backlash could jeopardize the movement’s momentum. Open data initiatives of the future must coalesce around political champions that can help forge new partnerships between private industry and government. The latest open data commitments from recently elected government partners in Canada, and Argentina, along with local leaders in Paris, and other state governments, signal a new wave of leadership at the helm of the movement.

Open Government Improves Human Welfare

“The ultimate potential of open government lies in its ability to improve human wellbeing.”

Manish Bapna, The Huffington Post

Open government requires a data governance strategy emphasizing transparency and citizen interaction. Open data has shown to have tangible, positive impact on improving city services, the environment, and the democratic process itself.

Yet the recent rise in anti-globalism threatens the very heart of the open data movement, which relies on the collaboration and cooperation of governments and industries around the world.

The future of open data hinges on collaboration between technology leaders, government sponsorship, and consumer demand. Constituents must continue to lobby for open and transparent governments around the world. Scientists and corporations must strive for open collaboration between data platforms as a way to lessen the economic impact of big data while striving to improve the world we cohabitate.

 


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