Open Government Data for citizens, by citizens, about citizens?

8 November 2012 - A Workshop on Openness in Baku, Azerbaijan


Increasingly, governments around the world are developing open government data policies that promise to bring a new era of government transparency coupled with a wave of economic development based on the exploitation of these digital resources. This is linked to the rise of "big data". However, questions remain as to the where and how value is created. Much of open government data has been traditionally associated with national registers, maps, weather, etc -- but current initiatives are increasingly looking at data around citizens and public services. There has been some discussion about privacy risks, but not much on the fundamental relations of beween citizens, government and private companies. Besides privacy we will look at wider issues: whether governments have the right to create "value" out of citizens data, how should this be governed, whether citizens should be expected to provide data in exchange for public services. We will also look at the impact of core reference data, for example, should governments provide truly free geolocation services and mapping for their open data initiatives, or leave these to private companies that will provide "free" services paid for with citizens data. We will also look at how these open data policies in many cases sit alongside repressive policies that allow for surveillance of citizens' Internet use, and whether these place limitations on the promises of open data. As a wider issue we will look at the apparent lack of connectedness in these public initiatives, and how the apparently disparate aims of providing openness, security and economic development could be integrated into a comprehensive public interest led Public Data Policy.