The federal Government has enlisted New York University's GovLab to investigate how Australian organisations are using government data sets in a bid to forge ahead with its open data agenda.
The Open Data 500 study was launched at the Locate15 conference in Brisbane today.
It is the first comprehensive study of Australian companies and non-profit organisations that use open government data to generate new business, develop new products and services, improve business operations or create social value.
The collaboration between the Department of Communications and GovLab, a team of researchers at New York University, will create new case studies on how Australian organisations are using public sector data and provide a basis for assessing the social and economic value of open government datasets.
The results of the study will be used to develop a publicly available report that will help businesses to identify ways to reduce the costs of accessing government data, including licencing, versioning and control costs.
The Open Data 500 aims to advance the Government’s election commitment to consult the private sector to identify value-adding public datasets not currently on data.gov.au and expedite the release of these datasets.
Open data is free, public data that can be used to launch commercial and non-profit ventures, do research, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems.
Since it was elected, the Government’s commitment to open data has seen the number of datasets available on data.gov.au increase more than ten-fold to over 5,200.
This study will seek to ensure the focus of Government is on the publication of high value datasets, with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
High value datasets are those which are valuable to business; help the public make informed decisions or improve user experiences; or assist government in making evidence-based policy decisions.
The Government encourages companies that use open data as a business or operation resource to participate in the Open Data 500 study.
During a speech delivered at the Brisbane conference, communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the pace of change in Australia had been supercharged by information and communications technologies.
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new” he said.
"Every day more jobs, industries and businesses in Australia become trade-exposed, competing with the rest of the world in a way that was unimaginable a few years ago. Even in non-traded sectors, technological change is the great disruptor, from newspapers to taxis.
He said to succeed in this environment individuals and businesses needed to be smart and nimble, productive and innovative, creative and global.
"They need to see disruption as an opportunity to reach into other markets or become more efficient within our own," he said.
"The most advanced and technologically sophisticated economies tend to be very open, highly competitive markets.
"Producers are specialised, compete on differentiation, and have intimate knowledge of customer needs.
"there are strong linkages between complementary sectors and between businesses and universities, deep pools of skilled workers, executives and investors, and geographic clusters of high-value activity."
He said these were attributes and characteristics that grew organically, through the behaviour and initiative of firms and individuals and the free operation of open markets, not by design.
"They are way beyond the remit of Government – and should be," he said.
"An economy of this sort depends upon a dynamic and entrepreneurial culture that encourages innovation and diversity, tolerates risk and failure, and copes easily with uncertainty and ambiguity."
He said government should lead by example with its own use of IT, or innovation in service delivery.
"That’s why we’ve recently established the Digital Transformation Office which will ensure that all frequently performed transactions with Government can be undertaken digitally by 2017," he said.
"Remember the public sector is a third of our economy; every gain in productivity not only saves taxpayer dollars but lifts the productivity of every business or citizen interacting with it.
"Governments can also contribute by maximising the impact of their spending on enablers that generate positive economic spillovers, such as education and skills, scientific and medical research, and infrastructure with clear, demonstrable economic or social returns."