W3C eGov: Carol Tullo on “Unlocking the Power of Public Sector Information”

Note: These are rough notes from the W3C Workshop on eGovernment and the Web.  It is being held in Washington DC on June 18th-19th.

Goal is to give a wider policy context of the topics that will covered over the next two days.

It’s about “unlocking the potential.”  It’s not just about the content.  It’s about the economic and social value of the information.  The value is beyond its inherent value.  It’s the value of it being used.  We need an approach that recognizes the potential.

In UK, producing public sector information is about 40% of the GDP.  Geographic information underpins a lot economic activity.

It’s much harder to asses the social and economic value.

Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg laid out a vision “… that citizens, consumers, and government can create, re-use and distribute information in ways that add maximum value.”

There are many complexities with working in government.  The awareness of all the potentials and values may not be there because we work in silos, departments, and agencies.

There is a lot of risk with transparency.  Be aware that unless we push the boundaries, we’ll never be able to grow. There is also a lack of incentive in government to share information.

With Web 2.0, the Web is becoming a 2-way medium.  There is a data aspect, communities being formed, and user generated content.   We have to understand that is constantly evolving and accelerating.

A senior UK government official on his own initiative put some films on YouTube.  These were the first UK government films on YouTube.  They created more interest in what the Office of Public Sector Information was doing than the last 10 years of marketing work.

No matter what country you’re in, we all share the same aims.

We have an evolving landscape.  We need to engage in partnerships with the user-led communities.  It’s hard to find the right vehicle but thats what experimentation is for.

How can civil servants best participate in the new media and the new focus?

The Web is allowing for the re-use to information in exciting ways.  There is a synergy among lots of partners.  There is a confidence and trust that no one is breaching anyone’s rights.  Rights expressions is a big deal.  Semantic Web has huge potential to overcome some of the format problems.

The UK is working hard to not just use new technologies but to set policies in place.

There are departments where there business is to produce data.  There are also agencies and departments who have data as a by-product of their activities.  People need to understand how important their data is and what it can be used for.

How do we gain traction with these  new policies and strategies?

To make all of this happen, we all have to interact.

Government embracing citizens complex needs, encouraging information re-use and exploitation, and enabling easy to create, easy to find, easy to use government, parliamentary, and public sector information.

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