Open Data’s Contributions To The Public Good

In a recent email thread between Xentity, National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), and members of Smart Lean Government, the following thoughts were offered on Open Data by NASCIO Program Director, Enterprise Architecture & Governance for NASCIO, Eric Sweden and republished with his permission.

I believe open data contributes toward better inter agency collaboration and orchestration at all levels – notwithstanding PII is specifically removed from open data initiatives and must be.  But there is a place for open data in serving individual needs of citizens – for example – clinical epidemiology.  Employing population data – and even specific population data in evaluating prognosis and treatment regimes.  Think of the value in public health and medical services to underserved populations AND really anyone else.  Trends, patterns, correlations will surface for a similar approach / strategy in other government lines of business – we’re just at the brink of this kind of use data exploitation.

I’m looking beyond life events and also considering the complete Smart Lean Government concept.  Life events are a critical element. However, events abstracted up from individuals to communities also exist.  So we move up an upside down pyramid from life events to “community events” or “community issues.”   Consider open data – and the larger concept of open government – in enabling better government.  Thus, a necessary part of Smart Lean Government.  Think about how government is able to work better together in collaboration and that leads to sharing data and information.



An Example to Consider

An example includes the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Department of Transportation (DoT) who are working together in drawing necessary correlations between crash data (from DPS) and speed/road conditions/weather data from DOT to develop strategy for safer roads and highways.

This particular example resonates with the “Imperatives of 21st Century Government Services” from volume one of the practical guide; steps 1-4 of the “Sustainable Shared  Services Lifecycle Model” from volume two of the practical guide. This example is at the community event level – but impacting every individual and family that uses those roads and highways.


What Mr. Sweden is trying to explain, is quite simple. People are constantly trying to build “a better mousetrap”. And open data can be a major contributor towards one of our industry’s own “mousetraps”. Collaboration between multiple agencies is a must when trying to serve the needs of the public. As such, what we need is open data that is freely available to these agencies, and even the public.