Open data has begun to rapidly transform business, government, the sciences, and citizen engagement in the 21st century. Built on the principles of open access, open data promotes free access to datasets to use, re-use and distribute for an ever-growing variety of applications.
On October 23, Russ White, Data and GIS Specialist at Kennedy Library, and Greg Hermann, Special Projects Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo, talked about open data in Kennedy Library’s Data Studio.
Open data improves transparency
Russ and Greg explored what open data means for businesses, researchers, governments and individuals, who are creating new opportunities and improving transparency with open data.
Cal Poly recently made its financial reporting available openly, hosted by opengov.com, for greater organizational transparency. Now, you can see data that was once a lengthy PDF in an interactive graph. Another campus example is our online repository, DigitalCommons@CalPoly, which fosters collaboration between researchers by openly sharing their data. This not only meets growing legislative demand that publicly-funded research be publicly available, but means that data sets are discoverable and usable among disciplines.
On a national level, Russ talked about the 60% growth data.gov has experienced in the last year. The site is a collecting point for many government agencies, and now has about 157,911 data sets categorized by sectors.
Open data engages citizens
Greg Hermann, who is a Cal Poly alumnus, talked about open government in cities, including our own. For example, San Luis Obispo is one of about 50 cities which has launched an open data platform, and continued growth is expected. Citizens and researchers can find information about parcels, crime, records, budgets, maps and more. Entrepreneurs can also leverage that open data to create apps of interest to citizens. For example if you want to know more about the trees planted along your street, there’s an app for that!