Interview with Norman Jacknis, Senior Fellow Intelligent Community Forum, USA. What is his opinion about the Open Data world? What are the main challenges cities are facing? And what are his main advises for setting up a new open data project?
How does the Open Data world looks like in 2030?
The amount of data available in 2030 will be enormous, especially considering the data that will be generated by the Internet of Things. By 2030, we will need to have created real-time data analysis software so we (humans) will not be overwhelmed by the amount of data.
By much sooner than 2030, the public’s expectations will go beyond just opening up data. People will feel that all data should be available as a normal part of public business.
What are the main challenges cities are facing the coming years with open data?
The current major challenge is making sure that the data is useful. Too often, governments and others put out the data that is the easiest to make public, not necessarily the most useful data. The more useful data may require more work. The challenge is to balance the investment required to make data available and the value of the data to the public.
The second major challenge is that there are no common standards for data. This makes comparisons difficult. It also makes it difficult to combine different data. (Note: it is often the combination of data from different sources that yields the most important insights.)
What are your 2 main advises for setting up a new open data project?
My initial advice is to make the open data initiative something more than some people in government putting some data on the Internet. A serious open data project should include data scientists, policy makers, government staff and citizens. Each group brings important perspectives.
We need to go beyond open data to collaborative policy/program analysis — “popular analytics”. In a sense, this should operate like open science, except in this case we want residents of a city, academic specialists, policy staff in government and others to help figure out what programs work under which conditions. In other words, ultimately the success of an open data project will be measured by how much people can learn to improve their lives.
Can Open Data contribute to the quality of life of citizens? In which way and why is this so important?
The answer is yes, open data can contribute to quality of life in cities. The obvious uses of open data is to make life in cities easier. One example is information on travel patterns to avoid help residents avoid congestion. But there is a bigger picture too. So, as I noted in my advice, open data can be used to create better policies and programs by analyzing what works and doesn’t work.
In the knowledge economy of the 21st century, it is important that all people can work with data. This skill will improve their economic position and thus help the quality of their lives.