Two years ago, President Obama signed an Executive Order (E.O.) to improve how our government shares information for the benefit of the American people. The E.O. meant that for the first time in history, Federal government data was required to be open by default with common standards and machine-readable formats. As a result, government information is now more easily discoverable with the necessary safeguards to prevent release of sensitive and personally identifiable information.
Data is a vital national resource, empowering Americans to fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth throughout all 50 states. Through implementation of the Open Data Policy and U.S. Open Data Action Plan, today’s Federal government serves as an engine to expand economic growth and opportunity for all Americans through the release of government data. Moreover, since information about government operations is more readily available, this data helps create a more efficient and transparent government.
Today, more than 130,000 datasets reside on data.gov, the repository for the U.S. Government’s open data. Data.gov is updated daily with datasets on important issues such as Climate, Public Safety, Health, and Education. Users can find data on the consumer complaints filed against their banks, on-time performance of airlines, or health indicators in their communities such as the prevalence of heart disease or cancer. One reason this is so important is that open data allows businesses, software developers, and anyone else who’s interested to create consumer-friendly applications to help us all make better-informed decisions about health care, transportation, energy use, and more. Open data also has other positive impacts, such as fueling creation of new businesses and jobs. And the best part is that we’re just getting started.
In opening government data, the United States has proven itself a world leader. Just a few years ago, only a few other countries had national open data sites like data.gov. Now 75 other countries have open data sites and are committed to expanding open government to their citizens.
We’re excited to continue implementing the U.S. Open Data Action Plan and we look forward to sharing an update on progress of that implementation soon. We remain committed to helping advance the open data movement worldwide, and look forward to seeing the creative ways that people like you continue to use open data to benefit society.
DJ Patil is Chief Data Scientist and Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.