NSW government makes its data open by default

The most populous Australian state has released its open data policy, which promotes making government data publicly available.

All NSW government agencies, including cluster agencies, departments, statutory bodies and shared service providers, are to treat data as open by default, as the state government released its open data policy today.

"Agencies start from a position of data openness, with the prerogative in favour of data release, unless there is a specific, overriding reason for data not to be released," says the policy.

Under the conditions listed in the policy, data should not be released, or not released in full, if it falls foul of five provisions outlined: Privacy; security; confidentiality; legal privelege; or public interest.

All the datasets available would be accessible through the government's data.nsw site, with each dataset assigned a permanent URL.

NSW Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance, said that open data would drive the development of new apps, and transform the government.

"Open data is at the heart of open government and we have developed a principles-based approach to the way public sector agencies provide access to their information." Constance said.

The minister said that the data would be released under open access licences to make it easier to share data with other agencies.

"AusGOAL, the Australian Governments' Open Access Licensing Framework, provides a system by which Government can make appropriate licencing decisions to allow the reuse of data and information in new and innovative ways by the community," he said.

Under the policy, high-value datasets are given priority for release, but the policy says that perceived value or quality of data should not preclude the release of data.

"Data quality issues should not unduly delay the publishing of datasets," the policy states.

"In some cases, even data perceived as low-value or for which there is no current demand, may reveal hidden potential. Simply making data available for discovery enables individuals or organisations to identify new and innovative uses for it."

The policy suggests that departments rate their data openness by using the Five Star Linked Open Data Model developed by Tim Berners-Lee.

The government will create a separate implementation plan for agencies, and subject the policy to review ever two years.

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