A new age of online data has arrived – a fact noted by The Economist in a recent front page feature on “The data deluge”.
For anyone interested in global policy making this is a very exciting development. Good policy making whether at local, national or global level should be informed or based on evidence (good data). There have been within the last 12 months a number of very significant moves to put more data online by governments and other international agencies (a future blogs will look at these in detail). Some people are now seeing government held data as a “national treasure” which can be freely given out to the wider public. Once out on the web others “mash-up” this data in interesting and often totally unexpected ways. Not only are governments giving out more data but there are increasing opportunities for the public to use this data, and create and share their own, often with governments.
In this video Tim Berners-Lee the “inventor” of the web shows the power of data in a variety of instances, including the recent Haiti earthquake. In another video, from the recent Policy Making in the Digital Making in the Digital Age Conference, Richard Meier again demonstrates how access to data and online social networks and tools by in this case, non-government players, can play a key role in helping to coordinate international and government relief efforts in Haiti and other places.
Policy making, whether at a national or international level will be changed by the increased availability and use of data. These changes however, are not only about using new technologies, visualisations and social networks – they raise the wider issue of sharing power.