Many countries have yet to open up government information. Even India, which has a freedom of information law, has so many exceptions to the duty to release. Simply releasing information is not enough. We need to have information in usable form. This NYT article shows some good examples.
Many local governments are figuring out how to use the Internet to make government data more accessible. The goal is to spawn useful Web sites and mobile applications — and perhaps even have people think differently about their city and its government.
“It will change the way citizens and government interact, but perhaps most important, it’s going to change the way elected officials and civil servants deliver programs, services and promises,” said Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, which is one of the cities leading the way in releasing government data to Web developers. “I can’t wait until it challenges and infuriates the bureaucracy.”
Advocates of these open-data efforts say they can help citizens figure out what is going on in their backyards and judge how their government is performing.
But programmers have had trouble getting their hands on some data. And some activists and software developers wonder whether historically reticent governments will release data that exposes problems or only information that makes them look good.