What concrete commitments should be in an open data policy?


Policies get reviewed on a regular basis. What concrete commitments should be in the first term of an open data policy?


It is essential to ensure that great exemplars of open data and discrete data sharing successes are referenced from the outset of this important policy development. Australia’s Research and Education sector has one key reference example that could be applied within all contexts.
The Australian Access Federation (AAF) is an established technology (seed-funded initially by the Commonwealth) utilising Identity Federation.
A not-for-profit, owned by the member community, the Federation enables sharing of data, connection of services and also facilitates granular access control for groups wishing to access and share sensitive data securely. The Federation adopts global best-practice (www.refeds.org) with it’s technology leading APAC. the AAF technology is also embedded to Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. These Global Federations use established Governance and Trust Policy through Federation rules.
This global federation community acknowledges that in time, users will be connected globally and data access will enhance policy, research, industry R&D as well as support the improvement to decision making capacity.
As Australia’s authoritative National Identity Federation the AAF is perfectly positioned to underpin open data capability and enable adoption. The Federations’ existing users comprise 100% of Australia’s Universities, large Research Institutes and education providers connecting over 1 million Australians.


Concrete commitments I think are important include;

  • Data format standards
  • A commitment to provide the data via API (not just ZIP files of CSVs)
  • I guess from a spatial data perspective, a standard approach to coordinate system could also be useful

Without these, Open data utilisation will slower than it could be.

I like the simplicity & commitments of the Federal Gov Open Data Policy Statement released last December.


On the one hand, a clear and unambiguous commitment to the protection of individual privacy and clarity on how this will be achieved. On the other hand, a commitment to not using individual privacy, and the privacy acts (state and federal) as a constraint on open data publication. Its a balancing act I know, but without clarity there will be no trust.


Open data has to be in open formats. I know this is obvious, but it should be a concrete commitment to ensure data is accessible. Publishing data in a format that requires proprietary software to access it does not free the data.


The Heart Foundation would like to see more commitment to include health/ ambulance data in the open data plan for Queensland. Since 28% of the state budget is used on health, it makes sense to include health data in the Government’s Open Data Policy for greater transparency and accountability.
The current Department of Health Open Data policy doesn’t include HHS data. It’s vital that Queenslanders know how their tax dollars are being invested to improve the health of Queenslanders and to ensure HHS are using public funds appropriately.
The Heart Foundation also recommends HHS admission and re- admission data is included in the open data plan to ensure they are working towards reducing the number of avoidable hospitalisations. A large number of hospital readmissions could be averted if adequate resourcing was allocated to treat and manage patients with chronic disease as they are frequent flyers of our hospital and health services. More open data in health/ ambulance will bring new opportunities to improve practise and improve patient outcomes.