Government data has been accumulated for centuries in protected
repositories and registries as public record and a matter of civil order. Recently, the
open data movement has emerged as a group that focuses on facilitating open access
to government data. Open data is data that is produced in the course of an
organization's ordinary business, which has been released under an unrestricted
licence. Underpinning open data is the philosophy that data generated or collected
by organisations in the public sector should belong to the taxpayers, wherever
financially feasible and where releasing it won't violate any laws or rights to privacy
(either for citizens or government staff).
Proponents of open data argue that it can strengthen democracy and improve
government through increased participation, collaboration, and transparency.
Advocates are also motivated by its potential contribution to greater productivity
and economic growth through increased government efficiency and the creation of
new businesses and services. Studies have shown that open data initiatives are likely
to create both economic and social value and that the direct financial benefits
substantially outweigh the costs. However, since open data initiatives are relatively
recent, key questions regarding the return on investment and impact of these
initiatives remain unanswered. This report addresses the question of how the
impact and value of open data can be evaluated.