The NSW Government will hold a competition to develop digital applications to better utilise government data.
Earlier this year a software developer created a train timetabling application for Apple's popular iPhone. RailCorp threatened to take the inventor to court, claiming a breach of copyright.
It seems no coincidence, then, that the Rees Government has released the very same information that came under such scrutiny just a few months ago, with NSW Premier Nathan Rees announcing the public release of RailCorp data.
Releasing the data, Rees emphasised the use of Govt 2.0 “in the cause of democracy and freedom” and also announced a competition – apps4nsw – “to foster and promote the development of innovative digital applications and web services using public and government data relating to New South Wales.”
There will be two competition categories:
- Ideas for applications or services based around public or government data; and
- Prototype software applications that demonstrate the idea in action.
To support this, the NSW Government is also developing a catalogue of data sets that are freely available for download and use by the public. This catalogue, when it is available, can be accessed at www.data.nsw.gov.au.
Until now, the Federal Government has appeared to be more proactive in relation to the adoption of Gov 2.0 through its Government 2.0 Taskforce. This Taskforce recently called for submissions, and also has active discussions on an Issues Paper underway at its blogsite.
However, this is more about Govt 2.0 policy than practice. In many ways, it follows on from work undertaken by the Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee of the Victorian Parliament, which released a report of an Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data last June.
In many ways, the states are key to effective Govt 2.0 activities in Australia. They operate the facilities and deliver the services that touch most citizens on a daily basis, and they typically have – or should have – the data relating to these services.
The goal should always be to inform citizens about the services available to them, the performance and quality of those services, value for money, accountability and transparency. The release and availability of data, and the building of applications to make this visible is going to be an exciting area of government technology over the next few years.