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Jan
10

White House to mandate machine-readable open data

From; FederalNewsRadio.com, 1500AM

By Jason Miller

White House technology leaders are close to issuing a new policy that will change the way agencies release data to the public.

Todd Park, the federal chief technology officer, said Friday the new policy is one of several steps to spur the release of more data from agencies.

“We are going to continue to enlist additional federal agencies in the open data initiatives program as fast track liberators of key existing data sets that could create large scale economics benefit while protecting privacy,” Park said at the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology meeting in Washington. “We also, as per the recently announced Digital Government Strategy just this past summer, with OMB will be releasing policy soon that makes open and computer readable the default status of new data created by the government going forward.”

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy also is upgrading the Data.gov site and its corresponding communities to make it easier to put up new content based on feedback from developers on what are the most important data sets that have been released and how it was used.

“We will also continue to expand outreach activity to entrepreneurs across the country,” Park said. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest from everyone from venture capital networks to entrepreneur networks to lean launch pad startup weekend type organizations and universities.”

Innovation Fellows impact

The new data release policy is part of the deliverables detailed in the Digital Management Strategy, which the Office of Management and Budget released in May. It calls for a new policy for open data, content and web API standards within six months. The policy is now two months late.

“We plan to release the open data policy in early 2013, which will allow us to learn from and build on the ongoing work of Presidential Innovation Fellows working on open data initiatives,” said Steven VanRoekel, federal chief information officer, in an email to Federal News Radio.

The Innovation Fellows are impacting the open data efforts in several ways, including creating an open national design program for a true human readable standard for health records under the Veterans Affairs Department’s Blue Buttoninitiative.

“It’s gotten more than 240 entrants from professional designers who are participating and the winner will be announced soon,” Park said. “And that design for a human readable open format for the Blue Button will be made open source for anyone to download.”

The new policy and the addition of innovation fellows are helping agencies move out of that basic stage of open data, which calls for putting any and all information out there.

Park said some agencies already are moving out ahead of the initial phase, including the Department of Health and Human Services, which is integrating semantic Web capabilities with open data. He said one example of HHS’ work in this area is the hospital compare portal, which uses hospital care data quality to contrast health care providers.

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