Updated March 3, 2010

Government agencies produce a lot of information. Making it accessible to the public, which essentially paid for it, can be quite challenging. The volume is high. The formats are varied. Much of it remains locked in information silos.

Support is growing to take steps to make as much government information available to the public as possible. President Obama issued a directive describing the official policy for Transparency and Open Government that mandates an unprecedented level of accessibility to government information. At the same time, technical advances have improved the feasibility of increasing access to the data.

I recently completed a Gilbane paper on this topic and how some agencies are improving access to public data. It is now available for free on our Web site at https://gilbane.com/beacons.html. The paper’s sponsor, Mark Logic, has provided interesting case studies that illustrate the challenges and approaches to overcoming them. I also explore some of the major hurdles that need to be crossed to achieve this goal, including:

  1. Extremely high volumes of content and data
  2. Highly diverse, heterogeneous data formats and data models
  3. Complex content integration and delivery requirements
  4. Time-sensitivity of content
  5. Changing information environments

The approaches described have enabled that users of this technology to implement high-volume, disparate-data applications that not only overcome old technical barriers but also deliver new value to their organizations. This is, after all, the essence of open data – be it for open government, open publishing, or open enterprise.

I encourage you to read this paper to get a better understanding of what works to make government data more open.

Update: the Beacon is also available from Mark Logic.