[@OKFNau] a perspective from local government

William McIntosh WMcIntosh at geelongcity.vic.gov.au
Thu Mar 19 23:29:10 UTC 2015

Hello all, short time subscriber first time replier...

I might chime in here to add a view from inside government.

A lot of us in government are working very hard to open up as much of our data as possible. From my perspective change is happening, but possibly not as fast as some people had hoped. This is for a whole range of reasons but partly because I think we're only seeing Open data becoming 'mainstream' for Australian government in the last couple of years. Perhaps its simply taken some time to penetrate the different levels of government. I did see an example of this  at a recent meeting where some councils had been hit over the head with the idea of embracing Open Data. I like to call this 'positively agitating' councils into action. This is done by actively promoting the benefits of open data to each council's community and giving them some clear achievable objectives to start their journey and the MAV<http://www.mav.asn.au/Pages/default.aspx> has done a very good job of this. You will see that even though some councils won't embrace it straight away we are starting to see the light bulb flick on across many different councils right now (Manningham have just uploaded some of their data<https://data.gov.au/dataset?q=manningham&sort=extras_harvest_portal+asc> this month).

It's important to note that its not unique to those outside government to be frustrated with the rate of change with Open Data, this is something people inside government face also. All we can do is advocate the benefits to change the way of thinking.

Types of things that helps government become active open data participants:

Steve Bennett's help creating data schema standards<http://okfnau.github.io/open-council-data/> for common datasets across councils has been a huge help. This helps in different ways such as councils have a clear objective to what their data could be cleaned up to look like, allows for easy combination of data across the state and also can be used to help list the metadata. This is only early days yet, but its important that these are communicated (and debated) now so that we end up with a well thought out and very functional spec for different data.

Thinking further ahead to when most councils are uploading their data online and having ~50 - 70 datasets online (hopefully to an repository like data.gov.au) they will be looking at ways to automate this process. So creation of python/CKAN scripts to automatically update their data online could potentially be of huge value across many different organisations. At the moment besides talking to Surrey council I haven't found many other people looking at this and willing to share.

Hopefully this provides some useful information happy to field any questions/comments and chat further,

Looking forward to attending an OKFNau event in the coming months,

be awesome,

Will McIntosh

Coordinator Spatial Information Systems
City of Greater Geelong
Phone: 03 5272 4062

From: okfn-au [mailto:okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Cobi Alison Smith
Sent: Thursday, 19 March 2015 3:05 PM
To: Open Knowledge discussion list for Australia.
Subject: [@OKFNau] speaking of values...

To throw the cat among the pigeons, I'm going to add a couple of points:

-          I don't think OKFNau is in a great position to be pushing for change right now, given lack of transparency about upcoming plans & governance changes in the wake of broader OK changes. It's easy to criticise; it's harder to lead by example. Consider how hard it is for OKFNau to manage this - then consider government departments which have way more inertia & less knowledge. Yes, OK folk are volunteers whereas government employees get paid, and yes change should and will happen - but I think OKFNau is unintentionally complacent in the same way governments can be.

-          I want to echo and amplify Rosie's comment that you can speak but that doesn't mean people will hear. And when people express frustration via jokes about violence, it means those of us who are trying to be heard and create change within organizations have to deal with more barriers. The last thing we need in Australia is for transparency to be further undermined by perceived risks of kneecapping, kidnapping, or any kind of bogus security paranoia. Less hostility and more inclusivity please. The more folk from government who are on this list asking for help the better; making them feel unwelcome via sneers & such isn't conducive to positive change.

Incidentally, Rosie have you considered a Shuttleworth Fellowship? https://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/applications/ I was being encouraged to apply while I was in Geneva last year - I think you deserve it much more.

Cheers, Cobi

From: okfn-au [mailto:okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Rosie Williams
Sent: Thursday, 19 March 2015 12:19 PM
To: Open Knowledge discussion list for Australia.
Subject: Re: [@OKFNau] Examples of Use of Commercial Government Data

Just this week I had to try to convince a New Enterprise Incentive Scheme business advisor that what I do has value. His first comment to me was ' I suspect there might copyright issues'. I then explained to him the definition of open data and it's relationship to copyright. He seemed unaware of the concept, not to mention a bit sceptical. How he would 'advise' me remains to be seen. I spent a fair bit of the time trying to explain to him that tenders and grants data are actually different things. I didn't get far.

If I am not able to convince this person of the value of what I do I will be put to work cleaning hospitals. I don't mind the work but it would be sad if I have to stop doing what is so valuable for society because of the lack of appreciation of open data in wider society. I guess when it comes to convincing people of something you can speak but that does not guarantee the recipient will hear what you say. Still, I live in hope ;-)

Apologies if you've been visiting BudgetAus this week, I've been making huge changes and for long periods and both at home and the library where I work the internet has been up and down like a yo-yo.  It's starting to look good now though and giving me the opportunity to try new things.

Rosie Williams BA (Sociology)

 NoFibs.com.au<http://nofibs.com.au> - Open Data Reporter
 InfoAus.net<http://infoaus.net> - Founder and Developer

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 02:54:03 +1100
From: steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au<mailto:steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au>
To: okfn-au at lists.okfn.org<mailto:okfn-au at lists.okfn.org>
Subject: Re: [@OKFNau] Examples of Use of Commercial Government Data

You folks are cool :) great discussion going on here.

After being in Kiev and spending a lot of time with Government officials there I now realize just how lucky we are in Australia. Ukraine has 1,200 government services and of those only two are currently delivered via a digital medium.

There is zero bureaucratic latitude to do anything outside the law so every process change starts with a change to legislation.

Having said that I still hold to the belief that eGovernment is inevitable and open data that is generated by transparently operated digital government services is the 'killer app' for today's democracy.

I expect the Federal Digital Transformation Office will help create a wave of change through all levels of Australian Government and digital bureaucrats will become the norm in all agencies.

Going 'native' now has a new meaning.


On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Tennessee Leeuwenburg <tleeuwenburg at gmail.com<mailto:tleeuwenburg at gmail.com>> wrote:
Hi Lachlan,

In my frustrated moments, I think that about the whole world, not just government :). I think it's amazing when anyone manages to find a way to be successful through openness, and it's the way of the future. If only we could get there :)

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...


On 16 March 2015 at 15:02, Lachlan Musicman <datakid at gmail.com<mailto:datakid at gmail.com>> wrote:
I deserve that rebuke and I think Pia makes a good point. But it's
also true that from *outside* government, it can be hard to be
anything but cynical, and I am not often seeing that change of
attitude that you claim - as someone bubbling with impatience on the
outside, I see feet draggers and excuse makers. I think that different
levels of government (Fed, State, Local) probably have different
opinions and different levels of commitment as well. I know I should
be differentiating between them, but in reality, I just see a wall of

Good to see the discussion take off ;)


The totalitarian society envisioned by George Orwell in 1984 should
have arrived by now. The electronic gadgets are here. The government
is here, ready to do what Orwell anticipated. So the power exists, the
motive, and the electronic hardware. But these mean nothing, because,
progressively more and more so, no one is listening. The new youth
that I see is too stupid to read, too restless and bored to watch, too
preoccupied to remember. The collective voice of the authorities is
wasted on him; he rebels. But rebels not out of theoretical,
ideological considerations, only out of what might be called pure
selfishness. Plus a careless lack of regard for the dread consequences
the authorities promise him if he fails to obey. He cannot be bribed
because what he wants he can build, steal, or in some curious,
intricate way acquire for himself. He cannot be intimidated because on
the streets and in his home he has seen and participated in so much
violence that it fails to cow him. He merely gets out of its way when
it threatens, or, if he can't escape, he fights back. When the locked
police van comes to carry him off to the concentration camp the guards
will discover that while loading the van they have failed to note that
another equally hopeless juvenile has slashed the tires. The van is
out of commission. And while the tires are being replaced, the other
youth siphons out all the gas from the gas tank for his souped-up
Chevrolet Impala and has sped off long ago.
The Android and the Human, Philip K. Dick
sourced from http://boingboing.net/2015/03/10/philip-k-dicks-androids-blu.html
On 15 March 2015 at 11:22, Pia Waugh <pia.waugh at gmail.com<mailto:pia.waugh at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Hi all,
> Just a quick one:
> On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 3:30 PM, Lachlan Musicman <datakid at gmail.com<mailto:datakid at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> Government officials. I cannot express how grateful I am that there are
>> people in this organisation who can talk pretty because I just want to break
>> their kneecaps and push them into puddles with a sneer.
> It'd be really cool if people could remember that "government officials" are
> not a faceless enemy. There are a lot of us working in government to improve
> things, and comments like this certainly don't help. If you make it a
> "you're either with us or agin us" then you make it very hard to
> collaborate, educate or change the status quo. Personally I'm finding
> attitudes are changing within Australian governments (fed, state/territory
> and local) quite rapidly and I'm cautiously optimistic things will continue
> to get better. Meanwhile, I guess we'll start issuing knee protectors as
> standard issue across the public service ;)
> Cheers,
> Pia
> _______________________________________________
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Tennessee Leeuwenburg
"Don't believe everything you think"


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