Data.gov evangelist Jeanne Holm emailed and tweeted today: “I wanted you to be among the first to hear about an open source release for an Open Government Platform” that among things, shares Data.gov with India.
The action is part of the recently launched the U.S. National Action Plan on Open Government, announced by President Obama. It represents another step under the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue to produce “Data.gov-in-a-Box,” an open source version of the U.S.’s Data.gov data portal and India’s India.gov.in document portal. In fact, according to the Data.gov site, 28 countries have now adopted open data sites to share information.
The U.S. and India are working together to produce an open source version available for implementation by countries globally, encouraging governments around the world to stand up open data sites that promote transparency, improve citizen engagement, and engage application developers in continuously improving these efforts.
Technical teams from the governments of the U.S. and India have been working together since August of this year, with a planned launch of a complete open source product (which is now called the Open Government Platform (OGPL) to reflect its broad scope) in early 2012.
It’s less clear what is new here. You can find out more about the evolution of this project from the U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra in a joint announcement they made on a White House blog post today. And more about the Open Government Platform repository is on Github. You’ll find here a growing set of open source, open government platform code that allows any city, organization, or government to create an open data site.
In reviewing this site, I essentially found only: Create a new database in MySQL and Login using the default Drupal administration username and password. I also went to India.gov.in and found something that had been copyrighted in 2005. Is there something new I am missing here?
The announcement goes on to say: The first module released is the Data Management System, which provides the tools and capabilities for an automated process for publishing data in the Open Government Platform, an open source product designed to facilitate governments around the world to stand up their own open government data sites.
Our next planned release will be from India and related to the web site for the Open Government Platform. The U.S. and India will be providing additional modules in the future, and developers are encouraged to participate, provide feedback, and create new modules and capabilities! The teams working on this project are the National Informatics Centre in India and Data.gov in the U.S.
I asked Jeanne for an interview to get more details and she responded: “The best place to get an interview is through the White House Media Office. You are welcome to contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and they are ready to respond!” I did and heard back there were no officials to interview. When I asked where I could see what this would look like, she said: The code release is on GitHub, which is where we and others can provide additional modules as they come up. So I am wondering where is the platform and the real rationale for doing this?
I know that Data.gov has experimented with several platforms (as I have written previously) trying to evolve from catalog-to-repository-to-platform to actually find and access data and build apps, but the latest experiment with Socrata has been criticized as not being an open procurement and an open source platform. So maybe that is what this is all about – trying to straighten that out while looking like providing a service to the world.
I just wrote about how Data.gov.uk provides a real service to the UK and how data.gov would do well to emulate that as a concrete service to the US taxpayers that have been paying, expecting, and even demanding it for several years now.
It is hard not to think that when our leaders make mistakes (which we all do), they are prone to try things that are even bigger mistakes rather that admit them and ask for help, which in this case is right next door – the UK!