iTwire reported earlier this week that Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig largely accepted 12 of the 13 recommendations of the Government 2.0 Taskforce report. It raises hope that appropriate resources will be found in due course to continue and extend data.australia.gov.au initiative started by the Taskforce. A new blog has been launched to "continue the conversation" with all interested parties. Ideally, there should be a coordinated approach to cataloguing of all free public information in Australia to ensure easy discoverability. For now State and Federal agencies are going alone so access to data is still decentralised. However, it is good to see everyone is moving in the same direction.
UK government launched its data.gov.uk initiative only a few months ago but it appears to be more advanced in the quest to liberate public sector information and data than Australia. What is particularly impressive is that they offer not only data for download but also as web services. In addition, they also catalogue applications developed with government data by individuals and private companies. This is a model worth implementing in Australia.
The Americans have the longest tradition of providing centralised access to free government data and their data collection goes into hundreds of thousands. They continuously improve the functionality of the cataloguing service but it is still quite a challenge to find what you are looking for. Actually, all of the initiatives mentioned above use traditional structured query approach and none of them allow for discovering what data exists for a particular location of interest (ie. spatial search). I guess, the challenge is still too big as it requires adequately structured metadata across all datasets.
To celebrate the release of Data.gov portal Sunlight Labs is organizing a mashup competition “Apps for America 2” sponsored by Google, O'Reilly Media, and TechWeb. Entries close on August 7th, 2010 and top prize is U$10,000.