You Don’t Know Open

You’d think, with all the cyber security hacks on banks, businesses and the federal government, someone would figure out a way to get into public data that otherwise can cost tens of thousands of dollars and hours to access. But currently, private data is considered to be the lucrative steal because of how identity theft can pay off. If the data is already supposed to be public, well who would want it, let alone pay a ransom for it?  

As it turns out, not only do many of us do want our public data, but McKinsey, the consulting company, reports that, "Open data can help unlock $3 trillion to $5 trillion in economic value annually across seven sectors [education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care and consumer finance].” Although the attraction to accessing public data hasn’t yet caught the attention of many future Ed Snowdens, it has galvanized an international civic hacking (for good) movement.  

Of course, the value of an open, transparent government's data goes far beyond monetization. It also means we’re addressing: 

  • Accountability: We can see when, where and how our money is spent - and who is getting it.
  • Engagement: Citizens can better inform and empower themselves as to government’s business. 
  • Participation: Better-informed citizens can better contribute to decision-making.
  • Analysis: When we can look at data created by our own activity, we enhance research, critique, re-invention and innovation.
  • Improvement: Open data enables predictive analytics that can then lead to better service provision.
  • Efficiency: Performance measurement and performance management allow for smarter deployment of resources.

For all these reasons, efforts like Ohio's online checkbook,, demonstrate a level of financial transparency that should be encouraged. 

So whether you’re a hold out for banking online or an Internet of Things devotee, the City Club’s program, Government Transparency in the 21st Century, is sure to have something for everyone.

Learn more:

Transparency and open data: is your government trying hard enough?

Open data, government and citizen perceptions: First national survey, by the Pew Research Center 2015

Open Data Evolution: From Increasing Transparency to Engaging Citizens

Why Critics of Transparency are Wrong

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