The Australian government has released a Public Data Policy Statement that commits Australia to an open data policy. (Thanks to Zac Spitzer @zackster for pointing me to this.) All non-sensitive public data will be discoverable and available by default. Public data includes all data collected by government ministries and agencies for any purpose including government administration, research or service delivery. Non-sensitive data includes anonymized data that does not permit individuals to be identified or that does not break individual privacy.
- by default
- on or through data.gov.au
- in a machine-readable, spatially-enabled format
- via a freely available open API
- accompanied by metadata
- using open standards
- under a Creative Commons By Attribution (CC BY) licence (if you want to use another open license you can apply to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet)
Perhaps the real sleeper in all this is that the Government also commits to ensuring that the data be "kept up to date". This is absolutely essential because data like lettuce is perishable, but maintenance is often overlooked. Then there is an interesting qualification, "kept up to date in an automated way". Automated maintenance does not apply to a lot of data, which requires manual maintenance, but with sensor technology and other tools such as UAVs and low flying satellite constellations it is becoming possible for more and more data.
In May 2007, I was at the Spatial Sciences Institute Biennial International Conference in Hobart, Tasmania where I had the opportunity to attend a workshop Open Content Licensing of Government Information - Creating a Spatial Information Creative Commons by Tim Barker and Neale Hooper of the Queensland Government. That was the first time I heard a proposal to enable sharing of government data by requiring Creative Commons licensing of all government data.
In 2011 the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) released Principles on Open Public Sector Information, that was intended as a set of guidelines for assessing compliance with the Australian Freedom of Information Act of 1982 and was a precursor to the just released open data policy.