The Roles of Open Government Data in Democratic Engagement and Reform of Public Services
Davies, T (2010) The Roles of Open Government Data in Democratic Engagement and Reform of Public Services. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society Discussion Meeting 'Web Science: A New Frontier', 29/30th September 2010, London, UK. (Unpublished)
Recent years have seen significant and accelerating activity to make government data available online as open data. Justifications advanced for increased openness of government data include claims regarding the economic potential of open government data (OGD), the potential for OGD to promote transparency and accountability of government and the role of OGD in supporting the reshaping of public services. There are many possible routes by which OGD may be involved in reshaping public services, including: supporting citizen engagement with formal political processes; supporting local community-based decision making; enabling entrepreneurial co-production of public services; or improving informational inputs into markets for public services. Different normative conceptions of democracy underlie each possible mechanisms of data-driven change. The cases explored in this study highlight that the prevelant "data for developers" narrative of OGD use only captures a limited set of possible data uses. Critical thought about the way open data infrastructures are developed, based on diverse use-cases, including non-technical use- cases, is likely to be beneficial: and further work is needed to identify and build capacity with respect to models of democratic engagement that draw upon open government data. Mapping the developing infrastructures of OGD provision and use can support planning and evaluation of OGD initiatives.
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