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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Help edit the “Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017”

This is a very cool idea as well as an important policy statement. Sunlight Foundation and a diverse coalition of government transparency, data innovation, scientific groups and environment defense advocates have come together to advocate for the “Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017”, which was recently introduced in the Senate. Sunlight has put the bill up on Madison, the site that allows for public collaboration on policy documents. So here’s your chance to read the bill and add your comments and suggestions to make the bill better!

This bill, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate this spring, would require federal agencies to preserve public access to data sets and prevent the removal of those data sets from the Internet without sufficient public notice. The Sunlight Foundation, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government, supports the bill — but we want to make it better. You can comment on the full text of the Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 below. Well make sure the Senate staff that drafted the bill see your contributions.

via The Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 | Madison.

Visiting Assistant Professor Uses Public Data to Transform How New Yorkers See Their City

Ben Wellington uses his popular I Quant NY blog to dig into public New York city data posted by city agencies. He digs deep into the the data to post about the city’s filthiest fast-food chains, mapped out how half of Manhattan is within four blocks of a Starbucks and determined which neighborhoods boast the most trees. “His mission for the blog is simple: to change government policy by using open data.”

Some recent posts:

  • Is the NYPD About to Start Ticketing More Cyclists Due to a Mathematical Error?
  • The Hot Spots of New York: A Coverage Map of NYC’s Free WiFi Payphones
  • Colorfully Decoding Manhattan’s Address System
  • Found: The Brooklyn Residence that’s Farthest from the Subway
  • Affordable Housing Without Representation
  • Found: The Manhattan Apartment that’s the Farthest from any Subway
  • You’ll Never Guess the Cleanest Fast Food Joint in NYC
  • Fecal Map NYC: The Worst Places to Swim in the City

Lots of interesting information and ideas at APDU 2012

The annual meeting of the Association of Public Data Users was held recently in Washington and it produced interesting discussions and insights into the current state of and future directions for official statistics. Here are links to presentations from the conference and an excellent overview of the conference by Peggy Garvin.

Private Sector Supports Public Data

A recent Farm Foundation Forum, sponsored by The Farm Foundation, addressed the issue of “Data Collection on Agriculture in a Time of Fiscal Constraints.” A presentation [pdf] by Tom Wegner of the private company Land O’Lakes, Inc. addressed the value of public data, the challenges to data collection, and the impacts and consequences of cutbacks in the collection of public data.

Wegner noted that public data from the USDA is reliable, objective, consistent, timely, and unbiased, and widely available for all. He said that Land O’Lakes uses public data for business planning, risk management, and evaluating policy options. He concluded by saying that Land O’Lakes is strong advocate of continuing public collection of agricultural data.

An audio file of the Forum is available.

It is very nice to see the private sector recognizing the value of public data at a time when many politicians are challenging, not just the funding of data collection, but the very idea that the government should be involved in such activities.

See also: Farm Foundation Briefing Focuses on Agricultural Data, COSSA Washington Update, Volume 30, Issue 17 (September 26, 2011) The Consortium of Social Science Associations.