Your daily look at #OpenGov news, events, & analysis. Today’s theme: The importance of official statistics.
open data inventory
In January Open Data Watch updated their Open Data Inventory to reflect changes in 2016. The inventory “assesses the coverage and openness of official statistics” for nearly every country across the globe.
- You can view a ranked list of countries here with scores broken down into categories focused on coverage of official statistics and their openness. In 2016 In 2016, Sweden took the top spot. The Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, Estonia, Canada, the United States and Finland round out the top 10. Read the full report here.
- Open Data Watch’s Inventory, specifically focused on official statistics and the Sustainable Development Goals, fits into a broader framework of global openness assessments. Reporters Without Borders maps global press freedom, FreedomHouse looks at the state of democracies, and Open Knowledge looks at a wide range of data for their Global Open Data Index
where is all the data going?
Congress is considering a bill that would block collection, storage or disclosure of GIS data about racial discrimination in access to affordable housing. (MeriTalk) Your organization can sign on to a letter opposing the legislation here.
Sunlight opposes this legislation specifically as well as any broader efforts to de-fund statistical agencies or limit public access to their work.
- The potential for Congress to de-fund government statistics and data collection represent a major concern for open data in the U.S., as Sunlight’s Alex Howard explained to CNN recently: “There are lots of reasons to be concerned about the future of open government data in the U.S., but it’s not because of it being taken offline, although that’s a risk factor…It’s that it might be de-funded in Congress.”
- More on the importance of robust statistics: In 2010 Canada changed its rules, making it voluntary for citizens to fill out the long-form version of its census. This change resulted in a drop in the response rate “to 68 per cent in 2011, down from 93 per cent in 2006. The drop was widely viewed as diminishing the value of the statistical information.” (CBC News Canada) The mandatory long-form census was reinstated in 2015 leading to record response rates in 2016. The first batch of 2016 data is up for perusal now. (Center for Data Innovation)
State of the states
- “On Wednesday the city of San Diego revealed plans for a massive sensor network that will use city street lights to deploy 3,200 sensors for air, traffic and pedestrian safety monitoring.” The city hopes to compete with leading ‘smart cities’ like Dubai and Singapore. (StateScoop)
- The Arizona state senate moved to institute harsh penalties for taking part in a protest that turns into a riot. “The legislation expands the state’s racketeering laws so that they include rioting.” Critics argue that it could result in limits on free speech. (The Hill)
Earlier this month Sunlight joined 48 other groups on a letter to the Department of Justice regarding its proposal for guidance on the Death in Custody Act, which could yield the “most accurate federal numbers on deaths in custody, disaggregated by race, ethnicity and other decedent demographics, to date.”
Sunlight particularly welcomes the Department of Justice’s desire to increase transparency and compliance the implementation of the Death in Custody Report Act. The DoJ has proposed that it will disclose information to the public each fiscal year “including the state plans, the number of deaths reported for each agency and facility, and data and circumstances surrounding these deaths.” We will hold the DoJ accountable for following through on its proposal, which adds much needed sunlight to what happens to people in the nation’s criminal justice system.
- We also joined with groups including OpenTheGovernment.org, the Project on Government Oversight, Demand Progress, and more on comments to the Office of Government Information Services that aim “to ensure the OGIS regulations uphold requesters’ rights under the FOIA statute, and do not place restrictive confidentiality requirements on requesters who chose to use OGIS’s mediation and dispute resolution services.” (OpenTheGovernment.org)
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