So while the article was about documents and learning about the Cold War, it was an interesting lead for thoughts on today’s open government efforts.
We all too often think in real time nowadays. We want the bus schedule coming up, the weather patterns for tomorrow and polling that tells us how the elections will come out in two months. But we do a poor job of going after the troves of data that already exist. And while knowing when my train will arrive is important, much of the stockpiles of data inside governments can unlock some fairly impressive things if we were to rabidly go after digitization of that data and make it openly available, machine readable and the like.
What kinds of information could be gleaned from such data you may ask? Plenty.
We have decades of public health data, insurance data, drug interactions and efficacy data (I am speaking of the de-identified types) that could be analyzed across the globe to do some fairly interesting things. The sample size is large enough for folks to draw some conclusions about things like the efficacy of certain types and dosages of medication and its effects in different regions and demographics of the world. In essence, creating personalized drugs.
We have specific conflict resolution data that could be analyzed across time to gain some insight into what theories and strategies have provoked what sorts of reactions over time. There is certainly no way to ensure leaders wont pursue wrong minded policies, but this would start to eliminate unintended consequences in foreign policy matters based upon decades of hard data.
We could look at periods of tight monetary controls and looser ones and truly start to understand the effects that central banks have on growth. Or we can look at monetary flows from developed to emerging markets and analyze the most effective over decades, not just the last six months.
In short, if we focus on a longer string of open data targets, the outcomes appear to be much richer than the currently vital app of the week. It would make ICT worldwide a much more strategic tool for governments to use to truly be more effective in solving the issues of the governed while they upgrade their commitment to openness at the same time.
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