Points of View 16th February 2015

Faces of the UK Open Government Network – Ellen Broad, ODI

by Josephine Suherman-Bailey

Josephine was a Policy Analyst at Involve. She worked on the Open Government Partnership and supported the coordination of the UK Open Government Partnership civil society network.

Open government can be an abstract idea. We want to give people a better idea of what it is, and who is in the UK Open Government Civil Society Network. We’ve asked some existing members of the network to give us their thoughts on what open government means to them, why it’s important, where they have seen open government make a difference to the lives of citizens, and the reforms they would ask of government.

We’ll be publishing a series of profiles of members of the network every few weeks, so keep a lookout! First up is Ellen Broad from the Open Data Institute.

Ellen Broad, Open Data Institute

square_Ellen-Website-BioOpen government for me is about improved citizen engagement, government transparency and accountability, and more views, more voices being fed into the policy making process. Open government is a journey the UK’s been going on for over a decade now, with signposts including the introduction of FOI laws, introduction of the open government licence and commitments to open data.

Open government is important because it helps build trust in government, with citizens understanding more about how decisions are made by government and how their views can inform those decisions. It also enables much more than simply improved transparency and accountability – by investing in publication of government data s open data, for example, the government is unlocking opportunities for new business models and services using that data, and new discoveries.

An example of where I have seen open government make a difference to the lives of citizens, that citizens have most vividly felt, was possibly the release of transport data in real time/close to real time for use in journey planners. That’s I think what many people now rely on without possibly realising it’s supported by open data.

We have several reforms we would ask of government to achieve open government. Check out the ODI’s Open Data Roadmap for the UK: http://theodi.org/roadmap-uk-2015