I’m pleased to read the Premier has committed to open information with a view to encouraging the public to provide solutions to problems, as reported in the Courier-Mail this morning:
CAMPBELL Newman has promised a New York-style era of open information to encourage private sector solutions to Queenslanders’ problems…
…After unveiling the plan at a Brisbane business lunch, Mr Newman told The Courier-Mail it would improve the Government’s transparency and accessibility.
“It will solve problems we didn’t know even existed,” he said. “And it will give us solutions that were staring us in the face, but we never saw were there.
“If we can open up this information, instead of people finding it frustrating to deal with the Government, they are actually involved in finding solutions to all sorts of things.”
Mr Newman said the release of information in New York even prompted the development of a broken parking meter app.
The Government could begin by providing researchers and analysts with access to the unit record data (without the names of individuals, of course) for two of the most useful data sets the Queensland Government has access to:
- the Minimum Obligatory Human Resource Information (MOHRI) database, which includes employment details on all Queensland public servants and could be used by analysts to monitor trends in front-line service versus bureaucratic fat cat numbers; and
- the Queensland Employee Injuries Database (QEIDB), which includes data on workers’ compensation claims across Queensland and could be used by analysts to monitor trends in such things as public service stress claims, which have always been unusually high – even in non-front-line jobs – compared with private sector stress claims.
While the Government currently makes some data available from these databases, it is typically not in the form that allows the identification of trends over time or for analysts to home in on specific Departments or industry sectors. Hence I see a need for much greater access by the public.
Also, the Government may wish to consider offering prizes to data analysts who identify useful patterns (leading to solutions to problems) in the data sets the Government makes available. I’m sure my old Treasury colleague Anthony Goldbloom’s company Kaggle would be able to assist here.