Infrastructure plan calls for governments to embrace open data

Open data critical for efficient transport systems, 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan argues

All Australian governments should adopt open data policies and work to ensure that software developers are able to get their hands on real-time data relating to the operation and performance of public transport networks, Infrastructure Australia has argued.

The recommendation to embrace open data is contained within the 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan, released today. The plan also advocates the eventual break-up and privatisation of NBN.

Residents of increasingly high-population, high-density cities will need to adapt to trips that involve more than one mode of transport. Public transport networks should adopt a timetable-free ‘turn up and go’ approach, the report advocates.

“Operators can assist this cultural change by ensuring passengers have access to mobile applications that enable them to navigate the changing network,” the document states.

“Operators now have access to large volumes of data regarding the real-time operation, use and performance of Australia’s transport networks,” it argues.

Making this data publicly available can allow app developers to offer real-time information on the quickest and most efficient method of getting from A to B.

Real-time transport applications have already improved transport in some Australian cities, the document says.

“There is scope to do much more, with most transport operators yet to make available all of the data they have access to,” it adds.

“Opportunities also exist to link the data of different operators so as to enable integrated trip planning tools.”

Read more: Government data deemed a ‘strategic national resource’

Wider application of open data policies under which the full release of data is standard will “ensure that Australia is fully capitalising on open access to transport data.”

Earlier this month the Bureau of Communications Research, which sits within the Department of Communications and the Arts, released a report analysing the potential of open government data in Australia.

The BCR concluded that open data could generate up to $25 billion per year (the equivalent of 1.5 per cent of the nation’s GDP).

Data held by the federal government is a “strategic national resource” according to a policy statement authorised last year by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The policy commits the government to an approach of open by default for non-sensitive data sets and to collaborating with researchers and the private sector to expand the use of government-collected data.

The release of the Public Data Policy Statement formed part of the government’s $1.1b innovation agenda.

The federal government's data.gov.au open data portal contains around 7200 datasets.

A number of state governments also have open data policies. Recently the NSW government announced it would boost availability of transport data through an ‘Open Data Hub’.

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