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Rethinking data

Tom Burton: So, just thinking about the big data issue, one of the things often we talk about all the time, but Lets imagine if you’re the Prime Minister of Australia and you got the chance to think about data, what would be your high level thought for government?

Vivek Kundra: Well, I would say one would be the default setting of government needs to open, transparent, participatory and what I mean by that is there’s a whole host of data that the government own right now and you could unleash massive innovation on the economy if you democratize that data, it is the digital fuel of the 21st century.

So, you can get entrepreneurs to start building billion dollar company on top of that government data and we recognize that that data that’s been democratize will create value when there’s interception between public and private sector data, right?

So, if you think about even the data from the weather service or satellite that’s kind of available all of a sudden you get all this apps that have been built and companies that are worth billions of dollars that could not have existed without that government data.

Second is on fighting corruption. The ability to be able to see how your government is operating, how much money is being spent, real-time data on credit cards and where government employees are charging government credit cards. It will allow you to actually hold your government accountable.

Third the ability for agencies to start sharing data, right, in ways that will enable you to create seamless services, so that you can actually abstract the very notion of central government, state government and local government. If you’re entrepreneurial why should you have to get a license from your local government and the State and then the central government, right? If you’re applying for benefit why should you have to navigate the maze of government, when you have this open data and the ability to create this new generation of services, it fundamentally transforms not just the government, but also the economy because you can enable and unleash entrepreneurship.

Tom Burton: So for agencies sitting there and thinking yes I want to be a part of this, what advice do you have around the data proposition, because I think a lot of agencies are looking at it and they struggle to find a business case under the current way we think about it, to be honest. They struggle to find a business case to even put together an open set of data, so what’s your advice to them?

Vivek Kundra: I would say that’s the wrong approach to think about it, right, because it presumes you know the answers to all the problems. I think you need to approach it from a completely different lens which is you need to be able to believe in the principle that your government should be open, transparent and participatory. If you believe in that principle you need to recognise that you’ll put out that data and an entrepreneur somewhere in Australia will find amasing value.

I’ll give you an example in terms of their case in the United States. There was data that was put out by the Department of Labour and some folks were saying who are you, who will use this, it’s useless data. But this entrepreneur came in and created a company called BrightScope which is worth millions of dollars and they were able to actually use that data to score 410k plans. They had built a business out of it.

So part of it is to think about that data almost like a grocery store, and you have no idea what restaurants are going to be built, but you’re providing the raw ingredients to create innovation.

I think it’s not smart to think about it in terms of what is the right business case and how do I justify it.

Think about just health care data, right if you democratise that health care data, the ability then to build application that can allow you to compare outcomes before you walk into a hospital, so you could see what is the outcome if you get a knee replacement in this hospital ,versus another hospital. How did people rate this doctor versus another doctor? You create a level of transparency that will fundamental change the way services are delivered and frankly the economy.

Tom Burton: It’s been fascinating Vivek, thank you very much for your time and we’ve been very privileged to have you here today. Thank you and hope you enjoy your visit to Australia.

Vivek Kundra:Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.

Author Bio

The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.