Open Data in Practice

Moving beyond the rhetoric to critically evaluate the practical implications of open data for government and the wider community.

Open data involves the publication of government datasets on freely accessible online platforms for use by businesses, entrepreneurs, journalists, researchers and everyday citizens. This data is anonymised to protect the identities of the people it is about, and is usually published on online ‘portals’ or repositories under a creative commons attribution (CC-BY) licence so it is free to use, share, analyse and link with other data.

Australia is consistently ranked in the top countries for open data by widely cited comparative ranking tools. In 2016, it was ranked #2 on the OKI’s Global Open Data Index; and equal #5 on the Open Data Barometer. In 2013, the Australian government also joined the Open Government Partnership as a participating country. Across all three layers of government and within various government agencies there are various data reform projects underway.

Building on the seed-funded project Open Data for City Planning, this research aims to evaluate what attitudes workers within government agencies have towards open data, how prepared they are to open up their data, and what constraints or barriers prevent them from doing so.

It will consist of an online survey disseminated to government workers asking questions about their and their organisations’ attitudes towards open data. The research team identify a strong need for a survey of these workers/actors that moves beyond traditional measurements of open data that tend to focus on number of datasets published – which does not inherently lead to increased use of the data. The results of this survey will then be analysed and published in a report to be delivered to government, industry and academic stakeholders.

Through this survey, the project will examine:

  • What are the attitudes of government agency workers to open data, and what factors contribute to the successful implementation of open data policies and initiatives?
  • What are the indicators of open data maturity in the practices of data releasing agencies on the supply side across all levels of government?
  • What factors contribute to (or limit) inter-agency data sharing and public release?

This research will also build capacity for future research partnerships between the University of Melbourne research team, the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Strategic Communications, Engagement and Protocol Branch and other relevant stakeholders.

Research Team

Research Advisors

Open Data Survey Now Open, by Dale Leorke, Medium, 21 June 2018.

Presented at the Networked Society Symposium 2017 as part of the Digital Transformations of Society session, 27 October 2017.

Open Data Research Workshop, held at University of Melbourne 25 September 2017

'Ideology, Obsolescence and Preservation in Digital Mapping and Locative Art' by Suneel Jethani and Dale Leorke, The International Communication Gazette, 2013, pp.1-18.


This project is supported by a grant from the State Government Victoria. It builds on research previously funded through a Seed Funding Grant awarded by the Networked Society Institute, with contributions from the Research Unit for Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne.