Leaders of the G8 countries today signed the Open Data Charter which sets out five principles to act on, with the nations committing to national plans for free government information flows.
The goal behind the ODC is to ensure data is freely available and readable, both by humans and machines. By doing so, governments hope to increase transparency but also to make governance more efficient and to spur innovation.
By 2015, the ODC signatories expect that all government data will be open by default, and published on a national portal so that it can be easily found and downloaded. A registry file listing data and metadata for the portal will be published and an application programming interface (API) is to be provided for developers as well.
The data will be released under open licenses to prevent lock-in and restrictions on information re-use.
Other principles in the ODC include using robust and consistent metadata to describe the actual data, and to publish a mapping of this. Data will also be fully described and ODC partners are expected to take into account feedback from users.
Many datasets such as company and business registers, geospatial information, financial materials, public transport timetables, health and education data and national statistics are expected to be released by the ODC countries.
Over the weekend, the G8 trade, tax and transparency event saw the launch of the Open Company Data Index in partnership with the OpenCorporates site. The OCDI promotes the opening of company registers around the world.
Speaking to the G8 plenary, World Bank managing director Carolyn Anstys also kicked off the Open Contracting Partnership, which aims to provide effective disclosure for public contracts.
While not part of the G8 ODC initiative, in May this year, Australia said it would join the Open Government Partnership which asks participants to commit to freely available open data so as to provide greater transparency for the public.
The Group of Eight heads of governments are currently meeting in Northern Ireland to discuss current affairs and the world economy.