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A new place for crime statistics in Victoria

Submitted on Thursday, 26th February - 23.55.

After a long conversation about the availability of crime statistics in Victoria, the new Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) commenced public operations on 1 January 2015. It is the agency responsible for reporting and releasing recorded crime statistics for Victoria.

The CSA will release year-to-date crime statistics each quarter, with the first release available on the CSA website from the 19th March 2015.. For more information on future releases please see the release calendar.

The CSA currently has an interesting interactive map that provides a snapshot of crime data in Victoria, and allows users to look at crime across the state by time period, offence type and location. This also enables a simple way to track trends.

The next phase of the CSA’s work involves developing a research agenda for 2015-17, which is currently underway.

The Research Agenda will be informed by:

  • A wide-ranging consultation with government, non-government and academic stakeholders that was conducted in the second half of 2014.
  • A review of recent and relevant criminological literature.

To have your say on the research agenda contact the CSA.    

The establishment of CSA continues the commitment by the Victorian Government to open up its data and make it available to the public.

What out for new data coming in March 2015.


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Improvements in Australia’s open data journey

Submitted on Tuesday, 27th January - 7.47.

The 2014 Global Open Data Index released in late 2014 ranks Australia number 5 in the world for openness up from number 9 in 2013. The UK was ranked number 1 in both 2013 and 2014.

Although the Global index shows an improvement in the Australian open data scene, there is still a long and complex journey ahead.

The areas where the Australian score was consistently dragged down were:

  • Not providing data in a machine readable format, to assist with its reuse;
  • Not having the data available in bulk; and
  • Not having the data up to date.

The data set that was considered to be the least open in Australia was Government spending.

The Global Open Data Index developed by Open Knowledge, provides an overview of the state of open data around the world.

The Index benchmarks open data by comparing ten datasets in each jurisdiction and assessing them against set criteria to determine their level of openness.

The datasets benchmarked are:

  1. Election Results (national)
  2. Company Register
  3. National Map (Low resolution: 1:250,000 or better)
  4. Government Spending (high level of spending by sector)
  5. Government Budget (detailed transactional level data)
  6. Legislation (laws and statutes)
  7. National Statistical Office Data (economic and demographic information)
  8. National Postcode database
  9. Public Transport Timetables (National)
  10. Environmental Data on major sources of pollutants (e.g. location, emissions)

The following questions examine technical openness:

  • Does the data exist?
  • Is the data in digital form?
  • Is the data available online?
  • Is the data machine-readable?
  • Is it available in bulk?
  • Is the data provided on a timely and up to date basis?

The following questions examine the legal status of openness:

  • Is the data publicly available?
  • Is the data available for free?
  • Is the data openly licensed?

Currently there are over 3500 Victorian Government data sets available on data.vic from which a number of applications have been developed, one example, GO is a simple app available on Apple iTunes and Google Play to let people in Melbourne know when their next train is leaving.  Do you have examples of how data has been used to develop applications or as part of research? We would love to you to share them with us here

Are you looking for a particularly data set that you can’t find?  You can suggest a data set and we will try and track it down for you.


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Is bigger data better?

Submitted on Tuesday, 18th November - 11.22.


The Mandarin has published an interesting critique of the concept of 'Big Data'. 

Cassandra Wilkinson of the The Centre for Independent Studies says that "big data is a solution looking for a problem":

"Unfortunately, many consultants are selling an idea that the hard and urgent work of improving our program design and delivery methodologies can be superseded by mashing up thousands of data sets to reveal “insights” which usually amount to general correlations like geo-location and socio-economic status which any experienced public servant could have predicted."

According to Ms Wilkinson, the most important thing is that data is fit-for-purpose:

"What we really need is small data... We need outcomes which are expected to be found absent or present in trackable data sets such as attendance at school, entry to hospital or entry into foster care...

Despite the massive changes in the sophistication of data, our challenge remains exactly as it always has been — connect the inputs to the outputs and the outputs to the outcomes."

These are interesting reflections for both creators and users of data. 

Data.Vic is keen to ensure that high value datasets are made available to the community. One of the best ways for users to help us to achieve this goal is to suggest datasets for publication using the Suggest a Dataset tool. These suggestions are provided to the appropriate department or agency for action, providing a clear signal about which datasets the community really needs.


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Opening government data - the reuse community

Submitted on Wednesday, 06th August - 6.58.

The demand that government should publish the data that it collects and generates in the course of its work comes from a number of sources. Transparency advocates see open Public Sector Information as a key plank of open government. Researchers in numerous fields can find uses for government data and there’s no doubt that improving the availability of data can increase efficiency within government by reducing duplication in information collection. Open data advocates also argue that there is a broader community with interest in this data and that benefits will flow from making it available to them. It may seem like an article of faith that this community exists but the experience of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Victoria is that it is very real.

In December 2013, the Open Knowledge Foundation and VicRoads held a meetup, which brought together government data custodians with over fifty data enthusiasts. A diverse group with interests including mapping, urban planning and transport safety came along to learn more about the data that is available and make suggestions about the data they’d like to see released. The evening generated a lot of enthusiasm, but the goal of data publication is not just interest, but reuse.

GovHack is a national hackathon that took place in eleven sites around the country between 11 and 13 July 2014. Over the weekend, teams worked with a huge range of data from local, state and federal government to create interactive tools, visualisations and pieces of data journalism. Some hacks make data more accessible or engaging, other hacks tackled specific challenges posed by the data providers, such as creating a dashboard of essential information for exploring Melbourne or helping people with accessibility needs navigate the city.

Helping these projects to have a life beyond the weekend is a further challenge, but GovHack organisers hope that as the community matures more teams will be able to work with data owners to bring these projects into a useable form. Even if the teams that created the hacks don’t want to keep working on the project, the fact that all entries must be open source means that others are free to develop a promising idea.

An event like GovHack generates a huge number of ideas, from the serious to the playful, in a short space of time. It also serves a broader purpose in increasing awareness of and interest in government data in the maker community and increasing understanding between data owners and consumers. Ultimately, building a collaborative relationship between government data custodians and the reuse community will help generate creative solutions to problems and give government data a life beyond the collecting agency.

Photo by Jordan Wilson Otto


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GovHack 2014

Submitted on Friday, 11th July - 16.10.

We anticipate some very interesting outcomes.

#GovHack #melbourne #ballarat

GovHack (see a national non-profit event that brings together 1300+ participants to collaborate on and experiment with (‘hack’) government data and new technologies and to conceive innovative and new applications for that data.

In Victoria, at sites in Melbourne and Ballarat, over 200 hackers will compete for State and National prizes.

The Victorian Government is a Principal sponsor and has partnered with the City of Melbourne and organisers, the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Data.vic is delighted to support GovHack 2014 with the release of brand new data including;

-        building permit data; (ie. seven years, >100,000 permits per year, and in bulk, comprising over 22 million data elements)

-        Victoria’s waterways data; (spatial boundaries, images, rules, zones and allowed use)

-        crashstats, speed zone and speed sign datasets.

Done well, hacks provide an opportunity to work with government data and create new innovation and ideation.

Doing well means maximising hackers knowledge of available data as well as building enthusiam and insights for its potential use. At a meet-up last month this and other Victorian data was showcased to registered GovHackers.

We anticipate some very interesting outcomes.

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Google Glass uses Melbourne Transport Timetable data

Submitted on Wednesday, 02nd April - 16.10.

I also note this news last week about more transport data with the announcement of the contractor for the PTV's new bus tracking system due to be delivered by June 2014. The Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder clearly stated his intentions to provide open access to the bus data.

Following the release of VictorianTransport Timetable data last month, there has been some interesting activity by innovators.

To update and add to the stats of last month's post about  Victorian Timetable data I am delighted to see the enthusiasm and innovation applied.

For example one Melbourne developer has taken the next step by creating a transport app for Google Glass.
A voice controlled app which tracks the wearer's location and when instructed shows which transport options are available to them. This is taking available technology to another level.

I'm on the look-out for more, so let me know about what you're building.

And, to update, since the release of the API data record there has been:

  • 4693 data record page views
  • more than 920 downloads of the API document, and
  • close to 119 API key requests

I also note this news last week about more transport data with the announcement of the contractor for the PTV's new bus tracking system due to be delivered by June 2014. The Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder clearly stated his intentions to provide open access to the bus data.


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Transport – PTV Timetable API Release Sets New High

Submitted on Friday, 14th March - 15.10.

Information updates will be posted on Data.Vic as and when they are received. 

The recent release of the PTV Timetable API has, not surprisingly, created the highest level of interest and activity for a single data release on Data.Vic.

In the 7 days since the release of the API data record we have seen:

  • Over 3500 data record page views
  • More than 700 downloads of the API document, and
  • Close to 100 API key requests

The popularity and power of transport data across the globe is indisputable. The Data.Vic site analytics for the PTV API prove that Victoria is no exception. Transport data, and the third party apps built from it, is the most effective and practical example of government data re-use.

It has been interesting to see the reaction to the release of the API in the flurry of conversations and comments on both Data.Vic and across social media. The general sentiment has been positive and welcoming of the release. There has been some discussion over options, including GTFS, and requests for database dumps. All comments and suggestions received are passed onto PTV for review.

PTV advise that other popular formats will follow. This initial release of timetable data via the PTV API allows for content to be created, updated and automatically released across multiple channels and complies with the Governments DataVic Access policy. The API file format is recognised globally as being the best format for releasing timetable data as it changes. PTV has advised that a major upgrade to their timetable management platform is underway to improve efficiencies and data administration. This will result in other data delivery options being made available, including GTFS.

Information updates will be posted on Data.Vic as and when they are received. 

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PTV Timetable API now available

Submitted on Friday, 07th March - 15.10.

Feedback is encouraged, so please feel free to make comments on the service.

The PTV Timetable API has been created to give the public direct access to Public Transport Victoria’s public transport timetable data. It is designed so that the raw timetable data is accessed in a dynamic way, ensuring that the data accessed is always the most up to date PTV has.

The API allows developers to query locations for scheduled timetable, line and stop data for all metropolitan and regional train, tram and bus services in Victoria (including NightRider). It also includes access to myki ticket outlet data. The PTV timetable API is the same API currently used by PTV for its website and smartphone apps.

Access to the API is available now from the data.vic

Feedback is encouraged, so please feel free to make comments on the service.

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Data Vic competition presents unlimited opportunities for innovative use of data

Submitted on Wednesday, 12th February - 15.10.

The Data Vic Competition is now open for registration and will close on 28 February 2014. The winners will be announced at the Connect Expo on 14 March 2014.

Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips is encouraging members of industry, academia, government and the general public to get creative in the Data Vic Competition by using data housed on 

The competition, an initiative between the Victorian Government and Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA), offers four prizes of $2,500, along with the opportunity to consult with the Victorian Government to further develop the winning projects and benefit from mentorship with members of SIBA.

Mr Rich-Phillips said this is a great opportunity for the Victorian community to discover more about

“ presents a wealth of opportunities to access government data and turn it into innovation, which will benefit Victorians and the broader community,” Mr Rich Phillips said.

“The competition also provides opportunities for other datasets not currently available through the Data.Vic directory to be discovered. The possibilities are endless.”

The competition aims to encourage users, creatives and visionaries to interact with, and gain a better understanding of, the untapped potential of the data.

The winning entries will showcase how government data can be used to serve a market need, or address industrial, environmental or community issues.
“This provides a great opportunity to discover new datasets and to work together to create both traditional and non-traditional applications for wider use and for the benefit of the Victorian public,” Mr Rich Phillips said.

The Data Vic Competition is now open for registration and will close on 28 February 2014. The winners will be announced at the Connect Expo on 14 March 2014.

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Open Data Barometer Report

Submitted on Wednesday, 06th November - 15.10.

The Open Data Barometer takes a multidimensional look at the spread of Open Government Data (OGD) policy and practice across the world. Combining peer-reviewed expert survey data and secondary data sources, the Barometer explores countries readiness to secure benefits from open data, the publication of key datasets, and evidence of emerging impacts from OGD.

The Barometer is a joint project of the Open Data Institute and World Wide Web Foundation, and forms part of the ongoing work to develop common assessment methods for open data within the Exploring the Emerging Impact of Open Data in Developing Countries project.


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