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Glad You Asked: Open Data Questions

By: Richard Stapleton, Deputy Director, Web Communications and New Media Division

So we are liberating our data. So what? Tell me why this is good, one person writes. Tell me this is not bad, writes another.


This is good news for techies but would love for you to expand on how this benefits the average Joe (because no doubt it does!). 'Liberating data' is good pr but explaining how it can and will change lives by getting more people (public and NOW private sector) individuals using accurate data/ content sets to produce products to make our lives better, safer, and more healthy seems like a more important message. Maybe less catchy but more clear, I think anyway


We just happen to have a perfect example. U.S. News & World Report today (10/3) unveiled a web-based tool to help consumers find the best health insurance plans for their specific needs. Their Best Health Insurance Plans rates plans based on coverage and costs (both monthly and out-of-pocket), and makes it easy for users to find top-rated plans available to them based on where they live. The U.S. News tool pulls its information using the HHS HealthCare Finder API. It’s a textbook example of what the private sector can do with “liberated” government data. Read more about Open Data at HHS.


What other information do these 'warehouses' hold? Does HHS have my personal data? Creepy.


The ‘warehouses’ hold lots of data about people but none of it is personal, in the sense that someone could plug your name in and find information about you. The law closely protects what’s called “personally identifiable information.” So while people can look up the number of heart attacks in a year and can break that number down by age and gender and even locality, they cannot look up whether or not you personally have suffered an illness. Your privacy is protected.


10/4/2012 11:40 AM

Data can be so valuable to Health Care Professionals and Health Care Institutions who take the initiative to glimmer some sense to compiled data of any sort. With numbers to back one up, comes the financial benefit. However, we also know that data can be slanted, twisted and inaccurate at times. I have worked in health care since 1973. Seen many changes. I now ask...at what expense does technology replace or substitute for the provision of safe and caring direct care to the American people?

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