Public data are foundational to our democratic system. People need consistently high-quality information from trustworthy sources. In the new economy, wealth is generated by access to data; government's job is to democratize the data playing field. Yet data produced by the American government are getting worse and costing more. In Democratizing Our Data, Julia Lane argues that good data are essential for democracy. Her book is a wake-up call to America to fix its broken public data system.
Lane argues that we must rethink ways to democratize data; there are successful models to follow and new legislation that can help effect change. The private sector's data revolution--which creates new types of data and new measurements to build machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms--can be mirrored by a public sector data revolution characterized by attention to counting all who should be counted, measuring what should be measured, and protecting privacy and confidentiality. Just as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook have led the world in the use of data for profit, the United States can show the world how to produce data for the public good.
Lane calls for a more automated, transparent, and accountable framework for creating high-quality public data that would empower citizens and inspire the workforce that serves them. And she outlines an organizational model that has the potential to make data more accessible and useful. As she says, failure to act threatens our democracy.