The real challenge around open data thus far, according to Daniel O’Neil, executive director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, has been the lack of a central figure who can organize everyone around a common goal that already enjoys widespread support. “I think the challenge is in having an institutional focus on the publication of data,” he said. “I think we’re at a point in the open government movement where there’s plenty of will to do the work.”
Challenges that produce new technology are made possible by a support structure, O’Neil said. There is very little opposition to the open data movement, he said, so it makes sense to legislate around such a common goal. “There are agencies that are chomping at the bit to publish data and they just don’t have the expertise or the staff or the time. What this legislation provides is a structure that allows for that … and I think that’s a good thing,” O’Neil said.