You can have access to terabytes of "public" data, but it may be next to useless. That was one of the lessons of the recent "Aid Challenge 2010" Data Camp at the World Bank Institute which explored ways to use data to make development aid more effective.
Doug Hadden, Vice President/Products at the financial management software company FreeBalance, explained:
"The major difference between open and public data is [that with open data] you have the ability to re-use it. Data in document format is effectively useless. By making [data] open...people can analyze, compare, and benchmark it, and find patterns that you did not realize."
The day-long event -- a mixture of BarCamp, ignite talk, and hackathon -- brought together developers, data producers and visualizers, and practitioners and other members of the development community to give a big push to the gathering effort to bring more transparency to what governments do in their aid development programs.