The G20 Open Data Plan against corruption

The G20 Leaders established the Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) at the Toronto Summit in 2010 in recognition of the significant negative impact of corruption on economic growth, trade and development. The work of the ACWG has been guided by two-year action plans that include commitments by G20 countries to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Still, at the end of 2014, corruption continues to represent a significant threat to global growth and financial stability.

The ACWG recognizes that promoting greater transparency and integrity in the public sector is essential to preventing the misuse or diversion of public funds, which can have a significant negative impact on economic growth and development. The G20 must continue to lead by example in this area by ensuring that government agencies, policies, and officials model international best practices for public transparency and integrity.

For that, the new 2015-16 G20 Anti-Corruption Implementation Plan that has just been ratified in the last Leader’s summit in Brisbane includes different areas of action with specific commitments, including several focused on Open Data. More specifically:

The ACWG has identified open data, public procurement, whistleblower protections, immunities from prosecution, fiscal and budget transparency, and standards for public officials as main issues affecting the public sector transparency and integrity which merit particular attention in 2015-16.

What’s the problem?

Open data initiatives play an important role in promoting public sector transparency and accountability, and can also have significant benefits for the private sector. In particular, open data helps businesses to assess risks and opportunities in different markets so they can make better investment decisions. Open data also gives citizens better visibility of the flow of public money across borders, and enhances public debate on the use of public money.

The G20 value add

Building on open data initiatives developed in other fora (e.g. the G8 Open Data principles), the G20 will lead by example in promoting and implementing international best practices on open data.

Links to the G20 broader agenda

Open data has important benefits for the wider G20 agenda, for example, with regard to investment by empowering the private sector to make better investments decisions.

Specific commitments in the current G20 implementation plan

  1. The ACWG will prepare a G20 compendium of good practices and lessons learned on open data and its application in the fight against corruption.
  2. The ACWG will prepare G20 Open Data Principles, including identifying areas or sectors where their application is particularly useful and taking into account different national legal frameworks.
  3. G20 countries will complete self assessments of their open data frameworks and initiatives, with reference to the G20 Open Data Principles, and consider next steps.

The new Open Government Partnership Open Data Working Group

Governments are increasingly creating new open data initiatives and they are the most popular Open Government Partnership commitment so far. Still, the potential of Open Data and its implications for governance are only starting to be articulated.

The mission of the OGP Open Data Working Group is to hold the promise of radically transforming the way government and societies work together to analyze and solve challenges; helping OGP governments implement their commitments and develop more ambitious and innovative action plans related to open data.

Open Government Partnership

More specifically, the new Open Data Working Group aims to:

  • Serve as a guiding voice on open data issues to help OGP governments implement their action plans and develop ambitious new commitments.
  • Increase awareness of open government data issues across the OGP.
  • Amplify and broaden the evidence base for open data reforms.
  • Gather and strengthen existing resources.
  • Engage with the broader global open data community.

Participation in the group is open to all OGP countries and civil society organizations working on open data issues. I was invited to participate on behalf of OpenKratio, a citizens’ group that promote Open Government and Open Data values within the society and the only Spanish representation in the group so far.

The working group first convened on the side of the OGP Summit in London last October. Topics that were discussed during the meeting included:

  1. Open Data measurement – the need to better understand the impacts of open data.
  2. Capacity building – what’s yet to be done and were are the gaps.
  3. Data standards – how to cross-link between information silos to achieve greater impact.
  4. Developing and implementing stronger open data commitments – is there a need for a common set of principles?

There was also a formal launch in a public event as part of the really interesting OGP summit general agenda, which included several high-level participants from governments and civil society, such as Tim Berners-Lee (Founding Director of the Web Foundation; President and Co-Founder of the Open Data Institute) and Beth Noveck (Professor of The Gov Lab, New York University).

This panel explored the current reality of open data implementation, drawing upon early findings from the Open Data Barometer study, and how to move faster to close the gap between rhetoric and reality to unlock the real potential of open data.

The group is currently working on a more specific concept note that will drive the group work in the future on the basis of the feedback and input from the first meeting. Stay tuned for the next steps of the Group during the following months.

Building the foundation for an Open Data Directory

This post was first published at the ePSI Platform and the Open Knowledge Foundation blog.

Open (Government) Data as it is understood nowadays can still be considered a new concept. It started to gain traction worldwide since the Obama memo in early 2009 and the launch of a few months later. Following successful leading examples of the US and UK governments we have seen Open Data flourishing all over the world over the last three years. More than two hundred Open Data catalogs have been identified so far.

But still, it’s not always clear how to deliver good solutions and many questions remain unanswered. In order to build sustainable Open Data initiatives in a varied range of countries a broader view to address challenges is needed. New and existing initiatives willbenefit from shared knowledge and will also produce a range of resources that should be published in a freely and open way for others to reuse.

As the Open Data movement is growing worldwide; the number of available resources is also increasing. The scarcity of only 3-4 years ago is ending but the resources are appearing in disparate places and formats, sometimes difficult to find and share. There is a pressing need to compile and document existing resources that are verified, trustworthy, comparable, and searchable.

The Open Data Directory

Upon discussions with many in the Open Data community, an initial analysis of their own project needs and preliminary research on existing public resources, the Web Foundation believes that the community at large would benefit from a central entry point to Open Data related resources at a neutral source, the Open Data Directory (ODD).

This ODD will help to produce clear evidence base of the benefits of Open Data holding a wide range of resources types such as: use cases, case studies, stories and anecdotes, methodologies, strategies, business cases, papers, reports, articles, blog posts, training materials, slide sets, software tools, applications andvisualisations. The directory will not focus on compiling a vast number of references, instead it will give priority to high-quality references endorsed by the Open Data community.

As a first step towards the ODD, we are making public the Use Cases and Requirements Draft in order to get comments from the wide community, not only on the content of the document itself but also on the overall idea of the ODD. We’ve published it as a Google Document with comments turned on. This is a tool for you, the Open Data community, so suggestions, feedback and comments are very welcome. The extended deadline for submitting comments is: April 29th, 2013.

How to Improve the Best Open Data Site?

The World Bank Data initiative has asked for feedback about what we would like to change on their Open Data site.

This is a tough question as I personally think that, for many reasons, they already own the best Open Data site in the world so far. From tons of quality data to great searchdeveloper and visualization tools, as well as a variety of communication, dissemination and training resources. They have even explored places that others still consider inhospitable. It is really difficult to find some room for improvement, anyway, we can make a wish, so here is mine.

A community meeting place at the World Bank Data site

As all we know, just putting data online is not enough to get it used. Efforts on outreach, community building and engagement are always required, as well as designing for participation, allowing multiple kinds of contributions and letting people contribute in multiple ways. Support conversation around the data and join actively that conversation contributing with the World Bank expertise will increase value, connectivity and the overall network impact derived from the ability of participants to affect each other.


This is why my wish is a thematic space where the stakeholder community can join the World Bank in decision making, building skills and make real contributions. Open Data need to be developed by an amazing variety of people with varying interests and incentives. It is not just about government, business, academic and certain institutions, but also about individuals, nonprofits or any other informal group of people that have already proved to be instrumental in its operation and growth. For me this is the only missing piece to complete the Open Data building blocks jigsaw at the World Bank.

I am aware of the great community building stuff that the World Bank has already put in place, as well as apps competitions that challenge developers to come up with prototypes to show data potential or discussion groups to support them. But we need to get further into the Open Data engagement scale and be able to create an ecosystem devoted to lead to useful and sustainable tools or services based on data.

Of course, this is not only about letting everybody play, but also about playing nice and getting others to involve in the game as a unique team. That’s not an easy task and, apart from online tools and resources, will require special leadership, but I am sure that the World Bank can find it within its great staff.

The European Commission steps forward on Open Data and PSI re-use

As so often repeated these days, data is the new fuel for the digital age. Considering the wide spectrum of opportunities Open Data may bring, it is no surprise that the EC plans how to keep shaking up the way public authorities share data. The following lines aim to be an overview of the EC developments so far on Open Data and Public Sector Information, as well as a review of future planned actions.

Logo European Commission

A Landmark Event: Data Workshop at the Digital Agenda Assembly 2011

The EC organized the first Digital Agenda Assembly in June 2011 to discuss advances with regards to the Digital Agenda objectives for Europe. With that aim, twenty-four thematic workshops and two plenary sessions were conducted. One of those events was the Open data and Re-use of Public Sector Information workshop, where different types of stakeholders congregated to collaborate with the Commission on developing its strategy for Open Data in the EU.

Khalil Rouhana (DG Information Society and Media Content & Cognitive Systems of the European Commission) made several key announcements in relation to Open Data policies in the EU during that workshop. We will focus briefly on these in the forthcoming sections.

The role of European Open Data portals

Open Data portals are aimed to be a key referral of the digital infrastructure bound for facilitating access to and re-use of Public Sector Information. Open Data portals have been -and are being- created around many EU Member States at all governmental levels. Given that the quantity of data published so far is relatively limited as compared to that potentially available for publication, the EC plans to publish two new central Open Data portals to facilitate access to European Open Data: screenshoot

  • The European Commission Open Data portal, a portal easing the search for Commission data, as well as other EU institutions, bodies and agencies to citizens and industry. The portal, currently under developement, is expected to be released soon in 2012.
  • Pan-European Open Data portal, to make data from EU, national, regional and local administrations more easily available and re-usable. A prototype is expected to be released in 2013.

Review of the Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information

First adopted on November 17, 2003 and by now completely transposed to all member States, this original PSI Directive provided a minimal harmonisation of rules and procedures across the EU in order to facilitate cross-border re-use of the PSI. A proposal for a revision of the Directive, which is currently being discussed by the Union legislator, was presented in December 2011 to further open up the market for services based on PSI by:

  • Including new bodies in the scope of application of the Directive such as libraries, museums and archives.
  • Determining limits on the fees that can be charged by the public authorities at marginal costs.
  • Introducing independent oversight re-use rules in the Member States.
  • Making standard machine-readable formats for information held by public authorities.

Other Meaningful Previous Steps

That first Open Data and PSI workshop was a landmark event both in Open Data and PSI policies in the EU as well as in the way that the EC communicates these policies and interacts with the different stakeholders. Nevertheless, several steps forward were also made by the EC on the Open Data and PSI matters before this first Digital Agenda Workshop, such as:

December 2011: The Communication on Open Data

Following the first Digital Agenda workshop, the Commission adopted a Communication on Open Data by December 2011. In this Communication, the Commission proposes several actions to accomplish the objectives previously announced in the aforementioned DAE workshop:

  • To create a portal site for Commission-held information aiming at an expansion to other EU institutions, bodies and agencies at a later stage.
  • To work with the Member States on data formats and interoperability between existing sites.
  • To create a Pan-European umbrella site linking information held by EU institutions, bodies and agencies and by Member States.

First Update: New Data Workshop at the Digital Agenda Assembly 2012

In June 2012, the Digital Agenda Assembly 2012 housed a new Data Workshop where the European Commission Open Data and PSI roadmap was presented again, mainly:

It is also remarkable to recall the European overall bet for data handling, Open Data and Open Access, not only by Open Data policies and a regulatory strand (PSI Directive), but also by means of research, innovation and ICT deployment pilots and portals implemented through financial support instruments such as the FP7 and CIP-ICT-PSP 2011-13 R&D&I multiple programmes, that are currently almost gone but will have continuity with the new Horizon 2020 programme.

Horizon 2020 logoSome of the questions that lead this Workshop where:

European Data license

There is a strong need to investigate requirements for an European Data License, given that if we want to encourage use and reuse of data across European borders, there may be the need for a single cross-border license. Several questions then arise: Will one of the existing licenses do the job, or do we need a new one? If we do need a license, is there an obvious choice, or is something new required?

Release of Core Data

A first-priority task will be to identify and evangelise Open release of Core Reference Data, given that European Member States have already huge quantities of valuable data. Some of this data is now becoming freely available in certain Member States, but too much of it remains locked up behind odd rules and unsustainable cost-recovery models. It is also difficult to compare data between Member States.

Future Steps

In addition to all the work in progress that has been previously mentioned, and as announced by the Vice President of the Commission Mme Neelie Kroes, the EC also plans to continue developing their European strategy for the publication and reuse of public sector data from European institutions and the Member States, as established with Commission’s commitment to turn public data into business included in action 3 of the Digital Agenda for Europe Communication.

Some highlights of the future planned distributed actions include:

Services for publication, access and reuse of EU Open Public Data

A series of services will be purchased aimed at supporting the EU-wide availability of PSI and Open Data from public bodies at different governmental levels. These services will include:

  • The provision of data preparation, transformation and publication services, with a commitment to publish at least 15.000 new data sets from all EU Member States in machine readable formats, including Linked Open Data technologies.
  • Training services in the area of Open Data, in particular to favour the uptake of Linked Open Data technologies by public bodies within the European Union.
  • Provision of an IT advisory and consultancy service in the area of Open Data, and in particular on Linked Open Data technologies, including specific software development tasks.

The Open Data Reuse Incubator

Financial support instruments will continue to support several Open Data developments, notably, the FP7-ICT Work programme 2013 will help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative applications in structured and unstructured digital content management and, particularly, in the reuse of open data through an Open Data Incubator.

This Incubator will establish an environment to:

  • Solicit open data reuse ideas from the general public and conduct a European wide open data reuse information campaign.
  • Publish and manage regularly scheduled calls for SMEs to submit mini-proposals to be funded for a period between six and twelve months.
  • Create a computing infrastructure where the winning mini-proposals will find accurate and up-to-date versions of the data they need for their services.
  • Establish a mechanism for connecting open data demand and supply by systematically contacting European public bodies for their open data and assisting them in the efficient and sustainable publication of such data.

Harmonization of Open Data initiatives

In response to the increasing clamour in search of harmonising Open Data initiatives, the European Union is financing projects such as “Harmonising Open Data in the Mediterranean through better access and Reuse of Public Sector Information – Homer”, which aims mainly to set up an effective strategy able to harmonise Open data policy and portals across the Mediterranean area, supporting regional and local governments.Homer Logo

New paths for growth

As important as political, structural and educational efforts, uncovering new paths for growth, in which Open Data possibilities about a given topic are explored, is also critical in order for Open Data and PSI re-use to advance. Some Open Data and PSI topics that are currently being explored by the European Commission are:

  • Cultural Data: The EU’s digital libraries initiative sets out to make all Europe’s cultural and scientific resources accessible to all, and preserve them for future generations. In this area it should be pointed out that recent Europeana’s move to CC0 is a step change in open data access, given that releasing data from across EU country sets an important new international precedent and a decisive move away from the world of closed and controlled data.


  • Smart Cities: One of the greatest challenges facing the EU is how best to design and adapt cities into smart intelligent and sustainable environments. Smart urban technologies can make a major contribution in tackling urban challenges by breaking down boundaries between the sectors involved, ensuring adaptable and interoperable solutions and finding a way to use data transparently and openly, without breaching privacy.
  • Open Science: The European Commission outlined measures to improve access to scientific information produced in Europe. Broader and more rapid access to scientific papers and data will make it easier for researchers and businesses to build on the findings of public-funded research, boosting Europe’s innovation capacity and give citizens quicker access to the benefits of scientific discoveries. The Commission will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020.

Networking, awareness raising and Dissemination

As seen from the last Digital Agenda Assembly Open Data conclusions above, networking, awareness raising, dissemination and outreach activities are considered key elements for the Open Data and PSI re-use market success at the EU. Complementary to legislation, the Commission supports deployment, support, awareness raising, and networking actions such as:

  • The Public Sector Information Group, an PSI expert group which includes representatives of 27 Member States that was set up by the EC to exchange good practices and initiatives supporting public sector information re-use and discuss and recommend solutions to challenges such as charging, exclusive agreements, development indicators for measuring public sector information and technology.
  • LAPSI, The European Thematic Network on Legal Aspects of Public Sector Information to become the main European point of reference for high-level policy discussions and strategic action on all legal issues related to the access and the re-use of the PSI, namely in the digital environment.
  • The European Data Forum, with a first meeting in Copenhagen (June 2012), and the next scheduled for Dublin in April 2013. It is a forum in which business actors, including a large number of SMEs, researchers and other stakeholders can come together to work out what a data economy really looks like.

The European Public Sector Information Platform

The EPSI Platform is Europe’s One-Stop Shop on Public Sector Information (PSI) Re-use which objective is the promotion of a dynamic PSI re-use market across the EU, a place where the different stakeholders can get all the relevant information about the European and international PSI re-use developments, emerging good practices, legislation, legal cases, examples of PSI re-use products and services, etc.

EPSI PlatformThe Platform provides news on European PSI developments, legal cases around re-use, good practices and examples of new products and services, covering the main PSI re-use markets. It follows and reports on a daily basis the developments of the PSI re-use/open-data/government-data policies, initiatives and/or projects in the EU and elsewhere.

The first Open Data Olympics in history

The Olympic Games is the world foremost sports in which thousands of athletes from more than 200 nations participate in a variety of competitions concentrated in a few weeks, given rise to a huge amount on data.

This will be the 26th Summer Olympics and the third in London – the only city ever to have three games and the first to have an Open Data Olympics thanks to the superb data driven journalism work by The Guardian Data Store.

London 2012 Olympics data

As soon as the first Olympic event begins, we are assaulted by data of every kind – results, medal tables or venue details; and that’s without the statistics-based stories we will see on transport, logistical challenges or tourism.

It’s a feast of numbers, but where can you get the key facts? The London 2012 Olympics data site is the answer. There you will find key data from top sources in a format you can use to develop your own applications if you want, plus great visualisations from the Guardian’s graphics team.

Medals and medalists visualization

From every Olympic medal and medalist visualized, including every alternative interpretation you can imagine, to the full list of Olympic athletes, without forgetting about the Olympic spendings.

  • Which countries have won the most Olympic medals? Who has won the most too?
  • What would happen if you look at medal tables by population size, or GDP – or even compared to the number of athletes in each team?
  • Where is the Olympics money coming from – and where’s it being spent?

All these questions and much more have now their answers at London 2012 Olympics data site, and that’s just the start, as The Guardian data crew will be adding more every day. What else would you like to see? Let them know at

So, enjoy the world’s first Socialympics that will be remembered as the most connected and Open Olympic Games in history. As Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor, tweeted from stage from the middle of opening ceremony:

This is for everyone – Tim Berners-Lee

OGP Member Countries are betting on Open Data

Open Data enables Transparency and Accountability and this is why it is an important component of every Open Government. As a sign of the aforementioned, if we do a review on each of the country commitments at the Open Government Partnership we discover that 28 of the total 55 country members have explicitly included Open Data as part of them.

Open Data Government Commitments

Here we have an overview of what each country commitments include according to the OGP website as per today:


The National Agency for Information Society is establishing a governmental portal in the open data format. This portal will initially include data for daily expenses by all central institutions and agencies and the National Postal and Electronic Communications Authority database.

The National Statistics Institute (INSTAT) will also implement on its long term strategy the Open Data format for its database and standardize the entire process of publishing the public sector’s statistical data.


Catalogue of Public Data and Information provided on the Internet by agencies and entities of the Federal Public Administration. The catalogue will identify and compile in one document all public information available on selected agencies.

In adittion, a new Government partnership with W3C Brazil was born to stimulate and build capacity of the national and sub national governments to publish Open Data.


Bulgaria’s strategy is currently focused on several actions related to economical data:

  • The web site of the Council of Ministers provides public access to the database with all concession contracts granted in Bulgaria both at national and local levels.
  • Enhance the public use of the information system for management and monitoring of the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Funds.
  • Publish data on Government spending on a daily basis.


Their Open Government Strategy has three main streams: Open Information, Open Data, and Open Dialogue.

The country has launched an Open Data Portal pilot project in 2011 which now has more than 272,000 datasets from 20 departments and which has already resulted in over 100,000 dataset downloads since its launch.

Their future commitments include:


They will develop an Open Government Portal by the end of 2012 that will centralize several initiatives – Transparency, Participation and Public Data – on a unified platform to facilitate their understanding and use by citizens.

Public Servants will also be instructed on Open Government standards and how to promote data availability.


The Open Data portal is a pilot project in which four Government agencies participate providing unified and open access to all data published by them for access by citizens, educational institutions and businesses.

The final objective is to work on Guidelines so that all Government agencies will publish and disseminate data on their various individual web pages. The Open Data site will become a mechanism for coordination and instruction on the access and use of data.


The accessibility of local budget contents will be increased by giving recommendations and instructions to local and regional self-government units on publishing key budgetary documents on their websites and publishing guidebooks for citizens.

Access to information on expending public resources and contents of relevant registers will be improved in the field of political activity and electoral campaign financing, public procurement, television and media services, state property management, payments executed through Treasury Single Account, NGO financial statements and timely publishing of regional and local representative bodies’ sessions’ agendas and materials.


Open public data is an important digital resource which can be used in the development of commercial products, to create better and smarter public sector information and services, to disseminate knowledge and insight, and to enhance transparency and democracy. This is why Denmark has renewed their efforts to Open Government Data.
It is also important to rethink the way key data is distributed across the public sector in order to ensure that data can be accessed in one place and is easily and consistently available for re-use by all public authorities.


Make maximum use of Open Data opportunities is one of the main challenges for the country along with public services integration and providing new communication channels.

The development of public services to grant access to public sector data in a form that can be machine-readable is one of the main goals of the Action Plan.


Open government data is a tremendous resource that is as yet untapped and the Government is committed to open up this data.

Informal partnerships will be fostered among the actual stakeholders of Open Data with the purpose to provide applications and services that have measurable positive effects on people’s lives, inspire innovation and stimulate financial growth.

A couple of real examples are:

  • Operating for less than 20 months, has succeeded in providing savings of more than 20M Euros for the public administration (data re-use), and has aided hundreds of SMEs, engineers, and researchers in their work.
  • The Open Taxation Data initiative aims to improve the accountability and have published extensive statistical data from the year 2000 onward. In addition, they has made available on a daily basis each regional tax office’s outstanding and has handled cross-checking cases.


The efforts towards poverty reduction and the prison system have been constantly receiving allegations for mis-targetting and data rigging. Two key Open Data actions were taken to improve transparency:

  • Bringing more transparency and accountability to poverty reduction interventions was aimed to ensure that beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to by involving public participation in the process.
  • An initiative has been launched to make prisons information widely available to public. Such information will help the public to scrutinize prison system’s conducts by comparing data provided by other institutions.


The Government of Israel is committed to freedom of information, and to promoting transparency and accessibility to data and information produced in the public sector.

Since December 2011, they worked in cooperation with the Partnership’s Networking Mechanism to obtain comments from international organizations, as well as experts from the academic world, Open Data entrepreneurs and the Government of Croatia.


The first national Open Government Strategy was centred on three main axes:

  • Open Data and applications.
  • Public Administration 2.0.
  • Government Cloud.

Government launched the National Open Data Portal, which publishes the dataset catalogue and the smartphone app catalogue. The opening up of data is also being supported through several other initiatives:

  • The open data guidelines, which provide guidance on legislative issues, how to open a dataset, technical aspects and useful descriptions of the national catalogue.
  • Weekly online seminars (webinars) to introduce, analyse and present relevant experiences.
  • Definition of and support for the adoption of the Italian Open Data License (IODL).
  • Apps4Italy, a challenge to promote Open Data reuse through applications and creative data processing.

Their future commitments include a strategy for Open Data enhancement and a new Transparency Portal.


Kenya was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to have an Open Data portal. This initiative, supported by the World Bank and other partners, makes key government data freely available to the public through a single endpoint.


Freedom of information has been ensured to provide access to information from Public Administration and initial prerequisites have been created for data re-use in the meaning of the open data system.


Through the interoperable open data mechanism, the Government will strive to promote the integration of processes related to digital services and the use of common platforms and information systems in order to foster the use of raw databases by citizen.


Open Data is one of the key pillars of the Governance e-Transformation agenda. The Open Government Data portal was launched in April 2011, and the Open Data Initiative was shortly institutionalized through the Prime Minister’s Directive. In February 2012, according to Prime Minister’s Indication, every central public institution assigned a person responsible for Open Data that form the Open Government Data Working Group.

Their commitments include the development of the Open Data portal into a single point to all government data and ensuring the re-use of public sector information.


The Ministry of Finance posts monthly and quarterly analytical data on generated revenues, expenditures, public debt and deposits on its website. All draft laws and strategies are also posted on the website.

Ministry of Finance publishes monthly Macroeconomic Review, a publication that keeps track of the trends of macroeconomic and fiscal indicators on monthly level. The idea originated from the need of users of data and analyses for brief and comprehensive reviews. Budget transparency remains a challenge for some spending units.


Their focus is on improving public service provision, strengthening citizenship, and using the opportunities that Open Data offers for service provision and economic growth and, at the same time, paying attention to the issue of transparency.

Their commitments include a programme to enhance accessibility and facilitating reuse of government information carrying out different actions like:

  • Maintenance and ongoing development of the Open Data portal.
  • Eliminating legal, technical and organisational obstacles for the reuse of Government information.
  • Establishing an Open Data knowledge network to develop best practices.


Within the next year period the Government will craft a roadmap for the development of a Single Portal for Government Information, which complies with basic Open Data standards.

República Dominicana

Will make an inventory of governance indicators, which will be open to the public, and a query tool for them. The commitment links with the Action Plan in its compromise to increase the information on governmental activities and its contribution to citizen’s participation.

By the end of the project, the future Government website will be the most important source of public statistics and data.


The National Action Plan tackles the Open Government concept from the perspective of two pillars: public access to Open Data and the offering of public eGovernment services.

The country is committed to facilitate public access to open data through several actions that include: public CIOs, regulatory needs, inventory of datasets, pilot projects, uniform publishing formats, stimulate the markets, consult public information needs and monitor the initiative.

Slovack Republic

Their Open Data Portal is not only a standard website providing various data. It is a catalogue of available public administration data that will be accessible and provided in a standardized form to enabled further computer processing, either automated or through development of applications to be used directly by citizens.

Their commitments also include:


Has launched its Open Data website, singled out as the most user-friendly Open Data portal in the European Union, a prize awarded by LAPSI.

The goal is to stimulate access to the information in the hands of our public administrations and its re-use, in the conviction that these public data represent economic and social assets that should be made available to the private sector.


They have currently ongoing work to define the next generation strategy for Open Data and public services in which Government innovation will be driven by external partners in combination with Open Data.

Full implementation of the IATI standard and engaging in the Open Aid Partnership are also included as specific commitments.

United KingdoM

One of the key reference initiatives in the Open Data World and also co-chair of the Open Government Partnership from next year.

The UK has one of the most ambitious Open Data Agendas and is committed not only to make data open, but to establish mechanisms to promote and collate feedback from those actually using the data.

Some of their key commitments include:


The site is a space that contains all data made public by every Government agency, making them accessible to everyone.

The goal is to have established an official data catalogue by November of 2012, along an Open Data community and manuals addressed to the different stakeholders: Civil Society Developers and the Citizenship in general.

United States

Other of the key reference initiatives worldwide has issued a memorandum requiring Federal enforcement agencies to make publicly-available compliance information easily accessible, downloadable, and searchable online.

As agencies developed their Open Government Plans, they made unprecedented amounts of information available and easily accessible to the public, in part through a centralized government platform. This platform, designed in large part to provide people with information that they can readily find and use, now gives the public access to over 390,000 high value agency data sets on such diverse subjects as auto safety, air travel, air quality, workplace safety, drug safety, nutrition, crime, obesity, employment, and health care.

Too few or a lot?

Given the results we can conclude that Open Data is without doubt an important topic in relation to Open Government but, how important?

Having 28 countries with Open Data commitments of the total of 55 could looks like a low percentage (about a 50%), but we may also have into consideration that 20 of the 55 country members are still working on their commitments and have not yet submitted them, so that leave us with a total of 28 countries that bet on Open Data among the total of 35 that have already submitted their commitments. That’s now an 80% that support Open Data, a number that indicates how important Open Data is becoming in the Open Government global agenda.

Let’s hope that the remaining countries will also incorporate Open Data to their respective Agendas soon.

State of the art on Open Data in Spain

This article was first published in Spanish.

Last week we assisted to a new edition of the Open Data initiatives meeting in Spain in which the state of openness of information in the country was discussed through a travel across the existing initiatives.

Government Envision

In similar way to the conclusions of the recent European Digital Agenda meeting, it was made quite clear that Open Data is an important area of future, since reuse is considered one of the principal axes on the road to an efficient and top-quality Public Management and for a more democratic management through which citizens get reconnected with.

Sharing data with citizens and businesses is also a tool for transparency and to foster economic activity, as well as a logical exercise in which the focus of information management will go back to the citizens, who are the natural owners. Thanks to the promotion of the future Spanish Law on Transparency, cost savings, an improved transparency and increased competitiveness are also expected, as well as the creation of new services.

Return of Investment

The debate opened with the question of why we are not reaching yet the economic return predicted by the MEPSIR and other similar studies. The conclusion seems to be that it is necessary to stimulate the market, which at times seems somewhat lethargic, and put more emphasis on citizens’ needs when prioritizing what must be opened first.

It is considered that a number of sensitive data (crime, health, etc.), to whose publication might be more reluctant the Administration, might be precisely those that have greater potential for value creation, however it is estimated that turnover for the data already available, such as cadastral records, official bulletins and more, is currently around 200 million Euros.

The Figures of Open Data in Spain

Data from the 2012 infomediary sector characterization study in Spain that will be published by ONTSI in the next days show us a universe of 150 companies that generate between 3,700 and 4,000 skilled and quality jobs.

With a total turnover of between 330 and 550 million € and the cultural sector contributing 10% of total, if we also consider the potential synergies between Open Data and the digital content industry, business figures could reach € 50,000 million, that is 5% of GDP in Spain.

Another interesting fact is that 87% of the data reused by businesses comes from Central Government and 45% from dedicated Open Data portals, being those confirmed as a useful mechanism to encourage reuse. From these figures one can conclude that there is still much room for growth, not only with the release of new data, but also by adding other regional and local Government initiatives.

Social Value and the Culture of Data

General sensation is that social value of Open Data is low at present due to the type of data that is being opened, but we must also take into account that barriers between social and economic value is rather diffuse.

One of the greatest barriers for the penetration of Open Data in society that has been detected on a recurring basis is the poor culture of data in the country.

To overcome this barrier the Open Data should be a natural part of the administrative procedure itself. The information should be reusable by default and that should be its natural state, giving public information back to the society which is its natural owner. The opening of data should be considered as a normal, everyday act and not an exception. That would be the best way to create a real culture of data.

The most open is not who more data publish, but who closes the least – Ivan Sanchez.

Citizens should be able to use the data that is necessary to generate value in a day-to-day basis, but require that information and make good use of it is also a citizenship responsibility. You need to create a continuous cycle of awareness, training and release of data, together with closer actions that make possible to generate true stories from data.

On the other hand, if you do not know about the existence of some data, the need is likely to never come. So, you also have to be proactive in publishing, or at least make an exercise of make an inventory of the data and publish the results, as in the case of Navarre. To give more visibility to data also helps.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses – Henry Ford.

Open Data Community in Spain

Spain can also be considered one of the leading European Open Data countries with a large number of initiatives underway and a very active community. Proof of this is the intense online debate that took place in a complementary way to the meeting. There are also some interesting initiatives emerging from the Spanish community that have had great success, as the Open Data Decalogue. However, there is a general feeling of weak organization, slow advance and the existence of different tendencies.

You could say that, compared with the rest of Europe, Spain is not misplaced, so we should not be alarmist. But, given the current position of the country, the aim should be to aspire to be part of the leadership. For that we need to improve the community weaknesses and unify initiatives, a big challenge that remains unresolved also at the European level.

Standardization and normalization

Although the technology component is not the most important within an Open Data initiative, it is a recurrent topic every year, which is logical because we must not forget that Internet has been the facilitator of Open Data, and that the previous openness and participation initiatives have failed due to lack of sustainability.

We wouldn’t be talking about Open Data without the open platform that bring us Internet.

It is considered that we still miss the right tools to manage data properly and that right now current initiatives are too focused on open data portals exclusively. The origin of the problem might be that Public Services have not been planned to share data efficiently, although there are some initiatives, like the case of GenCat which, in a similar way to the new U.S. openness policy, are making good progress towards an ideal open-by-default model through a policy of unified APIs open to the public.

Standardization is also key to progress. Collaboration mechanisms between the Administration, Private Businesses and Citizens should be enabled to create or adopt common standards in areas such as vocabularies, access methods or data sets priorities. In this normalization process interoperability is a key factor, so the use of standards to ensure technological neutrality is essential.

We need also to stress again the importance of metadata, as the whole Open Data idea is based on the possibility of a suitable automated information processing. When data is not being well described its value will be much more limited. Special mention in this field for the simple, creative and functional approach of the Canarian Institute of Statistics that use their own metadata to provide information on user profiles potentially interested in the information.

Legislation is also making progress, but slowly, and although the approval of the PSI Royal Decree has implied a real improvement, and excessive bureaucracy and unclear legislation is still perceived and must also keep evolving.

A final nice thought to keep in mind:

Data are the raw material of the Information Society, we live in a Society of Information and sharing Open Data in this context equals to spread welfare – Marc Garriga

Three Challenges of Open Data at the Digital Agenda Assembly

Today’s Digital Agenda Data Workshop left us with a good discussion about what the opportunities and hurdles of Open Data are, and what can be done by all the stakeholders.

The European Commission roadmap

EC initiatives so far could be summarized as the development of an Open Data communication strategy, the revision of the PSI directive and an EC reuse policy. That includes the launch on beta stage of the new Open Data EC portal at mid July and a future Pan-European portal.

Also important to recall the European bet for data handling, open data and open access pilots and portals through the FP7 and CIP 2011-13 R&D&I programmes, currently almost gone, but that will have continuity with the new Horizon 2020 programme.

Data hot topics

Paul Miller gave an excellent introduction based on the previous online discussion that uncovers the main hot topics for the Agenda: Open Data, Linked Data and Big Data, as well as the importance of the four V’s of data: Big Volume, Velocity, Variety and Value.

He also remembered us the importance of best practices and open standards for open data, a recurrent topic, given that we have currently 150+ on-going initiatives all around Europe, but all of them are slightly different.

Finally, François Bancihon in his keynote raised his voice again for the need of a single pan-European license and advised us about the perils of Open Data and the Power of Data, with a few very good examples:

  • Twitter has more accurate information about Netflix’s downtime that Netflix.
  • Google knows about unemployment claims before the unemployment office.
  • Target knows about the pregnancy of the teen before their parents.

PSI application areas

With the opening tagline of Data is the new currency of democracy the first session focused on showcasing specific application areas:

Company registers

Without any doubt, one of the hot topics at the Workshop, mainly due to the great and controversial report published by Chris Taggart, from Open Corporates about how open company registers in Europe are, and the inevitable comparison with the European business registry closed model based on pay-to-play access.

Sadly, Spain scores 0 points in the report due to its fully closed registry, a pity for one of the most popular and desired datasets.

Geographical information

On more time, impressive stats on GEOdata usage: 120k accesses and 60k Gb of data. Geospatial confirms as one of the EU Open Data successful areas, given that 80% of needs for decisions from public authorities have a geospatial component. It is a fundamental layer necessary for open data and innovation, thus the need to remain open.

Also interesting the Earth Observatory use case that helps to manage resources such as energy, freshwater and agriculture. It measures land-use change and help to address social challenges. The lesson to learn from the project: all attempts to commercialise data supply failed, it needs to be open and freely available. Important to say that it was launched with government support and sponsorship, so Governments play also a leading role in Open Data progress.


The use case presented focused on the legal issues and barriers for reuse. Is scrapping legal? Who is the owner of the information? Unfortunately, you can find some cases where data is open by default and others where data managers refuse to supply the information.

The bad side: Fighting in court could take long months, even years, no matter how obvious the case is.

Data and language challenges

One of the sessions I was personally expecting was the one which got together some of the European expert companies in the fields of translation, internationalization, localization and multilingual services. Surprisingly for me, the discussion focused on semantics of contents and not metadata as I expected.

The conclusion was that one of the few remaining European barriers are the cultural and language ones, a real problem for a successful Single Digital Market. Multilingualism can be a benefit if properly exploited, once we can process data based on language knowledge, we can obtain remarkable results and a competitive advantage. The real challenge is to be able to process multilingual data and enable it to flow through languages, countries and markets.

A multilingual infrastructure is as important for Europe as a broadband infrastructure.

Value generation and the future of the EU data economy

The last session focused on data value generation based on the premise that data itself is not valuable alone and what we need are data analysis solutions for insight and decisions, not just technology.

Several data intensive areas were mentioned as potential SMEs business opportunities for analysis, simulation or analytics, such as: Retail, Manufacturing, Social Media, Ageing Population, Urban Management, Transport, Food Security, the Public Sector or Health and Medical data.

There is also an agreement on the fact that it’s time to look for innovative business models around Open Data, such as streaming data analytics with live data that is not stored but processed on the fly. The doubt is still what come first, more data openness or better business models.

Open Data challenges

In the wrap-up session, some final remarks, three main Open Data challenges were proposed for the Digital Agenda:

  • Sustainability of Open Data.
  • Profit vs. public interest data uses.
  • Multilingualism issues.

As a conclusion, we can finish with one of the most remarkable quotes of the day, by Chris Taggart:

Open your data or say good-bye to democracy

The Average Open Data Application

Do you want to know how the average Open Government Data Application looks like? Now it is quite easy thanks to the DERI guys and their presentation at the Using Open Data W3C workshop about a recent survey they conducted:

A web based map visualization that relies on a single static dataset and was developed by an individual who made it available for free.

Probably if you have thought about it before, you would bet for all of the above. Indeed, that is a very good description of roughly 90% of the Open Data Applications we have currently available, and that is the problem. If we examine the definition close up and analyse it step by step, several inherit problems with current Open Data policies may arise:

  • Web based: In fact this one is great, well done, no changes here please. Of course mobile apps are of the utmost importance nowadays, but just applying Best Practices and the Open Web Platform you will always be able to reach mobile web users with low efforts and a superb user experience.
  • Map: yes, every time a new app arises you immediately think Wow! Another map. Of course, there are some memorable exceptions, but you know what I mean. The question is: Is there any live after maps and statistical graphs? and no, I’m not thinking about all those beautiful (and mostly useless) animations, a trend that fortunately we are leaving behind us. No thanks, then I prefer to keep with maps. For sure we need to improve on this.
  • Visualization: You still will always be able to interact with that map, but usually that’s all. Data nowadays moves exclusively in one way, and that way is from Governments to the world, with notable exceptions again. You can always look at the data and visualize it, nothing else. Have a look, but don’t touch please! When will we start to see two-ways apps? Remember that this should also be about collaboration and conversation.
  • Single Dataset: and when we say single we have both meanings in mind, just a single class of data and just a single data source. It looks like data have not yet reached the mashup era and we are loosing the benefits of cross-data apps. You can probably blame the lack of diverse data sources and common standards for this. We need more data integration to unveil the real value of Open Data.
  • Static Data: people say that PDFs are the place where data goes to die, and the same can apply more or less to current Open Data apps. They feed from datasets that never are going to be updated or use a static copy of them ignoring any further update. Please, live data is what we need, care about it while you’re planning your Open Data infrastructures and processes.
  • Individual: a solitary developer, freelance or researcher is what you will probably find at the app credits. If the business community is not yet convinced about the economic potential of OGD we indeed have a problem.
  • Free: it looks like a good thing, no? But, what’s then the business model then for Open Data apps? Advertising? How are we going to convince anybody about the economic potential and benefits of OGD if there is nothing but total-free? And this time we are focusing just on economic benefits.

Of course, all of these are general comments and you can easily find exceptions for each of them. Nevertheless it remains a good representation of how an Open Data App looks like nowadays and, the most important thing, these characteristics show us some challenges in the Open Data universe. Several of them are quite complex and can’t be solved in a few words, but once identified we can discuss how to address them and change the Open Data outlook.