Today I want to to draw your attention to the Open Data Challenge that has started a while ago. I am grateful to the Share PSI initiative and its partners for organising such a competition at the European level. The jury features the World Wide Web’s inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, no less. Here you can really show how creative, innovative and successful you are with getting data out into the open, visualising it in new ways and building apps on top.
But this is not the only opportunity for you to show what is possible. Europeana, the digital repository of European culture (with more than 17m items in their catalogues at this moment) will hold a series of “Hackathons” in the coming weeks. Participants are asked to “try out their ideas for creative reuse of the Europeana content and build applications showcasing the social and business value of open cultural data.”
So, in short, I highly encourage you to take part. As we’ll award the prizes for both competitions at the Digital Assembly on 16-17 June in Brussels, I am looking forward to seeing you, and your ideas, live!
I am constantly amazed by the creative ways in which data collected in public administrations can be used! Probably very few people in governments and agencies have ever thought about them. I for one have not, and as policy maker I realise that a lot of work we would have traditionally seen in the domain of government can now be done creatively by others. Governments are slowly waking up to the possibilities (the upcoming OpenDataGarage event in Marseille is one indication).
When public data (which already has been created at public expense) is made openly available for re-use, everybody can benefit: Citizens get better information, companies can come up with new business opportunities and public administrations will (or anyhow should) be grateful for others to work and add value for everybody: this is win-win. But let’s look at some concrete examples:
1. WhereDoesMyMoneyGo.org uses public data to show UK taxpayers how their money is spent. This sort of thing is not only a boon to transparency but also makes it easier for citizens (and journalists!) to understand what is happening in the public sector and to get interested and involved.
2. OpenCorporates might be more interesting for companies. It pulls together the information from the company registries of different countries to create an open and unified database everybody can use. This is the kind of resource the (Digital) Single Market needs and it is encouraging to see that it is being built (and the Netherlands is even one of the first countries fully covered).
But what does all this have to do with Neelie Kroes and with the European Commission, you might ask?
Well, there’s a thing called Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). It has been around since 2003 and all EU Member States have put it into their laws.
This ‘PSI Directive’ provides the legal framework for all Member States to make public data available for re-use. (By the way, I think the term PSI is not very helpful, since for most people – including me – it takes some time to understand what’s behind it.)
A review of the PSI Directive is one of the key actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe. So, to find out what everyone thinks about the next steps for PSI, we have done a public consultation and asked all interested parties to give us their views about the legal framework underpinning the move towards open public data. (I blogged about this.)
One thing I learned from the responses is that we still have a long way to go, and a lot of convincing to do: Public bodies holding data are still rather cautious when it comes to stronger rules and better access for re-users. My aim is clear: to make the provision of data (with reasonable formats and licenses) a routine task of public administrations. This will take both, the best possible version of the ‘PSI Directive’ we can get and convincing data holders that this is the way to go. I think we are one a good way. For example, an overwhelming majority of all respondents say they would like to see further action because PSI re-use has not reached its full potential yet. (You can read the full report on the outcome of the public consultation online.)
Data and information fuel innovation. Getting out the data should be seen as an investment. We need more examples that can help demonstrate this is needed and we need to keep explaining it. That’s why I am so excited about the Hackathon and the Open Data Challenge!
If you have examples you think I should know about, or other ideas on open data in general or the PSI Directive and its review specifically (a better name, anyone?) the quickest way to reach me is to tweet me with the #opendataEU hashtag.
PS: I will do an open tweetchat next Wednesday (18 May) at 14:00 Brussels time where I’ll try to answer as many of your questions as I can – follow me on Twitter (@NeelieKroesEU) for more details. (If you already want to start sending me questions, please use the #AskNeelie hashtag.)