Monday, December 6, 2010

Governments deliver data


Governments and administrations generate and have access to large amounts of data of general interest. Some data (very few) should be kept secret for safety reasons, but most data should be public knowledge: citizens are the owners of these data, like the rest of goods managed by the administrations. However, and sadly enough, this is not the case: administrations are reluctant to share these data with the general public, or it is too difficult to make them freely available to citizens.
Now, new technologies make this disclosure process easier, as there is no excuse to prevent data from being published, thus improving the transparency of public management and ending up with secrecy. Some administrations have joined the Open Data movement, a philosophy that aims at making information public and as accessible as possible. One of these pioneering countries is the United Kingdom. In Spain, the administrations of Asturias, Basque Country and Catalonia have recently joined this movement too. These countries publish lots of data and figures about statistics, population, traffic, weather forecasts, maps… in their web sites so that they are made available and reusable to citizens or associations.
But making these data public is not enough: they should be analysed, separating the wheat from the chaff and, finally, they should be spread. We are lost in a world of data and this is only the beginning: we should find our way to assimilate so much information. With the aim to turn this disclosure into something useful, many administrations promote some competitions to create software applications to help users surf in this sea of information. A good example is Apps for Development, an initiative launched by the World Bank where competitors are challenged to develop computer programmes using this information to contribute to progress towards meeting one of the Millennium Development Goals

  1. Open Data philosophy:
  2. Open Data in the United Kingdom:
  3. Open Data in Asturias:
  4. Open Data in the Basque Country:
  5. Open Data in Catalonia:
  6. Open Data catalogue for world administrations:
  7. Apps for Development, an initiative launched by the World Bank:
  8. Millennium Goals:


  1. I don't think things will ever reach a stage where data is disseminated freely. The fact is, people and groups safeguard their data for a reason. There are always people who will misuse information.
    The call for greater transparency is valid but government still have to be careful how much information is spread about the affairs of the country.

  2. Well, step by step. Having access is the first step.


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