Open Data Across the EU

Open data has been a hot topic in countries around the world in recent years,with estimates that the market will be worth €75 billion by 2020.  It probably goes without saying however, that some countries are further along with this agenda than others.

A recent study from the European Data Portal examines the level of ‘open data maturity’ across the EU and Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, who are referred to as the EU28+.  The measure of a nations maturity is gauged along two metrics:

  1. Open data readiness, which examines the extent by which countries have an Open Data policy in place, licensing norms and the extent of national coordination regarding guidelines  and setting common approaches.
  2. Portal maturity, explores the usability of the portal regarding the functionality available, the overall re-usability of data, and the accessibility of data sets.

The paper reveals that the 31 countries collectively made significant progress between 2015-2016, with an average progression of 28.6% over the year.  Whilst this means that most countries have a basic level of open data by now, the report still highlights significant discrepancies between countries.

For instance, some have a portal already to pool their open data resources, whilst others are still to construct such a hub.

Barriers to open data maturity

The barriers countries face on the road to open data maturity are numerous, and the report breaks them down into five main categories:

  1. Political barriers, which are faced by roughly 1/3 of countries in the EU.  Policy makers remain too often ignorant of the virtues of open data.
  2. Legal barriers are also common, even at the basic level of providing a legal framework to support open data.
  3. Technical barriers are numerous, but none more so than the quality of data captured, which remains often unstructured and non-machine readable.
  4. Financial barriers are as much cultural as anything, with a shift from institutions selling their data to giving it away for free.
  5. Other barriers also exist, largely around things such as awareness raising, among both businesses and the public.

Whilst clear and evident progress has been made in each of these areas, the researchers believe more can be done, and make a number of recommendations.

  1. Implement  an  Open  Data  strategy  which  states  that  all  data  needs  an  open  licence;  which stimulates  the  creation  of  an Open  Data  policy; emphasize the  importance  of  a  legal  structure addressing privacy aspects and standards
  2. Improve the national portal by adding basic functionalities and enhancing the quality of the data: develop automated processes to collect data from public administrations and focus on consistent and coherent metadata quality.
  3. Increase awareness around Open Data by organizing more events and training and by diversifying the type of events; focus on raising awareness around the skills needed to work with data.
  4. Launch activities to monitor the impact of Open Data. Knowing the impact of using Open Data, can also help increase the awareness, which in turn results in more Open Data, and hence more use of Open Data.

The team plan to return with the next edition of the report in a years time, and it will be interesting to see the progress that is made.

Originally posted at The Horizons Tracker

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