Monday, 6 August 2012

German government publishes study on Open Government Data

The German government last week published a study on “Open Government Data” and announced that they will follow the key recommendation from the study and set up a pilot for an open government portal which shall be in place by 2013. The study was done by Fraunhofer Fokus and is available on the website of the German Ministry ofDomestic Affairs (Bundesinnenministerium). There are both the full study with over 570 pages and a short version. And the ministry also published the spreadsheet with basicreference data – and to my great pleasure they published it in astandard document version, too, in ODF with the file format .ods. All documents are available in German only.

This is another examples where an EU Member State joins the initiative of the EU Commission for open data – laid down as a key action in the Digital Agenda for Europe and referring to the PSI Directive (Public Sector Information). What is good news: the German study concludes that given the legal situation of today a huge amount of public data can already be made open without problems:

The benefit of making public data openly available is clearly described. It can help to create innovative new solutions and process optimisation. In general, the study sees that there will be an increasing demand for public data in the coming years. On this basis there are a number of supposed economic potentials for the use of public data which justify to make the data openly available at no or little cost:
“[Es geht um die Nutzung der] angenommenen ökonomischen Potenziale der Datennutzung. So können staatliche Daten sowohl als »Rohstoff« für Start-up-Unternehmen und neue Geschäftsmodelle als auch als essenziell zur Optimierung von Geschäftsprozessen in diversen Branchen betrachtet werden. Der privatwirtschaftliche Bedarf an staatlichen Daten wird im Zuge der weiteren technologischen Vernetzung perspektivisch zunehmen. Zur Stimulierung des ökonomischen Potenzials staatlicher Daten haben viele Behörden in Europa ihre Datenbestände geöffnet, Geldleistungen reduziert und Geldleistungsmodelle vereinfacht. Fallstudien zeigen die Korrelation zwischen der Höhe der Geldleistung und der Nutzung von Verwaltungsdaten durch Wirtschaftsakteure, die zur Stimulierung der Volkswirtschaft beiträgt.” [Short version, p. 8]
Standardisation and the agreement on standards play a key role in the study and in the recommendations. This refers both to the simplification and optimisation of process standards and to format standards for making the data available. The latter aspect is specifically addressed in recommendation 44:
“Sofern ein Standard bereits in SAGA klassifiziert wurde, wurde die Klassifikation übernommen. Für bestimmte Datenkategorien sind daher nur »empfohlene« Standards gelistet. Grundsätzlich sollte mindestens ein Standard für Tabellen und ggf. auch für weitere Datenkategorien als »verbindlich« klassifiziert werden, um die Interoperabilität zu steigern.”
 Bottom line of this recommendation: SAGA, the Geman National Interoperability Framework for eGovernment, is the basic reference point regarding technology standards. And some level of communality, of having “mandatory standards”, is necessary for achieving interoperability.

Moreover, as addressed in recommendation 53, it is important to have agreed standards on the level of metadata – and to strive for pan-European agreements in this respect, as well:
“Die OGPD-Plattform wird dann zu einem gut nutzbaren Informationsportal, wenn die in der OGPD Plattform bereitgestellten Metadaten einem einheitlichen und von allen Akteuren getragenen Metadatenschema folgen. Daher ist für den Prototyp ein OGPD-Metadatenschema auf Basis der Ausarbeitungen der Studie zu entwickeln. Dieses ist entlang nationaler und internationaler Entwicklungen kontinuierlich zu aktualisieren. So ist eine Verankerung des OGPD-Metadatenschemas bei der KoSIT empfehlenswert. Zudem sollten sich die OGPD-Verantwortlichen auf EU-Ebene engagieren, um ein zum deutschen kompatibles europäisches Open-Government-Data-Metadatenschema mitzugestalten.”
The full details are discussed in chapter IV.4 of the long version of the study. Very good and interesting is the relation that is seen between SAGA and Open Data. The objective of the Open Data initiative is to strive for Open Standards. This builds on the basic principles of SAGA to achieve openness and interoperability, while, in the context of Open Data, Open Standards and Machine Readability of the data are a key principle for allowing everybody to make use of the data and innovate without facing restrictions. The following illustration is copied from the German study: 

My first impression of the study is very good. It is definitely worth reading. I am very much looking forward to the implementation of the recommendations and am positive that this will have a highly positive effect for Open Data in Germany - and beyond. 

1 comment:

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