Open government data in Norway: project report summary

Increased costs and concerns over misinterpretations of data seen as most important obstacles to opening up government data in Norway.

A pro­ject group at The Uni­ver­sity of Bergen’s Depart­ment of Infor­ma­tion Scien­ce and Media Stu­dies has during the past few mon­ths sur­vey­ed Nor­we­gi­an sta­te agen­cies and inter­viewed civil ser­vants in dif­fe­rent sta­te and local govern­ment agen­cies about their views and poli­cies regar­ding the release of data sources for re-use. The fin­dings have been pub­lis­hed in Nor­we­gi­an in the pro­ject report «Fak­ta først» (pdf, 14 MB). Here you can read the pro­ject report sum­mary in Eng­lish:

The pub­lic sec­tor col­lects and gene­ra­tes vast amounts of data. In recent years the inte­rest in re-using pub­lic, non-per­so­nal data has been increas­ing among citizens, groups and com­pa­nies out­side the pub­lic sec­tor. The media, civil socie­ty groups, busi­nes­ses and pri­va­te citizens can use pub­lic data as «raw mate­ri­al» to crea­te new ser­vices, new insight and eco­no­mic value. Effi­ci­ent re-use of pub­lic data requi­res that pub­lic sec­tor agen­cies inform about their data sources and make data avai­lab­le in rele­vant for­mats.

Prac­tice varies strong­ly betwe­en Nor­we­gi­an pub­lic sec­tor agen­cies in dif­fe­rent sub­ject areas and across admi­ni­stra­ti­ve levels (state/regional/local), this fact fin­ding pro­ject from August to Decem­ber 2009 has revealed. Some agen­cies offer detai­led infor­ma­tion about their data sources and have made data avai­lab­le for down­load. How­e­ver, a major part of the agen­cies assessed offer insuf­fi­ci­ent or no infor­ma­tion about data sources on the home­pa­ge of their web­si­tes. Here a fun­da­men­tal require­ment for the re-use of data is mis­sing. The impres­sion of vary­ing inte­rest and unused poten­ti­al is amp­li­fied by the results of a sur­vey among sta­te agen­cies:

  • Two thirds of respon­dents say their agency pos­ses­ses data with poten­ti­al for re-use that is not uti­lized today.
  • The sur­vey on the other hand sug­gests that the sub­ject of open data is on the agen­da in many agen­cies; more than six out of ten say they plan to make more data avai­lab­le for re-use during the coming year.

The sur­vey shows that increased costs and the con­cern that exter­nal groups will mis­un­der­stand the data and mis­in­form the pub­lic are cited as the two grea­test obsta­c­les against more data being made avai­lab­le. In addition, inter­views with pub­lic sec­tor agency emp­loy­e­es sug­gest that the topic of making data avai­lab­le is new to some agen­cies.

A compa­ri­son with ini­tia­ti­ves and deba­tes about open pub­lic data in a selection of other countries (Bri­tain, Den­mark, Nether­lands, USA) show that the atten­tion the topic rece­i­ves is grea­test when it is placed on the agen­da at the hig­hest poli­ti­cal level. The report recom­mends a num­ber of con­cre­te measu­res that it is assu­med would quick­ly increase the selection of data sets made avai­lab­le for re-use. A web­si­te that col­lects pub­lic data sources, inspi­red by the US government’s data.gov, would be an obvious­ly effi­ci­ent ini­tia­ti­ve, espec­ial­ly when accom­pa­nied by a set of cle­ar prin­cip­les and rules and an «instruc­tion manu­al» that descri­bes how to make data avai­lab­le in a secu­re and user-fri­end­ly way. The report also points out the need for a paral­lel, ongo­ing deba­te about cri­te­ria for the con­struc­ti­ve re-use of data. The media should, in coope­ra­tion with the pub­lic, play a lead­ing role by pro­du­cing examp­les of best prac­tices in re-using open data.

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  1. […] This post was men­tio­ned on Twit­ter by Olav A. Øvre­bø and Open Data Network, Gov 2.0 Netzw. Dtl.. Gov 2.0 Netzw. Dtl. said: Read about #opengov in #Nor­way RT @epsiplatform RT@oovrebo Report about open govt data in Nor­way http://tinyurl.com/openno #open­data #gov20 […]

  2. Soci­al com­ments and ana­ly­tics for this post…

    This post was men­tio­ned on Twit­ter by oovre­bo: Report about open govt data in Nor­way — sum­mary: http://tinyurl.com/openno #open­data…

  3. […] Here is the ori­gi­nal post: Open govern­ment data in Nor­way: pro­ject report sum­mary […]

  4. […] their opi­nions on and inte­rest in making data­sets avai­lab­le for re-use. Our first pro­ject report (see Eng­lish sum­mary), pre­sented at a semi­nar in Ber­gen in Janua­ry, is main­ly based on this work. Among the fin­dings: […]

  5. […] their opi­nions on and inte­rest in making data­sets avai­lab­le for re-use. Our first pro­ject report (see Eng­lish sum­mary), pre­sented at a semi­nar in Ber­gen in Janua­ry, is main­ly based on this work. Among the […]

  6. […] on pub­lic data reu­se have been pub­lis­hed alre­ady this year, hel­ping to rai­se inte­rest in the topic. The first was writ­ten by a group at the Uni­ver­sity of Ber­gen (led by me). The second was pro­du­ced by an […]

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