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, 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 #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: #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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