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By blogging and twittering, you get to communicate with people around the world. I wanted to take this opportunity to understand the different point of views and evolution of opendata and opengov in Europe.
Here follow is the first chapter of this european tour starting with Sweden.



Can you introduce yourself ?

My name is Peter Krantz and I run the opengov.se website. opengov.se is a personal project to highlight public datasets in Sweden and how few of them are openly available. The questions below are answered in my role as a citizen.

Is there an existing national law evoking opendata in your country ?

Sweden is currently implementing the PSI directive. The law proposal is available here:Regeringen.se The essence of the proposal does not take open data very far. A second law proposal indicates that electronic access to public records (including data) may become easier in the future: http://www.regeringen.se/sb/

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the law ?

The current proposal aims to implement the bare minimum of the PSI directive in my opinion. As a background we have had an open access to public records policy for a long time. However, many agencies are partially funded by selling data. This makes it difficult to implement a government-wide open data policy as the government also need to change the budget policy.

How long has your country been working on openingdata ?

Not very long. The current governement is responsible in implementing the law.

Who are the main actors of opengov in your country ?

From the citizen perspective my own initiative opengov.se. In the current government it is the Minister for Local Government and Financial Markets: Mats Odell: Sweden.gov.se

What are the main bareers ?

In my opinion, the funding model of some agencies. E.g. geographical data such as maps currently funds part of the agency maintaining it: Lantmateriet.se Making the data open and free requires a change in government funding of agencies.

Which cities or states in your country are the most involved in Opendata ?

A while ago the city of Stockholm created an initiative to increase access to data: http://www.opengov.se/blogg/2010/stockholm-pa-vag-mot-oppen-data/

Is the e-ID card available yet ?

Sweden has had e-IDs available for many years (see http://www.e-legitimation.se/). A new federated model for e-ID has been proposed and may become implemented next year.

In a few word, what is the state of play of Open Government in Sweden ?

Gaining traction but a long way to go.

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During a parliamentary question on the French initiatives in the communication of public information, referring to the U.S. plan “data.gov“, French Prime Minister recalled the long-existing french portals access to information :

legifrance.fr for Laws
service-public.fr for Administration
statistics-publique.fr for Statistics
All of these websites make simpler access to still complicated informations -not mentioning the re-looking need. But hey, french Data Publica to be opened in 2011.

When the US “data.gov” (or the newborn data.gov.uk) leads to increase the emergence of new services, France approach leads to increase the yet emerged “bureaucracy”.

Let’s remind:

Vivek Kundra, Obama’s CIO was hired in March 2009 and US Data.gov was launched in May 2009
– “Bureaucracy” is a french word

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This article finds its roots in Alban Martin’s post “Apres data.gov, data.gov.uk ! (on attend toujours donnees.gouv.fr)”

A new website dedicated to making non-personal data held by the U.K. government available for software developers has launched: Data.gov.uk.

Only six months after the U.S. government opened its own Data.gov site, the U.K. site is being slammed with traffic and already has more than three times as much data than the U.S. site offers today. Americans reply:

“The Federal Government does not have a monopoly on the best ideas. We are all part of an increasingly complex network of communities, ideas, and information. We applaud today’s launch of data.gov.uk and look forward to working with the international community to ensure that people across the world are actively engaged in helping find the most innovative paths to solve some of the toughest problems we face.”

As a reminder, Data.gov is the U.S. platform presenting and making available governmental data for all. It was launched after Obama’s directive on Open Governement in 2009 and its purpose is to increase public access to high value machine readable datasets. It offers searchable catalogs that provide access to “raw” datasets and various tools in such formats as XML, Text/CSV, KML/KMZ, Feeds, XLS, or ESRI Shapefile. A catalog of tools links users to sites that offer data mining and extraction tools and widgets.

Now what’s new with data.gov.uk ?

Introduced last week by Gordon Brown’s administration it also provides open source data to the public. Brown  is quoted on his “Digital Engagement” blog:

“We have involved over 2,400 people in our developer community to learn what data they want and how they want to access it; and we have brought together into one place an initial collection of over 2500 datasets from across government which can be re-used freely and easily.”

The main principles are quite similar to the U.S. version:

– Public data will be available and easy to find through a single easy to use online access point (http://www.data.gov.uk/)

– Public data will be published using open standards and following the recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium

– Any ‘raw’ dataset will be re-presented in linked data form

– More public data will be released under an open licence which enables free reuse, including commercial reuse

– Data underlying the Government’s own websites will be published in reusable form for others to use

– Personal, classified, commercially sensitive and third-party data will continue to be protected

Available or soon-to-be available datas are:

– Releasing health data such as the NHS Choices data

– Consulting on making Ordnance Survey mapping and postcode datasets available for free reuse from April 2010

– Increasing access to and reuse of public transport data including the National Public Transport Access – Node database, with information available to the development community by April 2010

– Opening Met Office Public Weather Service data to include: releasing significant underlying data for weather forecasts for free download and reuse by April 2010, and working to further expand the release of weather data, while recognising all public safety considerations; and making available more information on Met Office scientists, their work and scientific papers, free of charge

– Publishing, by spring 2010, details of how the fiscal stimulus announced in the Pre-Budget Report 2008 has been spent, disaggregated to local level

– Launching a public consultation early in 2010 to seek views on how we could publish further financial data so that it is user-friendly and accessible, with a view to putting a live system in place by summer 2010

– Integrating ONS data with http://www.data.gov.uk/ from January 2010.

Comparing:

Early comments are positive, when comparing UK gov to its counterpartUS Data.gov. The U.S. version pales in comparison as it’s missing the user-friendly approach. Also, when the U.S. government’s Data.gov site launched, critics pointed out that it was filled with relatively non-controversial data sets, plenty of USGS data but no DOJ or military data. The U.K.’s data site, in contrast, includes 22 military data sets at launch, including one called Suicide and Open Verdict Deaths in the U.K. Regular Armed Forces.

National to local

The national data.gov are also complemented with local platforms such as: Washington D.C, City of New York, San Francisco, State of Utah, State of Michigan… England is following the same path as London launched its own platform too.

If you are afraid to get lost, you can chek out The Guardian Browsing tool to search wordlwide datas: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world-government-data

What about French ? Can they ?

There won’t be any data.gov.fr in France… But there is a national platform in process.

Data Publica is one of the lead projects of NKM call for proposal “Web 2.0”. This project aims to create a national website where public and private actors could publish their API, metadata and licence. This project is being developped by Araok!Nexedi and Talend and shoud be launched by 2011.

Notice that local non-profit groups are also emerging to incite cities to open their datas before that date and liberTIC is one of them.

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European Directive Inspire is one of the most important legislative tools for the “opendata-believers” in the European Union. Specially if you are lacking an active national opendata program.

Here below is a first approach and basic introduction to understand why.

French Inspire case to follow :)

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