Messages in a Bottle from the Old Continent Open Data Ocean

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Open data is no longer big news. Few countries in the world now haven’t been talking at least once about open data. And even few now have not been promoting their internal open data regulations or strategies.
Moreover, if you look at Google Trends, the interest in the term “open data” is somewhat in a stable high-level since 2004.
It is however curious to see in which countries the term is more searched now, namely, in order: Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, South-Africa, Singapore, Pakistan and Philippines.

28 Ottobre 2013

G

Gianluca Vannuccini*

Open data is no longer big news. Few countries in the world now haven’t been talking at least once about open data. And even few now have not been promoting their internal open data regulations or strategies.
Moreover, if you look at Google Trends, the interest in the term “open data” is somewhat in a stable high-level since 2004.
It is however curious to see in which countries the term is more searched now, namely, in order: Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, South-Africa, Singapore, Pakistan and Philippines.

If you slide the Google Trends time line back to year 2010 it was, in order: India, Australia, US, UK, Canada, Netherlands and Italy.
You don’t need to be a wizard in statistics to perceive a significant shift in the open data “hot spots” in the world, heading towards some countries that you wouldn’t expect to be in the top-list now.
This is quite interesting: in the so-called developed countries the issue seems to have lost its initial hype, while developing countries, where freedom of information is still an issue, are being more and more interested in the matter.

So what happened in the European countries once they opened their data? What did they experience, what outcomes did they achieved? What are the common conclusions drawn by cities who opened their data after a while?

Did the open data wave really lost interest, or – most likely – are we in the mature phase where the open data issue is no longer searched because it is in the DNA of the existing governments?

This recent article from the US seems to confirm the second option above. In this dossier, we’ll give a bird’s eye view of what is happening in some significant cities across Europe which opened their data in different times in the past.
We’ll ask to three colleagues working in other European countries, namely the Paris Region, Helsinki and Zurich to tell us their stories, trying to make a mix between an unofficial benchmarking and an informal pub-chat among friends.

What we are looking for is common patterns, common mistakes, or even common successes.

On one side, we have Ville Meloni who is Project Manager of the Helsinki Region Infoshare Open Data Program. It is a region-wide project, having its roots in a few years ago (started in 2010 and published in early 2011), and with a very large number of opened dataset.
On one other side we have Zurich, a city with a very strong commitment in innovation, which will next host Major Cities of Europe 2014 annual meeting, with a younger but not less interesting open data program with its own unique characteristics. Such a program is explained to us by Micha Rieser from Innovation & Technologie office.
Finally, we have an open data program promoted by a regional administration, the Paris Region, which is told us by Gregoire Odou from La Fonderie, a company managing innovation in the Paris Region.

If we think at an old European continent open data ocean flowing across the different countries and cities, the three stories that will be told us today are leaving us a message in a bottle with a special outcome for each specific experience. You’ll be surprised to see how the three messages are similar among them, even if coming from very different experiences.

 

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* Gianluca Vannuccini a shot biography