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UK below European average on open data


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The UK’s maturity level for public sector open data is below the European average, according to the latest report on the European Data Portal.

Consultancy Capgemini Invent, which manages the portal for the EU, has produced the report that also indicates a change in emphasis among the leading nations in the field.

According to the fifth annual Open Data Maturity Report, the UK’s rating is 60% compared with an average figure of 62% for the 31 countries covered and 66% for the 28 members of the EU.

This places it at 20th of the 31 countries, labelled as one of the ‘followers’ and way behind the three ‘trend setters’ of Ireland with 91%, Spain with 90% and France with 89%.

The maturity levels take in ratings around four dimensions of open data: policy, portal, impact and policy.

Portal and quality shortcomings

According to the accompanying factsheet on the UK, it rates better than average for the impact of its open data and is not far below on policy; but there are shortcomings with the portal and even more so for the quality of data.

It is sometimes published with poor standards and in static ways, such using nonsensical URLs or not in machine readable formats, the report says. Also, departments have systems of governance that make it hard to understand data ownership and custodianship, and an educational effort is needed within government and among the public to encourage the publishing and use of data.

It acknowledges that there have been studies into the use of open data, such as Transport for London, but says the national portal does not provide an area for use cases.

There are some positive signs, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ development of the Churchill digital data service, run on open data APIs and CSVs from government sources.

Continental trends

The report also identifies four overall trends for Europe. One is that most countries have been consolidating rather than stepping up their efforts with open data, concentrating on quality and impact rather than making more available.

Second is that there are more efforts to ensure the value of the data for people who wish to re-use it, largely through taking feedback and engaging more with the relevant communities. Third is in aiming to create more impact through gaining insights into users’ demands and needs.

Fourthly, governments are looking more towards data sharing with other organisations, while aiming to respect intellectual property and privacy laws.

Marit Blank, consultant at Capgemini Invent and author the report, said: “As the Member States’ open data offering matures, we can see their focus shifting towards putting open data re-users at the centre. This is a tangible illustration of how the European countries are striving to move beyond the basics to deliver consistent and sustainable value to their citizens.”

The report also estimates the value of open data around Europe at €75.7 billion, an increase of 37%  over the €55.2 billion estimated in 2016.

Image by justgrimes, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr

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