Research Paper: Status of Open Data in Europe

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[. . .] Openness of the data based on the ten principles of open government data

The ten principles for open government data were developed during a conference held in Sebastopol, California in October 2007 (Wonderlich, 2010). The principles are primacy, completeness, ease of physical and electronic access, timeliness, non-discrimination, machine readability, use of commonly owned standards, permanence, usage costs, and licensing (Wonderlich, 2010). These principles provide a lens that could be used to gauge how open government data is and its accessibility to the public. Completeness of data refers to how complete the published datasets are. Any data published by the government should include all the data the government has on the subject. The only restriction to this principle is that the released data should not have any personally identifiable information. The Austrian government has been working hard to ensure that it releases all the data its various authorities have regarding different subjects. This is a massive task because the authorities have to sift through their data and ensure that any digital information they have is published. Working on improving the datasets as time goes by will ensure that the government is able to release as much information as possible. In Germany, the situation is not different, especially considering that they launched their portal the other day. The new portal contains vast information, but the information is not exhaustive. Compilations are still been carried out, and new data is added continuously.

Any data sets that the government releases to the public should be its primary data. The government should not release datasets that are the works of others. This would ensure that the government is responsible for the datasets, and verification can be conducted. The government should also provide details regarding how the data was collected, recorded, and original source documents. Some of the data published on the portals for the public by both governments might not be primary data. Modifications might be made due to federal laws, which place restrictions on the government. That said, it is clear that the governments are trying to release as much primary data as possible. When the German open government data portal was launched, it had to publish vast amounts of data in a short while. This placed restrictions on the data the government could publish without making alterations. The push for open data by the private sector has forced the government to update the datasets on a regular basis. The datasets include primary data as was collected.

Data released to the public should be timely. For example, there is no need to release budget estimates after the budget has been approved. This would deny the public access to the data beforehand. Whenever possible, any information that the government collects should be released in a timely fashion. Open data in Austria is released in a timely fashion especially time sensitive data like budget estimates. German has included data on laws and regulations, and it is vital that changes made on the laws be updated immediately. This would ensure that the public is made aware and can access the new changes immediately. Transport information is considered real-time information and updates regarding any major transport routes should always be up-to-date. This would allow people to access the data and make good use of the data. The vital thing is preserving the value of the data, and releasing the data as quickly as possible would ensure value is preserved. The German and Austrian governments have discovered this, and they endeavor to provide and update the datasets in a timely manner.

The two governments have provided their data in different formats, which has ensured that the citizens are able to access the data without any restrictions. Providing data in open access formats enables people to access the data and not be required to make purchases of the requisite software. The open data portal is online based and can be accessed from different part of the world. This improves the accessibility of the data from all over the world. German has some restrictions on the data that people can access since it requires formal requests before the data is made available. Another restriction placed by the German government is purchase of certain data. The Austrian government on the other hand has not placed any restrictions on access, and it does not sell any of its data. The Austrian government has allowed for the access of their information from all over the world by using the internet. Being proactive instead of being reactive has allowed the Austrian government to open up its data to the public before any request is made for the data.

The data provided should be readable using machines. This means that the data should be typed and presented in a format that machines can read. The Austrian and German governments have presented their data in machine-readable formats. All the data placed on their portal is easily readable and is not prone to processing or transcription errors. This will guarantee that the data is not misrepresented in any way. The likelihood of formatting and matching errors that would result when handwritten text is scanned is eliminated. Austria has been presenting its data in the widely used PDF format since it launched its open portal. Austria present its data in more formats that German. Using this many formats guarantees that anyone can access the data irrespective of their computing power. Having different formats is the best way to make sure that data is truly open and accessible. German followed suit but also included other widely used formats. Making use of different formats allows people with different applications to access the data.

The formats that the data is presented in should be non-proprietary. The open knowledge foundation recommends the use of formats that place no restrictions to the user when they try to access the data. The data presented by Austria is in many formats. Some of the formats are proprietary and some non-proprietary. This way the government has ensured that it caters for all the citizens. Including open formats guarantees that no user is blocked from accessing the data. The different formats only require that the visitor have a valid operating system. German only presents its data in PDF, which could be seen as restrictive especially considering that not every user would have access to the application. PDF is an open format, but that should not be reason enough since the application is solely owned by one entity. This would mean that the users are disadvantaged if the owner decides to place restrictions on use.

No restrictions should be placed on who can access the data placed on the open portals. Requirements for registration or membership would mean the data is not freely accessible. This is the case with German where not all data can be accessed without registration. The data that has a purchase license require the user to register and purchase the data before they can access it. This restriction has made the portal to be termed as partly open. Austria does not sell any data. Therefore, they do not require any user to register before they access the data. Registration is voluntary and only required when making comments or reviewing the published data. The same does apply for German where users are required to register or login before they can make comments or reviews. This requirement is a security feature to ensure that only credible people make comments or reviews. It is easy to track a user's comments across the website if they are signed in.

The data presented on the portal should not have any license restrictions. There should be no copyright, patent, or trademark restrictions placed on the data. Since the data would be shared and accessed freely, placing licensing restrictions would deny users the opportunity to share and reuse the data. Austria only requires that people attribute the source of the data (Middleton, 2011). This is not a licensing restriction, but rather a way of promoting their portal. If the data is reused, the person who accesses the data from a different place would automatically know the source. Austria does not deny people the opportunity to redistribute and reuse the data. German has placed licensing restrictions on some data. Though it has data that is free of licensing, some of the data placed on its portal is subject to various licenses. Data should be free for all. No usage costs should be levied on the data. Austria does not charge for the usage of any of its data like Germany is doing. The charges levied by German are minimal, but any charge is a restriction since the same government does recover its costs from taxation.

Conclusion

Open data is vital for transparency and accountability of governments. Using open data portals, the government is able to make data available for public scrutiny and feedback. This would improve interactivity between the government and its citizens. The data placed… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Status of Open Data in Europe.  (2014, May 7).  Retrieved October 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/status-open-data-europe/8818738

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"Status of Open Data in Europe."  Essaytown.com.  May 7, 2014.  Accessed October 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/status-open-data-europe/8818738.