This is Part 2 of a 3-Part report from Barry Doyle, GIS Officer, Roscommon County Council who attended the 2017 Open Data Leaders Network(link is external) (ODLN) hosted by the Open Data Institute(link is external) (ODI) in their offices in Shoreditch London in October 2017. Part 1 can be viewed here
Must be able to share data internally before it can be shared externally
To emphasise a point repeatedly made by Joseph Azzopardi, the Maltese representative on the ODLN, before you can look to share data externally to your organisation you need to be in a position to share it internally. This comes back to good data governance and the creation and implementation of Data Infrastructures (DI), where I like to use the definition of a DI as a 'framework of data, metadata, users and technology that are interactively connected in order to share and use data in an efficient and flexible way’.
It is my strongly held view that if an Open Data initiative is to be successful and sustainable it should be viewed as just an extension of an organisations good data governance programme. Taking on Open Data as a stand-alone project, without putting in place a supporting policies and sustainable publication processes, may tick a box but will ultimately deliver little value.
To date a lot of emphasis has been placed on data quantity rather than data standards and data quality, however the focus is now very much shifting to quality. If companies are to build solutions on top of open data sources and sell these on they want to have some assurance that the data flow won’t suddenly stop, will adhere to recognised standards, and will hopefully be maintained at a certain quality. As an example when in London I used the excellent Citymapper app to help me navigate around the city. Built on top of TFL, and other open data sources, an entire business and thousands of users would be affected by un-notified changes in those data sources. More close to home Roscommon County Council has experienced issues when sending out severe weather alerts through the MapAlerter service due to changes in how Met Eireann has made this data available.
(Image source: ODI)
Therefore, if confidence in a data source is to be achieved this will be depedent on good data governance practices inteh organisaiton supplying it, supported by data policies and open data policies along with the need for Data Managers to ensure compleance with those policies.
The importance of a legislative base
On our first day at the ODLN each attendee gave a brief summary of the state of play within their respective Countries and Regions. One thing we took away from this was the importance of a legislative base to help ensure Open Data initiatives were put on a secure footing and weren’t at the mercy of a changing political environment. In Argentina for instance, Martin described how his initiative is very much dependent on political support and the election of a new Government could stop it in its tracks.
In Ireland the national Open Data initiative is still in its infancy and while the Government is not in a position to sign up to the Open Data Charter yet the recent publication of the Open Data Strategy means it is formal Government policy and is aligned closely with various other strategies that support the sharing of government data including the Public Service Reform Plan and the Public Service ICT Strategy. Also of relevance, a ‘Data Sharing and Governance Bill’ is currently being drafted with the aim of formalising and encouraging data sharing between public bodies.
Since the establishment of the initiative a number of steps have been taken to move the initiative on in a coordinated way, including the Government signing up to the Open Government Partnership, the creation of an Open Data Unit, the establishment of an Open Data Governance Board, and not least the creation of a national Open Data Portal.
How this all translates into action and the release of high value data in a sustainable way that result in some level of societal impact is the ultimate measure however. A sign that Ireland is moving in the right direction was reflected in a recent report published by the European Portal that determined that Ireland ranked first place in the European Commission’s Open Data Maturity assessment for 2017 across the EU28+ countries, while it currently ranks 26th out of over 100 countries in the World Wide Web Foundations Open Data Barometer index. Congratulations to all who contributed to making this happen.
Source: EU Data Portal