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Introducing OpenData.cz – open data initiative from Czech Republic

The following guest post is by Jindřich Mynarz, from the National Technical Library in Prague. Jindřich will be joining us at the Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw!

I like to say that OpenData.cz is not a project, it is a state of mind. Its aim is to spread an open data mindset and to serve as an umbrella brand that connects people collaborating on open data projects. Currently, mostly academic institutions are involved in OpenData.cz, such as Department of Software Engineering at Charles University or Knowledge Engineering Group at University of Economics. It is still a relatively young initiative, with its inception dating back to the start of 2011. However, even with regard to its short life, OpenData.cz has managed to start and get involved in various projects.

OpenData.cz is an informal and unofficial initiative, as it does not have an official blessing from the Czech government. However, the members of this initiative are in touch with politicians, such as the members of parliament or mayors and other public servants in Czech cities. The members of OpenData.cz lend their expertise to consulting on issues related to data openness and suggesting solutions and policies that lead to more open data.

The goal OpenData.cz tries to achieve is to help build a transparent data infrastructure of Czech public sector. This includes all aspects of openness of data, promoting both explicit legal licences for open data and standard data formats for technical openness. However, due to the background of the most participants in the initiative, it is rather focused on technical aspects of open data, and particularly linked open data.

Contrary to the initial feedback that OpenData.cz got, its conception does not compete with e-government activity. These two are mutually supportive and complementary efforts. While e-government advocates strive to make government function better through technology, the activities of OpenData.cz concern the only data inputs and outputs of the processes in public sector.

The pilot activity of OpenData.cz focuses on publishing public contracts data openly on the Web. This includes a bundle of related outcomes. To reach the desired level of data openness in this domain, OpenData.cz has started to develop Public Contracts Ontology to establish a well-defined data formalization, which is accompanied by a set of recipes for publishing public procurement notices in RDFa, and simple tool for choosing a proper code from Common Procurement Vocabulary.

Members of OpenData.cz intend to represent open data interests at local conferences, workshops, and similar events. Earlier this year, OpenData.cz helped to organize the Prague part of the Big Clean workshop. The Big Clean was a prime example of collaboration across different organizations working with open data. It reflects on a very important part of OpenData.cz activity that is networking with akin organizations. For instance, its members work with Open Knowledge Foundation on the Czech catalogue of datasets, cooperate with Datablog.cz, a platform for creative use of data, or are involved in European project LOD2 that is pushing the tools for publishing linked open data to the next level.

You can find more about the initiative and its mission at its website. OpenData.cz welcomes any help, so if you want to help this initiative to achieve its goals, and to make data from the Czech public sector openly available on the Web, please get in touch.

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