G8 countries must work harder to open up essential data
PRESS RELEASE. Cambridge, UK, 14th June 2013.
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Open data and transparency will be one of the three main topics at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next week. Today transparency campaigners released preview results from the global Open Data Census showing that G8 countries still have a long way to go in releasing essential information as open data.
The Open Data Census is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation, with the help of a network of local data experts around the globe. It measures the openness of data in ten key areas including those essential for transparency and accountability (such as election results and government spending data), and those vital for providing critical services to citizens (such as maps and transport timetables). Full results for the 2013 Open Data Census will be released later this year.
The preview results show that while both the UK and the US (who top the table of G8 countries) have made significant progress towards opening up key datasets, both countries still have work to do. Postcode data, which is required for almost all location-based applications and services, remains a major issue for all G8 countries except Germany. No G8 country scored the top mark for company registry data. Russia is the only G8 country not to have published any of the information included in the census as open data. The full results for G8 countries are online at: http://census.okfn.org/g8/
Rufus Pollock, Founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:
“We’re delighted that many G8 countries have indicated their support for open data but today’s results show that progress is lagging behind promise. We call upon them to make good on their commitments and take a leading role in opening up the world’s data, to enable real transparency and accountability.”
Andrew Stott, former UK government Director for Transparency and Digital Engagement, who currently sits on the UK’s Public Sector Transparency Board, said:
“This is excellent work by the Open Knowledge Foundation’s community on measuring the reality of open data for the most important datasets. It shows that good progress has been made in recent years. However it also shows that there is more for all countries to do in order to deliver the open data vision and it gives each country a clear agenda for further improvement.”
Chris Taggart of OpenCorporates, the largest openly licensed database of companies in the world, said:
“Company registers are the fundamental public record of the creation and existence of companies. Today we live in a world where large corporations can consist of opaque networks of thousands of interlinked companies, avoiding scrutiny and competition. Criminals, money launderers, corrupt officials and fraudsters routinely use networks of front companies to hide and move money. In this context it is essential that access to the statutory information is not just freely available, but available under an open licence and as machine-readable data. Today’s results from the Open Data Census show that this message hasn’t yet got through to many of the world’s largest nations.”
David Eaves, co-founder of Open Data Day – which this year saw participants in 100 cities – and Openness advisor to the Mayor of Vancouver, said:
At a moment when many G8 members are trying to find ways to make government data more accessible the G8 Open Data Census could not be more timely. As a tool it offers a simple, easy to understand and clear way of evaluating how the different G8 countries are performing. I hope the leaders of each of those countries look at the census and use it as a way to learn from their peers and drive further change within their own government.
Charles Arthur, co-founder of the Free Our Data campaign and technology editor at the Guardian newspaper said:
As co-founder of the Free Our Data campaign, I’d say that it’s more important than ever for governments to make data available to us all so that we can understand and improve the world around us.
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The Open Knowledge Foundation, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WS UK.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The G8 countries are meeting in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, UK, from June 17–18, 2013. The G8 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Open data and transparency are one of the three main topics for this year’s event. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/g8-2013
The Open Knowledge Foundation is a global movement to open up the world’s data and see it used and useful, empowering citizens with new knowledge and insights, and enabling fair and sustainable societies. The Foundation catalyses activities which promote and build on freely reusable open data and open content – including public information, publicly funded research and public domain cultural content. See: http://okfn.org/
The Open Data Census is coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation, using a network of local data experts around the globe to audit the levels of openness in each country. Full results for the 2013 Open Data Census will be released later this year. The datasets in the census are: Election Results; Company Register; National Map; Government Budget (by sector); Government Budget (transactional level data); Legislation; National Statistical Office Data (economic and demographic information); National Postcode/ZIP database; Public Transport Timetables; and Environmental Data on major sources of pollutants. For further information about the census, see this blog post. The preview results for the Open Data Census for G8 countries are available online at: http://census.okfn.org/g8/
The Open Definition sets out the principles which define “openness” in relation to data and content, to ensure that it can be freely used, reused and redistributed, and that it is interoperable with other open materials. Open materials must be freely usable and distributable by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. To ensure this, the Open Definition requires that open material is accessible, in a suitable format, and has an appropriate open licence associated with it. See: http://opendefinition.org/
The United Kingdom and the United States both say that open data is a priority issue for their countries and for the world. US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have both made strong, explicit commitments to opening up official data. In May 2013 Obama released an Executive Order “making open and machine readable the new default for government information”, which was widely heralded as a major step. Over the past few years, the UK has released some of the most detailed spending information released by any government.
The Open Government Partnership is an international initiative to gain multilateral action on government openness, founded in 2011. Fifty-nine countries have subscribed to the Partnership so far. Half of the G8 countries are members of the Open Government Partnership (Canada, Italy, UK, US) and half are currently not (France, Germany, Japan, Russian Federation). Russia withdrew from the Open Government Partnership in May. See: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/