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Open government data in Germany: what next?

Daniel Dietrich - April 12, 2010 in Open Data, Open Government Data, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data

Following is a guest post from Daniel Dietrich, Chairman of the Open Data Network, Official Representative of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Germany and Researcher at the centre for Computers and Society at the Technical University Berlin.

In this post I will try to give you an overview and update on what is happening on open data, open government and other open knowledge related developments in Germany over the last few months.

About open data in Germany

Quite a lot has happened since last September, when we founded the “Open Data Network”, a non-profit organisation to promote open data, open government, transparency and citizen participation here in Germany. This new initiative gained a lot of attention and positive feedback from all across the society: among the founding members we have representatives from civil society organisations, the public sector, private companies and representatives from all 6 major german political parties. Since then we have established a wide network, continually reporting on open data issues on our well known Open Data Blog, and have been invited to present at a wide variety of meetings, workshops and conferences.

Obstacles to opening up

The simple reason why we are still far away from “data.gov.de” is that the political situation, the administrative structures and legislations here are very different compared to the UK or the US. Of course the other reason is that we have no charismatic persons like President Obama or Sir Tim Berners-Lee to push this topic into mainstream and into official policy.

But there are more serious problems: For example there is no central Office of Public Sector Information and also nothing like an “Information Asset Register” – it simply does not exist. Also our “Informationsfreiheitsgesetz”, which is the German equivalent to the “The Freedom of Information Act” is a toothless tiger, allowing for so many exceptions that successfully requesting information can be difficult.

But still … there is hope.

Against this background the Open Data Network focuses on building positive, community driven examples. We can and will not wait for German authorities to become more transparent and open up their data themselves (even this is still the long term goal).

So D.I.Y. is our motto

And here we go: The Open Data Network is proudly hosting the first ever “Open Data Hackday” on open government data this coming weekend: on April 17-18, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Its a BarCamp like event working on apps, websites and new innovative services using open data and which will help make government data more open and accessible to the public. We hope to come up with some good examples and prototypes.

Also on the Open Data Hackday we will officially launch a german version of CKAN which is our starting point and backbone for a open and community driven open data catalogue in Germany. We are also planning other events later this year like a German version of the famous “Apps4Democracy” competition – once we identify a partner city willing to open up their data for developers to build on.

The Open Knowledge Foundation in Germany

But the main reason wile I am blogging here is to say “thank you” for all the support of the lovely people at the OKF community that have helped and encouraged us to go ahead with our ambitious projects.

The next step for further cooperation between the OKF and the ODN is the official launch of OKF Germany on 6th May at the Leipzig Semantic Web Day (LSWT) in Leipzig, Germany. The LSWT is an interdisciplinary scientific gathering on semantic technologies and linked data with this years focus on open access, open data and open government.

I’ll be posting here on a regular basis to keep readers updated – so more to come soon!

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