Open Data, Italy has awoken

The following guest post is by Vincenzo Patruno, who works at ISTAT – the Italian National Institute for Statistics. He has translated it from his original here.


The week before last was probably the most important week yet for open government and
open data in Italy. It started with the public announcement of the launch of both
dati.gov.it and AppsForItaly, the Italian open data competition. A few days later, during the Italian Statistics Day celebrations, institutional and civil society actors who made this announcement got together at the first official institutional event on Open Data. And those attending the Open Government Data Camp 2011 in Warsaw, told the world.

Meanwhile, the Ministry for Public Administration
and Innovation announced the Italian strategy on Open
Government: Government 2.0, G-Cloud and, above all, Open Data .
Obviously making an announcement is just the first step. It is necessary to
continue working to reach our goals. However, the portal dati.gov.it.
is now up and running. The idea is to turn it quickly into the open data
national catalogue for Italian public sector.

And to push the public sector to publish their data – as well as citizens, software developers and the market to use it – the Ministry decided to
support AppsForItaly, the Italian Open Data competition.

Apps4Italy is
a competition open to European citizens, associations, communities of
developers and companies to design solutions based on the use of interesting
and useful public data, capable of showing the whole of society the value of
information public assets.

Of course, nothing comes suddenly. For more than a year, most initiatives
related to open data and open government were in fact carried out by
independent civil society, associations, movements, foundations, and also
local authorities and private companies who believe in the power of open
data for transparency, democracy, and development. It’s
interesting how such initiatives that come “from the bottom” can bring together
the interest and support of the institutional world. Open Data is incredibly bringing institutions and public authorities to sit
around a table with associations, committees, and representatives of civil
society movements.

And this is what happened last October 20th at ISTAT, the National Institute
of Statistics.The Workshop Open Official Statistical Data, was planned as
part of the Italian Statistics Day celebrations and was the first “institutional” date after the launch of the government strategy on open
government.
There was talk of the Italian perspective on Open Data and Open
Government, but also of the centrality of open data for the action and
strategy of the European Commission, and about how the well-established
Istat’s and the whole National Statistical System’s “culture of data” can
and should be a key element in all initiatives related to the Open Data.
Then the Region Piemonte and the municipality of Udine, directely involved
in local open data initiatives, talked about their own experiences. And there
was talk of the Italian initiative dati.gov.it and appsforitaly with
movements, associations, foundations that made all this possible “from the bottom”.

Enrico Giovannini, president of Istat, touched on many subjects in his
conclusions, worthy of mention in a separate post. In particular,
he stressed what the Institute is doing to provide civil society, the
Web, and the market with high quality data at an ever-higher level of
detail.

Finally, in the same week the beta version of Wikitalia was also launched, a
project that “puts on the Web a number of tools for policy transparency,
re-use of public data and the participation of citizens.”
It is a platform
that primarily focuses on “the mayors and their administrations in order to
decide their own philosophy and tools of the Open Government”. They have
already joined the project the towns of Florence, Turin and Matera, while others will join soon.

Something is finally happening in Italy. And it is something important.

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