his post was written by Arianit Dobroshi

Kosovo is ranked 35th in the 2015 Open Knowledge Global Open Data Index , down from 31st place in last year’s measurement and marked as 43% open. In South East Europe, Albania ranked 37th and Macedonia, 69th. Others, such as Serbia and Bosnia, have not been scored since they did not submit all datasets to this year’s Index.

The drop in ranking is due to three reasons:

Firstly, the Government did not make any advancements in open data during 2015 on the datasets the Index covers.

Secondly, there are still copyright notices that mark content on public websites as protected, when actually it is in public domain. This is done despite the Law on Copyright which places documents the Government produces with the purpose of informing the public into the public domain.

Thirdly, Kosovo ranks particularly low in the four new datasets that were added this year to the Index. Kosovo is completely missing two datasets: Location datasets and Weather forecast. The Hydro-meteorology Institute collects the required weather data on their website but they are published only for a few days and then removed.

While the government of Kosovo does a fine job collecting the data in question, the data is not made publicly available on what I suspect are, for the most part, pure organizational reasons rather than political or technical ones. While this is unfortunate, the good news is that improvement would be quite easy. The requirements are modest to start with and Kosovo has already met most of the publishing criteria.

Let’s divide it into the index criteria:

Kosovo public data is in digital form; again not a fancy requirement today since having it otherwise makes it more burdensome for public officials.

Open License: Kosovo copyright law is rather good in placing public documents in the public domain for free use, including for commercial purposes, with the exception of the national map which is protected and commercialized by the Cadastre Agency. The Law on Access to Public Documents is another matter, however, since it stops use of documents accessed through this law “for commercial or propaganda purposes”. On machine readability, it starts getting tricky as many of the public websites were not developed with this requirement in mind.

On bulk availability Kosovo again misses out. Here the country would probably score worse if it was not for some of the datasets being shared in simple Excel format. We have quite a bit of spreadsheets and not enough databases. In cases of good databases, the public can’t access them in bulk.

We score well on up to date provision, but once again requirements are not very high here. Pollution data for example, are required on a yearly basis.

Where do we go from here?

The Kosovo Open Government Partnership Action Plan (in Albanian) has an action item dedicated to Open Data. An Open Data Portal has been set up this year, though the datasets provided are rather limited at this point. The Office of the Prime Minister has started consultations on amending the Law on Access to Information to include the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information which will provide a strong legal basis for open public data by positively committing the country to an open PSI policy.

Fresh devotion needs to be found about open government data once again. Not that the outcome will be the panacea to Kosovo’s problems, but it will strengthen transparency and evidence-based policy making and offer a strong base for other good governance efforts in Kosovo.

Post-war Kosovo was lucky to establish an administration without the burden of legacy systems. yet from the age of policy decision making to the current status, the lack of capacity and ability to adapt is beginning to be an impetus to the country’s progress.

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