Section 2 -Progress towards Open Data
Making public data available is not a new concept, however, making the data available in such a way as to allow it to be easily re-used and shared, is for many a new way of approaching the publication of data. There is a growing International Open Data movement which recognises the value of data and seeks to encourage both the publishing of it and the innovative use of data.
In 2011 the European Commission published its report on Open Data which identified open data as an "engine for innovation, growth and transparent governance". In addition the report recognised that Open Data presents an opportunity for citizens to better engage with the public sector and the development of policies and delivery of public services. In 2013 the G8 members signed an Open Data Charter, which set out 5 Strategic Principles to support the release of data. The 2013 Open Data Barometer report sampled 77 countries and found Open Government Data policies and programmes in over 55%.
Data.gov.uk provides access to a huge range of data sets ranging from statistics to spend information. Across Europe a number of regions and cities have been developing data portals which provide people with a convenient way to access data sets in one place.
Within Scotland we have made significant progress in publishing spatial data driven by the EU INSPIRE Directive, which sets out requirements to publish certain spatial data in a prescribed format. Public sector organisations across Scotland are publishing their key spatial data sets and making the metadata available through the Scottish Spatial Discovery Infrastructure. The local government sector is also currently developing a project to support a more collective approach to the management and publication of spatial information, providing access to any spatial data created by local government in a consistent form.
Scotland's Environmental Web (SEWeb) provides a gateway to environmental information published by a range of bodies involved in protecting and improving Scotland's environment.
In local government, local authorities including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen City have been working to make much wider sets of data from their cities open and available for re-use. In South West Scotland the Crichton Institute is leading on a regional approach. The publishing of data has been supported by civic engagement activities where participants take part in competitions to come up with innovative uses of the data and/or to develop apps using the data.
There is also a growing interest in Scotland from individuals keen to understand more about the areas they live in and/or to make use of new data being made available by organisations. Groups such as the Open Knowledge Foundation are helping to build up a growing community of enthusiasts.