Recommendation 16

Recommendation 16: Facilitate the use of public administrations’ location data by non-governmental actors to stimulate innovation in products and services and enable job creation and growth

Why:

  • These actions help improve the sharing and reuse of location data to help build the data economy
  • Public sector data is a valuable asset on which added value products and services can be built
  • Governments are increasingly open to sharing their data but there are still too many restrictions in discovering the right data and accessing this data easily
  • There are inconsistent models in data licensing across European public administrations
  • There are proven studies in the contribution of government open data to growth, with geographic datasets being cited as some of the more important data

How:

  • Actively promote the availability of location data and web services to companies, research institutions, citizens and other interested parties
  • Make the process of searching, finding and accessing these data and web services as easy as possible, through for example:
    • Creating data portals merging location data and non-location data, so data needs can be satisfied in one search
    • Creating an API marketplace as a facilitator for reuse of location data by non-governmental actors
    • Using standardised metadata for describing location and non-location data
    • Consider broad potential uses of the data beyond the primary users, when describing the data resource and specifying metadata
    • Complementing general search facilities with “specialist” search, e.g. thematic portals, extended metadata, to cater for more specialist needs
    • Simplified and consistent data licensing using standard government-wide terms and conditions for re-use of data and services, both spatial and non-spatial, based on generally recognised approaches, e.g. Creative Commons
    • Clearly defined licensing for access to data that has been derived from third party sources (often a sticking point in access to thematic location data which is linked to authentic reference location data)
    • ‘Open data by default’ or ‘maximised access to open data’ if not the default, with access to public sector data free at point of use and without any reuse restrictions or conditions
    • Free ‘evaluation licences’ for public sector data that is ultimately chargeable
    • ‘Freemium’ licensing models to distinguish between free and non-free access to datasets, giving free access to, for example, lower resolution datasets, and chargeable access to higher resolution datasets.
  • Take a strategic approach to funding public sector location reference data (i.e. data that acts as a spatial reference to other data) alongside the funding of other important public sector authentic datasets, e.g. citizens, businesses, property ownership, including consideration of innovative funding models, to promote the widest possible benefit from such investment
  • Public administrations actively support private, non-profit and academic actors in the development of new products and e-services through, for example:
    • Establishing ‘innovation labs’ or ‘innovation hubs’ to foster new business developments using public sector data
    • Promoting open data policy in government and brokering access to this data through hackathons, open challenges to government
    • Incorporating non-government actors in the governance framework for public sector data, so that their demands and views are heard
    • Setting up testbeds, as a tool to provide different types of user access to services, tools and applications that still are under development. Testbeds make it possible to experiment with new technologies and to test and validate these new technologies in a ‘safe and controlled’ environment. An important benefit of testbeds to private companies is that they make it possible to take into account these new technologies in developing their own products and services
    • Setting up pilot projects, in which different stakeholders (public organisations, companies, researchers, etc.) collaborate in exploring, developing, testing and implementing new technological developments. The goal of such projects is to share existing knowledge, ideas and experiences on new technological developments, to stimulate people to further experiment with these new developments and to determine an integrated approach
    • Providing companies and other non-governmental actors the opportunity to add their data and services to the public sector (spatial) data infrastructure, where they are compliant and relevant, providing a wider audience for their products and services
    • Taking into account the needs and requirements of businesses, research institutions and other (potential) users in the further development and implementation of INSPIRE/SDI. This means also non-governmental actors and organisations are invited to participate in user requirements analyses and in defining and describing use cases
    • Demonstrating best practice examples of how private companies, citizens, academic institutions and other users make use of INSPIRE/SDI data and services to provide new or improved products and services. This can be linked to an award competition focusing on the best practices
    • Providing training in the skills needed to exploit public sector location data, use it in developing digital government solutions, and in creating new commercial products and services
  • Public administrations take specific action to facilitate companies from other countries wishing to establish operations or do business in their country, for example by:
    • Non-restrictive tender qualifications
    • Working with other countries on shared information sources for new businesses (see EULF Best Practice 12)
    • Reducing red-tape in registration of new businesses
    • An inclusive approach on promotion of innovation
    • Supporting the appointment of multi-national consortia on government funded projects to obtain the right skills
    • Supporting multiple languages where appropriate in relevant documentation and services

Challenges:

  • Businesses or citizens may not be aware of the possibilities that access to government location data may offer or have the capabilities to exploit the improved availability of this data. In accessing data, potential users may firstly have difficulties in finding the appropriate catalogue. Secondly, when they do find the catalogue, it may be difficult for them to find the right dataset for their needs, even though it appears in the catalogue. This is because data publishers may fail to provide good search parameters for their data or the catalogues may not have good quality search algorithms
  • Access to ‘high value’ location datasets, capable of supporting the broadest opportunities, may be more limited than access to other datasets
  • Access to public location data may be subject to ‘unavoidable’ restrictions, e.g. existing commercial arrangements with suppliers, personal privacy concerns associated with the data
  • Although the benefits of open data may be recognised, the cost of making such data available free of charge may be restrictive
  • Providing open access to high value government data may compromise the commercial position of certain players in the market
  • Free data still needs to be funded. If funding levels drop due to reduction or removal of income from licensing of data or data services, then quality may be compromised as a result
  • Different countries may have significant investments in different data standards, making harmonisation difficult to justify, even with the impetus of INSPIRE
  • Sharing technology and data doesn’t necessarily create business value and growth. There needs to be relevant business and commercial acumen and innovation to build the new data businesses of the future
  • The broadest capabilities come from existing players in the market who can afford to pay for their data
  • Product cycles are increasingly short and governments are too slow moving to match this pace of change
  • Governments may want to develop data services that are more appropriately placed in the private sector
  • The wider business environment, including wider government policy, may inhibit business growth, regardless of actions taken to provide access to data. This includes, for example, the tax regime, availability of capital, employment policy, policies on establishment of businesses from other countries etc

Best Practices:

Further reading:

Nature of documentation: Technical report

Categorisation

Type of document
Document
Licence
European Union Public License, Version 1.1 or later (EUPL) 
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