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Open Data Euskadi (@opendataeuskadi)

Published on: 19/04/2011
Document

'OPEN DATA EUSKADI' is a service that embodies the agreement of December 29, 2009, by which the Basque government ordered the implementation of the project for the opening of public data, pursuant to Spanish Law 37/2007 of reuse of public sector information (which transposes Directive 2003/98/EC. Its scope and objectives are beyond the mere economic implications, as part of the open government model advocated by the current Basque Government, bringing into play the values ​​of transparency, participation, collaboration and service.

By the agreement of December 29, 2009, the Basque Government is committed to a genuine opening up of public data in its possession, that is, of all data not under privacy, safety or property restrictions. The release of datasets in reusable formats has been conducted in an orderly manner and according to priority criteria. The datasets are available under open property licenses, allowing redistribution, reuse and commercial exploitation.

On April 7, 2010 this project took shape on the http://opendata.euskadi.net website, that provides access to various data sets from the Basque Government: geographical, meteorological, statistical, administrative procedures, resources tourist, traffic data, linguistic data, work schedule, etc.

At the time of its birth, Open Data Euskadi was the first non-Anglo open data website in the world. It started with more than 1.000 datasets and has not stopped growing since then. In its first year of existence has received numerous awards, most notably the award FICOD 2010 for the best service for users.

By the time of its second birthday (April, 2012), these are the main figures:

- datasets: ≈2.000

- community: >1.000 followers on twitter

- monthly downloads: >500

Policy Context

'OPEN DATA EUSKADI' is a service that embodies the agreement of December 29, 2009, by which the Basque government ordered the implementation of the project for the opening of public data, pursuant to Spanish Law 37/2007 of reuse of public sector information (which transposes Directive 2003/98/EC. Its scope and objectives are beyond the mere economic implications, as part of the open government model advocated by the current Basque Government, bringing into play the values ​​of transparency, participation, collaboration and service.

By the agreement of December 29, 2009, the Basque Government is committed to a genuine opening up of public data in its possession, that is, of all data not under privacy, safety or property restrictions. The release of datasets in reusable formats has been conducted in an orderly manner and according to priority criteria. The datasets are available under open property licenses, allowing redistribution, reuse and commercial exploitation.

On April 7, 2010 this project took shape on the http://opendata.euskadi.net website, that provides access to various data sets from the Basque Government: geographical, meteorological, statistical, administrative procedures, resources tourist, traffic data, linguistic data, work schedule, etc.

At the time of its birth, Open Data Euskadi was the first non-Anglo open data website in the world. It started with more than 1.000 datasets and has not stopped growing since then. In its first year of existence has received numerous awards, most notably the award FICOD 2010 for the best service for users.

Description of target users and groups

Business and citizens

Interested in reusing the data in innovative ways to:

  • Build services (applications) that bring added value
  • Analyze and evaluate the activity of public administration

Public bodies' officers for local, provincial, regional, national or European levels

Interested in reusing information from other governments to provide services to citizens, regardless of who is competent and responsible for the data

Government officials and managers

Interested in ordering and documenting the information provided to citizens.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

1.1 Strategic orientation

Spanish Law 37/2007 provides a range of possibilities when releasing public information. We have chosen a solution based on these principles:

  • Provide raw data rather than produce documents
  • Provide data in formats that can be reused
  • Achieve the use of data rather than technological sophistication
  • Link an alliance with industry to promote the reuse infomediary
  • Do not collect taxes in order to encourage greater reuse
  • When a dataset may have intellectual property implications, applying open licenses (CC BY)

1.2 Strategies of approaching the infomediary sector 

On January 1, 2011 we launched a blog aimed primarily at re-users and others interested in open public data (http://opendata.blog.euskadi.net/). The blog aims to show practical examples of use of data, including parts of application code based on our public data. 

Through this blog we intend to report: 

  • The release of new datasets, or developments referred to the Open Data website.
  • News about the release of government data, also from other public administrations, with special attention to the nearest ones 
  • Technical information on datasets, explaining its format, and outlining possible applications of them. 
  • Samples and best practices from organizations using our datasets in their own projects. 

Our interest is primarily to promote this last point: that the datasets are reused, which infomediaries of Euskadi or beyond, including public data in projects of their own interest, giving them added value at the same time. We try to encourage their use with simple but illustrative examples of possible applications.

Finally, in line with the blog, we also report via Twitter (@opendataeuskadi) and we want to expand the community interested in everything related to open data.

1.3 Change management 

The keys to the success of the project are:

  • Policy framework, as part of a strategy for Open Government
  • Strong leadership from the highest levels
  • A technological platform that centralizes and shares information (euskadi.net)
  • Innovation sector and civil society which collaborate in defining the project and in providing value to the data
  • A culture of transparency that begins to be accepted by officials and civil servants

1.4 Conclusions 

Although the movement for the release of government data has already reached a certain tradition, examples are scarce. We are in the beginning of a new era. On April 22, 2010, CTIC Foundation recognized 96 open data catalogues (http://datos.fundacionctic.org/sandbox/catalog/faceted/) in the world, including some that have just announced their aim. 

It is soon to assess the accountability of the use of data. We are in the process of creating the ecosystem where the release of data is accompanied by its use. A current difficulty is that the development of mashups that combine data from several sources is very difficult if the majority of public bodies do not have a policy of openness. 

For this reason, we focus radically upon the use of data, while we are encouraging and assisting public sector organizations to join this movement. As an example of the former, we released the Basque language bases, because we knew there was a community of translators willing to put them to use. From the standpoint of policy, Law 37/2007 allows the release of public data. In the medium term, progress will be made at the level of obligation of the authorities, and even give rights to citizenship, following the same path travelled by the eGovernment. 

Technology solution

The basic infrastructure is the same as for euskadi.net, the web system of the Basque Government. That is, 'Open Data Euskadi' is built on the same  content manager, portal manager and catalogation manager, and uses the same browser. This has given us several advantages:

  • The project is based on the functional / strategic, not on the technological.
  • We have completed the project within a short time
  • We have developed the project at low cost
  • He have been able to chop the project into a number of small ones and divide the work amongst several companies

Applied technologies:

Content Manager (CMS) and Portal Manager:

  • Manager: house development (J2EE)
  • Storage: Interwoven

Catalogation labels' manage:

  • Manager: house development (J2EE)
  • Labelling: house development (J2EE)

Browser:

  • Indexer: house development (J2EE)
  • Search engine: Autonomy

Publisher: OpenDeploy

DataSets publishing applications: house development (J2EE)

Content Delivery: Apache web server

Base operating system: Red Hat Linux 4

Database: Oracle 10

Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

On April 1, 2010, we had 1272 data sets, which are almost entirely in two versions, Basque and Spanish. 1,122 of them also have an English version.
Most of our datasets are statistics. Other relevant data are maps and geodata, many of them in the environmental field. We offer weather information, including weather forecasting, and a large amount of data on tourist resources of Basque Country. We also offer data from administrative contracts, grants and subsidies, from 2008 to the present.

We have also opened some datasets significant for other reasons:

  • Data on management, such as the results of the surveys to the public on the quality of citizen service.
  • Data of common interest to many applications, such as the working calendar of the Basque Country.
  • The location of mass graves and the list of missing people during the Civil War and dictatorship.
  • Database of translations into Basque, for use by professional translators.
  • The impact of real-time traffic.

As an example of reuse, 'Open Data Euskadi' has developed a widget that displays the weather forecast. This item is being reused, for example, on the website of the City of Vitoria-Gasteiz. We will soon offer a version for use on mobile phone on Android.

Since August 2010 we are controlling the amount of times that our data are downloaded. In this period the average is about 250 unique downloads a month, in progress.

In its first year Open Data Euskadi has served about 180,000 pages, with 30,000 unique users, very satisfactory figures if we take into account the restricted group to which it is addressed.

Goal 1: improving information systems' management in the public bodies
An interesting consequence of the opening of the information in reusable formats is that it triggers informational hygiene. Each set of data must be verified. Each one is displayed through a structured document. Each one is associated to a persistent address (URI). As a result, we have discovered that the first re-user data are of our own administration, because officers can find a repository of reliable and easily processable here.

Objective 2: increasing the transparency of Government
euskadi.net, our network of sites, remains our principal tool for transparency. The policy of opening up data has acted as a spur to achieve triple the rate of creation of content on the web.
Moreover, many of the exposed data sets are intended to allow citizens the process to create transparency. For example, a citizen has used some datasets to create comogastan.com, a website where people can control public expenses.

Goal 3: generating data interoperability between public sector sites.
To generate public data interoperability between public bodies, a number of these must open their data. Today, we are the only Basque Administration which opens its data, so which we can only account for one-way applications, from the Basque Government to others. An example is weather information which shows the town of Vitoria-Gasteiz through our widget. We urge the provincial and local administrations to initiate the profitable path of openness.

Goal 4: encouraging innovation.
In Euskadi we are fortunate to have a dynamic and innovative entrepreneurial sector around Internet technologies and services. As an example, infocarretera.com, the application that won the OpenData Challenge 2011, came out of traffic data in euskadi.net.  Representatives of this sector have welcomed the initiative and contacts are being made to try to get cases of innovation from the reuse of public data. The Department of Innovation and Information Society is going to play an important role in promoting such activities.

Goal 5: adding value through the reuse of public information.
It is not easy to know the census of reuses obtained, but we do know which there are about 250 unique downloads of datasets, monthly. We are giving visibility to some of these redeployments in the Open Data Euskadi blog. An example is the reuse of our data from public tenders by euroalert.com, or of our orthophotography by Wikiloc.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

Since its birth, Open Data Euskadi has aroused great expectations, both between the government and among re-users. In November, Open Data Euskadi was awarded the prize FICOD 2010 to the more user-oriented service. A fact we are especially proud of is being the first non-Anglo-Saxon source in the global aggregator of public open data by The Guardian.

From the very beginning, this project has been favoured by the participation of people and companies that can reuse information. So we have had contact, both presentially and by using the internet, with our users, both individually and grouped in platforms such as 'Askatu Datuak' and associations such as 'ASEDIE', 'Pro Bono Publico', and 'Open Knowledge Foundation'. Indeed, the Basque Government sponsored the national competition, "Open Data Challenge 2010", organized by Pro Bono Publico, which resulted in 30 new web applications from public sector data.

On January 1, 2011 we opened a blog that aims, first, to showcase best practices for reuse of information from Basque Government, while providing technical articles. It also provides a channel for questions and suggestions. The blog has been reinforced with a Twitter account which aims to improve dissemination. Around Twitter account is growing a community with more than 400 people. 

Lessons learnt

It is only 1 year since the launch of open data service, but we can already draw some lessons that explain the success of the project, and we offer these to other authorities that want to take this step:

  1. Top political leadership and advocacy on issues that enable an effective transparency.
  2. Release short term, the maximum number of data sets for reuse.
  3. Use criteria of maximum utility and minimum difficulty in releasing the data sets.
  4. Make the project sustainable, with moderate levels of investment and spending. This allows not charge fees and thus lower barriers to reuse.
  5. The priority is to provide good web content, usable and understandable. These are also offered as open data.
  6. In any case, release the data in structured formats and meet standards.
  7. Listen to and involve infomediaries to focus the project in meeting their needs.
  8. Advance the semantic enrichment of the data sets to improve their ability to be reused, without seeking the leadership in this regard.
  9. Permanent Beta: flexibility in advancing the project in response to the changing environment.
Scope: International