Helsinki celebrates the fifth anniversary of Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI), a European Open Data portal pioneer.
The HRI service, created in 2011, “distributes municipal public data from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area for free use by anyone“, according to information on the service’s website. It also centralises data from the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.
According to HRI usage statistics, city procurement data, historical aerial photos and postal codes are the most downloaded open data in the service. “The Helsinki procurement data contains tens of thousands of transactions made by city departments,” the statement said. The information covers “stationary purchases worth less than one euro all the way to the city’s half-billion-euro contribution to the health care operations of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District.”
Less need for citizens to make specific requests, data are already published
HRI explained that one of its tasks is to assist cities in opening their data. But “for the most part, the data produced by the cities are already public on the basis of the Openness of Government Activities Act”, HRI project manager Tanja Lahti said.
She added that “the aim of HRI is to make the opening of data part of the everyday activities of city officials. There is less and less need for citizens to make specific requests to the cities to get the information they need, as the data is accessible online through the HRI service and open interfaces”.
HRI also said that it is currently working on helping cities build Open API to allow developers retrieve data from the portal. But this work is “in its early stages”. In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, such interfaces include Helsinki Region Transport’s route and schedule data as well as the Open Ahjo interface for the City of Helsinki decision-making process”, Tanja Lahti said.