Northern Ireland has officially launched its open data portal, OpenDataNI, the goal of which is to provide a global platform where public services and all governmental agencies can publish data.
This CKan-based portal is now accessible through NIDirect, the official governmental portal for Northern Ireland citizens, which states that it provides ‘a single point of access to public sector information and services’.
The launch of OpenDataNI is also a key part of the open data strategy for Northern Ireland 2015-2018, which was published in February 2015. The document detailing the strategy states that it aims to create an ‘open by default’ culture. This strategy lists nine principles, including the use of open standards to ensure interoperability; the use of Open Government Licence (OGL); that all data on the NI open data platform is authoritative, accessible, relevant, timely, accurate and as unprocessed as possible; and that the use of open standards ensures interoperability. It also mentions that data will conform to step 3 on the 5-star scheme, ‘as a minimum’. This scheme, created by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor the Web, focuses on how data is published. A 3-star publication specifies that data is available on ‘a non-proprietary open format’ (e.g. CSV as well as of Excel).
61 datasets, the majority of which deal with land and property services
To date, the portal centralises 61 datasets, 34 of which belong to the land and property services. A further ten are related to transportation, for example bus timetables and lists of stops or railways stations; four are from the Department of Social Development; two are from the Driver and Vehicle Agency; and two from the Department for Employment and Learning. Data is accessible in CSV or JSON format, or as open standard for geo-localisation. Data can also be accessed through an API (Application Programming Interface) provided by the portal.
The portal is also open to suggestions from citizens requesting data from the public sector.