In Finland, diverse information resources are provided as open data, from geodata to weather, climate, sea, soil related, transport, financial, statistical and cultural data. Also, a growing number of municipalities are opening up their data. Such data were not interoperable in terms of their content or technical aspects, and need to be standardised. For some government agencies selling their data has also been a source of income. Therefore, the opening up of information resources has been prepared as a part of the planning of the central government spending limits and the general government fiscal plan of Finland. Ministries, government agencies, municipalities, enterprises, NGO’s, various organisations, and citizen bodies have been involved in the implementation of the Open Data programme.
This programme, launched by the Finnish Ministry of Finance in 2013, mainly targeted to eliminate obstacles to the reuse of Finnish public data as well as creating the preconditions for open data within the Finnish public administration. The programme has created practices and structures for standardising and supporting the systematic opening of information resources. The final objective is to achieve data re-use as extensively and quickly as possible, in case there are no restrictions in the legislation.
The Ministry of Finance is the core policy provider for ICT and digitisation in Finland. The Ministry steers the development of information management in both central and local government, supported by the Act on Information Management Governance in the Public Sector. The task of the Ministry of Finance is the general steering of Finnish public sector agencies’ information management in accordance with the Act. In January 2013, the Advisory Committee on Information Management in Public Administration (JUHTA), was created to coordinate the implementation of measures set up by the Finnish Government, which is serviced through the Finance Ministry Public Sector ICT Unit (JulkICT).
In 2013, The Finnish Ministry of Finance in collaboration with other central government and local authorities of Finland published the first Finnish public sector ICT strategy for central and local government administrations. As stated in the strategy, the authorities must ensure an attractive option of the digital channel to the client. The key issues for building digital services are: interoperability of services, user-oriented design, renewal of service processes, information security and data protection. Open data and information is one of the main strategic alignments in the strategy.
A number of the government's actions and measures have been taken in line with this ICT strategy. A government resolution in this regard approved the principles of opening data on improving the accessibility and promoting the reuse of public information resources in digital format. With this in mind, in May 2013, the Ministry of Finance of Finland launched the Open Data Programme.
The leading principle of data openness is to make all public sector data available for re-use for commercial and non-commercial purposes. In this way, the Open Data Programme implements the objectives of the EU’s PSI Directive (Public Sector Information) on the re-use of public information resources.
Reported ex-ante evaluations have estimated that the potential benefits of opening up public data resources are substantial. Open access to public data in machine-readable format creates opportunities for:
There are also several target users and groups of the Open Data Programme: citizens, developers of open data, businesses and public administrations.
Government agencies and municipalities are producers of open data, as well as education, training and research organisations.
As a follow-up to the Finnish Open Data programme, various actions to develop structures and practices for open data have been taken. The aim was promoting the opening of public information resources free of charge, eliminating obstacles to the re-use of public data, developing interoperability and creating the preconditions for utilising open data.
Avoindata.fi / opendata.fi is an open data portal of Finland. It is a part of Service Portfolios of the Government ICT Centre Valtori. The Centre is the producer of sector-independent ICT services for the central government of Finland. The portal was launched in September2014. The aim of the portal is to provide information from the Finnish administration about opened data resources, interoperability descriptions and guidelines. . It offers information on more than 1,400 data and information resources. .
The EU Open Data Portal (ODIP) is the pan-European single point of access to European datasets. It allows access to a growing range of data produced by the institutions and other bodies of the European Union.
JulkICTLab is a platform for the development of open data based services. It provides a framework for new service innovation with a new environment for public administrations’ digital services. This project was launched as a part of the Finnish Open Data Programme in November 2013.
As from the first of July 2016, the Government ICT Center Valtori will produce the public administrations' service development environment in cooperation with CSC – IT Center for Science Ltd.
Avoindata.fi API is the main repository for Finnish Open data and Interoperability services. It provides documentation on using the API Avoindata.fi/Opendata.fi. It is built on top of CKAN platform, and provides a metadata catalogue of Finnish open datasets. CKAN is an open-source DMS (Data Management System) for powering data hubs and data portals. CKAN makes it easy to publish, share and use data. With the Avoindata API, user can retrieve and manage datasets with their own programmes. In the CKAN data model, users and datasets belong to organisations. Organisations own datasets and mandate permissions. Datasets are metadata describing a single and logical set of open data. A dataset has one or more resource, which are either files on the server or external links that contain the data itself.
The service combines two related subservices:
The systematic process of opening up public sector information resources started effectively because of the Open Data Programme and made it possible that significant information resources are now available as open data in Finland. The necessary structures and practices make the continuum of this process possible also after the programme finalisation. Avoindata.fi is developed as a central service to find public sector open data, interoperability instructions, guidelines and good practices. An example of good practices is the public recommendation to use Creative Commons 4.0 BY as a licence for using open data.
Open data is the basis for digitalisation, which is one central theme of the current Finnish government´s strategic programme. So open data is no more a separate issue, but can be seen as a part of a long-term information policy and an important way for the public sector to make its data and information resources available. This government's programme highlights the re-use of open data in private sector as one of the driving forces for creating new business and jobs.
One of the greatest results is the collaboration and eco-system which has developed during the programme and brought together various actors: civil servants, developer and citizen communities, researchers and private sector. The Open Data Programme published a preliminary study on the impacts of open data. According to it very little is still known about the underlying economic and organizational mechanisms and implications of open data use at the organizational level or on the level of economy as a whole. The follow-up of this study concerning cost-effective use and impacts of open data is conducted in 2016.
In Finland, Government agencies and municipalities hold extensive information resources, consisting of public information that citizens, enterprises, researchers and trainers are entitled to use. In practice, public data has been saved in various formats by different users. Such data is not interoperable and needs to be standardised. The Finnish Open Data Programme helped to improve the utilisation of public sector information resources. However, after opening up extensive information resources, the Finnish public sector still has a lot of data that should be open in order to benefit various actors in society. Therefore, public sector data should also further be opened stage by stage and in a systematic manner. This is the basis and part of the digitalisation and information management framework. There are also more demanding challenges for open data concerning managing, quality, interoperability, protection and preserving of data.