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90% of countries not publishing key datasets in open formats

2014 Open Data Barometer Rankings released

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Over 90% of countries are not publishing key datasets in open formats, according to the latest Open Data Barometer findings.

The 2014 Open Data Barometer provides a global snapshot of open data initiatives, ranking countries according to their open data readiness, implementation, and impact of open data initiatives.

Just over 10% of the 1,290 different datasets examimed were published in open data formats— a slight increase from 2013, which found that 7% of datasets were published in full open data formats. For data to be considered truly open, it must be published in bulk, in machine-readable formats, and under an open license.

The barometer examined open data initiatives across 86 countries, providing a country ranking based on scores in each of these three categories.

The baromoter is designed to assist policy makers, researchers and open data advocates better understand the “open by default” approach to government data, and examine the impact of open data initiatives.

The study found that “despite pledges by the G7 countries to boost transparency by making government data “open by default”, almost half of the G7 countries are still not publishing the key datasets they promised to release in 2013”.

“Just 8% publish open data on government spending, 6% publish open data on government contracts, and a mere 3% publish open data on the ownership of companies. Citizens have a similarly difficult time accessing data on the performance of key public services — just 7% of countries release open data on the performance of health services, and 12% provide corresponding figures on education”, the report noted.

“Governments continue to shy away from publishing the very data that can be used to enhance accountability and trust” noted Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor and founder of the Web Foundation on the findings.

The report found a growing divide between countries able to establish and sustain open data programmes, and those countries where open data initiatives have stalled, moved backwards or not yet started.

The UK once again topped the global rankings, followed by the US, Sweden, France and New Zealand. Among developing nations, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil were recognised for strong progress, with Indonesia moving up 16 places in the rankings from 2013.

Only three of the countries that signed the 2013 G8 Open Data Charter ranked in the top 5 (UK, US and France), with Japan, Italy and Russia not even ranking in the top ten.

Key findings

  • Data critical to fight corruption and promote fair competition remains inaccessible or difficult to obtain.
  • Open data initiatives that receive senior government backing and sustained resources are more likely to create impact
  • Much more needs to be done to support data-enabled democracy around the world
  • In most countries, open data policies are not mandated by law
  • For data to be considered truly open, it must be published in bulk, machine-readable formats, and under an open license

Recommendations

The report recommends five key steps to achieve transparency and performance of governments:

  • High-level political commitment to proactive disclosure of public sector data
  • Sustained investment in supporting and training the community and entrepreneurs to understand and use data effectively
  • Customising open data tools and approaches to community needs
  • Supporting local government open data initiatives as well as national programmes
  • Legal reform to ensure the right to information and the right to privacy underpin open data initiatives.

In 2013, the G8 leaders nations signed an Open Data Charter — committing to make public sector data openly available, free of charge and in re-useable formats.

In 2014, this was backed by the worlds largest industrial economies, G20 nations pledging to advance open data as a weapon against corruption.

The Open Data Barometer forms part of the World Wide Web Foundation’s work on common assessment methods for open data.

Read the 2014 Open Data Barometer Report.