I got a report titled, “Good Basic Data for Everyone – A Driver for Growth and Efficiency” sent to my inbox last week. The report, published in October 2012, has been written as part of Denmark’s eGoverment Strategy 2011-2015.
It is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in Denmark’s Open Government Data (OGD) landscape in particular and with curiosity to learn about OGD in general. This report has been commissioned by Agency of Digitalisation, Government of Denmark. The fact that government is doing this kind of research, asking such questions, and be at the forefront of its OGD strategy is very encouraging.
The report first explains the concept of open data, looks at the question of what datasets to open, gives examples of OGD initiatives implemented already in Denmark, suggests an operational framework to implement OGD initiatives, and most importantly outlines tangible benefits of open government data for the public, businesses and public authorities.
Of all the view points in the report, I found the perspective on identifying the benefits of OGD most interesting. The report says that
“open [basic] data will benefit public-sector efficiency as well as innovation and value creation by Danish society in general. With [basic] data as a new digital raw material, commercial products can be developed and public information and services can be improved, providing for greater insight and stronger democracy. Open basic data will provide the public, businesses and the authorities alike with a number of tangible benefits.”
I found the division of benefits into three different categories, namely, the benefits for the public, businesses, and public authorities novel and interesting. The illustration below shows the benefits OGD can bring to these strands of our civil society.
To further reinstate and illustrate the benefits of OGD, the report gives few examples of the present applications of open data in Denmark. Two of the prominent examples are:
1. In 2002, the opening up of the Building and Dwelling Register containing detailed information about all buildings and dwellings in Denmark.
It led to an increase in the number of digital services and websites to enhance transparency and competition in the Danish real property market. Moreover, based on the study titled, The value of Danish address data: Social benefits from the 2002 agreement on procuring address data free of charge the benefits for society in the period 2005 to 2009 amounted to DKK 471 million. The study further states that the public sector saved DKK 38 million alone on not having to negotiate purchase agreements, manage rights etc thereby making their “procedures far more efficient.” Future growth potential for usage of these datasets may lead to applications in “GPS navigation and mobile application services, logistics and transport, real estates and utilities etc.“
2. Police agencies can work more efficiently and effectively if they have access to relevant, appropriate, and timely information. For example, following an explosion at a “fireworks storage facility in a residential area in 2004, the police linked business data from the Central Business Register to map data to identify other places in the country where fireworks businesses were situated in close vicinity to residential areas” to identify potential areas and undertake pre-emptive measures.
Other applications with use in either day to day policing activities or critical security situations will surely be developed in the future. We, as readers, may also think of any useful applications in this area that currently exist elsewhere?
With these examples it is clear that OGD has a lot of potential. Once the datasets related to “personal data, business data, real property data, address data, geographic data, and incomes data” open up – a lot of benefits can be realised. How much of this is accomplished globally or in Denmark specifically, however, remains to be seen!