A day for celebrating open data leaders

Top tips from public officials

On this Open Data Day 2019 we want to celebrate champions in governments around the world working to open up data based on our share set of principles. As part of our work to prove how open data can deliver on its potential we are showcasing stories, insights and top tips from Open Data Charter adopters in their journey to implement open data policies.

To this end, we reached out to leading open data reformers from countries including Colombia, El Salvador, France, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, and Ukraine; and localities, such as, Buenos Aires, Catalonia, Ontario and Veracruz, to learn about how they are using open data to create public value. We asked them why an open by default approach is fundamental to their government and to share examples of how citizens can benefit from strategies that focus on publishing with purpose. Even though they come from diverse contexts, they all share the same belief that just and equitable societies will be built on data that is open by default, coupled with efforts to safeguard privacy and security. Learn more about what they have to say:

  • Why should governments become open by default?:

“More and more, data is being used in unexpected ways to solve problems. Even when we can’t see a use for data today, governments should look to open it by default so that it can help solve tomorrow’s problems” -Paul Stone, Open Data Programme Leader in New Zealand

“Data belongs to citizens. By opening up its data, our Government strengthens its commitment to transparency while sharing its added value with society.” -Núria Espuny Salvadó, General Director of Transparency and Open Data in Catalonia

“The main objective of governments is the search for a better quality of life for their citizens. Data generated and shared by the government can be used to improve public services, as raw material for scientific research, generate entrepreneurship and economic development.” -Gerardo Pérez Gallardo, Director of Modernization, Innovation and Open Government in Veracruz, Mexico

“This is a continuous process combining evaluation and improvement. Information that governments create is not their own, but rather it’s public property. Citizens can be constructive critics of governments only when they have all the information, and this is the only way for governments to continuously improve and work at the service of citizens.” -Damjan ManchevskI, Minister of Information Society and Administration in the Republic of North Macedonia

“Opening up public data by default brings innovation and the use of data for the common good. It should be the new normal with which governments can create successful policies, encourage public participation and accountability to enable effective monitoring and evaluation.” -Yeama Thompson, Commissioner at the Right to Access Information Commission in Sierra Leone

“Open by default is necessary to institutionalize the subject but open by purpose is much more efficient to implement.” -Romain Tales, Interdepartmental Director of Digital and Information System in France

  • How is open data creating value in your government?:

“The most interesting (and not widely known) case is the transport real-time data that our government publishes, which is being used by Moovit and Google. It’s availability was a priority for us (it was part of the OGP action plan) and it has a clear impact on the quality of life of BA citizens.” -Martín Alalú, Operational Manager for Open Government in Buenos Aires City

“We believe interoperability is key for open data impact. We have developed a Unique Birth Code which is produced in the Health Ministry and is then shared with the national statistics office to automatically release public data of births in El Salvador.” -Raúl Velásquez, Specialist at the Electronic Government Direction in El Salvador

“We are developing solutions based on data that improve citizens’ lives: ClicSalud is an APP that uses open data to improve decisions when it comes to buying medicines, joining Health Promotion Agencies or reporting complaints in the provision of health services.” -Carlos Rozo, Digital Government Director in Colombia

“In Ukraine citizen are using open data to check the risks when buying property, monitor the water quality, explore the transport carrier licensing and many other things.” -Oleksandr Ryzhenko, Head at State Agency for e-Governance in Ukraine

“In New Zealand we are using historical weather data being used to investigate crime or road incidents and contribute to the legal process to help corroborate or disprove a testimony”, Paul Stone, Open Data Programme Leader in New Zealand.

  • When asked what one tip they would share with their past self who was just beginning to do open data work, here is what we heard:

“Open data is about making things better for people. Rather than viewing open data as an end in itself, view open data as a means to an end, and that end is helping people and solving problems.” -Christine Hagyard, Senior Manager of Policy and Partnerships for the Open Government Office in Ontario, Canada.

“Short and achievable objectives make a strong and sustainable strategy.” -Martín Alalú, Operational Manager for Open Government in Buenos Aires City

“Don’t focus on the completeness of the open data, instead try to identify public datasets which can generate impact for public administration and civil society.” -Romain Tales, Interdepartmental Director of Digital and Information System in France

“Always engage civil society organizations and business from scratch. They are your biggest allies that will create an open data impact. -Oleksandr Ryzhenko, Head at State Agency for e-Governance in Ukraine

“Openness with purpose: what is opened is what is needed and has the quality conditions that the ecosystem needs; Create a governance framework for the initiative supported by: solid regulations, tools, re-users, and establish mechanisms to measure the impact.” -Carlos Rozo, Digital Government Director in Colombia

“Perseverance! The culture of open data is now evolving and therefore requires perseverance to sustain it” -Yeama Thompson, Commissioner at the Right to Access Information Commission in Sierra Leone

This March 2nd, and in the coming days, join Open Data Day celebrations around the world using #opendataday or #odd19 in our twitter feed and help us share that when officials open up data we can trust to accelerate urgent reform efforts, it helps them govern better.