Opening up data in Ukraine

Four cities join the Open Data Charter

City officials from across Ukraine have been opening up their government’s data

Robert Palmer

Today Vinnytsia, Drohobych, Dnipro and Chernivtsi adopted the six principles of the Open Data Charter and we’re thrilled to have four more cities join our global network.

Cities have played an important part in the development of open data around the world. Often it’s cities that provide the basic services that people use day-to-day. This proximity to citizens means that city governments have been at the forefront of developing ways of being more responsive, including by opening up data that can be used to improve services. The Charter is currently researching how this works in practice and looking at the challenges faced by city-level open data projects.

By adopting the Charter these four cities are signalling a high level commitment to open data. Charter membership also provides a link to the broader international community working on similar issues. Find out more about the advantages of adopting the Charter here.

We spoke to the public officials leading the open data work in the four Ukrainian cities to understand the opportunities and challenges they’re facing.


Why open up data?

The city of Dnipro is opening up its data to increase confidence in the city government through greater transparency and dialogue with citizens.

Open data is an instrument to establish a stable dialogue between the authorities and the community in the city. Iryna Koretskaya, Director of IT development, Dnipro

More accountable government also helps to create a better business environment. This is partly because companies can use the data that’s being shared to make apps — a key reason for Vinnytsia’s open data programme.

Open data is an excellent source of information for software e-services developers to stimulate the growth of innovative business. Volodymyr Romanenko, chief of IT department, Vinnytsia

But it is also because more transparency can lead to better government services, which in turn helps grow the economy.

Open data can help ensure proper collection and use of government funds, as the Charter guide on combating corruption illustrates. The city of Drohbych has already seen this in action.

The city opened up data on adverts in public places, which have to be paid for. A simple app was developed to allow citizens to report illegally posted adverts, and our revenues doubled as more than 50 illegal adverts were found in the city. Stas Gayder, Advisor to the Mayor, Drohobych

Challenges

As with any new project, there are challenges with implementing open data reforms. The key issue mentioned by all four cities was the limited technical expertise within their governments and the need to persuade often sceptical officials of the value of transparency. For example, in Dnipro:

Open data is a new term in our city and very few government officials understand the need to publish data. Iryna Koretskaya, Director of IT development, Dnipro

Others mentioned that city officials needed to develop new approaches to work with citizens to identify priority datasets for publication. For many officials this sort of interaction was new.


Lessons for other cities

Each of the officials we spoke to were keen to ensure they learnt from others, which is part of why the adopted the charter. They also wanted to share what they had learnt with others.

Provide capacity building opportunities for civil servants about the potential of the open data. Stas Gayder, Drohobych
Data should be the subject of regular communication between the state and citizens. Iryna Koretskaya, Dnipro
Encourage the community to use the published data. Volodymyr Romanenko, Vinnytsia
I have one advice from my experience — just get on with it. Tetiana Lebukhorska, senior open data specialist, Chernivtsi

We look forward to working with these cities as they implement the Charter.