The central aim of the EU 2020 strategy is to put Europe's economies onto a high and sustainable growth path. To this end, Europe must strengthen its innovative potential and use its resources in the best possible way. One of these resources is public data - all the information that public bodies, at all levels of government, produce, collect or pay for. Examples are geographical information, statistics, business registers, environmental monitoring, education, research, health, cultural heritage and tourism. This information has a significant and currently insufficiently exploited potential for re-use in new products and services, for citizens' information, for efficiency gains in administrations and for economic growth. Overall economic gains from opening up this resource could amount to EUR 40 billion a year in the EU. Also for job creation, open data is significant. Germany's market for geo-information reached an estimated size of EUR 1.4 billion in 2007.
EU Member States have different governmental structures, spanning from highly centralised to completely federal. In all cases, a huge quantity of information is generated by public administrations at regional and local level, with the initial objective of fulfilling a specific mandate. Furthermore, organisations at national level can also support and manage portals that host large amounts of data that would otherwise be beyond the capabilities of any single entity.
With the development of easy and fast instruments for accessing, sharing and exploiting information, and in a context of economic crisis and rationalisation of public investments, the maximisation of public sector information re-use is an invaluable opportunity for improving efficiency and boosting the economy. Increased and easy availability of information will also benefit citizens, improving transparency of local governments and facilitating the development of end-user oriented applications (e.g. multimodal local transport routing).
Moreover, regions and national agencies managing ESIF are bound to publish at least a minimum set of information on funded projects and recipients. This information is crucial for enforcing transparency and understanding how public funds are used and what kind of results regional support policies have achieved. While some regions only release a minimum set of information (beneficiary names and total value of projects), more and more public authorities in Europe are taking current regulations as an opportunity to manage EU funds more transparently.
Open data portals
The European open data Portal includes over 240.000 datasets from 34 European countries. Information about the data available is structured into thirteen different categories ranging from agriculture to transport, including science, justice, health and more.
The Municipal Transparency Portal is an initiative of the Portuguese government to increase the transparency of local public administration management toward citizens. A set of indicators regarding the management of the 308 Portuguese municipalities and inter-municipal entities is presented in an easily accessible way.
OpenCoesione is Italy's first national web portal on the implementation of investments programmed in the 2007-2013 programming cycle by regions and central state administrations via cohesion policy resources. The portal allows Italian citizens to evaluate if and how development projects meet their needs and whether financial resources are allocated effectively.
The Helsinki Region Infoshare (HRI) service aims to make regional information quickly and easily accessible to all. Essentially, HRI is a web service for fast and easy access to open data sources between the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.
Information on ICT-enabled public sector innovation in H2020
UK Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information, What is the value of open data? (2014)
Ubaldi, B. (2013), "Open Government Data: Towards Empirical Analysis of Open Government Data Initiatives", OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 22, OECD Publishing.
McKinsey, Unlocking innovation and performance with liquid information (2013)