Open Data and Rpsi (Re-use of Public Sector Information)
The terms Open Data and Re-use of Public Sector Information (RPSI) are very closely related. The remit in both cases is to provide society with the raw data produced or held by the administration.
Although these two terms may seem similar, the concept Open Data stems from activism related to free and open knowledge, with its aim being to deliver data in standard open formats (non-proprietary), with no restrictions or payment involved (they should be free).
In turn, RPSI is a term coined in Europe by those public administrations championing the right to re-use data. This may involve paying for the use of these data, their so-called marginal costs, and they should preferably be disclosed in standard format, although they may be delivered in any format. RPSI has led to the appearance of a new business fabric capable of developing profitable business ideas based on the re-use of information.
To ensure that the term open data is being used appropriately, it must meet the following principles:
1. Open By Default
This represents a real shift in how government operates and how it interacts with citizens. At the moment we often have to ask officials for the specific information we want. Open by default turns this on its head and says that there should be a presumption of publication for all. Governments need to justify data that’s kept closed, for example for security or data protection reasons. To make this work, citizens must also feel confident that open data will not compromise their right to privacy.
2. Timely and Comprehensive
Open data is only valuable if it’s still relevant. Getting information published quickly and in a comprehensive way is central to its potential for success. As much as possible governments should provide data in its original, unmodified form.
3. Accessible and Usable
Ensuring that data is machine readable and easy to find will make data go further. Portals are one way of achieving this. But it’s also important to think about the user experience of those accessing data, including the file formats that information is provided. Data should be free of charge, under an open license, for example, those developed by Creative Commons.
4. Comparable and Interoperable
Data has a multiplier effect. The more quality datasets you have access to, and the easier it is for them to talk to each other, the more potential value you can get from them. Commonly-agreed data standards play a crucial role in making this happen.
5. For Improved Governance & Citizen Engagement
Open data has the capacity to let citizens (and others in government) have a better idea of what officials and politicians are doing. This transparency can improve public services and help hold governments to account.
6. For Inclusive Development and Innovation
Finally, open data can help spur inclusive economic development. For example, greater access to data can make farming more efficient, or it can be used to tackle climate change. Finally, we often think of open data as just about improving government performance, but there’s a whole universe out there of entrepreneurs making money off the back of open data.
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