Bring on the Data! “European Parliament Approves Plans to Open Up Access to Public Data to Help Boost Innovation”
From the European Parliament:
Public information will become more accessible enabling companies to reuse the date to offer services and applications, under rules approved by Parliament on Thursday 13 June. This includes information such as geographic and weather data, statistics or digitised books. The initiative aims to promote transparency in public administration, spur innovation and give a boost to the digital economy. The Commission expect this legislation to give the economy a boost of up to €40 billion.
Under the new rules companies would get the data already available to public bodies either for free or for a marginal cost, as society has already paid for the collection of this information. MEPs negotiated with member states to ensure that any exceptions are clearly defined and that there are set rules of procedure for access to the data and redress in case of disputes.
There’s a huge benefit to opening up. Once information is out there, there is so much you can do with it. Today many of you are familiar with apps that tell you where you are and where you need to go – based on public data from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. But it goes beyond that: the boost from easier access is of the order tens of billions of euros. In short, this is an amazing raw material for innovation; we’re basically sitting on a goldmine.
But to make a real difference you need a few things. You need prices for the data to be reasonable if not free – given that the marginal cost of your using the data is pretty low. You need to be able to not just use the data: but re-use it, without dealing with complex conditions. And you need a wide range of data from across the EU, with consistent rules to make it easier to handle (like being machine-readable, not some poor-quality scan). And that is exactly what we are delivering.
All this can really make the difference: for example, when the Spanish land registry abolished charging in 2011, the number of companies downloading data went up 15-fold, from a few hundred to several thousand.
You’re probably already familiar with some of the apps that use open public data– whether it’s national governments, local authorities, or other public bodies.
[Our emphasis] We are giving you new rights for how you can access their public data for re-use, but also extending rules to include museums and galleries. That could open up whole new areas of cultural content, with applications from education to tourism. Indeed, Europeana already has over 25 million cultural items digitised and available for all to see – with metadata under an open, CC0 licence.
From the EC News Release:
After this final endorsement, the Commission will start developing a series of guidelines on the most relevant elements addressed in the Directive, such as licensing, datasets and charging arrangements
Member States will have 24 months from the date of entry into force of the revised Directive to transpose it into national laws Once fully implemented the Directive will boost the data market in Europe by making all the generally accessible public sector information available for re-use. Developers, programmers, creative citizens and businesses will be able to get and re-use public sector data at zero or very low cost in most cases. They will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content since materials in national museums, libraries and archives now fall under the scope of the Directive.
UPDATE: G8 science ministers endorse open access (via Times Higher Education)
Tip and Thanks: @mattrweaver
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.