The Web enables zero cost reproduction of digital information that makes it possible to share the information in a frictionless manner. Building on the premise that data deemed useful for the public sector is useful for the private sector as well, online exchange of public sector data allows to maximize its value by reaching members of the public that may recycle it and reuse it for their own purposes. In fact, the increased access and reuse of the disclosed public data is driven by technologies making it feasible .
Digital data may be represented in structured ways that make it machine-readable. Raw, machine-readable representations of data are amenable to automated processing and enable to retain the generative value of data, so that people and computers might use the data in a non-predefined way. Machine readability makes possible a wide array of interactions with data that go far beyond displaying it. In this way, disclosure of public sector data in a machine-readable format allows members of the public to find new uses for the data.
Adoption of the available technologies for data representation and storage may prove to have a disruptive effect on the public sector. Graham Vickery emphasizes two technological developments that, in his opinion, completely redefined the possibilities for public sector information [3, p. 6]. First, he points out to the technologies that enable digitization of public resources. Second, he highlights the role of broadband telecommunications that enable better access to public sector information.
The technologies for representing and exchanging data constitute the basic components for open disclosure of data. Open access to public sector data is considered as a key ingredient for a government that is open. Open government is “the notion that the people have the right to access the documents and proceedings of government” [4, p. xix], which is necessary for an open society that “reflects the universal values of intellectual autonomy, equality and trust” [5, p. 8]. Coupled with the demand for openness of the public sector, the technologies stimulated numerous initiatives promoting open data world-wide. Open data is a set of practices for data disclosure that strives to provide for an equal access and an equal use of the data.
The foundations of open data draw from related approaches. Driven by the recognition of freedom of information as a basic human right, open data transposes the principles of open access, close to those of open source, onto data. It complements the adoption of the approaches of e-government, which promotes use of information and communication technologies to improve government processes, and coincides with the call for government 2.0, which makes a better use of online collaborative technologies to create a more participatory government.
The application of open data, and more specifically linked open data, to the information held by public sector bodies constitutes the main theme of my diploma thesis titled Linked open data for public sector information, of which I am going to share excerpts here, in the form of blog posts. I have decided to publish it in this way because it allows me to share short and focused pieces on specific topics rather than just publishing the whole thesis. I think of it as of re-contextualization: the information flows differently on the Web than in academia.
In the thesis, public sector information represents the content, to which the principles of open data are applied using the technologies recommended by the linked data publication model. The goal of my thesis is twofold. The first part explores the competitive advantage of linked data for release of public sector information under the terms of open data principles. The second part extrapolates the impact and challenges associated with the adoption of linked open data for public sector information.
I hope you will find it useful.
You can find the original fulltext of the thesis here.
Table of contents
- What is public sector information?
- Legal aspects of public sector information
- Disclosure of public sector information
- Pricing models for disclosure of public sector information
- Concepts of open data
- Legal openness of data
- Licences for open data
- Principles of open data: accessibility
- Principles of open data: use
- Qualities of open data
- Open data policies
- Open data for public sector information
- Open data infrastructure of the public sector
- Open data as a platform
- What is linked data?
- Technologies of linked data: URIs
- Technologies of linked data: HTTP
- Technologies of linked data: RDF
- Linked data principles
- Linked data: discoverability
- Linked data: accessibility
- Linked data: permanence
- Linked data: use
- Linked data: quality
- Linked open data in the public sector
- Impact of open data
- Impacts of open data: transparency
- Impacts of open data: accountability
- Impacts of open data: efficiency
- Impacts of open data: disintermediation
- Impacts of open data: participation
- Impacts of open data: business
- Impacts of open data: journalism
- Challenges of open data
- Challenges of open data: implementation
- Challenges of open data: information overload
- Challenges of open data: usability
- Challenges of open data: data literacy
- Challenges of open data: misinterpretation
- Challenges of open data: privacy
- Challenges of open data: data quality
- Challenges of open data: trust
- Challenges of open data: procured data
- Challenges of open data: summary
- WRUUCK, Patricia. 2012: the year of big data. European Public Policy Blog [online]. Brussels, May 1st, 2012 [cit. 2012-05-01]. Available from WWW: http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.com/2012/05/2012-year-of-big-data.html
- BERNERS-LEE, Tim; SHADBOLT, Nigel. Our manifesto for government data. Guardian Datablog [online]. January 21st, 2010 [cit. 2012-04-07]. Available from WWW: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jan/21/timbernerslee-government-data
- VICKERY, Graham. Review of the recent developments on PSI re-use and related market developments [online]. Final version. Paris, 2011 [cit. 2012-04-19]. Available from WWW: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/psi/docs/pdfs/report/psi_final_version_formatted.docx
- LATHROP, Daniel; RUMA, Laurel (eds.). Open government: collaboration, transparency, and participation in practice. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2010. ISBN 978-0-596-80435-0.
- HALONEN, Antti. Being open about data: analysis of the UK open data policies and applicability of open data [online]. Report. London: Finnish Institute, 2012 [cit. 2012-04-05]. Available from WWW: http://www.finnish-institute.org.uk/images/stories/pdf2012/being%20open%20about%20data.pdf