Information infrastructure is a necessary prerequisite for all information-demanding services. In his treatment on networks Yochai Benkler describes the need for a shared infrastructure.
“To flourish, a networked information economy rich in social production practices requires a core common infrastructure, a set of resources necessary for information production and exchange that are open for all to use. This requires physical, logical, and content resources from which to make new statements, encode them for communication, and then render and receive them” [1, p. 470].Ursula Maier-Rabler ties these insights to the public sector. “The prerequisite for the functioning of networks is a common infrastructure. The role of government is to provide that infrastructure” [2, p. 187].
In the current state of affairs, there are multiple fragmented infrastructures that the performance of public functions depends on. Moreover, it is common that these infrastructures are available to dedicated applications only, while being closed to applications from other parts of the public sector, let alone the ones created by members of the public. These information infrastructures are neither shared nor open.
Open data may serve as a data infrastructure of the public sector. By definition, it constitutes a fundamentally open and shared infrastructure, that is in line with the Benkler’s vision. Such infrastructure not only enables public services to run; but, because it is open to everyone, it also enables private services to run. Building such infrastructure is the goal of open data initiatives and policies.
- BENKLER, Yochai. The wealth of networks: how social production transforms markets and freedom. New York: Yale University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-300-11056-2.
- MAIER-RABLER, Ursula; HUBER, Stefan. “Open”: the changing relation between citizens, public administration, and political authority. eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government [online]. 2011 [cit. 2012-03-15], vol. 3, no. 2, p. 182 — 191. ISSN 2075-9517. Available from WWW: http://www.jedem.org/article/view/66