Public information for the use of the whole society
In its final report, the Open Data working group presents a roadmap and concerted practices for the opening up of public data. The goal is that open data will become a part of the basic activities in the administrative sector. Easy availability of information will create new service business and make administration more efficient.
Opening up public data for the reuse of external parties is one of the top projects in the Government's agenda.
The project is based on the Government's March 2011 decision-in-principle according to which data resources produced with public funding will be released for the use of citizens and companies.
- The decision about public administration becoming an active information provider was confirmed in the Government's March discussion on spending limits. Now it is the time to implement that decision, says Krista Kiuru, Minister of Housing and Communications.
- Making information public creates new opportunities for companies and communities, but the administration will also reap benefits from it. It is important also that transparency in the society's activities is augmented by active provision of information for public use, Minister Kiuru points out.
In practice, opening up data means that digital data administered by the public sector will be converted into a format in which it is easy to reuse: for example, in the software development of services offered to citizens and in the information flow between authorities.
The roadmap of what and when
In April 2012, the Ministry of Transport and Communications set up a working group, the task of which was to make proposals and implement measures required to promote the reuse of traffic and communication data. The working group included all the agencies of the administrative branch: Finnish Meteorological Institute, The Finnish Transport Agency, Trafi and Finnish Communications Regulatory Agency.
During its work, the working group mapped all data in the administrative sector and identified technical and legislative reform needs. In addition, the working group evaluated the impacts on the traffic and communication sector from opening up the data.
The final result of the work was a roadmap, which consists of a listing and a schedule for the release of the data. The working group also defined common practices for more extensive use of the information resources, so that the utilization of the data in different contexts would be as easy and smooth as possible.
Real-time traffic information and weather data was judged by the working group as the most important data to be opened to the public because there was a demand for this already. Traffic information includes information on traffic networks, schedule and route information for public transport, navigational data and technical data on means of transport. Weather information includes real-time weather and sea observations, climate data and national weather prediction model data. In addition, the working group proposed the release of the data on the state of communication networks.
The working group also proposes that making information available and promoting its use should be made a part of everyday activities of the agencies. The aim is that the practices of information release should be as smooth and uniform as possible, for example in regard of terms and conditions of use.
The costs of opening up the data were estimated to be approximately 40 million euros for the administrative branch of the Ministry of Traffic and Communication for 2013-2017 by the working group. According to the estimate, on the long run the economic and societal benefits created by the opening would be greater than the costs.
Liikenteen ja viestinnän avoin tieto (Open Data for Traffic and Communication). The report of the working group (Publications of the Ministry of Transport and Communications 10/2013) is available for reading at the Ministry's web site www.lvm.fi.
Ms Taru Rastas, Senior Adviser, tel. +358 295 34 2617