By Anna Scott, Fiona Smith, Jeni Tennison, and Peter Wells
The World Wide Web Foundation recently released a ‘leaders edition’ of its Open Data Barometer report, with the tagline ‘from promise to progress’.
The report looks specifically at 30 governments that have made concrete commitments to champion open data – either by adopting the Open Data Charter, or, as members of the G20, by signing up to the G20 Anti-Corruption Open Data Principles.
The report shows that the emphasis put on open data amongst these 30 open data government ‘leaders’ has decreased over the last five years. We were particularly taken by this comment in the report:
“Promises on infrastructure and community building remain undelivered: Governments that historically have ranked highly in the Barometer have been promising to invest in national data infrastructure and community building around open data for years. But these conversations continue year after year with very little actual investment.”
At the same time, a new batch of reformers – including Ukraine, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina – are rising in the ranks. This trend has continued since the fourth edition of the barometer, which had similar findings. We’re really proud of our work supporting countries in this group – for example, Ukraine and Mexico – and have learned huge amounts from working with the teams there to help improve their economies and societies.
We believe that sectors and societies must invest in and protect the data infrastructure they rely on.
The ways that data are used for artificial intelligence and the need to use personal data ethically are becoming more important, as we’ve seen from the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year.
At the ODI, we believe that sectors and societies must invest in and protect the data infrastructure they rely on. Open data – from both the government and the private sector – is crucial to the foundation of this data infrastructure. Despite their retreat in the rankings, countries like the UK, Canada, France, Australia, and South Korea do recognise this.
They are now learning how to integrate open data into their overarching national data strategies so that they build strong foundations and deliver greater transparency, accountability, productivity and innovation.
Data strategies and open data’s role in them need political support and investment
But these data strategies and open data’s role in them need political support and investment to avoid wasting the momentum the open data movement has generated.
As the report suggests, “the biggest action governments can take to speed up progress is to start investing the significant resources needed to build the policies, practices and infrastructure to drive transformation.”
We agree, 100%.