Three words in the title lately guarantee full rows of seats at lectures: Open, Government and Data. The opening of the government and administration is one of the hot topics par exellence. In width “Open Government” opens this issue, based on the opening of data and information the term “Open Data” covers it.

In October, authoritative pioneers of Open Government Data movement met in the German DA-CH-LI region in Vienna at the OGD DA-CH LI conference to share experiences among government, business, science and society. Prof. Ina Schieferdecker and me were part of the Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS site. Generally discussed was the release and delivery of governmental and administrative data, the cross-border interoperable data exchange and harmonization of the OGD-standardization. The presentations and conference proceedings [PDF] are available online.

Also Germany was represented by numerous actors. Dr. Wolfgang Both reported to the state in Berlin, Jan-Ole Beyer argued that open data “is the basis for stronger cooperation and participation – in short: for Open Government”, Prof. Ina Schieferdecker reported on the current status of standardization and metadata and I argued that in addition to all necessary attention to the broader perspective of Open Data Open Government must not be neglected.

Open Government Data in Berlin: experiences and current situation

Dr. Wolfgang Both is tasked for the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research in Berlin with setting up the first open data portal in Germany. As an experienced Open Data expert he shared his experiences at the conference after a year of Open Data Portal in Berlin with those present. He particularly emphasized the positive effects of cooperation with the Internet community and the positive experience with the Apps4Berlin competition. Since August 2012 in Berlin convenes an interagency working group Open Data, which will deal with issues in 2013 including continuing education to open data and open government and is working on a government decision to set standards for open data. The latter is scheduled for December 2013. The talk you can find here [PDF].

Open data as a basis for stronger cooperation and participation: the state in Germany

Jan-Ole Beyer from the Ministry of the Interior reported in his presentation [PDF] on the development of Open Government Data in Germany, emphasizing that open data “is the basis for stronger cooperation and participation – in short: for Open Government”. Contrary to momentary confusion on Twitter (Tweet 1 / Tweet 2) he announced the prototype of the Open Government Platform for early 2013. Beyer also stressed concrete measures that need to be addressed. So e.g. the terms of use, unified metadata schema and a strategy for communication and public relations as well as information and training materials for different audiences – “People need to learn what they can do with the data and how this information can be used for studies or in school. ”

Harmonization of metadata: flat the way for transnational access to open data

As an important cross-national debate topic itself the metadata structures were emphasized. Austria puplished in October 2012 version 2.0 of its metadata standards and is currently already working on a version 2.1, which will probably be available here in December. In Project Open Government Platform Germany currently a first German metadata structure is developed. The current state was discussed by Ina Schieferdecker with the DA-CH-Li representatives in a workshop. In her presentation she drew, i.a., a quantitative and qualitative comparison of the Austrian and German approach. Both metadata structures are based on CKAN and have many similarities. Differences exist, for example in the number of required fields (AT: 11 vs. D:. 10) and the optional fields (AT: 20 vs. D:. 17). Qualitatively, they differ inter alia in dealing with dates and contact persons as well as different categories. Schieferdecker concluded, despite the differences, that discrepancies can be overcome, and she was optimistic about a possible harmonization.

Governments and administrations as so-called “black boxes” will no longer endure

I myself in my paper [PDF] argued that Open Government is more than Open (Government) Data – a position that in a similar form also recently was published by the company of computer science in the Memorandum to the opening of state and government [PDF]. Not only the technology has changed, but also the expectations of actions and decision-making processes in the public sector has become another. Therefore, a political-administrative system that works from the outside as incomprehensible black box is not going to endure longer. Rather should the political administrative system be open for participation by third (participation), and against the background of decreasing amount of own resources it should aim for stronger cooperation with society at specific tasks and projects (collaboration). Regarding the traceability (transparency) I do think that it is important not only to make data available, but also information – that is documents – in appropriate formats on open data portals. Many interesting topics for citizens otherwise remain on the sidelines – for example laws. Especially when it comes to Open Data as part of Open Government, in the future the actions between citizens, governments and businesses should be in addition to the technical analysis of the data be much more to the fore. Only this way Open Data and information will be integrated into meaningful participation and collaboration processes and input from third parties can incorporate seamlessly and more value increasing in administrative processes.

The conference series OGD DA-CH-Li is probably in spring 2013 continued in Berlin and in the fall of 2013 in Switzerland.

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