Freedom! But what do we do with it?

Open data

​Open data

12 July 2012, by Paul Francissen

The government makes 'open data' available. Companies can use these to develop new services. But are they picking up on this?

An increasing number of local authorities are offering information for free, to be used in apps and other applications. This should be interesting for companies. After all, it is an easy way to make money by using government information. Neelie Kroes of the European Commission is even calling it 'a gold mine'. Sounds great, but is it happening?

No smash hits
At the moment the number of high quality applications is still very limited. This is mainly because most data offered by the government aren't that interesting to the public at large. Data sets such as 'area names', 'woodlands', 'green management' and 'street names' do not exactly make great ingredients for mobile smash hits.

No one is offering a similar package
The information on offer is also rather fragmented. Where one community offers a data set of monuments, another does not. One community may offer an easily accessible service, whereas another offers only raw data. Therefore, it is not easy to develop a single application for the whole of the Netherlands, let alone Europe. Added to that, it is not easy to find open data. Who offers what? Will it still be available in a year's time? What other data can be expected?

Make a plan!
There is a vision on open data, but no concrete plans. When will the 50 or 100 most interesting government data sets become available as open data? What measures are taken regarding standardization? How are suppliers and buyers going to collaborate on a structural basis?

Or are we going to keep on pioneering?
It is clear that we are still in a pioneering stage. That's fine, but let's be honest about expectations. A lot of obstacles will have to be got rid of. And yes, there are also success stories, such as Buienradar, demonstrating that it is possible. But this is no guarantee that every data set is a potential gold mine, or that it ever will be.