Reading & activity: Open government data

Open Government Data  

First, to understand what open data is, we can take a look at the definitions from European Data Portal [1], as “data that anyone can access, use and share” which “becomes usable when made available in a common, machine-readable format” and with an open license which “permits people to use the data in any way they want, including transforming, combining and sharing it with others, even commercially."

If we look at its usefulness, “open data can help make governments more transparent. It can provide the evidence that public money is being well spent and policies are being implemented."

FOI and Open Government Data, although different in their approach, share a fundamental goal: they provide citizens with access to government information in order to ensure transparency and public service delivery. However, as pointed by  Sunlight Foundation, they have different functions: while “open data provides access to raw data or broadly applicable public information”, with FOI you request public records, which “meet specific, often time-sensitive needs, scoped and defined by individual data users.” [2]

Releasing information online is an everyday routine of the Open Government movement and includes citizens in the process of designing solutions to public problems.

To get an idea of what we get when we open governments, check this detailed infographic by Smart City Lab, an urban laboratory based on University of Alicante (Spain) dedicated to technology, projects and services applied to smart cities.


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Source: Smart City Lab. 


[1] European Data Portal. What is Open data.

[2] Sunlight Foundation. Siblings or silos: How do open data and FOIA work together?


Recognising the importance of opening government data, an international initiative was launched in 2011 called Open Government Partnership (OGP). This organisation's goal is to “secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, support civic participation, fight corruption and harness new technologies inside and outside public administration to support innovation”. OGP now includes 78 countries.

Check if your country is part of it already and reflect on one action or commitment from your or any country member.

Last modified: Tuesday, 14 June 2022, 10:47 PM