jueves, 7 de noviembre de 2013

National Information Infrastructure: UK strengthening its #opendata leadership

There are few doubts that the United Kingdom is the main European power in the Open Data and ReUse of Public Sector Information arena. Whatever the ranking you analyse ( ePSIPlatform European PSI Scoreboard, the OKFN Open Data Index or the ODDC Open Data Barometer),  your country is ranked in a better or worst position, but the common pattern is having the United Kingdom Government as the one with a best performance in this topic. Therefore, we can discuss the accuracy of the methodologies ineach case, but it is clear which is the dominant country.

The current status of the United Kingdom as the European Open Data leader is the result of a strong political backing that has survived a change in government party, jointly with the participation of figures of undoubted value as Tim Berners Lee. The consequence of both elements has been an impressive succession of innovative approaches in the development of open data policies. The last of this innovative ideas that  I have knowledge of is the definition of the concept National Information Infrastructure (NII) and the plan for its effective development.

According wit the definition, the NII is "the data held by government which is likely to have the broadest and most significant economic and social impact if made available and accessible outside of government, where possible". Therefore, the NII is the subset of Public Sector Information that will create social or economic value if it is re-used, a value that is estimated in more than 40.000 € million in Europe and creates trust in governments through transparency. This implies the need of establishing the development of a NII as priority for the governments.

The creation of this NII requires three major steps
  1. Identifying and maintaining an inventory of data held by government
  2. Prioritising data to be included in the NII
  3. Supporting organisations to release data
This tasks would not be possible to be developed without an strong Public-People-Private Partnership. The interaction and collaboration of civil servants, politicians, NGOs and private companies is a "must" in order to identify the more valuable government data assets to be published and the identification of the different possible uses for them. The UK plan established a roadmap for the first stage of this work, that it is assume as a never ending "work-in-progress". Supporting the public organisations to release data also need of this collaboration. To begin with, the feedback of the re-users is critical for the establisment of quality assurance cycle of the published government data. The value and justification of a NII is the re-use of the information and this will only be used if it the quality of it is guaranteed.

The concept of NII and its need in a data-driven society is pure common sense, but it is needed an strong commitment for its implementation. At this moment only the United Kingdom has shown this commitment, and with this commitment UK is in its way to strenghten its dominant position in the open data arena.

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