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EU to Launch Tender for Open Data Portal

EU to Launch Tender for Open Data Portal

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Apr 22, 2011
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EU to launch tender for open data portal
EU official hopes that the open data portal will be upsometime in 2012. However, some governments may resist losing a previous revenue stream.
In the coming weeks, the EU will launch a tender fortech companies and freelance programmers to create anEU-wide online portal to allow access to governmentinformation and services.In a talk given at last week's Re:publica conference in Berlin, Carl-Christian Buhr,an advisor to Neelie Kroes, the EU's digital agenda commissioner, said that theproject's aim is to change how European citizens interact with government on arange of levels to make government data, statistics and other figures, more easilyaccesible."It would ideally combine the portal of the European institutions and Europe as awhole, a portal that really links up all that is available at a local and national level,"Buhr told Deutsche Welle.The hope is that by making this data available, it will be easier for designers anddata visualization specialists to "mash up" this data into mobile phone applicationsand interactive web pages.By allowing citizens access to government data and also to various parts of thecivil service, energy consumption, agricultural subsidies and up-to-date publictransport schedules are just some examples of the governmental realms Europeanscould potentially be informed of and participate in.The "open government" movement is buildingmomentum in many European countries and theEuropean Commission is now taking steps to bringgovernment information and services together in a one-stop online portal.
EU portal would bring together systems already inplace
 There are already a range of open governmentprograms and online facilities giving access to European governmental data on astate-by-state basis, such as the site Openspending.org, which gives UnitedKingdom residents access to government spending at the national and local level.
On Tuesday, the British site launched a spending data visualization for Italy aswell.Rufus Pollock, one of the co-founders of the Open Knowledge Foundation, theorganization behind Openspending.org, argued that the implications forgovernments hiding profligate spending or corruption are profound.
“I think one of the biggest excitements is a really radical move to open up all
spending and to be fair the UK government isn't too corrupt, but imagine placeswhere corruption is a problem. Imagine tha
t all over the world!” he said.
 However in a bloc with diverse political cultures, the concept of bringing togetherdata service portals right across the European continent is ambitious but it is hopedthat by doing so citizens will be able to access information that may already beavailable."We have the infrastructure, the problem is that it's not yet unified," explainedBuhr. "So that we see islands of providers, we see areas where data is available butnot yet produced proactively."
New projects and challenges on the back of Open Government data
 Another hope of a pan-European open government portal, would be to empowerpublic and private bodies to create services not already available."There's a big example about the crowd-sourcing of information about problems with the streets, problemswith the trees in your cities, all kinds of things whereyou normally have a heavy process to inform thepublic sector on what needs to be done," Buhr said.Buhr was very keen to make clear that Europeangovernment data should be available for anyone whowants to access it, however this itself presentschallenges."I think we're just going to see a huge torrent of data released over the next coupleof years we're already a lot more, more in some ways than we can handle," Pollock added.
Lost revenue may cause resistance
 Much of the information the open government movement hopes to have access tois currently something that the public sector currently can charge citizens for.Similar to applying for a new passport, governments have previously recoveredsome of their costs through the imposition of a "service fee." This causes resistanceamongst some in the civil service to open data, as on a portal as proposed by theEC, this data would be given away for free.

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