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.