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Stratbase ADR Institute
The Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) is an independent international
and strategic research organization with the principal goal of addressing the issues
affecting the Philippines and East Asia.

Victor Andres “Dindo” C. Manhit

President, Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi)

Ambassador Albert del Rosario
was the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines from 2011 to 2016. He also served as
Philippine Ambassador to the United States of America from 2001 to 2006.

Manuel V. Pangilinan
is CEO and managing director of First Pacific Company Limited. He is also the chairman of
MPIC, PLDT, Meralco, and Smart Communications, among others.

Edgardo G. Lacson
is an honorary chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). He
is the Chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.

Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez

is the former president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.

Ernest Z. Bower
is senior adviser for Southeast Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS). He is CEO of BowerGroupAsia (BGA), and a leading expert on Southeast Asia.

Renato C. de Castro, Ph. D

is a full professor of international studies at De La Salle University – Manila (DLSU). He
holds the Charles Lui Chi Keung Professorial Chair in China Studies.

Judge Raul C. Pangalangan, Ph. D

is a judge of the International Criminal Court. He was previously a dean of the University of
the Philippines College of Law and publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Epictetus E. Patalinghug, Ph. D

is a professor emeritus at the Cesar E.A. Virata School of Business, University of the
Philippines (UP), Diliman.

Francisco A. Magno, Ph. D

is the executive director of the Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance and former
President of the Philippine Political Science Association. He is a professor of political
science at DLSU.

Carlos Primo C. David, Ph. D

is a professor of Geology and Environmental Science in UP Diliman.

Executive Summary viii

Introduction 1

Definition of Open Data 2

Keys Aspects of Open Data 4

Value of Open Data for Climate and

Disaster Resilience 10

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and

Environmental Protection 19

National Government Policy on Open Data 22

International Commitments 25

Discussion 27

Summary and Conclusions 39

References 42


About the Author

A clear policy on Open Data for Climate Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction
through legislation is necessary if we are to achieve the Philippines’ sustainable
development goals and save lives of Filipinos. Legislation of an Open Data Act
will ensure strict compliance with Open Data standards by publicly-funded
institutions, in particular agencies that hold data concerning the safety and well-
being of Filipinos. Defining the standards in an Open Data Law will mandate
compliance to the key elements of Open Data, which include: 1) availability in
digital format of data, downloadable via the internet in bulk for ease of use; 2)
amenability to intermixing with other datasets through interoperable format
structure and machine-readability of digital files; 3) freedom to use, reuse and
redistribute, even on commercial basis; and 4) a “no conditions” rule on the use
of Open Data, except for appropriate citation for due credit. The value of Open
Data for publicly-funded activities is recognized worldwide. Policies on open
access have been adopted in the Unites States, United Kingdom, Germany,
Netherlands, Finland, Brazil and many more. Their adoption of a policy for free
access to government data is based on the concept that goods and services that
should be freely available to everyone as determined by society, must be made
available as free data for “the public good”. While these services to collect and
make available the data are not actually free, they are, nonetheless, funded with
public money. The broad use of such services benefits all of society so the cost
to each individual user is largely borne by all. Open Data is critical for effective
hazards management. When raw data is made publicly accessible without
conditions, we build new information and derive knowledge personalized to
the needs of a person or a community. It is a process that turns information
into knowledgeable choices for individuals, families and local government
units for building risk information. Such knowledge, acquired in timely fashion
because data is openly accessible, is critical to effective disaster prevention and
mitigation efforts. The National Government has pushed for an Open Data
policy since 2011 and is now enshrined in the Philippine Development Plan
2017-2022 and the Philippine Open Government Partnership Action Plan.
Although laudable, the efforts on Open Data, as reflected in the Philippine
Open Data Portal, leaves much to be desired. Agency officials and employees,
until today, argue on the basis of issues on national security, cost recovery,
sustainability and intellectual property, in order to withhold their data. These
issues have long been answered by those countries which have adopted an Open
Data policy, including the Philippines.
An Open Data Law for Climate Resilience
and Disaster Risk Reduction

T he Philippines is currently in a position to make a difference with regard to

disaster management and prevention in the country and, possibly, the world.
It can either make or break the programs of government on Climate Resilience and
Disaster Risk Reduction. A decision needs to immediately be pursued on whether
to fully adopt, support and promote the global trending Policy on the use of Open
Data for Disaster Risk Reduction (Dolderina, 2015) or maintain the old-fashioned
habitual practice of exclusive data curation due to commercial motives under the
pretext of cost recovery or sustainability.
Such critical data, if only made freely accessible, can be crucial in saving the lives
of all Filipinos, especially the poor and underprivileged.
Control of vital publicly-funded data with the intent to commercialize severely
compromises opportunity and limits hard-earned gains to elevate disaster risk-
related knowledge. Such behavior, if persistently carried out by departments,
bureaus, and offices of the national government and other public service institutions
where cost barriers become an issue in disseminating hazards-related data and
information, prevents empowerment of the Filipino people on Disaster Risk
Reduction. It also impedes genuine growth and progress to improve the quality
of disaster risk models because access for the development of innovative tools and
techniques becomes limited or, worse, denied.
As a result, the efforts of local government units, businesses and communities
that seek to build and improve their ability and capacity to mitigate the devastating
and, even, fatal impacts of hazards and management of the environment are
undermined, to say the least.

This document was prepared with the sincere intent to clarify, among others, the
key elements of Open Data and, more importantly, serve as a proposal to institute
and strictly implement its Policy for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction-
related data and information based on its articulated and internationally accepted
Having an officially recognized Open Data Policy will definitely endow our
countrymen, leaders and constituents alike, with the right information for decision-
making to perform effective and efficient courses of action toward a more resilient

Definition of Open Data

The definition of Open Data is well explained in the Open Data Philippines portal
(Open Data Philippines, 2017), the European Data Portal for e-learning program
(Open Data Institute, 2017a) and the Open Data Handbook of the Open Knowledge
International (Open Knowledge International, 2017). All bear the similar definition
of Open Data.

The Open Data Philippines Portal defines Open Data as:

– Accessible - Users of the website may not only view the data, but also
share and download it in open formats. This encourages innovation by
harnessing local Filipino talent and allowing people to easily use datasets
in new and creative ways;
– Searchable - The website consolidates open datasets from various
government agencies and publishes it on one single portal, Open Data
Philippines. Users may search by government department, category, topic,
or date published; and
– Understandable - The website offers graphs and other visualization
tools that will help the public understand government data. Additional
information about the data is also available to be viewed and downloaded
via its metadata.

The European Data Portal defines Open Data as:

– Open Data is data that anyone can access, use and share;
– Open Data becomes usable when made available in a common, machine-
readable format; and
– Open Data must be licensed. Its license must permit people to use the
data in any way they want, including transforming, combining and sharing
it with others, even commercially.

The Open Knowledge Portal defines Open Data as:

Open Data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone -
subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike. The term
“share-alike” means allowing redistribution and reuse of a licensed work on the
conditions that the creator is appropriately credited and that any derivative work is
made available under “the same, similar or a compatible license” (Open Knowledge
International, 2017).
The full Open Definition gives precise details as to what this means. To
summarize the most important:

– Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no

more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over
the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable
– Reuse and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that
permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other
datasets; and
– Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse and
redistribute - there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavor
or against persons or groups. For example, “non-commercial” restrictions
that would prevent “commercial” use, or restrictions of use for certain
purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.

According to James (2013), of the Open Knowledge International, any

organization (corporations, universities, NGOs, startups, charities, community
groups and individuals) can open information. Open may also apply both to data -
big data and small data - or to content, like images, text and music.

The full Open Definition also recognizes two important elements to openness:

– Legal openness: individuals and organizations must be allowed to get

the data legally, to build on it, and to share it. Legal openness is usually
provided by applying an appropriate (open) license which allows for free
access to and reuse of the data, or by placing data into the public domain;

– Technical openness: there should be no technical barriers to using that

data. For example, providing data as printouts on paper (or as tables in
PDF documents) makes the information extremely difficult to work with.
So the Open Definition has various requirements for “technical openness”,
such as requiring that data be machine-readable and available in bulk.

Key Aspects of Open Data

There are some simple things to consider when defining openness (Open Data
Institute, 2017a). The key aspects are important to observe because any deviation
from them, comprises misuse or spoils its intent.
It is recognized that Open Data must be available in bulk so it is easy to work
with (James, 2013). Furthermore, the information should be digital, preferably
available by downloading through the internet, and easily processed by a computer
too. Otherwise, users cannot fully exploit the power of data - that it can be combined
together to create new insights (James, 2013).
Open Data also permits intermixing with other datasets and distributing
the results (James, 2013). Once the user has the data, they are free to use, reuse
and redistribute it - even commercially. For data to be open, it should have no
limitations that prevent it from being used in any particular way. Open Data is

measured by what it can be used for, not by how it is made available. Aspects like
format, structure and machine-readability all make data more usable, and should
all be carefully considered. However, these do not make the data more open (Open
Data Institute, 2017a).
Lastly, the Open Data definition does not allow conditions to be placed. However,
it permits a data provider to require that data users credit them in some appropriate
way, make it clear if the data has been changed, or that any new datasets created
using their data are also shared as open data (James, 2013).


Although free to use, this does not mean that it must be free to access. There is often
a cost to create, maintain and publish usable data. Ideally, any fee for accessing
Open Data should be no more than the reasonable reproduction cost of the unit
of data that is requested. This reproduction cost tends to be negligible for many
datasets. Live data and big data can incur ongoing costs related to reliable service
provision (Open Data Institute, 2017a).
Costs for maintaining useable data, however, can be funded and are normally
already included in the government budget allocation for information agencies
that integrate publicly-funded government datasets through online platforms (e.g.
Open Data Philippines). Hence, Open Data in the Philippines should be no more
than a reasonable reproduction cost, if not free.


At its simplest, Open Data requires just two things: data and openness. There are
lots of aspects to openness, but at its most fundamental, the key is how the data is
licensed. Data that does not explicitly have an open license is not Open Data.
When you put care and thought into creating something, such as writing a
blog post or taking a photograph, you own that work and you have certain rights,
described below. If you have ownership of a work, and someone else wants to use
it, they have to ask your permission. Licensing is how a person explicitly gives
someone else permission to use that work.

You can transfer that ownership, which means that someone else now owns your
work and has the rights associated with it. Usually, your employment contract will
state that work that you do as part of your employment is automatically transferred
to your organization, for example.
You can also waive your rights, which places the work into the public domain
and it means anyone can do whatever they want with it. In the Philippines, there
are two kinds of rights that you are automatically given over things that you have

– You get copyright over works (content) that you create and which are
original to you, such as text that you write or photographs you take; and
– You get a database right over collections of data that you have put a
substantial effort into obtaining, verifying or presenting.

If you apply original judgement in putting together a database, for example in

choosing which items to include within the database or which information about
them to include, you have a copyright over that database, because it is a creative
For example, if you were to build a database about the best 100 cars, this might
involve: choosing which cars count as the best cars; writing a description about
each car; and researching and gathering facts about them.
You would have copyright over the database, because you chose which cars
were “best”. You would have copyright over the descriptions, because you wrote
them. And you would probably have the database right for the database you have
built, because you put substantial effort into gathering information about them.
Importantly, you do not own the facts about the cars- anyone else can build their
own database containing exactly those facts without violating your database
right - but no one else can reuse your database or your descriptions without your
permission because you own the copyright over them.
You probably do not have a database right if you create the facts in a database,
as opposed to gathering them from elsewhere, unless you put substantial effort
into verifying or presenting the database. For example, if you own a restaurant and
create a database of the dishes that you offer and when you offer them, you probably
do not have a database right over that database, though you might have copyright

because of the creative judgement involved in working out which dishes should be
offered on particular days to provide a balanced menu.
Copyright and database right are types of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
There are other kinds of IPR that you can get, such as patents, trademarks and
(some) design rights, which must be registered (for example, with the Intellectual
Property Office).
An Open License is one that places very few restrictions on what anyone can do
with the content or data that is being licensed. An Open License allows others to
do things like:

– Republish the content or data on their own website;

– Derive new content or data from yours;

– Make money by selling products that use your content or data; and

– Republish the content or data while charging a fee for access.

According to the Open Definition, there are only two kinds of restrictions that
an Open License can place: 1) that reusers must give attribution to the source of the
content or data; and 2) that reusers must publish any derived content or data under
the same license (this is called “share-alike”)
An Open License might do neither or one or both of these, and you can choose
which Open License to use when you publish open content or data. So, you can
choose to make your content or data available under one of three levels of licenses:
1) a public domain license has no restrictions at all (technically, these indicate that
you waive your rights to the content or data); 2) attribution license just says that
reusers must give attribution to you; and 3) an attribution and share-alike license
says that reusers must give attribution and share any derived content or data under
the same license.
There are two sets of Open Licenses. You should use a license from one of these
sets rather than creating your own license, for three reasons: it is less work; it
ensures that the legal language in the license is correct; and it makes it a lot easier
for reusers to know what they can do with your data.

Open Licenses for Creative Content

Creative content, such as text, photographs, slides and so on, should be licensed
using a Creative Commons License. There are three of these that you should
consider using for open content (Table 1):

There are other types of Creative Commons licenses that are not Open Licenses.
For example, the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license does
not allow commercial reuse of content, and therefore is not an Open License. If you
use the Creative Commons license chooser, only those that are described as “Free
Culture” licenses are Open Licenses.

Open Licenses for Databases

A person can also license databases as well as for content. A similar set of licenses
was created specifically for databases from the Open Data Commons. There are
again three levels that you can choose from (Table 2):

The numerous database entries shared by the USGS, NASA, NOAA and other
United States Federal Agencies are considered to be in the U.S. public domain or
requires only citation and are shared with a Creative Commons License of the
type CC-by (USGS, 2017; NASA Goddard and USGS, 2014) (See Table 3). The UK

Government data from DEFRA, which involves various types of Open Data on the
environment, grants the licensor worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive
license to use the information. The license is only subject to the following: the license
does not affect your freedom under fair dealing or fair use or any other copyright
or database right exceptions and limitations (The National Archives, 2017). The
licensor is free to: 1) copy, publish, distribute and transmit the information; 2)
adopt the information; and 3) exploit the information commercially and non-
commercially for example, by combining it with other information, or by including
it in your own product or application.

This section of the document on licensing except for the last paragraph is
adopted from the Open Data Institute (2017b) and has attribution and share-alike
permission or CC-by-sa.

Value of Open Data for Climate and Disaster Resilience

Data is raw material from which new information and knowledge is derived.
Without data, we cannot build information, and without information, there is
no new knowledge. Data becomes information when it is given a context (Open
Data Institute, 2017a). Think of data as those geographic, locations, aerial images,
population count, descriptions, reviews, flood reports and landslide inventories
that form the bases of information that can help you understand and prepare for
hazards. The collection of data helps provide and form information related to
effective hazards management. Information, in turn, can transform to knowledge,
personalized to the needs of a person or a community and is a process that turns
information into choices (Open Data Institute, 2017a). For example, Data can be
used as basis to build risk information. Such information can be used by the now
more knowledgeable decision makers in national government to focus on priority
areas, which are the communities that are most prone to disaster risk. The same
Data when made available to local government units (LGUs) can be processed
by the Municipal Planning and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officers as
basis for selection of a “safe” evacuation center or future development site. Even
architects and engineers can become informed about a project area of interest to
serve as basis for the creation of appropriate designs for houses and buildings that
are resilient to hazards. Furthermore, individuals and families can use the data for
informed preparedness plans and actions.
Building knowledge is a process of using data to create information for educated
and logical decisions (Open Data Institute, 2017a). Since Open Data is readily
available via the internet and by bulk download, they are able to do the process
without delay - Open Data is used immediately to get people informed so that they
may arrive at knowledgeable choices tailored to their needs. Such knowledge is
critical to effective disaster prevention and mitigation efforts because it addresses
the specific needs of an individual or group, especially when delivered in timely
fashion because it is openly accessible.

Landsat - USGS

Since late 2008, when Landsat earth observation images were made available to
all users free of charge, nearly 30 million Landsat scenes have been downloaded
through the U.S. Geological Survey portal - and the rate of downloads is still
increasing (USGS, 2015).The Landsat program started in 1972 and has produced
more than 5 million images of the Earth (M.A. Wulder et al., 2016). Only until the
policy changed to Open Data and release of Landsat imageries, which happened in
2008, did the amount of downloads of data run up to the millions (Figure1) (NASA
Goddard and USGS, 2014).

That is a lot of free data about the state of the planet. But what is it worth? How
valuable can something free possibly be? The worth of many things is related to
scarcity. If there are too many houses or diamonds, bushels of corn or barrels of oil
for sale, the price for these items falls. A free market determines the market value of
what we might hope is a USD500,000 house or a USD5,000 diamond (USGS, 2015).
Value can be understood as the benefits received from a good or service. Though
value can be measured monetarily, it can also be measured with less tangible
metrics, such as quality of life (Miller et al., 2013).

The concept of market value breaks down goods and services that society has
determined should be freely available to everyone. Free data for earth observation
fits into this category. It is a public good, along with public education, public roads,
and public parks. While these services are not actually free (they are, of course,
funded with public money), we know that the broad use of such services benefits
all of society so the cost to each individual user is largely borne by all.
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s policy of releasing the full Landsat archive at
no cost allows researchers around the world in government, in the private sector, and
at universities and institutions to generate even more data applications that are good
for society (Figure 2). These purpose-driven data applications - known on mobile
devices as “data apps” -can serve commercial endeavors in agriculture and forestry;
they can enable land managers in and out of government to work more efficiently;
they can help us define and address critical climate and environmental issues.

In the United States, the federal government invests about USD3.5 billion
annually in civil earth observations and data (including Landsat and other satellites,
weather, GPS, etc.) across multiple agencies, while optimizing related investments
that are also made by state, local and tribal governments, academia, and industry.
The information derived from earth observations supplies the foundation for
scientific advances in many fields and enables multiple federal agencies and
partners to carry out their missions. Federal investments in various aspects of earth
observation are conservatively estimated to add USD30 billion to the U.S. economy
each year by providing Americans with critical knowledge about natural resources,
climate and weather, disaster events, land-use change, ecosystem health, ocean
trends, and many other earth-related phenomena.
This section of the manuscript is adopted from USGS (2015) with minor inputs
from the author.

UK Government - DEFRA

Data has always been central to the services of the Department of Environment
Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), whether that is issuing flood warnings or
monitoring wildlife. The 34 agencies that make up the DEFRA group hold a huge
amount of data, from the location of bat-roosting sites, to 70 years of the Family
Food Survey. Today, technological advances, coupled with high-powered computer
processing capability, create an opportunity for the Department’s data to be used in
ever more interesting and creative ways. In turn, this has generated the potential to
really transform the way we undertake field activities.
However, this is not something government can do alone. Making it available to
other people for a price could be an option, but the experience of many countries
is that the paid-for data market is narrow. It also acts as a drag on the potential
for data to act as an engine for economic growth. So, paradoxical as it may seem,
the greatest value comes from making data freely available. This means not simply
making the data available free of charge, but releasing it under a permissive license
that makes it easier to access, use and share across government, as well as in the
private and not-for-profit sectors.

In June 2015, Elizabeth Truss, then Secretary of State for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs, announced that DEFRA would release 8,000 data sets by the
end of June 2016. That target was in itself a departure from the norm for DEFRA.
The 8,000 figure was not a bottom-up calculation based on detailed analysis of
data holdings. It was an aspirational target designed to galvanize activity across the
DEFRA group and allow others to unlock the potential of the data it held.
It worked. The 10,000 data sets released by June last year - well above the target
- have been put to great use by all sorts of users. The landmark release within these
data sets was 11 terabytes of LiDAR data in September 2015, and the list of sectors
tapping into this resource is truly remarkable. British wine producers are using
the data to help them decide where best to plant vines, identifying “frost hollows”
or badly drained areas that can affect their crop; architects are using it to build a
model of London as they plan the next skyscraper; game developers to build new
landscapes for Minecraft; and archaeologists to discover lost networks of Roman
roads from Lancashire to Dorset. In October 2016 alone there were almost 21,000
downloads of LiDAR data from
LiDAR is a laser-light equivalent of radar. The UK Environment Agency has
been using it since 1998, bouncing beams of light from planes flying over river
catchments, coastal regions, water courses and surrounding land to produce 3D
computer maps that help anticipate and plan for flood events, often using very
powerful computers. In late 2011, the Philippines embarked on a LiDAR program,
which benefitted from training by the UK Environmental Agency on how to
operate, process and use LiDAR instruments bought under the Department of
Science and Technology (DOST)-Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards
(NOAH) program (Paringit, 2014).
The release by the Environment Agency of LiDAR maps as Open Data in 2015,
for free and with extremely permissive licensing, has meant that organizations in
the private, public and not-for-profit sectors have been able to capitalize on the
improved processor power and storage capacity of consumer-grade computers to
access and process the data. A quick visit to the LiDAR download site of the UK
environmental agencies allowed the author to download any of their LiDAR-derived
maps without login, with instant online download and a highly permissive open
license for data sharing and commercial use. An example LiDAR high-resolution
dataset from UK Environmental Agency is shown in Figure 3.

Lower resolution LiDAR datasets, made open in 2016, allow city planners and
architects to build more realistic 3D environments on more powerful workstations.
Variations in the reflected light points yields information about material attributes-
whether it is the ground, a plant or water surface, for instance - which can be used
to understand landscapes better. Now, academics and innovators are using data to
gain actionable insights for use in insurance and facilities industries.
Another great example of Open Data in practice is the GaugeMap API
(Application Programming Interface - a way for one computer to use information
or services held on another computer, often across the internet). The GaugeMap
API, developed by Shoothill, uses live river-level data from the UK Environmental
Agency and partner organizations in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Information is
updated every 15 minutes on Shoothill’s website, a service that really came into
its own during last winter’s flooding. In a first for the “Internet of Things” - the
growing network of internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data
using embedded sensors - each of over 3,000 river-level gauges tweets its level twice
a day. The companion FloodAlerts API provides the basis for apps from the Red
Cross and even Facebook to keep people informed about flood risk. Despite these
Open Data success stories, DEFRA recognizes that the majority of those accessing
its data are professionals. To be truly open, there is still work to be done to build
tools that can open up the data sets to those of us without specialist IT skills.
This report is from Seglias (2017) with minor inputs from the author.

Open Data Activities in Germany

Every day public authorities all over the world gather a multitude of data and
information such as spatial data on transport network, addresses and cadastral
information or data related to economic, environmental and statistical data. In the
recent past more and more government authorities admit to the principle of “Open
Government” and “Open Data” policy.
The Geodata Access Act (Geodatenzugangsgesetz, GeoZG) passed by the
federal government on 30 July 2008 promotes the further development of the
German Spatial Data Infrastructure (GDI-DE). Germany declared the federal
government’s geodata to be Open Data in the course of the revision to the Geodata
Access Act (GeoZGAndG) on 16 November 2012. The Geodata Usage Ordinance
(GeoNutzV), which allows commercial and noncommercial use of the data free-of-
charge, has also been passed on 19 March 2013. In particular, the GeoNutzV lays
down provisions relating to the providing of spatial data, and metadata services on
behalf of spatial data holding agencies.
The Open Data declaration comprises geodata produced by the Federal Agency
for Cartography and Geodesy (BKG). By that view-and-download services based
on international open standards and open source software of digital landscape
model (DLM) and digital terrain model (DGM) as well as digital topographical
maps (DTK), general maps and maps of municipality areas based on small to
medium scale are provided free of charge.
Hence, the gazetteer web service of BKG is available free of charge, too. It will be
made available in compliance to INSPIRE requirements in due course.
The gazetteer web service was developed in 2007 by BKG in cooperation with the
Standiger Ausschuss fur geographische Namen (StAGN) (“Permanent Committee
on Geographical Names”) and has evolved continuously.
This gazetteer web service is based on a Web Feature Service (WFS) and
thus compliant with the corresponding Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
specification. All geographical names information of several (topographic) vector
data products based on scale level 1:200,000 and smaller were amalgamated.
Technically the geographical names information are maintained in a single database
called “Geographical Names of Germany (GN-DE)”. Through unique identifiers,
the names entries of the GN-DE are linked unambiguously to all data bases and

products provided by BKG. At present, the database contains about 120,000

entries including more than 700 names in the minority languages, Sorbian and
Frisian. The administration and maintenance tasks of the GN-DE are conducted
in Frankfurt am Main, whereas the web service is facilitated through the “National
Geodata Centre” at the BKG in Leipzig (
Currently, a project is aiming at strengthening the collaboration with the
Federal States in Germany (“Lander”) and increasing the content of the national
web service and integrating names data from large scales (1:25,000 - 1:10,000).
As well as on national level, on level of the German federal states and on regional
level, a number of Open Data portal sites are already available in Germany, e.g.:

– Open Data Portal Hamburg:;

– Open Data Portal des Freistaats Bayern:


– Open Data Portal - Bremen:; and

– Berlin Open Data:

As of 2014, not all federal states and regions of Germany provided their data as
Open Data available to public and companies free of charge.
On July 13, 2017, Germany’s first Open Data Law came into effect, finally
enabling free access to government data. The new Act initiates cultural change in the
administrations and obliges federal authorities to publish unprocessed data in the
future. The Open Data Law is part of the change of the German e-government law
(EGovG). While it is neither part of the freedom of information act nor an actual
transparency law, it provides the judicial foundation for obtaining data from all
public authorities subject to the federal government. The authorities will provide raw
data on publicly accessible networks, if it was stored in an electronically structured
form and includes facts that regard circumstances outside of the administration.
Furthermore, a central support agency for Open Data will be established.
The Open Data Act is a key milestone. Thomas Jarzombek, a member of
parliament emphasized that Germany is implementing one of the central digital
policy goals of the coalition agreement. More and more data related to human

activities are also digitally recorded by the administration, such as the traffic on
motorways or the registration of vehicles. These data will be collected and made
available in the future in machine-readable format and free of charge. The systematic
publication of administrative data in uniform, machine-readable standards creates
opportunities for start-ups and small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), as the
raw material and, therefore, the basis for data-driven business models are laid.
Marian Wendt, of the Open Data Working Group commented that access to
open administrative data not only offers opportunities for companies, but also
for the administrations themselves: easy access to data becomes an important
building block in a growth and opportunity-oriented country. In addition, more
transparency strengthens the legitimacy of administrative transactions and thus
also the confidence of citizens in the country.
With the new Open Data Act, raw LiDAR data points in Germany are now
available for download for free with a highly permissible license. The license is
called “Datenlizenz Deutschland - Namensnennung - Version 2.0” or “dl-de/by-
20” and allows data and derivative sharing as well as commercial use. It merely
requires you to properly name the source (Isenberg, 2017).
This report is mainly from United Nations (2017); European Union (2017); and
Open Knowledge Foundation Deutscheland (2017)

Other Examples
There are numerous other cases on Open Data worth highlighting to demonstrate
the tremendous value of Open Access to critical publicly-funded datasets. These
examples cover a broad spectrum ranging from increased government transparency,
to building new opportunities for businesses. They build and capitalize on the web
infrastructure, which has become a core part of our lives (Open Data Institute,
Open Data has allowed citizens in Canada to save the government USD3.2
billion in fraudulent charitable donations in 2010. Elsewhere, the same policy on
Open Data is used by the Swedish to access decisions on criminal and civil cases
concerning individuals and companies, which provides them information about
criminality in different areas. In Nigeria, unbridled access to fund accounts of
various government agencies, through the site “Follow the Money”, ensures that

public funds are spent implementing the policies promised to the people (Open
Data Institute, 2017a).
To support the emergence of new data-driven businesses and the growth of
existing ones, governments need to publish key datasets. Governments also need
to support data infrastructure that connects data with those who use it. In return,
governments reap the benefits of a growing data economy (EuropeanUnion,2017).
In Finland, SMEs with access to Open Data grew 15% faster than those without
access (European Union, 2017). Moreover, government policy on Open Data builds
new opportunities to connect business outfits with customers (Open Data Institute,
2017a). For example, Transport for London released Open Data that developers
used to build over 800 transport apps. Another is the case of Thomson Reuters,
which leverage on Open Data to connect with research scientists from universities
and government agencies in order to provide better services (Open Data Institute,

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and Environmental Protection

Open Data improves resilience to disasters and ensures that critical resources are
deployed effectively in emergency situations. Some of the most effective applications
of Open Data - not only government data, but also data gathered from citizens -
have been in managing disaster risk and relief efforts (World Bank, 2015).

Rio Datamine
When Rio’s transportation system was devastated by floods, the city set up a
centralized system with data on public transport, traffic, and tidal levels. It was
called the “Rio Datamine”, an Open Data system that makes available vast amounts
of city information. Businesses and individual citizens can access Rio Datamine to
help prepare or recover from any future disasters (World Bank, 2015; Matheus and
Ribeiro, 2014).
Information and communications technology (ICT) is at the heart of the
transformation. A central operations center was built by IBM in the aftermath of
disastrous flooding in 2010. It has become the nerve center for city administration

by displaying data from thousands of cameras and sensors and giving emergency
managers a comprehensive view of problems and the resources available to deal
with them. The City also runs a high-capacity fiber network, Rio Digital, linking
70 universities, schools and research centers as well as city facilities. But more
profound has been the use of ICT to expand economic opportunity and make
government better. It has built Knowledge Squares in nearly 40 low-income, crime-
ridden neighborhoods. These facilities offer classrooms, labs, digital libraries,
recreation areas and a cinema, and provide young people and local communities
with skills training in IT, robots, graphics, web design and video production. The
City has also built 32 Casa Rio Digital facilities in partnership with Cisco, Intel and
the Sequoia Foundation, which have provided digital literacy training to 69,000
citizens (Krisman, 2016).

Ground Truth Initiative in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The unplanned, informal settlements like those that house almost three-quarters of
the residents of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania have benefited from Open Data by helping
protect some of the most vulnerable urban areas in this underdeveloped country.
Settlements have poorly constructed and are especially susceptible to damage from
flooding and other disasters. The Ground Truth Initiative organized a project to
map the Dar es Salaam settlements, and that map became the basis of a website
built on the Ushahidi platform to help residents report flooding and other critical
issues (Hagen, 2013; World Bank, 2015).
Apart from numerous crowd-sourced activities using the Open Data platform
by its citizens, Tanzania is also a member of the Open Government Partnership
Initiative (OGP). Since September 2011, the Tanzanian administration made its
intention clear to make government business more open to its citizens in the interest
of improving public service delivery, government responsiveness, combating
corruption and building greater trust (Government of Tanzania, 2017).
Through the Country OGP Action Plan 2012-2013 and the OGP Action Plan II
2014-2016, the Tanzanian Government has committed itself to promote increased
access to information about government operations and publish data on the
prioritized sectors. The Government of Tanzania has made specific commitments
under its Open Government agenda and its BRN initiative that can help drive

introduction of Open Data in Tanzania. These commitments are meant to be a powerful

aid in managing and monitoring progress of priority sectors covered by “Big Results
Now”, including education, health and water (Government of Tanzania, 2017).
Thus, this Open Data Portal is established to provide data in a machine-readable
format to be used and reused by anybody. The data provided apply only to data and
information produced or commissioned by government especially the prioritized
sectors of education, water and health. By making this data publicly available, a
wide range of actors can be brought into the policy processes and debates, bringing
valuable new ideas and new thinking to policy making, and stronger public
participation in monitoring and citizen feedback (Government of Tanzania, 2017).

Haiti Receiving Emergency Assistance Powered by Open Data

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. More than 230,000
people died, and some of Haiti’s most populous areas suffered mass destruction. The
international community responded immediately to launch extensive search and
rescue missions and provide emergency assistance. The traditional disaster-response
system employed by relief actors in Haiti concentrated on enabling information-
sharing among teams of responders from the international community. This system
lacked the ability to aggregate and prioritize data that came from outside sources,
making it difficult to benefit from valuable information coming from the Haitian
community (Heinzelman and Waters, 2010).
Ushahidi, an open-source crisis-mapping software first developed and used in
Kenya, provided a way to capture, organize, and share critical information coming
directly from Haitians. Information was gathered through social media (e.g., blogs,
Twitter, and Facebook) and text messages sent via mobile phones. Reports about
trapped persons, medical emergencies, and specific needs, such as food, water and
shelter, were received and plotted on maps that were updated in real time by an
international group of volunteers (Heinzelman and Waters, 2010).
These reports and associated geographic information were available to anyone
with an internet connection. Responders on the ground soon began to use them
in determining how, when, and where to direct resources. The most significant
challenges arose in verifying and triaging the large volume of reports received. Ad
hoc but sufficient solutions were found that involved the manual monitoring and
sorting of information (Heinzelman and Waters, 2010)(85).

National Government Policy on Open Data

Open Data Philippines

The National Government has an Open Data policy, which guarantees the
constitutional right of people to information on matters of public concern. It seeks
to drive government decision-making based on available and sound data; establishes
linkages with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the private sector, and academe;
and aspires to create opportunities that benefit both the government and the public.
The data policy states that data be made publicly available and accessible by default;
be open and in machine-readable formats; and offered free and without restrictions
subject only to proper source attribution (Open Data Philippines, 2017).
The current administration of President Duterte continued the Open Data
policy of the previous government and has significantly improved the Open Data
Platform ( Open Data Philippines collects data from the different
government agencies and partner institutions, and converts them into formats that
can be easily understood and analyzed. The data can be visualized, downloaded
and shared for free by anyone in the Philippines and around the world and can be
used to learn more about how the government works, carry out research or build
applications using government data (Open Data Philippines, 2017).

Philippine Development Plan

The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 includes sustaining existing

transparency initiatives, which are part of the good governance conditions of the
Performance Based Incentives System (PBIS), such as the Full Disclosure Policy
(FDP), Transparency Seal, PhilGEPS posting, citizen’s charters, and submission
of the Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN), and report on aging of cash
advance. The Open Data initiatives, such as the Open Data Portal, will be
enhanced according to the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP)
Action Plan (NEDA, 2017).

According to the Open Government Philippines (2017), since the launch

of the Philippine Open Data Portal ( on January 2014, the
government has been able to upload more than 3,300 government data files
and comprehensive information covering all points from public expenditure,
agriculture, transportation, to education, among others. Currently, the Open
Data initiative is being sustained by the Administration and is housed under
the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) also takes part in
promoting Open Data by making it a component of the implementation of the
freedom of information initiative across the executive branch.
The Philippine Statistics Authority also recently launched the government’s
newest Open Data portal called Open-Stat ( last
March 2017. This online platform aims to make available to the public the
different statistical data collected and compiled by the government. Datasets
that are uploaded in this platform are compliant with Open Data standards,
are machine-readable, and available to the public for free. This initiative aims
to improve public administration and promote good governance by proactive
disclosure of government data and by encouraging the citizens (government
employees, researchers, students, advocates, among others) to help analyze and
use the country’s statistical data (Open Government Philippines, 2017).
Realizing that proactive disclosure online is only one way to leverage
technology towards efficient and effective governance, the Philippines is now
expanding its Open Data commitments under OGP through the implementation
of the e-participation initiative through the national government portal. The
DICT is developing online tools which will redefine the relationship between
the government and its citizens, providing access not only to public services
but also to government information, a space for consultation and platforms for
collaboration. Advancements in ICT and the increased availability of multiple
and open channels of communications will pave the way for increased and
widespread participation of citizens in government activities, allowing citizens
and government to contribute and collaborate on many aspects in governance
and in solving complex national problems (Open Government Philippines,

General Appropriations Act

The General Appropriations Act of 2015 mandates that “all government

entities to adopt a policy of openness for all datasets created, collected, processed,
disseminated, or disposed through the use of public funds to the extent permitted by
applicable laws and subject to individual privacy, confidentiality, national security,
or other legally-mandated restrictions. Openness means that datasets published
by agencies shall be machine-readable, in open formats and released with open

DOST Open Data Policy

A specific example of agency policy on Open Data is the DOST data sharing policy
(Republic Act (RA) No.10055 and Administrative Order No. 003 Series of 2015)
and intellectual property policy (RA No.10055 and Administrative Order No. 004
Series of 2015) of the DOST.
Key elements of the DOST sharing policy include: 1) consistency with the Joint
Memorandum Circular No 2014-01 or the Open Data Philippines; 2) adherence to
the precept that publicly-funded research data are produced in the public interest
and should be accessible to the maximum extent possible; 3) the social benefits
from sharing publicly-funded research data are produced in the public interest
and the advancement of public services based on timely and accessible national
and local research data; and 4) consistency with RA No. 10055 or the Philippine
Technology Transfer Act of 2009, which recognizes IPR and the need to restrict the
release of proprietary information that may compromise such rights.
Peculiar to the DOST sharing policy on Open Data, is reference to consistency
with the Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009, which recognizes IPR. RA
1005 states in Section 8, Article III the following provisions:
SEC. 8. Rights and Responsibilities of the Research and Development Institute
(RDIs) - The following are the rights and responsibilities of the RDIs that availed of
research funds from Government Funding Agencies (GFAs):
(a) Identify, protect, and manage the IPs generated from Research and
Development funded by the GFA and pursue commercial exploitation diligently

as a required performance stipulated in the research funding agreement and as

allowed by this Act and other applicable laws.
In case of commercialization by public RDIs, it shall, subject to existing laws
requiring transparency and accountability, the COA Rules and Regulations and as
required under Article IX, Section 20 of this Act, be allowed to directly negotiate
agreements for the commercialization of IPRs: Provided, that it shall obtain a
written recommendation from the Secretary of the DOST and secure a fairness
opinion report from an independent third party body composed of experts from
the public and private sectors as may be determined by the DOST.
The fairness opinion report shall contain a statement expressing the opinion of
the body as to the fairness to the RDI of the proposed transaction, particularly its
financial terms. The report shall include, but must not be limited to the provisions
in Section 7 (d), Paragraph 2: Provided, however, that it shall not be precluded
from resorting to other modes of commercialization as allowed by all applicable
laws...(k) When necessary, create and establish spin-off companies to pursue
commercialization subject to their respective mandates as allowed by law.

International Commitments

Joint Memorandum Circular 2014-01

The Philippines has existing international commitments for making disaster data
openly accessible, reliable, and timely. In 2012, the Philippines made a commitment
to Open Data and the Open Government Partnership at the Google offices in New
York (, where we stated, “The ever-quickening pace of communication
and ever-increasing opportunities for engaging in conversations across sectors and
borders is both a boon and a bane. Anyone with access to an internet connection
can reach millions of people and dispense pearls of wisdom or, perversely,
misinform and mislead in pursuit of a selfish agenda. The government must open
itself to those pearls of wisdom, wherever and whenever they may originate.” The
Joint Memorandum Circular No 2014-01 or the Open Data Philippines memo was
issued soon afterwards and the Open Data website ( was established.

GEO Ministerial Summit

The commitment to Open Data in disaster efforts can also be seen in the Statement of
the Philippines delivered by our country’s permanent United Nations representative
to the United Nations, Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, to the United Nations and
other international organizations during the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)
Ministerial Summit (Rebong, 2014). To quote Ambassador Rebong, “Considering
these characteristics of our country, the Philippines recognizes the value of Earth
observations in addressing such challenges as climate change adaptation, resilience
to natural hazards, as well as food security, energy security, and water security.
Indeed, access to timely, integrated, and actionable data and information about
the Earth system is vital in order to respond to our societal needs and challenges.
We are pleased to note GEO’s intent to assist developing countries in raising our
capacities to acquire, share, store, maintain, and utilize space-based, air-borne, and
in situ Earth observation data that is available on a full and open basis. We look
forward to better access to timely and reliable data, the building of our capacity in
this sphere, as well as the development of our information infrastructure. Among
others, the Philippines will continue to play its role in biodiversity monitoring,
through the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity which we host, and through the Asia-
Pacific Biodiversity Observation Network. Being a member of the Asian Water
Cycle Initiative (AWCI), the Philippines will also continue to work with the other
members of the Group on Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS)/AWCI
and participate in its various activities including its capacity-building programs.”
However, in the recent 2017 Conference on Open Data, held in Kyoto, Japan, it
was revealed that the Philippines was not an active participant of GEOSS.

Sendai Framework

Various agencies in the Philippines deal with products directly related to Disaster
Risk Reduction (DRR) and for some time, took the lead in getting best practices
in DRR applied in this region of the world. Open Data and timely delivery of
disaster products are important in DRR. Promotion and enhancement of access
to these items, particularly geospatial data, discussed and emphasized in the
recently drafted UN disaster risk reduction framework (Hyogo Framework for
Action 2 or HFA2) are imperative for DRR.

The pertinent provision in the Sendai Framework for DRR is found in Article
III (Guiding Principles), Section G, where it is stated that “Disaster risk reduction
requires a multi-hazard approach and inclusive risk-informed decision-making
based on the open exchange and dissemination of disaggregated data, including by
sex, age, and disability, as well as on easily accessible, up-to-date, comprehensible,
science-based, non-sensitive risk information, complemented by traditional

Open Government Action Plan

The OGP is a global effort that seeks to create commitments from government
and non-government stakeholders that promote transparency, empower citizens,
fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The
Philippines is one of the eight founding countries of the OGP in 2011 (Open
Government Philippines, 2017).
At the local level, this fourth PH-OGP National Action Plan (NAP) aligns to
support the core strategies of the Duterte Administration as outlined under the
PDP 2017-2022. The PDP puts forward the national strategic framework which
aims to achieve more inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society, and a
globally competitive knowledge economy. Three pillars form the foundation of the
PDP: Malasakit or enhancing the social fabric, Pagbabago or reducing inequality,
and Kaunlaran or increasing potential rapid economic growth. These are also
supported by programs on national peace and security, infrastructure development,
resiliency, and ecological integrity (Open Government Philippines, 2017).


The Philippine government is definitely in the right direction in utilizing publicly-

funded data to its full extent. The Philippine Data Portal, a much improved and
revitalized version from the previous site, now showcases real open
datasets. It is currently in the process of building accessible datasets which conform
with the true definition of Open Data – machine-readable and interoperable
compilations that can be visualized, downloaded, and shared for free by anyone in
the Philippines and around the world. It can be used to carry your own research

and projects, even make reports or build applications using government data (Open
Data Philippines, 2017).
Open Data Philippines collects information from different government
agencies and partner institutions and converts them into formats that can be easily
understood and analyzed. Datasets are gathered from national agencies and partner
institutions who work on Business and Economics, Disaster and Rehabilitation,
Education, Environment, Government, Government Spending, Health, Local
Government, Mapping, Peace and Order, Society and Transport. Although still
incomplete, the site is slowly building and moving towards a genuine Open Data
government (Open Data Philippines, 2017).
Featured information in are from the Civil Aviation Authority of the
Philippines showing aircraft movement in and out of Ninoy Aquino International
Airport from2011-2016; datasets from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)
based on voter profile by age group during the 2016 national and local elections;
and a compilation of 2011-2016 cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the
Philippines. A quick check on the Business and Economic category of the data. website on 29 November 2017 shows a total of 27 hits with data coming
from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR),
Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC). For this category, the
contributing agency and data breakdown is seen in Table 4.
The firm commitment, expressed by sincere efforts, of the government on
Open Data for better public service is highly commendable. It should be sustained
and supported through the legislation of an Open Data Act. This would enshrine
continued government transparency, accountability, strengthening of governance,
advancement of public services, access to timely data, empowerment of citizens,
effective use of technology (especially for Climate Change Resilience and Disaster
Risk Reduction), innovation from openness and maximized benefits from use
of public funds. Currently, the Open Data Policy is anchored only on a Joint
Memorandum Circular (JMC No 2014-01), the Philippine Open Government
Policy National Action Plan (PH-OGP NAP 2017-2019), and the Philippine
Development Plan 2017-2022.
Along with the Open Data policy of the Executive Branch, President Rodrigo
Duterte, at the start of his administration, put in place directives that further support

citizen engagement initiatives, which are highly dependent on Open Access to data
and information. These include:

– Executive Order No. 2, issued July 24, 2016, which operationalizes in the
executive branch the people’s constitutional right to information and the
state policy of full public disclosure and transparency in public service;
– Executive Order No. 6, issued October 06, 2016, which institutionalizes
the 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Hotline and establishing the 8888 Citizens’
Complaint Center;
– Executive Order No. 9, issued December 01, 2016, which created the
Office of Participatory Governance (OPG) that is mandated to promote
active citizenship, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability in
governance by engaging different stakeholders to participate in governance
and nation-building efforts; and
– Executive Order No. 24, issued May 16, 2017, which created the
Participatory Governance Cluster of the Cabinet that is mandated to exert
all efforts to enhance citizen participation in governmental processes.

Legislation of an Open Data Act will not only embody continued good
governance, it will clarify issues behind non-conformance with real Open Data
standards as well. It is worth taking note that as early as 2011, the Philippines,
along with seven other countries, founded the OGP. The country also created the
Open Data Philippines in 2014. However, despite these earlier initiatives, there is
still dearth in climate change and disaster-related information that should be made
available to the public which clearly defies the true Open Data principle. Only five
results came out when the Open Data website categories on Disaster Rehabilitation,
Environment and Mapping were checked. There is no content in the Disaster
Rehabilitation category, four results for the Environment category and only one
for the Mapping category. This is dismal compared to the expected amount of data
that should be available. Hopefully, the repository would eventually contain the
full compilation of all available datasets collected by mandated agencies. Therefore,
there is a prayer that Open Data be delivered at the soonest possible time because
opportunity to save lives is lost when there are delays in the availability of critical

Part of the problem on the scarcity of climate change and disaster-related open
data is the lack of clear knowledge on what Open Data really means. The proposed
Open Data Act will not only define with clarity the duties and responsibilities
of agencies regarding Open Data access, it will also promote the education of
the public through incorporation of a provision to learn the definition and key
elements of Open Data. These will ensure the accountability of mandated agencies
to the public who would know what to expect from Open Data.
Such lack of knowledge has led to the formulation of legal documents that
are contradictory. Take for example the Open Data policy of the DOST, which is
intermixed with the Philippines Technology Transfer Act. Confusion immediately
arises because Open Data promotes free distribution of publicly-funded data
and sharing of information, whereas the Philippine Technology Transfer Act
promotes commercialization. How could a publicly funded RDI commercialize if
data is made available for free to the public? The Philippine Technology Transfer
Act provides the right for a RDI to identify, protect and manage the Intellectual
Properties generated to pursue commercial exploitation. Since database (database
right) and creative content (copyright) are already addressed in Open Data
licenses, the idea of intellectual property; contained in the Open Data document of
DOST becomes contentious. As a result, vital publicly-funded datasets for Climate
Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCA-DRR) are until now not
made completely and readily available as Open Data to the public, particularly to
sector agencies and LGUs who can apply the outputs to do development work.
The confusion can be seen in exchanges displayed through social media. News
articles and personal stories between CCA-DRR practitioners and mandated
agencies argue about what data and content should really be made available for free.
For example, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services
Administration (PAGASA) admits that their website does not have a publicly-
accessible archive of its own raw data. Researchers who want specific data are
referred to their online data bank. According to the Weather Division Operations
Chief Esperanza Cayanan, raw data should only be given to vetted organizations or
entities that have the technical expertise to handle the information properly. Unlike
its international counterparts, PAGASA judiciously restricts access to its raw data,
which can only be retrieved if a researcher personally goes to the agency’s archives
for it. At the PAGASA offices, there are prominent posters explaining the process

for requesting data: after filling out a form, you have to pay an access fee. This can
vary from Php36 to as much as Php1,000, depending on the information requested
(Dimacali, 2017). Academics whom I have talked with, said that they experience
difficulty accessing the entire historical record of weather since the early 1950s from
the weather bureau. If access is granted to their official request, only data relating
to certain months are released. For climate change researchers working outside of
PAGASA, it would be impossible to examine and analyze climate trends. Cayanan
underscored the value and necessity of trained experts in dealing with raw data.
“Bakit kami magbibigay ng raw data to the public kung kaming nasa operations ang
gagamit nito at magpo-produce ng weather forecast? (Ang public ba) ang gagawa
ng forecast, sila ba gagawa ng analysis?” she said (Dimacali, 2017).
The problem is not restricted to weather data. The same goes for other agencies
that hold raw data relevant to disaster resilience efforts of the country. According to

them, there are important reasons behind such austere gatekeeping. “When people
request for raw data, they are requesting for satellite images in the form of pixels.
Not everyone from the public will be able to understand what pixels are. Why not
process it first and then later on release the data that everybody can understand?”
points out Volcanologist Raymond Patrick Maximo of the Philippine Institute of
Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). “As for the technical people, they can
come to the respective office and ask for the raw data,” he adds (Dimacali, 2017).
Blatantly, such arguments are against the creed of Open Data. This attitude may
provide the reason behind the non-availability of critical raw datasets despite the
establishment of Open Data Philippines in 2014.

Issue on Sustainability

Apart from “ownership” concerns on raw data, another argument that is normally
presented to those who request for data is the issue on cost recovery and sustainability.
While it is true that there are costs to replication of requested data, the amount
should not be more than a reasonable reproduction cost as per definition of Open
Data. Actually, having the data online and freely downloadable, once it is already
operational, will require a very minimal cost (or none) for the agency and curative
effort because computer servers are already at work. The whole principle of Open
Data is for technology, in a digital age, to work for the people. In the Philippines,
the DICT, formerly ICTO, is funded by Congress to see to it that vital government
data and information are housed in servers dedicated to Open Data.
On the issue of sustainability, such arguments have been already resolved
by countries who have adopted the Open Data and Open Government policy.
Sustainability is really not an issue because government funds are used to sustain
public service. Sustainability can never be used as a disguise for commercialism
especially in government for it goes against propriety. A government agency
must never be run like a commercial business greatly dependent on profit for
sustainability. Government agencies are funded by the people to, in turn, provide
efficient and effective public services for the people. Public service, genuinely
delivered, will consequently effect and merit support from the public themselves
hence clamor for a sustained existence and operations year after year. This is what

happened to the United States Geological Survey, National Oceanographic and

Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies of the United States. Upon
opening up their datasets and information, the more that their government and
constituents realized their extreme relevance and value of public spending for such

Issue of National Security

At the rate by which satellite sensors image the Earth at extremely high resolution,
there is no way by which to hide terrain features. Satellite imagery is better than
1 m pixel resolution and it keeps getting better. This means that cars can easily be
seen in an image. Even cloud cover does not prevent the Earth’s surface and its
features from being seen in high detail. We live in a space age where the issues on
national security for land imagery is no longer valid because satellite technology
has already revealed all the secrets of the Earth’s surface. Many of these images
are already available for free. The next generation of Satellites sensors such as the
Copernicus Program of Europe will make these land imagery and topography
accessible to everyone. As long as imagery are not “real-time” or near “real-time”,
there is no valid argument for keeping images of the Earth out of the public domain
in the name of National Security.
The “National Security” excuse has also been used for reluctance in opening
weather data to the Filipino public. Unless there are good historical examples of
rain, temperature, pressure and humidity being used for warfare or terrorism then
such data should be open. As a fundamental principle of the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO), and in consonance with the expanding requirements for
its scientific and technical expertise, WMO commits itself to broadening and
enhancing the free and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological
and related data and products (WMO, 2016). Since historical data such as rain,
temperature, pressure and humidity are under the classification of “essential” data
by the WMO, they should be provided on a free and unrestricted basis, necessary
for the provision of services in support of the protection of life and property and
the well-being of all nations. Those basic data and products, as, at a minimum,
described in Annex 1 to the WMO Data Policy (Resolutions 40, 60) resolution

are required to describe and forecast accurately weather and climate, and support
WMO Programs (WMO, 2016).

Current Trends in Open Access Data for Disaster Mitigation and Prevention

The current trends in Open Data as applied to disaster mitigation and prevention
are too numerous to be listed. Some that the author is aware of are the following:

– The global trend in management of disasters encourages an Open Data

policy. This was a key message in the 2014 World Risk Summit, which was
held in London and attended by key players in disaster risk mitigation,
including Mayors of major cities, Google, NASA, World Bank, Stanford
and Bristol University, etc.;
– Open access to LiDAR data to the public is fast growing. The Netherlands,
Denmark, Finland, Germany and the United States are already providing
government acquired LiDAR data for free. Even the UK Environmental
Agency, the group that trained DREAM LiDAR researchers already has an
Open Data policy (Matthew, 2015);
– There is global effort to map in 3D the Earth’s surface with high-
resolution instruments. NASA will deploy GEDI or the Global Ecosystems
Dynamics Investigation LiDAR soon. GEDI is a laser-based instrument
being developed for the International Space Station, which will provide a
unique high-resolution 3D view of Earth’s forests, helping to fill in missing
information about their role in the carbon cycle;
– The carbon cycle is now mapped with the use of high-resolution imagery.
Since climate change is a global problem, everybody must cooperate,
collaborate and share their data so that we get the best analysis of this
global concern; and
– There is a concerted effort to fight floods on a world-wide scale. Big
groups such as NASA, Cabot Institute, Bristol University, Google, Stanford
University, World Bank, and others are collaborating to fight floods on a
global scale by bringing together government, industry and humanitarian
agencies to support the development of a high-resolution and higher

accuracy global Digital Elevation Model (DEM). The advanced global

DEM would use existing LiDAR data and stereo satellite images. New
LiDAR elevation data would be acquired on board disaster-relief aircraft
or on drones deployed over flood plains (Schumann, 2014).

Data Relevant to Resilience Against Climate Change and Disasters

The worldwide effort to map our environment in detail demonstrates that sharing
high-resolution data like what NASA does to their imagery and 3D data is important
in addressing climate change and disaster problems. The Philippines is a pioneer
this side of the world with the use of high-resolution geospatial data for Climate
Change Adaptation (CCA) and DRR. The last thing that we want to happen is to
lag behind the rest of the world in the near future in terms of promoting open
access data for disaster prevention and mitigation only because we want to exert
control due to plans of commercialization or sustainability and cost recovery. This
type of control is not in sync with global trends in CCA and DRR, which needs
to have positive action now. Delays brought about by exertion of control are not
consistent with the lessons we learned from past disasters where the impacts of
natural hazards got ahead of scientific knowledge. Every minute counts!
When the Open Data Philippines ( website becomes populated,
it is important that critical data sets become available to climate and disaster
researchers and practitioners on the ground. A partial list of these datasets can be
seen in Table 5.
Data examples in the list are the same that are made available by agencies in
countries that have adopted an Open Data Policy. These are important datasets
that are used by countries to increase the quality of science for geology, geophysics,
engineering and allied fields for the scientific community to better understand
hazards phenomena. These are the same datasets that are used to educate and raise
disaster awareness of people. Some examples of the importance of the datasets
listed are discussed below.
Active fault maps are distributed by the USGS as Google KMZ files or other
compatible vector formats and are free for use by private groups, enthusiasts,
academics and research scientists. By releasing such data, people get informed and

can plan more efficiently and effectively for earthquake fault hazards. At the same
time, academics can use the datasets to educate, whereas scientists can check the
accuracy of the agency’s work. Such is the nature of Science - its amenability to
scrutiny and rigorous testing. In the Philippines, some argue that distributing fault
maps to the general public is dangerous because it can be misinterpreted and may
cause real estate value to fall. But faults in California are not any less dangerous
than the faults in the Philippines. On the contrary, property valuation increased in
the Bay Area and in Los Angeles despite the release by the USGS of their active fault
maps as freely downloadable in easy to use Google KMZ vector files.
Real time and continuous Global Position System (GPS) measurements provide
us with accurate locations of any point on the Earth’s surface. These measurements
are very important in the study of fault behavior, and for scientists to understand
Earth’s motion. They are also essential during emergency situations because
exact locations are necessary for finding possible survivors. For example, during
the Guinsaugon landslide disaster of 17 February 2006, the exact location of an
entombed school measured with a different essential GPS several years earlier, was
provided to the ground-based search and rescue teams by the Philippine Institute
of Volcanology and Seismology only on the seventh day (Lagmay et al., 2008).
Access to the GPS information was provided too late to find the buried town of
Guinsaugon under a 4 km-long and 1.5 km-wide debris field, approximately the
size of Makati Central Business District (CBD). Had the information been readily
available online and as open access, then search and rescue efforts would have been
focused immediately on the elementary school where 400 students were believed
to have been trapped. On the evening of 24 February 2006, it was then decided that
the operations should shift from search and rescue to retrieval of fatalities.
The availability of high-resolution and three-dimensional representations of
landscapes using LiDAR technology makes possible simulations of future hazards
using high-performance computing. LiDAR is a critical dataset for the generation
of flood, landslide and storm surge hazard maps. They are the base dataset for
computer models that help us understand in detail the hazards in every community.
LiDAR has been made openly accessible by many countries, including Finland, the
Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States of America but not
the Philippines. The Philippine Government invested in the purchase of LiDAR
equipment and training of engineers in 2012, but its data is not available according

to Open Data standards. This should not be the case. It is only appropriate that
restrictions to data access be removed and every survey output should be made
openly accessible to all taxpayers who shouldered and are still shouldering the
project expenses. Beneficiaries such as LGUs, business entities, enthusiasts and
private consultants must be allowed to use the LiDAR datasets without incurring
additional costs. For example, double-charging of taxpayers happens when a private
citizen is made to pay or purchase LiDAR maps. Another example is when an LGU
that already acquired LiDAR data still needs to hire a private consultant to conduct
the hazard assessment for them. If the hired private consultant cannot access the
LiDAR for free because of End-User-License-Agreement (EULA) restrictions to
the LGU, then the cost of its purchase will consequently be added to the consultant’s
Professional Fee. This, in effect, will be charged again to the taxpayer. Sustainability
of operations for LiDAR surveys has been the main argument not to make Philippine
LiDAR accessible to everyone according to Open Data standards. In order to avoid
commercialization to sustain future LiDAR surveys, it is important for government
to provide continued public funding and support to the highly-skilled operators of
LiDAR instruments. At the same time, this will ensure availability of up-to-date
hazard maps which are invaluable for proper risk assessment. These geographical,
geological and atmospheric datasets are just some of the examples that need to be
made as Open Data in order to adapt to our changing climate and their resulting
However, practically every data and information of government, except those
with privacy concerns should be made openly accessible. This is because resilience
necessitates planning across the coastal, health, agriculture, water, forestry,
biodiversity, environment, energy, tourism, infrastructure and mining sectors.
When cities and municipalities are planned well, potential losses (of lives, most
importantly) and damages from hazards are minimized thus allowing hazard-
impacted communities to bounce back faster. Disaster risk is an unresolved
problem of development. Only through smart planning and adaptation can
communities achieve resilience and sustainable development goals. Releasing
disaster-related data openly to the public encourages collaboration for a whole of
society approach which fast tracks the resilience and disaster risk prevention and
mitigation efforts of our country for the establishment of well-planned and well-
developed communities, vital in stemming future disasters.

Summary and Conclusions

A clear policy on Open Data for Climate Resilience and DRR through legislation
is necessary if we are to achieve the Philippines’ sustainable development goals
and save lives of Filipinos. Having a legislated Open Data Policy for disaster
related data will definitely endow our countrymen, leaders and constituents alike,
with the right information for decision-making to perform effective and efficient
courses of action toward a more resilient nation.
Legislation of an Open Data Act will ensure strict compliance with Open Data
standards by publicly-funded institutions, in particular agencies that hold data
concerning the safety and well-being of Filipinos. Defining the standards in an
Open Data Law means compliance to the key elements of Open Data, which
include: 1) availability in digital format and downloadable via the internet in
bulk for ease of use; 2) amenability to intermixing with other datasets through
interoperable format structure and machine-readability of digital files; 3) freedom
to use, reuse and redistribute, even on commercial basis; and 4) application of
“no conditions” on the use of Open Data files whatsoever, except for appropriate
citation for due credit.
The value of Open Data for publicly-funded activities is well-recognized.
Policies on Open Access have been adopted in the Unites States, United Kingdom,
Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Brazil and many more. Their adoption of a
policy for free access to government data is based on the concept that goods and
services, that should be freely available to everyone as determined by society,
must be made available as free data for “the public good”. While these services
to collect and make available the data are not actually free, they are, nonetheless,
funded with public money. The broad use of such services benefits all of society
so the cost to each individual user is largely borne by all.
Open Data is critical for effective hazards management. When raw data is made
publicly accessible without conditions, we can build new information and derive
knowledge personalized to the needs of a person or a community. It is a process that
turns information into knowledgeable choices for individuals, families and local
government units for building risk information. Such knowledge, acquired in timely
fashion because data is openly accessible, is critical to effective disaster prevention and
mitigation efforts because it addresses the specific needs of an individual or group.

The National Government already has an Open Data policy, which states
that government data be made publicly available and accessible by default; be
open and in machine-readable formats; and offered free and without restrictions
subject only to proper source attribution. This policy is also recognized in the
PDP 2017-2022 and the Philippine Open Government Partnership Action Plan.
Although laudable, the efforts on Open Data, as reflected in the Philippine Open
Data Portal leaves much to be desired.
Until today, there are still arguments on issues of national security, cost
recovery, sustainability and intellectual property, among others. These issues have
long been answered by those countries who have adopted Open Data, including
the Philippines. Statements from government agency officials and employees like
“Bakit kami magbibigay ng raw data to the public kung kaming nasa operations
ang gagamit nito at magpo-produce ng weather forecast? (Ang public ba) ang
gagawa ngforecast, sila bagagawa ng analysis?” and “When people request for raw
data, they are requesting for satellite images in the form of pixels. Not everyone
from the public will be able to understand what pixels are. Why not process it first
and then later on release the data that everybody can understand?” (Dimacali,
2017) not only underestimate the intellect of Filipinos but also is not consistent
with the Open Data Policy of the Executive Branch of Government.
Legislation of an Open Data Act will not only embody continued good
governance, it will clarify issues behind non-conformance with real Open Data
standards as well. Part of the problem on the scarcity of climate change and
disaster-related Open Data is the lack of clear knowledge on what Open Data
really means. The proposed Open Data Act will not only define with clarity the
duties and responsibilities of agencies regarding Open Data access, it will also
promote the education of the public through incorporation of a provision on
learning the definition and key elements of Open Data. These will ensure the
accountability of mandated agencies to the public who would know what to expect
from Open Data. A list of critical datasets related to resiliency against climate
change impacts and DRR include hundreds of thousands or even millions worth
of possible datasets on weather, geographic and geological data. However, despite
the initiatives of government as early as 2011 to promote Open Governance, there
is still paucity in climate change and disaster-related information that should
be made available to the public. Hopefully, the repository in the
AND DISASTER RISK REDUCTION 41 website in the categories of: 1) Environment and Disasters; 2) Disaster

Rehabilitation; and 3) Environment and Mapping would eventually contain the
full compilation of all available datasets collected by mandated agencies. It is the
prayer of people in harm’s way and surely for those who have perished in disasters
that Open Data become a reality at the soonest possible time. Control of data
instead of opening data to the public means loss of opportunity due to delays in
the availability of critical information. That opportunity may be a chance to save
lives during emergency situations. There is no clearer example of this than the
Guinsaugon Disaster of 2006, where delayed access to critical GPS data denied
the opportunity to save the lives of 400 school children. Legislation of an Open
Data Law can answer this prayer.

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ADR Institute gratefully acknowledges all those who have extended their support,
cooperation, and commitment in the development of this project. This publication
would not have materialized without their help.

We are fortunate enough to engage with insightful persons from different

sectors, namely: the academe, public and private sectors, as well as civil society
organizations, who have shared their expertise and have actively contributed to
discussions in various fora.

We would also like to thank Prof. Victor Andres ‘Dindo’ Manhit, President of
the ADR Institute, for his leadership, vision, and guidance in making this endeavor

Last but not the least, we would like to thank the following for their hard work
and dedication, and for working tirelessly towards the completion of this project:

Environment Fellow, Atty. Lysander Castillo, and Senior Research Associate,

Ms. Weslene Uy, who both served as the editorial staff;

Our design consultant, Ms. Carol Manhit, for the publication lay-out and cover

And the rest of the ADRi team headed by Executive Director, Atty. Katrina
Clemente-Lua, Deputy Executive Director for Programs, Ms. Ma. Claudette
Guevara, Program Associate, Ms. Vanesa Lee, and External Affairs and Social
Media Associate, Ms. Krystyna Dy.

Dr. Alfredo Mahar Francisco A. Lagmay is an

Academician of the National Academy of Science
and Technology (NAST) and Professor at the
National Institute of Geological Sciences, University
of the Philippines. He is currently the Director of the
University of the Philippines Nationwide Operational
Assessment of Hazards (UP NOAH), a research center
established to conduct research, development and
extension services on natural hazards, disaster risk
reduction and climate change actions. He is likewise the
Executive Director of the University of the Philippines
Resilience Institute, an institution established to improve the capability of the UP
System as an agent of change to formulate and implement advanced academic
programs on disaster resilience in the Philippines and the Pacific Rim region. Dr.
Lagmay received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of the
Philippines and holds a Ph.D. degree in Earth Sciences from the University of
Cambridge (2001).
Upon obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Lagmay returned to the Philippines and has been
involved in numerous research efforts related to natural hazards. He lectures on
Philippine disasters with hands-on experience in search-and-rescue and forensic
analyses of major Philippine catastrophes. These include the lethal Mindoro, Iloilo,
Pampanga floods, Guinsaugon landslide, Mayon lahars, and the Ondoy, Pedring/
Quiel, Sendong, Habagat, Pablo and Yolanda disasters.
He is a recipient of the Presidential citation for search and rescue work in
Guinsaugon and the 2008 Outstanding Research Award for advanced science and
technology in the Philippines for innovative applications of space technology. He
was also awarded the 2008 and 2011 University Scientist awards, the 2012 New
Media digital heroes award, and the 2012 Cyberpress best IT product of the year for
development of the Project NOAH website and mobile tools.
Further, in 2013, he was presented with both the Professional Regulation
Commission (PRC) Outstanding Professional of the Year Award in the field of
Geology and the 2013 Outstanding Filipino award (TOFIL). Then, in 2015, Dr.
Lagmay was awarded with the Plinius Medal by the European Geosciences Union
or EGU for outstanding achievements in interdisciplinary natural-hazard research
and natural-disaster engagement in the Philippines, the first Asian to receive such
an honor.