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[liberationtech] Government data still not open enough; new survey on eve of London summit

Yosem Companys companys at
Mon Oct 28 09:12:05 PDT 2013

*From:* Christian Villum <christian.villum at>

 Government data still not open enough – new survey on eve of London summit
October 28, 2013

In the week of a major international summit on government transparency in
London, the Open Knowledge Foundation has published its 2013 Open Data
Index, showing that governments are still not providing enough information
in an accessible form to their citizens and businesses.

The UK and US top the 2013 Index, which is a result of community-based
surveys in 70 countries. They are followed by Denmark, Norway and the
Netherlands. Of the countries assessed, Cyprus, St Kitts & Nevis, the
British Virgin Islands, Kenya and Burkina Faso ranked lowest. There are
many countries where the governments are less open but that were not
assessed because of lack of openness or a sufficiently engaged civil
society. This includes 30 countries who are members of the Open Government

The Index ranks countries based on the availability and accessibility of
information in ten key areas, including government spending, election
results, transport timetables, and pollution levels, and reveals that
whilst some good progress is being made, much remains to be done.

Rufus Pollock, Founder and CEO of the Open Knowledge Foundation said:

Opening up government data drives democracy, accountability and innovation.
It enables citizens to know and exercise their rights, and it brings
benefits across society: from transport, to education and health. There has
been a welcome increase in support for open data from governments in the
last few years, but this Index reveals that too much valuable information
is still unavailable.

The UK and US are leaders on open government data but even they have room
for improvement: the US for example does not provide a single consolidated
and open register of corporations, while the UK Electoral Commission lets
down the UK’s good overall performance by not allowing open reuse of UK
election data.

There is a very disappointing degree of openness of company registers
across the board: only 5 out of the 20 leading countries have even basic
information available via a truly open licence, and only 10 allow any form
of bulk download. This information is critical for range of reasons –
including tackling tax evasion and other forms of financial crime and

Less than half of the key datasets in the top 20 countries are available to
re-use as open data, showing that even the leading countries do not fully
understand the importance of citizens and businesses being able to legally
and technically use, reuse and redistribute data. This enables them to
build and share commercial and non-commercial services.


For the true benefits of open data to be realised, governments must do more
than simply put a few spreadsheets online. The information should be easily
found and understood, and should be able to be freely used, reused and
shared by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.

/ Ends

*CONTACT:* Open Knowledge Foundation on +44 (0)1223 422159 or index at

*To see the full results:*

*For graphs of the data:*


The Open Data Index is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated
by the Open Knowledge Foundation. The Index is compiled using contributions
from civil society members and open data practitioners around the world,
which are then peer-reviewed and checked by expert open data editors. The
Index provides an independent assessment of openness in the following
areas: transport timetables; government budget; government spending;
election results; company registers; national map; national statistics;
legislation; postcodes / ZIP codes; emissions of pollutants.

Countries assessed (in rank order): United Kingdom, United States, Denmark,
Norway, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada,
Iceland, Moldova, Bulgaria, Malta, Italy, France, Austria, Portugal,
Slovenia, Switzerland, Israel, Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Greece,
Croatia, Isle Of Man, Japan, Serbia, Russian Federation, Ecuador, South
Korea, Poland, Taiwan R.O.C., China, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, Germany,
Mexico, Jersey, Guernsey, Slovak Republic, Bermuda, Romania, Costa Rica,
Bangladesh, Tunisia, Singapore, Lithuania, South Africa, Cayman Islands,
Egypt, Nepal, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Gibraltar, Belgium, Hong
Kong, Barbados, Bahamas, India, Bahrain, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Kenya,
British Virgin Is., Saint Kitts & Nevis, Cyprus. NB: a number of countries
were not assessed, often because they were not open enough to have an
active civil society able or free to safely carry out the research.

Open Data is information which can be freely used, reused and shared by
anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. Truly open data demands a range of both
technical and legal qualities which ensure that anyone can reuse it freely,
for maximum benefit, and the Open Data Index assesses all of these. The
Open Definition sets out the principles which define “openness” in relation
to data and content:

The Open Knowledge Foundation is an international non-profit working to
open up information around the world so it can be used to empower citizens
and organizations to build fair and sustainable societies. See:

The annual summit for the Open Government Partnership will take place in
London on 31st October to 1st November. More details at: <>
See original blog post:


Christian Villum

Community Manager, Open Government Data + Local Groups Network
skype: christianvillum  |  @villum <>
The Open Knowledge Foundation <>
*Empowering through Open Knowledge
*  |  @okfn <>  |  OKF on
Facebook<> |
Blog <>  |  Newsletter<>
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