The Irish Open Data Wish list: Is Ireland failing to keep its Open Data promises and falling behind international best practice?

This post follows up on a public request made to the government to open up high impact public data sets for the benefit of Ireland’s citizens and economy on April 14th, 2014.

The ‘Open Data Wishlist’ of high impact data sets was crowdsourced to be of particular relevance to the Irish public by Open Knowledge Ireland. The wish list was delivered to Stefan Decker (Insight Centre for Data Analytics) and Deirdre Lee (Insight Centre for Data Analytics/Derilinx) who requested the assessment be included in their work on the Irish government’s Open data strategy for which they won a tender in 2014.

The submission was made by the public on April 14th, 2014. (Link) This blog post is to highlight that,

Over a year after the requested ‘Open Data Wishlist’ was delivered, apart from CSO’s data, not one of the data sets identified has been  published in an open format or under an open licence.

Worse still, there is no timeline to do so! This is worrying because Ireland seems to be falling behind other countries such as the UK, the US, Canada, etc. in their efforts to fuel their economy and improve the services provided to their citizens. Equally critical, Ireland seems to be falling behind the promises it has made as part of its own ‘Open Data Strategy’!

We realise that cultural change takes time, but making already public information, such as hospital waiting lists, available for reuse in machine readable formats should be straightforward (Hospital Waiting List Current Example). If the government of Ireland is serious about empowering evidence-based data-driven decision-making, it needs to start complimenting good intentions with actions.

We are calling on Minister Howlin to publish a timeline for publishing these data sets in open format, in line with the promises made, with progress made in other countries and in line with the global G8 Open Data Charter (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-data-charter/g8-open-data-charter-and-technical-annex).

Why the delay matters:

In April 2014 via crowdsourcing, the Irish populace produced a list of public data sets which were felt to promise the highest impact, and requested that they be published in an ‘open’ format. ‘Open’ generally means that data that is already collected on behalf of the public is published in machine readable format (e.g. not PDF reports) and under a licence stating that it can be freely to used, reused, and redistributed (e.g. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence). Only in this way can service providers and businesses utilise the data in a way that can be of benefit to citizens, businesses and services in Ireland.

Once easily accessible to the public these types of data sets have the potential to build better services to meet the needs of citizens (e.g. data on hospital waiting lists) and to be a catalyst for innovation and economic prosperity. A popular estimate by McKinsey (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/open_data_unlocking_innovation_and_performance_with_liquid_information) on the benefits of adopting open data practices can unlock $3 – $5 trillion of economic value across 7 sectors globally, with up to $1.2 billion unlock-able in ‘Education’ alone.

What high-need datasets should be published?

  • All EU funded research.
  • Geospatial Data (broken out as many different owners for various datasets. Also included is the examples of what is being requested and/or type of metadata needed to make this useful. Where “name” is listed, both Irish & English if available. All data below to include long/lat coords for single point references or shapefiles for area references)
  • Addresses (Full breakdown by building and by structure within e.g. apartments)
  • Boundary data (National, County, City, Suburb, Townland, Census SA, Electoral Division, etc)
  • Road Network (Ref #’s, names, classification, lit/unlit, bridge info e.g. height’s & widths)
  • Topography
  • National Maps
  • Waterways (Navigation, depths, berths, names, source, underground yes/no, rivers, streams, ditches, lakes  etc)
  • Soil data (soil type, acidity, etc)
  • Natural Heritage Area’s (boundary, operator, name)
  • Bogs (type, protected yes/no, operator)
  • Social Facilities (Garda Stations, Courts, Hospitals, Primary Care Centers, GP’s, Dentists, Care Homes etc – name, operator, contact details)
  • Sports Facilities (sport, team, operator)
  • Schools (patron, mixed yes/no, name, level)
  • Voting Stations
  • Government offices/departments (name, contact details, under which dept. etc)
  • Energy (power plants to include renewables, plant type, power lines, line capacity, substations, reference #’s, names)
  • Playgrounds (surface, facilities)
  • Crime data (Crime statistics, safety, location of crimes, accidents)
  • Health data (Prescription data, performance data, source location)
  • Education (List of schools; performance of schools, digital skills)
  • Election data (results, location, party, etc)
  • Postcodes
  • Energy and Environment (Pollution levels, energy consumption)
  • Finance and contracts (Transaction spend, contracts let, call for tender, future tenders, local budget, national budget (planned and spent))
  • Global Development: Aid, food security, extractives, land
  • Statistics: National Statistics, Census, infrastructure, wealth, skills
  • Government Accountability and Democracy: Government contact points, election results, legislation and statutes, salaries (pay scales), hospitality/gifts
  • Science and Research: Genome data, meteorological data, research and educational activity, experiment results.

What licences should Open Data Ireland use?

  • CC-0 or at most CC-BY version 4
  • Public Domain
  • GNU General Public License (software)

[Update 23/07/15] Credit is where credit is due

In June 2015 the Central Statistical Office of Ireland has adopted an open CC-BY licence for all publicly accessible data http://www.cso.ie/. CSO has also made a great effort to publish it’s data and other government data as JSON-stat in an API webservice http://www.cso.ie/webserviceclient/ and Census 2011 data in RDF http://data.cso.ie/ under the same open data license. National Statistics, Census, infrastructure, wealth, skills are now being published under an Open Data license. CSO offers a free data dissemination services to all government bodies.