Britain ranks fourth in global government open data review

Written by Mel Poluck on 15 June 2017 in News
News

International index results released today aim to spark conversation on improving open data publication and quality.

Ranked alongside Britain (which scored 73% overall) in this year’s results, were: Australia, Canada, France and Taiwan, which came out with the highest score overall, at 90% Credit: Flickr - justgrimes

Britain has been ranked in the top five countries for its publication of open data, according to a worldwide review of 94 countries that aims to spark debate on the topic.

The Global Open Data Index is published annually by Open Knowledge International. It tracks the state of open government data globally, highlights the gaps and aims to create discussion around making data more useable and impactful. 


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Ranked alongside Britain (which scored 73% overall) in this year’s results, were: Australia, Canada, France and Taiwan, which came out with the highest score overall, at 90%. This year Britain came fourth, dropping two places from the 2014-15 index, in which it came first with a score of almost 100%.

Countries were scored on open data only, while in previous years countries were measured on data even it was not open. 

The index is compiled based on voluntary submissions from the open data community, citizens, government organisations and transparency bodies worldwide. Paid specialist reviewers then check country data by searching 15 datasets for each field – more than 1400 government datasets in total.

All datasets are audited against The Open Definition, a set of standards created by the open data community, which includes criteria such as timeliness and accessibility.

The review team this year introduced some new features in its efforts to “create a tool to discuss help publishers connect to users,” said project manager Mor Rubinstein. An online forum allowed governments, citizens and open data experts to contest the preliminary results, released six weeks ago.

“We’re not just releasing an index, we’re creating a discourse, which has been lacking in the open data community,” Rubinstein told Public Technology.

Particularly active countries have been Belgium, Colombia, Mexico and Britain “even with purdah” according to Rubinstein. “We were sceptical that any governments would write anything, but there have been 200 topics already,” she said. 

Rubinstein also made some general observations on the results. “Budgets are the most open datasets, data on spending is the least open.” And: “The US is not as strong as people think. A lot of data should be open but it’s not, for example, on national law.” 

Overall, she said the main barrier for governments to publishing open data is a lack of feedback from both governments and citizen users on data quality, what data is needed and how it is used.

She said that the index and increased debate could tackle the problem, as well as governments taking a more proactive approach and that governments should “speak to civil society to see what the need is.” The review team may introduce a data quality criterion in next year’s survey.  

Some 13 countries, including Spain and Ireland, did not submit any data this year for the first time in the index’s six year history. The review team puts this down to lack of capacity to participate, a change in the submission phase timeline and political events.

Open Knowledge International is funded by a range of trusts, foundations, governments, international organisations and individual donors.

Read the survey report here.

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