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Groningen “goes Open Data”.

This summer, during a meeting on the goals, challenges and possibilities of open and linked data, an elderman from Groningen City  said he’d like to start introducing Open Data as regular part of the way the municipality works. Open data can contribute to make the local government more transparent, but also stimulate the (local) economy when we invite businesses to reuse the governmental data sets.

An event

To introduce this wish to the internal organisations and to mark this new approach, the municipality organised - in co-production with the province of Groningen - an Open Data-Event on November 21st.  Wouter Degadt opened the meeting with a speech giving examples of what his region in Belgium has achieved on open data and the benefits for the inhabitants so far.

Subsequently a platform for regional open data was launched (, displaying numerous sets of data from the region, varying from complex geo-sets to past results of local elections. Moreover, as a result of the political commitment, the municipality Groningen introduced an open finance app, giving an insight into the local government budget.

The topic of open data being rather new, more expert speakers had been invited to share their knowledge on subjects as the juridical consequences, the necessity to get inhabitants ànd application-developers involved and the sheer endless possibilities linked data can bring. In workshops the question which sets should be published was answered by participants creating imaginary new companies and services.

The event was “sold out” and was attended by some 70 people.

Data sets

In their regular business the municipality and the province generate many data sets, which they sometimes publish in the form of maps. To give the portal a good start, we published many of these sets online, as computer readable files. However to fill the platform with usable data sets was not as simple as was anticipated at the start: sets are available but some departments are reluctant to give them up for publication. On the other hand, some departments are eager to publish but struggle with copyright, ownership or privacy issues.


In order to maintain a portal with a high and consequent usability, quality standards should be defined. This will also put its demands on the portal-management: Groningen aims to allow all municipalities in the province Groningen to access the portal, free to publish their own data sets. Point of attention will be the quality format and the validity of the links presented on the open data platform.

The (internal) switch in awareness to publish sets in computer readable files still has to be made and the quality of those sets will have to be monitored. The portal is designed to stimulate the interaction on open data between inhabitants and/or companies and the local government. In that way we get feedback on the sets we’ve published and we’re challenged to publish those sets “the market” wants, within the limits/restrictions of privacy and safety.

To make open data a part of “every day work” – internal or external - will take some more time and attention.


By: Herma Otter, project manager Open Data, municipality Groningen, 03 December 2013.

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