Skip directly to content

Latest Tweets

Local Transparency and Open Data - a summary of the Open Data conference

Local and National Government Open Data across Europe - Cambridge October 26th 2012



Open data experts and enthusiasts from across the UK and Europe gathered in Jesus College, a 500 year old place of scholarly activity at Cambridge University, to demonstrate practical achievements and challenges on

  • Why we need Open Data?
  • What we can we do with Open Data?
  • How to make them available?


People working with open data across the North Sea region shared their insight into the use of data ranging from making the policy/business/use case, facilitating linked data through the linked open data project, the importance of reference data and standards, to building applications to be able to use the data.

The conference showed that the awareness, availability and use of open data have come a long way during the last few years. More and more data are published online in machine readable formats. New tools are developed to enable linkages of data. Data ecosystems are emerging that demonstrate the dependencies between the data provider, intermediary and user to keep data up-to-date. Examples from the conference show that open data is used across Europe in City apps, spending reviews, legal referencing and economic, social and environmental needs assessments.

The availability of more and more open data increases the ability to analyse patterns of incidences, occurrences, events, people’s needs and services so that we can make informed decisions as citizen, communities, businesses and public service providers (plenty of examples can be found in the presentations). Data in itself do not tell a story but analysing them and bringing them to the people through apps and social media add a tangible social and democratic perspective. 

However, much data analysis is still happening behind closed doors and is often only shared with a selected group of partners. Opening up demonstrates the value of not only sharing the data but the applications, experiences, skills and examples of how the data can be used. The journey does not end with data and apps. Important is the social perspective; what difference does the use of open data make to the people? Our responsibility does not only end in publishing the data but to use them wisely and check data and messages before we reuse and pass them on. The development of the events around Project X in Haren where a social media message went viral is an example where the message remained unchecked, was passed on to thousands and turned a birthday party into riots.

Here are some key messages to take home from the conference:

  • Move from a compliance to an open culture. Start with the default that data and their uses are open (except where the open access to data is exempt)
  • Let others create the linked data. As long as the data is published in common open formats and uses common references data they can be linked
  • Embed the data into an ecosystem of supply, use and reuse. People will rely on the data. Get users involved to support the continuation and quality of data
  • Don’t forget the social perspective. Get developers, data providers and policy makers, community leaders, service providers and users into one room to develop meaningful applications that focus on the outcomes what users want and need
  •  Small data is as important as big data. Start small and publish data that is of relevance locally, standards and linkages will follow
  •  Check data and messages for validity before you pass them on
  • Talk about how data are used? Spread the word and share your examples, good practices on opening up on

And finally, I want to thank the organisers – esd-toolkit and Leiedal - for putting this wonderful one day conference in Cambridge together and the speakers for contributing so informative and enthusiastically to this day.

Dr Gesche Schmid
Programme Manager Transparancy


Content on the open data conference:


Slides of the Opening Up Open Data conference:

Post new comment