Open access to public sector information, transparency and open source in public sector procurement, open government data – WS 02 2012
14 June 2012 | 14:00-15:15
Programme overview 2012
- Kristina Alexanderson, GLAM Sweden
- Karin Hallerby, The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional growth
- Stuart Hamilton, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
- Giacomo Mazzone, European Broadcasting Union
- Constantin Rusu, World Bank
- Fredrik Sand, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
- Veronica Cretu, CMB Training Center
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This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Good afternoon, everyone. How are you? Fine, refreshed after the lunch.
Welcome to the second workshop, workshop number 2, of the EuroDIG 2012. This is going to be a very interesting session because it’s going to address interesting aspects and emerging issues. My name is Veronica Cretu, the president of the CMB Training Center, which is an NGO based in Chisinau, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova.
I am lucky today to have a really distinguished panel of speakers, and I will briefly introduce the key speakers of today.
We have Stuart Hamilton, who is the Director of Policy an Advocacy at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
We have Karin Hallerby, who is head of Division of International Affairs and Regional Development, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.
We have Giacomo Mazzone, who is a manager working at the Italian public service broadcaster and currently in detachment at European Broadcasting Union in Geneva.
We have Ana, Ana Olmos. She is a great contributor to the Spanish Internet Governance Forum, which is a platform for national dialogue since 2008 in Spain.
We have Constantin Rusu, also from the Republic of Moldova, who has been a consultant with World Bank recently on open government related initiatives.
And finally, we have Frederik Sand, who is a policy advisor at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
Thank you all very much for accepting the invitation to be part of this workshop. We will focus on a number of issues, and these issues are related to recent global initiative on open government partnership, which has been welcomed by more than 40 governments.
In this workshop, we will address a few issues, amongst which transparency and open source in public sector procurement. We will hear some examples around this. Open government partnership and national action plans on open government, what are the key challenges that countries are facing today in regards to this recent initiative? Open data and what is open data and how open data can become a powerful tool for enabling citizens and the government to improve the conditions in their respective countries. And what is a system around open data? What makes the data become valuable and useful, and what does an ecosystem around open data stand for?
With this, I would like to give the floor to our colleagues from the host country, and I would love to go to Karin for her five minutes speech. The format of the workshop will be as follows. We will have each presenter have five minutes. We will first take the representatives of the host country, and after they have five minutes, we are going to have ten minutes for questions and answers so that we allow you immediately to react and to ask questions or make comments. And we will do the same with the rest of the presenters. So Karin, the floor is yours.
>> KARIN HALLERBY: Thank you. Before lunch, we were talking about frameworks, frameworks that do work cross-border. And as a national governmental organisation addressing different aspects of economic growth promoting entrepreneurship in various ways in progress and development, we have been working, of course, with barriers and drivers that promote growth in SMEs in a national context mainly.
And as we realise that the growth, if you just look at Swedish figures and the e-commerce growth is ahead of economic growth in general. So there’s a substantial possibility for growth in SMEs by e-commerce. And we have, thus, addressed the SME groups in a dialogue where we wanted to find out what could be – what are the barriers, and what could be drivers if those barriers would be solved?
And not – perhaps not surprisingly, e-Government, trust and connectivity are three issues that were brought out. Today we are going to talk more about e-Government and open sources, and there were two branches that were brought up firstly by this group of SMEs, and they wanted to stress, besides all the, perhaps, tools we need in order to really e-commerce, like electronic ID, they brought up firstly digitalisation of public procurement, and secondly, there were two specially prioritized business areas, such as e-health and services based on geographical positioning and data. These were two industries that were pointed out could be good showcases where governments and the community of companies that could support tools within these areas could work together. And since this is also challenging areas, such as e-health for society, we think this is very interesting.
What we also found out in this process, in this dialogue with SMEs – and I could say that there were SMEs not only in Sweden. It was SMEs within the Baltic Sea region.
The second thing that was brought up was trust, and of course, we have been talking a lot about how can we reinforce trust in all the difficulties that we do meet. But from an e-commerce view, it was stressed the harmonisation of consumer laws and rights. And we think, of course, we have to solve these issues on an EU base, but we need the involvement in a multinational governance process because here, we need to stress to governments and organisations like ourselves to look for solutions that truly work crossborder.
Another thing that was also brought up was an issue in connectivity. There are issues of cost in roaming fees, when you cross border, and this could be quite expensive for consumers. And this is a thing that is in the context of the national – of the nations to solve and work together with the industry because this is truly not benefiting consumers and SME and e-commerce.
So to conclude, e-Government and trust and connectivity, here are some, we think practical issues that we should go for, and we think also, of course, we need to work on the Digital Agenda in a large scale, but we also need to take the small steps in order to not just, as was said also earlier this morning, not only debate – we need the debate, but we also need to move ahead, and we cannot wait for one mode to work everywhere within the European Union. Of course, we need policies, directives, but we also need intense work from local, regional, and national governments. Thank you.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you. Thank you, Karin, very much. Indeed, trust, connectivity, and e-Government are crucial issues, and it is important to look for identification of solutions along with debates and the ongoing dialogue.
In line with this, I would like to go to Frederik.
>> FREDERIK SAND: That’s right. Thank you.
>> VERONICA CRETU: To complement the Sweden view.
>> FREDERIK SAND: Right. I hope I can be a bit international too. I am Frederik Sand from the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, a business institution for the capital region of Sweden.
First of all I would like to say I am going to focus on open data and the business angle on that. First, I would like to underline that the open data movement has a lot in common with the information businesses which I represent more.
We want to increase the access to public data for reuse. We want to have access to raw electronic data at low cost or no cost at all. And it is important that we can reuse data with as few restrictions as possible, of course, keeping respect for privacy and other requirements.
So today I would like to touch on three areas where business can play important roles for growth in jobs, looking how we can redefine the government agencies’ role in this field in the future and as we start to use more open data, and how actually businesses can help governments achieve policy goals by using open data.
First of all, growth in jobs. Currently the European economy is crying out for growth initiatives. Giving access to public data is a fast, cheap, and effective way of encouraging growth.
Let me give you three examples. If you look at the American commercial weather market, it grew by 17% per year between the year 2000 and 2008. During the same time, the European commercial weather market only grew by 1.2% per year. Also in the U.S., they created 13 times as many job opportunities as we did in Europe.
And the most important explanation for this is a different regime in access to weather data. In the United States, it’s much easier and much cheaper to get a hold of the data, and that translates into jobs and growth.
Last year, a Finnish study came out that looked at 15 countries and their pricing of geographical data. It turned out countries in companies that had low fees for access to geographical data, their companies grew on average 15% faster per year compared to countries like Sweden, who have high fees for data. And it turned out small- and medium-sized companies benefited the most from this.
My third example is Denmark. A few years ago, in order to improve public and private services and to promote better public safety for ambulance, police, and other emergency services, the Danish government decided to drop charges for geographical address data, date us use, for example, in GPSs, car, and navigation. You know what I mean.
This reform initially cost the Danish government 2 million euros, but it created a value inside information companies of 62 million euros in the information market. And the value to society as a whole is much more difficult to calculate, but it turned out that 12 of the products based on this data reached more than a million customers or end users each, and that’s in a country with less than 6 million people, so it really – you know, data really came back to the people.
So the real value of public data is when it’s being used and not locked in government archives or databases. So if you give the entrepreneurs and information companies, there will be great products and services and great jobs in European economy that really needs it.
My second point is that if this is what we want from government and open data, maybe it’s time to think about government agencies’ role in this. It used to be only government and large corporations could handle vast amounts of data and build huge databases and analyze this data. It meant that the government collected and stored and analyzed this data by themselves. And these regimes were protected by rules and regulations that served the government’s interest and not people or citizens’ interest.
And legacy is a situation where government sells data to improve the state budget and often in unfair competition with private companies. But today, technology has given us much more better opportunities. You can do data mining on your desktop. Open street map and Google maps are examples of geographical data that used to be considered almost state secrets. They are now being used in Web sites, in software applications, in mobile phones by entrepreneurs and information companies really making a much more interesting and innovative use of the data.
So my point is that government should not develop advanced information services; whereas, currently, it’s very popular, apps – almost every agency has one. This shouldn’t be done by government agencies if someone else can do it better.
But it also creates a new role for government agencies. They have to act in a proactive manner to publish data they have instead of us having to ask or guess. And to publish raw data for us to use rather than waiting for us to file a request.
Also, I think civil servants should take great pride in the fact that they are collecting data that they have handled very well so far, it is now being put to use in society, whether it be for commercial or noncommercial uses.
My last point is that businesses can help the governments reach their own policy goals by using open data. The job map is a Swedish Web site. It takes vacancy listings from the Swedish public employee service and match it is with Google maps, so suddenly it becomes easy to find a job near your home, near your children’s school, or ask where in the country are my skills needed.
So services provided by information companies can help actually policy goals. If you want people to use public transport, publish the time tables, bus, and underground maps as open data. If you want smarter and more environmentally friendly traffic, publish your maps and road signs and congestion data as open data. If you want to combat corruption, publish government expenditures as open data.
I think if we are serious about achieving a more open society where the potential of open data can really be truly realised, it is my belief that entrepreneurs and companies will have a crucial role to play to support these. Thank you.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you. Thank you, Frederik. And it is really important that the data is used. It doesn’t have any value if it’s stored somewhere in the governmental agencies on computers and not released to the citizens. But how to convince the government to release the data on a regular basis without having the citizens necessarily knock on the door each and every single day and ask for that? So from your perspective –
>> FREDERIK SAND: Yes, it’s part of my daytime job to do that. I look with envy to some countries like great Britain, United States, even Norway, neighboring countries, Finland, where this is being done. In some countries, it’s taken scandals, some would say, that in the United Kingdom the expenses scandal was a driver for increased transparency. I, of course, want to see business opportunities, so that’s what we are trying to convince the Government of, But I think it’s still a lot of things to do.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you very much. If there are any questions to the first two speakers, questions or comments?
There is a question here. And we have remote participation. Are there any questions, any comments? Not yet. Okay.
>> It’s more a command. In my experience, the biggest obstacle to open data by the public administrations is not that they don’t acknowledge the value of – and the potential benefits of opening their data, but that they are well aware of the economic value of such data and have ongoing agreements with third parties, which are sometimes exclusive agreements. So in my opinion, this is the biggest obstacle, and not a cultural one.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you. Any other comments, any questions? No? Yeah? Okay.
>> Hello. I work at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and we have an open data strategy at the agency, but there are some other agencies in Sweden that part of the – is the money they make out of the data. I think that is a problem.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Okay. Any reactions, any comments to this?
>> FREDERIK SAND: I would be happy to react. On the first point, one of the problems is the agencies well know the value of the data, and some agencies in Sweden and other countries like the idea of having some extra incomes.
On the issue of exclusive agreements in the European Union perspective, that’s actually forbidden by the directive, and a lot of countries have gone through this and tried to make sure these kind of agreements are terminated, which is a requirement.
And there’s an important point that some agencies are actually financed from fees, then you have to have, from my perspective, a much more thorough and long-term work on how to change this around because I, of course, belief that if you give this data out, it will have greater benefits to both the state budget and society as a whole. But that is clearly an issue, how we finance our agencies.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Okay. Thank you very much. I would like to give the floor to Stuart Hamilton now for a broader perspective on the recent open government-related initiatives.
>> STUART HAMILTON: Yes, thank you very much. I wanted to take a step back and look at the overall environment, so I wanted to know how many people in the room had heard of the Academic Spring. One, excellent. Two. Okay. Well, the Academic Spring is ongoing. It concerns a global boycott of the world’s largest publisher of scientific and research journals, Elsevier. Currently over 12,000 academics and researchers have signed that petition, which is to draw attention to the high profits and business practices of Elsevier. The aim of the petition is the signatories want it achieve more easily accessible distribution of their work.
The academics bring a number of other things going on. Harvard University recently said it couldn’t afford prices being offered for the journal it is needed and encouraged all of its researchers and scientists to make their publications open access.
In the UK at the moment, we have a government working group on expanding access, looking at all issues relating to open access. They brought in Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia to help them on that.
Very recently here in the EU – this morning we had Commissioner Cruz, who recently announced that all research funded by the EU has to be provided – open access to the results has to be provided.
And then in the U.S. we’ve got another petition that’s just recently gone over 25,000 signatures which compels the White House to take a look at making open access to all federal-funded research an actual part of government policy.
So when you consider these actions, the fact that the editor of the Nature Journal says that open access will be inevitable in the long run, the fact that we have a major economic crisis at the moment, which means that the budgets for the institutions that I represent, libraries, are being squeezed quite substantially, we’re hoping that all of these ongoing activities at the moment are going to lead us in pursuit of one thing, and that is openness because that’s what we like in the library community, and we want to see open access to data as a default position.
What I wanted to talk about in the time I have here is really what libraries can bring to open government partnerships and introduce the very important demand side of open government. I mean, 2011, on September the 20th, eight founding governments founded the Open Government Partnership, and this is a multilateral initiative that aims to – and I quote – secure concrete commitments from government to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
These governments endorsed the Open Government Declaration and called for the production of country Action Plans. And I understand that since last September, about 40 plus 7 governments have now joined the partnership. Last month there was a meeting of these partners in Brazilia. It’s definitely going in the right direction. But we noticed in the library community the how of open government was being left out of the discussion. How will citizens access new open government services? How will people learn about new data and tools? How will they learn to use these tools? How will they contact and interact with their governments? And who is going to help with these processes?
As of April this year, 21 governments have released their Action Plans or draft Action Plans, and we’ve analyzed these, and only three from the UK, the Ukraine, and Tanzania have considered how citizens will access government resources. Now, the Ukraine Action Plan we’re a big fan of because it specifically mentions public libraries.
There are 320,000 public libraries worldwide, and I guess it’s going to come as no surprise that we think that libraries can play a massive role in solving the demand side of the open government issue.
I’ll give you an example of how this might work. And in fact, it was mentioned in passing by Commissioner Cruz this morning. In Romania, membership into the EU has opened up opportunities for farmers to modernize their land and increase profitability through access to subsidies. The Ministry of agriculture in Romania produced an online application which was designed to make this subsidy process more quicker and transparent. But many rural farmers didn’t know either about the service or if they did, they didn’t know how to use it.
So in 2011, more than 400 public libraries in Romania stepped in, and they helped 17,000 farmers successfully apply for and receive these subsidies. And the Internet access training available at the public libraries ensured that people from all different backgrounds were able to take advantage of this.
Now, the average annual budget for the public libraries involved in that was between $9500 and $14,000 per year. The first year, those libraries brought back between 23 million to 27.1 million back to the communities. So it was a very substantial return there. It’s a very solid way of giving you an example about how governments can collaborate with already existing, in many cases, infrastructure to better enact government – e-Government initiatives.
So therefore, we think that governments should consider the following policies when implementing open government commitments. They should ensure that any open government action plans consider the need for shared public access. It’s about more than tools and info; it’s about guaranteeing access.
They should support public libraries or other existing access points with dedicated training programmes so that librarians and other information guides can help those who are less familiar with the online tools benefit from the new resources, like it did in Romania. I think that without information experts to help citizens use these services that we’re developing, many of them are going to be left out. And I think training library professionals to support citizens in accessing government information will be a very wise thing.
Existing citizen engagement institutions, like libraries, should actually be providing input into the process of open government planning, and they should be making use of us and our experts because we’re on the demand end. We understand the demand side of this issue, and we can provide advice on how to package it to meet citizens’ needs.
And then finally, leverage the existing infrastructure. Just tools, as I said, won’t work. Couple them with public information campaigns and use libraries as partners for this purpose.
So to conclude, most countries, especially in Europe, already have institutions in place to link to their citizens and governments, and that is the public library. With the right policies and support, public libraries can serve as cost-effective, sustainable hubs for open government. So anyone, I think, interested in this issue should not forget the demand side and should take advantage of what already exists to help deliver these services.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you. Thank you very much. Referring to the project, to the initiative in Romania, I’m happy to say that Moldova is also on board with a huge library initiative, which is definitely going to make a change, especially in the rural areas.
One of the questions related to the demand side: How do we stimulate the demand? How do we motivate citizens out there to ask for data, to demand for data? What prerequisites should be there in place so that people ask for it?
>> STUART HAMILTON: I think in the case of the Romanian farmers, there was Monday on the end of it, which is always a nice driver to get people to go after that.
I think the issue of corruption was also mentioned just in passing, and I think there was another – I’ve heard of another example in India where local communities were getting so frustrated with the condition of their roads that the government was supposed to be funding that a group of citizens set up a sort of transparency initiative that went out and took photographs of where these roads were supposed to be being built and then sent the pictures of absolutely nothing happening back to the government departments that have been sending money out to contractors.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Did the government respond to that?
>> STUART HAMILTON: Yes, it was quite effective in actually highlighting the amount of work that wasn’t being done.
So I guess what I would say there in terms of stimulating demand is if you can show – if you can link in the availability of government data to things that really matter to the community, then I think – and if you can use libraries and other public institutions to do that who, of course, have members of their community coming in every day telling them what they need to find out, then I think you can begin to generate more demand.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you very much. I am now going to move to Giacomo. Giacomo, five minutes, the floor is yours.
>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: I am a representative of the world broadcasting community that is quite marginal about the directive on public access to public information because, as you know, broadcasting is excluded of that in this directive.
But in the broader sense, on the contrary, the public service broadcasting that now we prefer to call public service media is a lot related with that in terms that, for instance, in our mission, in the public service realm, all over Europe, we have as main goal to ensure transparency in the country. I am surprised to the example you made about the Indian roads because this would be the first thing that we expect to know from our broadcaster, that they witness that there is something wrong with the action of the government. You don’t expect the citizens to organise themselves to bring this information to the public attention. This is what we expect to get from the public service.
There is also a problem of providing reliable information to empower the citizens because the citizens need to get access to relevant information to make up their minds for the election that is they have to determine the future of their country. And this, of course, in a globalised world, means that also the information about what happens in the rest of the world needs to be transparent and reliable and pertinent to the community to which they are addressed.
Then another point is very important what I see is accountability, more and more. It was mentioned about the expenses of the MEPs, but also, BBC has been asked indeed with creating a lot of travels because they act in a competitive market, but they publish all the salaries of not only the employees but also of the stars. That immediately gave a competitive advantage to the competitors that they know how much they paid, so they could counteroffer one pound more to try to steal the stars. But BBC did – because accountability is the base of the contract that public service has with the citizen. If the citizen is not sure that each single penny that is given to you will be used for his own interest, then there is a breach of the contract between you and the citizen.
And finally, I think that another point that is very important is that we have to preserve in this environment some characteristics typical of Europe. I am a little bit scared when I hear the comparison with the U.S. In the U.S., yes, you can get a lot of data, even the data that I would prefer would not be given because the privacy, as you know, in the U.S. is not protected as in Europe. So I’m not sure that it’s really good to know that I didn’t pay a bill of an American Express in 1998, and this could create me trouble in getting credit from my bank.
So we need to keep a European perspective in what we are doing. There is a check and balance system in Europe. I am very attached to that. I think that we are what we are thanks to that. So when we talk about access to data, we think that there are other rights that need to be tempered and considered when you do this.
Another example is what happened with the Gore Act. You remember the Gore Act that was made just before the Clinton presidency ends and Bush arrives is the competitive advantage that gives U.S. Internet companies a huge advantage over Europe because the Gore Act says each company could publish whatever they want, even copyright material, even intellectual property protected material, in good faith, and they are not suitable for an amount that is not linked to a reasonable amount. That is exactly the opposite that happens in Europe. If we broadcast copyright material without having any authorization or without having the proper authorization, specific authorization for their market, is suitable not only forever, but also is suitable even for the moral rights, et cetera, et cetera. So there is a liability.
So when we compare systems, we need to think that the systems are linked to a civilization, and if we are attached to our civilization, we need to renounce the certain advantages because this gives us a certain extension of rights.
Finally, about data, I want just to give you some hints concerning the broadcasting world. As you know, the main reason why we are excluded from the directive is because most of the materials that are in the broadcasting archives, in the broadcasting properties, are linked to intellectual property. This intellectual property, especially in the case of the public service broadcasters, doesn’t belong to the broadcasters but belongs to the authors, to the performers. So those creators who have made the possibility of this work to exist. So we are not talking in terms of protecting our own interests, but talking about protecting the interest of the creators.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of other materials that have been produced by the broadcasters all along these years. The history of Europe has made broadcasting, in audiovisual terms, that could be made accessible sometimes are not accessible because there is not money to make them available, and there are costs related to digitalisation and costs related to the clearance of the copyrights.
And there I think that there is a large space for public governance, for legislation. Because if legislation could simply create some simple criteria for freeing and clearing the rights for this material that contains low added value for the copyright owners but have a huge public value, this could create an enormous amount of interest and enormous possibility to reverberate all over the world, all over the citizens.
There are – for instance, the news – in most of Europe, the journalists, they don’t have any copyright on the news. In some countries they have. This is the reason why there is not a circulation of news for making access to the news worldwide because in some countries, there is this residual interest to be paid for some copyright owners. But probably the parliament, the European Parliament first, but have to consider the balance between the public general interest and the small categories interest that could be compensated in one way or another and could free the potential.
Because if we look in terms of material with added value, Europe is the biggest repository in the world for sure.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you, Giacomo, very much. You mentioned early in the beginning of your speech relevant information, relevant information for citizens. What is “relevant information” for citizens? How do citizens know that this is relevant information from the perspective of the open data and open government? How do they assess what should be there in the citizens’ minds that they understand what’s relevant?
>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: There is the old reflex that comes from being not a digital native. I am born in the age not like Ana that we dispute over the plane some months ago about what is the difference. The difference is that I believe in mediation. I think that there are people that are paid by the community to make this work of mediation, and they can spot better than others because this is why they are trained to identify what is in the common interest. This is the mission of the public service. This makes the difference within public service and commercial broadcasting.
Of course, there is a risk of mistake. I could mistake in my role, and I could inquire more on somebody that I dislike and less on somebody that I like. Of course. The mediation is always not mutual 100%. But it’s important that the community recognize that there is somebody that is in charge. They have a special responsibility towards the others. This Frankfort school, they were thinking of having a special license to be given to somebody to become a TV – they were exaggerating, but the thinking behind is you have a special responsibility because you act on behalf of the citizen. And this, even in the day where the Internet gives this responsibility spread around to everybody – because everybody could communicate – there is a special responsibility for those that act in the media.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Okay. Thank you very much. Questions? Can we get the mic?
>> You said that they may provide the relevant information in order to help citizens to make up their mind about the election. And someone is going to be in charge of that. But the person who is going to be in charge, how is going to distinguish which is relevant information and which is not? And that person may have his or her own values. Isn’t it a bit difficult to distinguish it?
>> VERONICA CRETU: Yes, any reactions?
>> STUART HAMILTON: My reaction to that would be yeah, it is tricky, but librarians have actually been doing that for hundreds of years, if not even further. Yeah, can you ever be 100% neutral in deciding what’s relevant for somebody at the end of an inquiry, for example? Well, it’s difficult. I have to say I agree with Giacomo with the idea of intermediaries still having some relevance here with regards to being able to interpret what people actually want to get at in their inquiries. They don’t even have to necessarily come in through the doors of a library. We can still talk to those people using the technology on the Internet, for example.
But I think there is still a role to play for a degree of mediation in pursuit of quality information, and the library profession has certainly made its goal over the time that it’s been around to be as neutral as possible when handling information requests.
>> VERONICA CRETU: One more question. Thank you, Stuart. Yes, please.
>> My name is Tolbert, and I work as an e-archivist here in Sweden, and I also want to ask you to involve the archivists and registrators in this because they have very much knowledge about the information that is frequently asked for, and they also work very much with the reliability and trustworthiness of the information, which you pointed out that is very important, I think, in this issue. So the trustworthiness.
And we also have in the governments, we have a responsibility to make grounds for making the information trustworthy when it gets out so we can continue that.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Okay. Thank you. You want to make a comment? Can we have the mic here, please?
>> AVRI DORIA: Thank you. My name is Avri Doria. I am a researcher. I am having, I guess, perhaps a confusion when I listen in terms of the role of intermediaries. I think intermediaries can often be very useful in terms of helping to organise, helping to find, helping. But I start to wonder at what point are intermediaries gatekeepers? And at what point are they actually preventing?
So I see them as an auxiliary to availability of data dumps that allow people to go at the data in any way they want, in any way they can figure out. But when an intermediary takes a role as being the prime organiser, and if it’s not organised by them it isn’t available, is when I start to be troubled by the role of intermediaries. And so I’m wondering when the people up there that advocate the importance of the intermediary, is it as an assistant to the public, or is it as the gatekeeper, and we will take care of you people for you? Thanks.
>> VERONICA CRETU: One minute for any reactions or comments on this.
>> STUART HAMILTON: It’s quite easy for me to respond. I think it’s the assistant side of things. Libraries in the past have been gatekeepers. We chain books to tables. There has been an element where approaching the librarian has been in some cases a frightening process. I think librarians and other intermediaries would do well to mind the change in the mind-set of people who want to access information, which is the way I see it is people don’t want their gatekeepers anymore. The way we remain relevant is to provide an assistance role, using the skills we have as a profession and have had over many, many years. But I certainly don’t see us as gatekeepers.
I can see a situation whereby the legal structures that provide access to open government data, your intermediaries are going to have to follow those structures, so then you get into a kind of interesting sort of area, particularly if you’re using public libraries, which are funded by the state, and so on and so forth. But generally speaking, no, assistants, not gatekeeper.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you very much. Yes, but very brief.
>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: Yes, I don’t want to monopolize, but just to add, there is a main difference between public service and universal service: To make an example, if I am responsible for a library, I decide because people in the neighboring viewers or participants to the library life want to have a lot of copies of Spiderman, and I buy ten copies of Spiderman, and I buy one copy of a movie of (Indiscernible), for instance, or a book, I am not doing public service. I am doing probably universal service because I’m guaranteeing that the people could find what they want, but I’m not making my role of mediator, trying to say that probably it is important that if I have few money to spend, I will concentrate this money on things that, in my opinion, have value for the community compared to the value for the market.
That’s the difference, and I think that this we cannot renounce.
But I don’t want to – I think that the problem is that we are talking of contents that have an emotional value, while unfortunately, my distinguished colleague was talking of data that have not an emotional value but have an economic value, and people try more on emotion more than on economics.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you very much. It’s time now to move to our next speakers. Two of them are going to present their recent experiences related to Open Government Partnership initiative that the countries have endorsed. We have Ana, and we have Constantin, but we go to Spain first.
>> ANA OLMOS: Okay. Thank you. I would like to take a step back and think about what open government is, and I’m quoting here a multistakeholder group that held a segment on open government in the Spanish IGF. And what they said is that open government is about establishing a conversation between government and citizens, and in this conversation, there has to be a real flow of information. So data has to be available to citizens for them to reflect upon and to give feedback on.
And the citizens needs and what they want and what they demand, it has to be taken into account by the government. So for all this process to be taken place, many things have to happen. Open data has to happen. This has been mentioned a lot, and this is a necessary part if you want citizens to be able to participate in the decision-making process of the governments themselves. Not only because it is important as a business strategy or – those numbers were impressive. So not only because this is really – the reutilization of data really gives way to business, but also because this data, the availability of this data, is at the basis that the citizens can take a different role in how they speak with the government.
Then a different thing that has to happen in order for open government to actually take place is that there has to be real transparency in all of this. So we have three pillars that we would be building on. That is openness and transparency, participation, and collaboration. For this to be real, there has to be a change of mind-set.
You have been mentioning how do citizens – there have been questions about how do citizens know what information is relevant, questions about how can they – how can you change the mind-set of people who are used to working in – who are used to the system working in a very different manner. Openness and transparency, like I said, collaboration and participation, and then there has to be a response from the government. The government has to develop the capacity to integrate this feedback and actually let it be part of the decision-making process. So this is a very complicated process, and it implies many changes.
I think there are many roles that have been highlighted here, and they are very important. The way the citizens are going to consume this data is not directly going to databases. I think businesses are going to come up with new ways to present this information with new applications for this information, with new things that are going to add value to the information and be so much more easy – so much easier to consume by citizens.
I think intermediaries are going to do a great – are going to play a very important role in making this available to – not available in the sense that it wasn’t available before, but that they can communicate this and they can provide – they can present it in a structured manner that is easier to understand.
But if the information is there, citizens can go one step farther. Citizens can be happy with what they are getting or not. And if they happen to be unhappy, they happen to doubt the motives of those who are communicating with them, or if they happen to have second thoughts on things that – on the way they are being presented, then they can go farther, and they can go to the original data.
And then this brings me to another issue that is very, very important, and I think you mentioned, but I want to stress that too, is interoperability. Data not only has to be available, it has to be available in an interoperable manner. It has to be data that we can work with, that we can treat, that we can manipulate, and that we can reutilize.
I would also like to mention that the – there’s an open data group in Spain who just came up with a decalogue of chain points that they consider to be basic for any open data initiative to be successful. I don’t want to read all of the points, but I will try to make sure that it is available online because I do think it has an interesting – it was very recently published.
And on a special note on the Spanish side – because all of this maybe was very general – but why this has come up in the Spanish IGF is because of the recent law on transparency, which is actually in a draft manner in Spain. So there are positives and negatives – positive and negative things about this law. First of all, the fact that it is being taken into account in Spain is a huge success. I think we are falling behind other countries in actually having a law on transparency. But hopefully we will be very – we will have a high goal and we will make it work.
So people are excited about the transparency law. People are changing their roles. Citizens are being active, taking up an active role, and that is good. The law was opened for comments. The government received more than 3600 comments, which means, you know, people are actually going into this conversation. But then –
>> VERONICA CRETU: Were they taken into consideration, the comments?
>> ANA OLMOS: Yes – well, we don’t know. We don’t know because the fact is that the comments were sent in, but they were not made public. So whether – so whether or not these comments are all – you know, all 3600 comments saying the very same thing, we don’t know. And whether the government decides to ignore this one thing, we don’t know. But like I said, we are still working on this, so I would hope for –
>> VERONICA CRETU: You are still opening it up?
>> ANA OLMOS: Yes, let’s see how it develops. But – and on this aspect, I would also like to bring up something that – some work that has been done in Spain on electronic government, not open, but electronic, which you mentioned many e-services. I think it is a good thing that Spain passed a law already a few years ago on electronic services, and what is really – a real improvement in this law is that it makes it a right for every citizen to be able to access electronically any public services, any services with the government.
This is actually very, very important, although its implementation is not completely through. City halls and public institutions are expected to put this, to make this work, but only according to whatever budget they have. And you know this is not a time for huge budgets, so this is – this may not be in practice a real right, but there is a very high availability of electronic services for citizens, so some things are being done, and that is something we are happy with.
So I think this is a little bit of an overview of what was presented in our session. Just to finish stressing out the importance of interavailability, stressing out the fact that open data is a huge opportunity for citizens and businesses, and open government is only real if the conversation is really taking place and not just being open for comments.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you. Thank you very much, Ana. You mentioned the law on transparency. In Moldova, we do have a law on transparency, but it didn’t make any change. We didn’t have more data coming out. We didn’t have demands from citizens. But once the open government initiative was launched, we witnessed more awareness of citizens and governments regarding ICT tools and solutions for coming up with more data. So probably something was missing in the law on transparency which was not highlighting ICT as a tool to – for the government to become more transparent.
In line with this, I would like to go to Constantin, who is our last presenter, speaker, so Constantin, the floor is yours.
>> CONSTANTIN RUSU: Thank you. So I would like to tell you the story of Moldova on its journey of e-transformation and opening the government.
So it started not long ago. It started in late 2010. And it started first with the recognition by government that the situation is very bad. There is a lot of corruption, a lot of bureaucracy. The government is inefficient. There are a lot of queues for public service. The government is very closed. We inherited old mentality from the service system. We had unfortunate leading party of our country was the communist party until 2009. So the situation was very bad.
So first thing what was, it was that the government, very democratic oriented now and very pro-European, understood that the situation is very bad, and based on this situation, it was a big hunger for values coming from Europe, like freedom and transparency and opening the government and all these modern issues which are flying now around the globe.
So first of all, we started to learn from the countries which have good experience from our point of view in e-government, so that would be an example of UK, United States, from Europe would be Estonia, and also we had good example of Singapore, who actually we had a delegation from Singapore working permanently as consultants in Moldova for three months almost.
So we took the best pieces from around the world, and we started to implement them locally. First of all, we developed a strategy of modernization of government because government understood that to bring the transparency, to fight the corruption, to fight bureaucracy, it’s regularly done in other countries by bringing IT element, by bringing e-complement to government.
So the government developed a strategy, created an entity which is called e-government centre, which is intersectorial kind of leader or champion in the implementation of ICT component and e-transformation agenda. And also, one of the important steps, it’s an initiative of open government partnerships, and in very short time, almost in two or three months, we developed open government Action Plan, which is given as a good example of involving of civil society. Actually, Veronica is leading in Moldova and was surprised by – she was surprised by the fact that e-government centre, which represents the government, sent the draft of Open Government Action Plan not first to the ministries to consult what’s on their agenda and how they want to become open, but sends to NGOs and to civil society to see their demand.
So they collected all the demand from civil society, and at some point, at the very big document with a lot of requests for opening the government that e-government centre was at some point afraid that when they go to approve it in the Cabinet of Ministers, it will be cut back.
But fortunate, we don’t know why, probably ministers doesn’t understand what is in there, they don’t understand that this is hidden bomb which will cause a lot of pain, when they will start implementing it, but this Action Plan was implemented just a week before Brazil Summit, where we were admitted as one new member for the Open Government Partnership.
What is good there, as I said, we have all the requests from civil society incorporated. Please correct me if I’m wrong. And also, we – immediately it was created a specific group in so-called national council of participation, which is civil society advisory board for the Prime Minister’s office, which specific open government working group which will monitor the implementation of open government. So this is the stick to force the ministers to implement open government agenda.
So coming back to e-transformation plans, what does it include? It’s including the digitalisation of public services. It’s – it includes consolidation of data centres because, you know that in that part of the world, all the ministries have their own servers, their own database, and these servers are not kept properly. These are not data centres. These are just server rooms with no air conditioning, with no proper electricity, so – with no proper backup. All the time the information is lost. The capacity is used only at 20% of the capacity. So they want to consolidate data centres, want to have shared infrastructure cloud base.
Another thing is to have a G2C, government-to-citizen portal, which offers all the services from public sector. Now government portal offers about 240 public service, but only 10 of them are digital. But this is on the main page of this G2C portal. So in every moment, as soon as one public service becomes e-service, immediately it is effective on the front page, so it’s quite ambitious agenda to have until 2020 all the services digitalized – sorry – 2015 all the services digitalized.
Of course, this doesn’t mean digitalizing of existing processes and procedures because almost all of them are not well thought through. First you need to reengineer the process and then to invest in digitalizing, and then here it comes one of important components, it’s how intelligent is investment in IT sector from the public perspective?
So all of these issues are in our e-transformation agenda, talking about open government Action Plan. We have their transparent e-procurement system to be implemented until 2015 because the procurements now are done only by some paper, and God knows what’s there. You cannot monitor it from outside.
Another thing is publication of all politicians’ information about their income and about their assets. It’s transparency of budgeting process, expenditures, stuff like that.
And one of the core elements of open government coming out from this Action Plan is opening data, which was discussed, and here we have another situation that government has a strong commitment to open the data, even Prime Minister issued an order at the beginning that each – every Minister needs to open three data sets. Of course, no one at that moment cared what kind of data sets, are these demand base, are these data sets presenting real value for the citizens and for the civil society? Of course, someone could question that, but you cannot assess these data sets before you are not starting using this data.
And we – one of another important step was to create a portal of open data where all the ministries are placing their data sets. It is called datagovmd. Another important issue is all the financial data, all the budgetary spendings was published there. It is a programme called Boost, and actually, it is a World Bank initiative to open the spendings data. And these were two core elements for starting the process.
And now it looks like we are almost okay from a supply side. Ministries are trying to do their job. E-government centre brought on the scene a lot of volunteers and sent them to ministry meetings, and they helped the ministries to look at their data sets, to data scrape, to make them from PDF format into machine-readable format and to public them.
We also have in each ministry’s so-called open government and open information coordinators, held by ministries to be held accountable for the data placed on the data portal.
So we have the situation when from supply side everything is okay, but there is no demand side. And we took part recently in an initiative which was aimed in catalyzing the demand side of open data because this data has no value if it’s not used, if the developers are not making application, if these data sets are not helping citizens to solve problems or to bring change in society.
So we started to catalyze the usage of open data. We had a range of events like training, media, what open data means, how they can use visual elements in their articles, how they can make interesting articles about public sector, about spendings, about politicians, and to bring attention of citizens to this issue.
Also, we trained the NGOs to use the open financial data, and most important, we started to bring together developers, IT developers, and we started to bring together with NGOs, and we invited a lot of developers who know what are the best tools to develop applications, what are the best example of app-based open data, and to help to understand these issues and to train locals to manage and to manipulate this data and to make nice applications.
We had already two TechCamps dedicated to open government. We had a culminating event of so-called Apps for Moldova, open innovation challenge, which brought together 25 teams of developers. They were coming out with ideas for application, prototypes which were assessed by committees. And most importantly, the most successful one received now the funding from the government to develop this application until it’s fully functional, and these are different types of applications, like you can find similarities in different countries, like check my school, where my money go, fix my street, like collect the garbage in the neighborhood, evaluate your professor at the university, like how the politicians are keeping their promises, and stuff like that.
So in this short period of time, I think Moldova did a lot of things. We still have had a lot of things to do. We have a lot of challenges because the question is do we have enough Internet penetration, do we have enough capacity locally to absorb this data and to develop. And it’s very important to have – like you have a cart with two wheels, it’s not only important to give the possibilities and have the supply side, which is a big wheel, yes, and to have demand side not very strong, which will be a small wheel, then the cart will go in circles and in circles. You need to make the government to be more open and to provide open data data sets, but at the same time, you need to raise the capacity of civil society, of developers to use that data and to bring change so to grow the second wheel and to have this moving forward cart.
Thank you very much.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Okay. Thank you, Constantin. As you see, Moldovans are very passionate about and very enthusiastic about these changes.
To find out more about these initiatives and the challenges we are facing, we have a flash session.
Thank you very much. There is a comment that Karin wanted to make. We have really almost no time, but please.
>> KARIN HALLERBY: Okay. Well, I think much has been brought up. It’s easy to agree that we still have a lot to do. As an example, e-services and e-government. And truly, you were spot on. There’s a necessity for more investments in that area.
And it’s also easy to agree with the chambers of commerce that we should supply the data openly because that would create businesses..
So I just want to stress the point that we feel we should truly deal with, and that is we should look for frameworks that promote business models that are associated to users and not to their nationalities. I think we should really think about that because it’s very nice to learn about the Moldova example, but once again, we think that we really need to address this issue.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you very much. Remote participation, any questions? Can you speak louder, please?
>> Yeah, the first part also? Yeah, my name is Amir. I work as a research with pharma data, health data. I think Karin, you mentioned – you started talking about e-health. And I guess my question is more about access to the patients’ records and about data in healthcare management. Do you think you could comment about this, not only you, but also other participants, about the way you vision the access to this data in your countries?
>> VERONICA CRETU: There is one more question. Just a second. Sebastian?
>> Thank you. Yeah, I have the following question. You talk a lot about government, but I have the impression that we need to have the data for all the public administration at whatever level, the cities, departments, region, whatever, you name it, and then government is a little bit misleading. I don’t have another term, but it’s public administration, whatever. But it’s important.
And just to say a few words, I am working on the project named Citadel on the Move, with the objective to build application that could be used by a user in different cities of Europe with the data from the city but with the same type of application that could be used in different arena and countries in this world. Thank you.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you, Sebastian. Very, very brief. Yes, we go to Ana first.
>> ANA OLMOS: Okay. Thank you. Sebastian, I’m just so glad you brought this up. This was one of the main points of the Spanish session also. I had to summarize, but I shouldn’t have left it out. Judiciary power, parliament, and every public institution must be involved in this open government initiative. Thank you very much.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you, Ana. Frederik.
>> FREDERIK SAND: Just a quick comment on health data. It’s a really interesting area. If we want to solve some of the most pressing health issues of the season, whatnot, we need to have good databases following patients through their care.
Paramount is, of course, privacy issues, both commercial companies who are researching medication and public hospitals and so on needs access to this data, but there are a number of difficult issues, but it’s a really important area for the future.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you. Karin?
>> KARIN HALLERBY: And also have to address the fact, at least in Sweden, that the multilevel governance here that is in place, that is also one difficulty addressing – well, to the picture, a complexity.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you very much. Any final comments? Very brief.
>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: Not a comment. I am intrigued by this idea of the database of the promise of the government. This brings up for me, public service media could be a very interesting –
>> CONSTANTIN RUSU: I can say this got the most points from the judges, and it’s actually very interesting because now almost everything goes to Internet, so they just could have a video, when for example, a mayor is saying the south part of this city has a bad smell, but in two weeks it will disappear. And then they have the picture of the mayor, they have this video with him giving these promises, and then they have timeline and the time starts ticking. And when it comes at the end, they associate the man with the picture, yes, if he doesn’t stick to the promise, this is a bad picture. If he sticks to the promise, then it’s very nice picture.
And this you have for all politicians, mayors, everyone. This is, as I said, was one of the winners of Apps for Moldova. Now it’s under development, and as soon as it will be ready, I can send you the link.
>> Who feeds information into the database?
>> CONSTANTIN RUSU: It’s crowd source. It’s crowd source, so everyone – everyone who found it in the Internet, some politician having a promise, he can take and quote the source, and then the time is start ticking.
>> VERONICA CRETU: Thank you, Constantin. I think it is, indeed, important to acknowledge that applications have a powerful and strong effect on the citizens, on changing or contributing to the change of the way they think and the way they perceive their role.
Whether we have, for example, in Moldova, more citizens who acknowledge that they have a word to say, that they can get easily involved in decision-making processes; whether their vote counts; whether their role is important; I think with the emerging issues such as open government, open data, we are going to change that.
Data becomes valuable, data can influence policies, data becomes part of an ecosystem as long as they can generate change and contribute to the developments. But unless we don’t have it open, we cannot have that improvement and development happen.
We’ll continue the discussions. We are having a flash session somewhere. We need to find the place. With this, I would like to thank our speakers very much for their experiences and this interesting exchange of views. And thank you all very much for being here this afternoon with us. And enjoy the rest of the day. Thank you very much.