The European Commission has been banging the open data drum for a while now, launching its Open Data Strategy for Europe back in 2011. Today another step along the road to liberating government data across the region so that startups can get their hands on it: an EU committee made up of member states’ representatives has endorsed plans to modernise the 2003 public information directive to make all non-personal public sector info available for reuse.
Opening up public sector data is something the EC believes will help European startups and businesses by providing access to valuable data at “zero or very low cost”:
Once fully implemented into national law, the revision of the 2003 Public Sector Information Directive would make all generally accessible (that is, non-personal) public sector information available for re-use. Developers, programmers, businesses and citizens will be able to get and re-use public sector data at zero or very low cost in most cases. They will also have access to more exciting and inspirational content, for example including materials in national museums, libraries and archives.
Back in 2011 when it proposed to revise the public data directive, the EC projected that its Open Data Strategy will end up injecting €40 billion annually to the EU’s economy, driving growth and jobs.
The revised directive will include a right to reuse public information; expand the remit to include libraries, museums and archives; create a transparent pricing framework for reproduction, provision and dissemination of the information which also aims to keep costs to a marginal minimum; and encourage data to be made available in open machine-readable formats.
Following today’s committee endorsement, the next stage in the process will be for the European Parliament to approve the new rules.
Some individual European Union member states have already started making public sector data available, including the U.K. and France, which have created portals where available datasets can be searched, requests for data can be submitted and apps that are making use of public data can be found.
Europe’s moves towards open data are mirrored in the U.S. by the Obama administration’s Data.gov open government initiative which is aimed at improving access to Federal data.