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Sweden needs better coordination, skills and concrete incentives to drive the work on open data forward

- February 12, 2019 in Open Data

The assessment of Sweden’s commitments in the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)* has just been published. The assessment shows that Sweden’s third OGP action plan led to greater access to public service information. However, Alina Östling, the researcher who carried out the evaluation, underlines that future action plans could be more ambitious and be preceded by wider consultations with civil society during their development and implementation.
Sweden has faced issues with digital management and coordination for many years. A previous study by the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) found that progress towards digitization in the public sector varies significantly across different state and municipal organizations with a few excelling, while the majority lags behind. The government assignments given to the pilot agencies in the framework of the Digital First programme have led to some improvements in terms of access to information, as several agencies have released substantial amounts of open data. For example, in September 2017, the Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) released open geographic data according to the CC0 license (meaning that all rights are waived), and the Environment Agency released data in July 2018 that should facilitate navigation in protected areas that are free to use in proprietary applications. However, Lantmäteriet suggests that important obstacles remain, including a fragmented and partly analogous information supply. This impedes access to information, leads to unnecessary duplication of work for stakeholders, and to uneven development and progress. Based on desk research and interviews with stakeholders, the OGP researcher recommends improving national coordination in access to basic public sector information and to invest in skills necessary for public sector digitization.
In terms of opening up Public Sector Information (PSI), the OGP assessment shows that it has become easier to re-use PSI. Sweden has increased both the number of PSI datasets published and the number of visitors on the national open data portal. According to the European Commission, Sweden has reached ‘portal maturity’ and is now an open data ‘fast-tracker’. The National Archives has further developed the national open data portal, and has almost tripled the number of datasets between July 2017 and August 2018 (from 494 to 1,432). The number of unique visitors per month has increased from 330 in 2016 to 2,000 in 2017, and the portal contains 90-99 percent of all openly licensed datasets.
However, despite good progress, the OGP report stresses that more needs to be done in order to increase the re-use of information, including more initiatives in the field of open data and a strategy that outlines the long-term priorities. Many authorities are still uncertain about how to facilitate opening data, and lack concrete incentives for driving the work forward. Progress has not been uniform across authorities and tends to concern only some spearheads in the public administration. The responsibility to promote PSI and open data, as well as to assist public agencies in publishing such data has recently been taken over by the new Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) and the progress of Sweden in the field of open data will largely depend on the strategy and performance of DIGG.
  • The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. This report summarizes the results of the period July 2016 to June 2018: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sweden-end-of-term-report-2016-2018-public-comment
  [1] “Digitalization of public Sweden – a follow-up”. (The Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV), March 2018), https://www.esv.se/publicerat/publikationer/2018/digitaliseringen-av-det-offentliga-sverige–en-uppfoljning/ [1] Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero) is intended to be a ‘public domain dedication,’ i.e., a waiver of all rights including those of attribution. (“Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero)” (Open Definition, 22 July 2018), http://opendefinition.org/licenses/cc-zero/.) CC0 is currently recommended as the preferred method for releasing software to the public domain by the Free Software Foundation. (“Various Licenses and Comments about Them” (Free Software Foundation, 27 June 2018), https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html). CC0 is also used by major players such as Open street map on Wikipedia. [1] “Now it becomes easier to use the Lantmäteriets open data” (Geoforum Sweden, 14 August 2017), https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3173-nu-blir-det-enklare-att-anvaenda-lantmaeteriets-oeppna-data [1] Geoforum Sverige, 16 July 2018, https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3484-naturvardsverket-slapper-oppna-data-som-forenklar-friluftslivet [1] “Digital First- For a smarter community-building process” (The Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) January 2018), https://www.geodata.se/globalassets/dokumentarkiv/styrning-och-uppfoljning/geodatastrategin/slutrapport-digitalt-forst.pdf [1] European Data Portal, Open data maturity dashboard, 24 August 2018, https://www.europeandataportal.eu/en/dashboard#tab-detailed [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM mid-term reports on 17 July 2017, on the oppnadata.se portal. [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM end-of-term reports on 24 August 2017, https://registrera.oppnadata.se/status/overview [1] “Sweden – Overview”, European Data Portal,  https://www.europeandataportal.eu/sites/default/files/country-factsheet_sweden.pdf. [1] About 40 percent of the national authorities and 60 percent of municipalities and county councils have not implemented any specific measure at all to make available for re-use. Source: The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The website of DIGG with a description of the scope of the Agency: https://www.digg.se/utveckling–innovation/oppna-data-och-datadriven-innovation

Sweden needs better coordination, skills and concrete incentives to drive the work on open data forward

- February 12, 2019 in Open Data

The assessment of Sweden’s commitments in the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)* has just been published. The assessment shows that Sweden’s third OGP action plan led to greater access to public service information. However, Alina Östling, the researcher who carried out the evaluation, underlines that future action plans could be more ambitious and be preceded by wider consultations with civil society during their development and implementation.
Sweden has faced issues with digital management and coordination for many years. A previous study by the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) found that progress towards digitization in the public sector varies significantly across different state and municipal organizations with a few excelling, while the majority lags behind. The government assignments given to the pilot agencies in the framework of the Digital First programme have led to some improvements in terms of access to information, as several agencies have released substantial amounts of open data. For example, in September 2017, the Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) released open geographic data according to the CC0 license (meaning that all rights are waived), and the Environment Agency released data in July 2018 that should facilitate navigation in protected areas that are free to use in proprietary applications. However, Lantmäteriet suggests that important obstacles remain, including a fragmented and partly analogous information supply. This impedes access to information, leads to unnecessary duplication of work for stakeholders, and to uneven development and progress. Based on desk research and interviews with stakeholders, the OGP researcher recommends improving national coordination in access to basic public sector information and to invest in skills necessary for public sector digitization.
In terms of opening up Public Sector Information (PSI), the OGP assessment shows that it has become easier to re-use PSI. Sweden has increased both the number of PSI datasets published and the number of visitors on the national open data portal. According to the European Commission, Sweden has reached ‘portal maturity’ and is now an open data ‘fast-tracker’. The National Archives has further developed the national open data portal, and has almost tripled the number of datasets between July 2017 and August 2018 (from 494 to 1,432). The number of unique visitors per month has increased from 330 in 2016 to 2,000 in 2017, and the portal contains 90-99 percent of all openly licensed datasets.
However, despite good progress, the OGP report stresses that more needs to be done in order to increase the re-use of information, including more initiatives in the field of open data and a strategy that outlines the long-term priorities. Many authorities are still uncertain about how to facilitate opening data, and lack concrete incentives for driving the work forward. Progress has not been uniform across authorities and tends to concern only some spearheads in the public administration. The responsibility to promote PSI and open data, as well as to assist public agencies in publishing such data has recently been taken over by the new Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) and the progress of Sweden in the field of open data will largely depend on the strategy and performance of DIGG.
  • The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. This report summarizes the results of the period July 2016 to June 2018: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sweden-end-of-term-report-2016-2018-public-comment
  [1] “Digitalization of public Sweden – a follow-up”. (The Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV), March 2018), https://www.esv.se/publicerat/publikationer/2018/digitaliseringen-av-det-offentliga-sverige–en-uppfoljning/ [1] Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero) is intended to be a ‘public domain dedication,’ i.e., a waiver of all rights including those of attribution. (“Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero)” (Open Definition, 22 July 2018), http://opendefinition.org/licenses/cc-zero/.) CC0 is currently recommended as the preferred method for releasing software to the public domain by the Free Software Foundation. (“Various Licenses and Comments about Them” (Free Software Foundation, 27 June 2018), https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html). CC0 is also used by major players such as Open street map on Wikipedia. [1] “Now it becomes easier to use the Lantmäteriets open data” (Geoforum Sweden, 14 August 2017), https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3173-nu-blir-det-enklare-att-anvaenda-lantmaeteriets-oeppna-data [1] Geoforum Sverige, 16 July 2018, https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3484-naturvardsverket-slapper-oppna-data-som-forenklar-friluftslivet [1] “Digital First- For a smarter community-building process” (The Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) January 2018), https://www.geodata.se/globalassets/dokumentarkiv/styrning-och-uppfoljning/geodatastrategin/slutrapport-digitalt-forst.pdf [1] European Data Portal, Open data maturity dashboard, 24 August 2018, https://www.europeandataportal.eu/en/dashboard#tab-detailed [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM mid-term reports on 17 July 2017, on the oppnadata.se portal. [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM end-of-term reports on 24 August 2017, https://registrera.oppnadata.se/status/overview [1] “Sweden – Overview”, European Data Portal,  https://www.europeandataportal.eu/sites/default/files/country-factsheet_sweden.pdf. [1] About 40 percent of the national authorities and 60 percent of municipalities and county councils have not implemented any specific measure at all to make available for re-use. Source: The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The website of DIGG with a description of the scope of the Agency: https://www.digg.se/utveckling–innovation/oppna-data-och-datadriven-innovation

Open Knowledge Awards 2018

- December 27, 2018 in Open Data

Nominations for Open Knowledge Awards for 2018 is Open! This year, in order to have better judgement of year 2019, Open Knowledge Awards for 2018 will be held on February 27th, 2019. You are welcome to nominate an individual, group, or organization for each category from now on. The schedule of the nomination process as below: Public Nomination: 22 December 2018-28 January 2019 Nominations Announcement: February 1, 2019 Finalist Announcement:  February 15 Price Ceremony: February 27, 2019 Open knowledge Sweden is aiming to create a tradition to acknowledge people and organizations to foster better, open, democratic, inclusive and innovative society. Open Knowledge should be a mainstream concept and a natural part of our everyday lives. OK Awards covers categories such as transparency, entrepreneurship, open science, region/municipality and business initiative. The award winners will set an example of how businesses and organizations have best used open knowledge for innovative solutions, how authorities have been more transparent with the use of open knowledge and how public figures have used their influence for change in that direction, both cultural and legal. Open Knowledge Sweden has held previous OK Awards in collaboration with KTH, Wikimedia, and Dataföreningen. This year, we expect to have more nominations and guests at our event with support from the Open Knowledge Community. As OK Sweden, we believe that OKA is providing recognition to change makers that push for innovation as well as transparent and accountable democracy. It also raises the bar every year for all open knowledge stakeholders in Sweden. To nominate entities/people and for more information about the OK Awards for 2018 event: Visit our website www.okawards.org You can read more about the previous year’s winners here Feel free to contact us regarding press, sponsorship or volunteer contribution Best regards,
Erhan Bayram Project Leader
E-mail: erhan@okfn.se
Phone: +46(0)720212408

OPEN DATA AND THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN LATVIA, SWEDEN AND FINLAND

- December 2, 2018 in Open Data

Transparency International Latvia, in collaboration with Open Knowledge Sweden and Open Knowledge Finland, has published a new study on open data and anti-corruption policies in Latvia, Sweden and Finland, showing that governments in the three countries could do more to leverage the potential of open data for anti-corruption policies and public accountability. The study comprises an overview report summarising the overall findings and identifying opportunities for knowledge transfer and regional cooperation as well as specific reports assessing to what extent governments in Latvia, Sweden and Finland have implemented internationally agreed-upon open data principles as part of their anti-corruption regime, providing recommendations for further improvement at the national level.                                 The study is the outcome of a project funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The aim of the project was to gain a better understanding of how Nordic and Baltic countries are performing in terms of integration of anti-corruption and open data agendas, in order to identify opportunities for knowledge transfer and promote further Nordic cooperation in this field. The study assessed whether 10 key anti-corruption datasets in Latvia, Finland and Sweden are in line with international open data standards. The datasets considered in the frame of the study are: 1) Lobbying register 2) Company register 3) Beneficial ownership register 4) Public officials’ directories 5) Government Budget 6) Government spending 7) Public procurement register 8) Political Financing register 9) Parliament’s Voting Records 10) Land Register Within this respect, Sweden has made only 3 of 10 key anti-corruption datasets available online and fully in line with open data standards, whereas Finland have achieved to make 8 of these datasets available online, six of which are fully in line with open data standards.  As for Latvia, 5 of them have been found to be available and in line with the standards. When it comes to scoring these three countries with regard to anti-corruption datasets, in Sweden, the situation is more problematic compared to other two countries. It has the lowest score, 5.3 out of 9, while Finland and Latvia have scored 6.1 and 6.0, respectively. Similarly, there are some signals that transparency in Sweden has been worsening in recent years despite its long tradition of efficiency and transparency in the public administration, good governance and rule of law as well as being in the top-10 of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for several years. The problem in Sweden stems from the fact that the government has had to cope with the high decentralization of the Swedish public administration, which seems to have resulted in little awareness of open data policies and practices and their potential for anti-corruption among public officials. Thus, engaging the new agency for digitalisation, Agency for Digital Government (DIGG), and all other authorities involved in open data could be a solution to develop a centralised, simple, and shared open data policy. Sweden should also take legal measures to formally enshrine open data principles in PSI (Public Sector Information) law such as requiring that all publicly released information be made ‘open by default’ and under an ‘open license’. The situation in Finland and Latvia is more promising. In Finland, a vibrant tech-oriented civil society in the country has played a key role in promoting initiatives for the application of open data for public integrity in a number of areas, including lobbying and transparency of government resources. As for Latvia,in recent years, it has made considerable progress in implementing open data policies, and the government has actively sought to release data for increasing public accountability in a number of areas such as public procurement and state-owned enterprises. However, the report finds that much of this data is still not available in open, machine-readable formats – making it difficult for users to download and operate with the data. Overall, in all three countries it seems that there has been little integration of open data in the agenda of anti-corruption authorities, especially with regard to capacity building. Trainings, awareness-raising and guidelines have been implemented for both open data and anti-corruption; nonetheless, these themes seem not to be interlinked within the public sector. The report also emphasizes the lack of government-funded studies and thematic reviews on the use of open data in fighting corruption. This applies both to the national and regional level. On the other hand, there is also a considerable potential for cooperation among Nordic-Baltic countries in the use of open data for public integrity, both in terms of knowledge transfer and implementation of common policies. While Nordic countries are among the most technologically advanced in the world and have shown the way with regard to government openness and trust in public institutions, the Baltic countries are among the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with a great potential for digital innovation and development of open data tools. Such cooperation among the three states would be easier in the presence of networks of “tech-oriented” civil society organisations and technology associations, as well as the framework of cooperation with authorities with the common goal of promoting and developing innovation strategies and tools based in open data.