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So why does Belgium rank so low?

- December 19, 2014 in belgium, Featured, Open Data, Open Data News, opendataindex

In our article on the 9th of December we’ve talked about Belgium scoring slightly higher on the Global Open Data Index. We went from 58th to 53rd. And even though we have positive aspirations for 2015 because we now have a federal minister of the Digital Agenda who is directly responsible for Open Data and multiple mentions in the policy agreement. We did get a few questions and remarks on our results: Why is Belgium so low in relation to it’s neighbouring countries? Every Western European country sits at the top. How can a country with an established local Open Knowledge Chapter and projects like iRail still rank only halfway the index? To sum it up, we were asked the question: Why does Belgium rank so low? Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.52.52 The Twitter-conversation with Phil Archer from W3C and Pieter Colpaert sums up our anwser in only a few tweets: But don’t get us wrong, the Global Data Index is a great tool to benchmark countries on their national open data efforts. And to have a relative simple tool for the open community to crowdsource a global ranking you need to make certain choices. But that doesn’t mean that Belgium is doing a bad job. Open Data in Belgium and broader open knowledge is mostly emerging from bottom up initiatives by numerous organisations and local/regional governments. Cities like Ghent, Antwerp and Kortrijk are pushing the local envelope by organising hackathons and datadives for their citizens. But that’s not part of global index. Open Data Forum has proven that there is public support in all layers of the Flemish government and associated organisations for opening up data, they support local initiatives and show best practices on a federal level. And a packed data portal. But that’s not part of the index. AWT is putting similar efforts in motion in Wallonia together with the Hackathon e-Gov Wallonia team who just organised the first Brussels hackathon as well. Still not a part of the index. The brilliant researchers at iMinds, the research groups and the different universities have helped us tremendously on a strategical / scientific level as well in supporting a lot of our causes and activities. Not part of the index. And iRail. Well… They open up national transport data in Belgium through their API for 3rd parties, but iRail is not an official source. So you guessed it, not applicable for the index. To make a long story short. Belgium is not doing a bad job concerning open data. There is still a lot to be done, but there are a lot of efforts and little victories that you don’t see in the Global Data Index. And those efforts and victories are not just a result made possible by Open Knowledge Belgium. No, we are just a part of a bigger network of organisations, ambassadors and projects of which I have probably forgot to mention a lot of. I’m not even going to try to mention everyone that helped us to reach the point where we are now. We can only humbly say thank you, we hope to work with all of you in the coming years and make Belgium truly a country where everybody can benefit from open knowledge. Thank You Still not convinced? Feel the need to discuss this? For those people who want to discuss Open Data efforts in Belgium and get an overview on what initiatives are active today in Belgium we happily invite you to join us at the Open Belgium Conference on the 23rd February in Namur. We’ll have a panel on Open Data efforts in the different governmental layers and an overview current efforts, practical workshops on open culture, open science, open transport and business models and so much more. And we have early bird tickets until the end of this month. Aged Come In We're Open

Belgium scores slightly higher on the Global Open Data Index, big expectations for 2015

- December 9, 2014 in belgium, opendataindex, Press, ranking

According to the Global Open Data Index, Belgium ranks 53d out of 97 countries, going up from 27% to 39%. A status quo one might think, knowing that last year Belgium ranked 58th, but a lot has happened since. The Global Data Index, a tool developed by Open Knowledge, ranks 97 nations based on 10 key national datasets. The UK sits at the top with 96% opened up data on government spending, budget, postal codes and more. Belgium however remains in the middle of the list between Croatia and Costa Rica. Yet a lot has changed: KBO/BCE opened up their company register database as open data [1] earlier this year and Irceline launched the pollutant emissions website [2] opening up data on air quality. Detailed results can be found at http://index.okfn.org/place/belgium/. “If nothing happened regarding opening up Belgian data, we would have dropped to the 83rd place. Opening up data is a global phenomenon, it is not happening only in the Western countries”, says Pieter-Jan Pauwels, community coordinator at Open Knowledge Belgium. Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 15.38.12 That is something the new federal government realised, especially when neighbouring countries take on the 1st (UK), 3rd (France), 9th (Germany) and 16th place (Netherlands). In the new federal policy agreement, open data was mentioned several times and where once nobody was directly responsible we now have a minister responsible for the Digital Agenda. Minister Alexander De Croo announced last week at the Opening Up conference that this number is too low and will be higher next year. Together with organisations such as Leiedal and Open Knowledge Belgium, he signed the “Open by default” charter, where Belgium now promises to open up datasets if there are no good reasons not to. Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 15.36.26 The 23d of February Open Knowledge Belgium vzw/asbl will organise the Open Belgium conference in Namur with minister De Croo as one of the keynote speakers. During the conference we will discuss open data on different levels in Belgium as well as host hands-on sessions on e.g., open science, open tourism, open transport or open street map. The full programme is available at http://2015.openbelgium.be.