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Open data initiatives: create your own success

Author: Adrian Offerman

Open data initiatives should actively create their own successes. Instead of publishing everything they can, Cities should investigate which data can actually be used to solve a problem, Albert Meijer, Professor of Public Innovation at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said in an interview with the Dutch centre of expertise Open Overheid.

Most public agencies take the view that they cannot predict which data will be used and how, so they simply publish everything. In such an undirected approach, you have to accept that some data will not be used for quite some time, for eventually something small might happen that does have an impact. I think this reasoning of spontaneous successes is not very strong.

Breaking up power

In the Route-to-PA Project we use a more targeted approach to open data, Meijer explains. This European project aims to improve the impact — towards citizens and within society — of IT-based technology platforms for transparency, by combining expertise and research in the fields of e-government, computer science, learning science and economy.

In the end, deciding which data to open up is about breaking up power. So we have to negotiate which powers to aim at, because these powers do have a role to play. So the real question is: when it comes to open government, what do we feel is appropriate for a democratic government in a modern society?