Open Data – Booster for economy and society?

Data is becoming more and more important and is being processed faster and faster. Data are the modern gold mines and must be protected accordingly. The correct handling of data is also being researched in the DUCAH "Data Governance" impulse team and courses of action are being developed.

The idea of "Open Data" goes in a somewhat different direction. The basic idea behind it: Certain data should be made publicly available. Anyone should be able to use, process, and share it. In concrete terms, this means that data from government agencies, certain companies, or organizations, in particular, is published in an open format. This data is then accessible to all and released for uncomplicated use.

The goal of Open Data is to increase the transparency of governments and companies, to support them in doing so, as well as to fulfill their accountability. This promotes innovation, supports science and research and, last but not least, improves citizen participation. There are many different forms of Open Data from government and budget data to draft legislation and traffic information, from scientific data and research results to environmental data. And last but not least, the important item enterprise data is on the watch list - it also includes financial data and product information.

Open Data can provide Decisive Impulses

Open Data helps to make society, the economy and the environment more sustainable and effective. And for good reasons:

Transparency and accountability: Open Data enables governments and businesses to be more transparent with citizens and to better meet their often-existing accountability obligations. When information about policy decisions, spending, and environmental impacts is public, citizens can better understand and perhaps comprehend the actions of their governments and business...

Innovation and Economic Development: Open Data promotes innovation and economic development. It enables researchers, entrepreneurs, and developers to access data relevant to the development of applications, tools, and technologies. Open Data also helps them jointly develop new business models and improve existing ones.

Science and research: Open Data makes it easier for scientists to carry out their research activities by significantly reducing the effort required to collect their own data. Of course, Open Data also helps to optimize the reproducibility and verifiability of scientific results.

Citizen participation and democracy: Open Data can improve citizen participation in political decisions and processes by facilitating access to information about public affairs. This contributes to greater citizen trust in governments and businesses.

Increased efficiency: Open Data improves efficiency in the workflows of governments and businesses. This makes it easier to access information about internal processes and procedures. This helps to optimize workflows, avoid duplication of effort and ultimately make better use of resources.

Open Data at Practice

The principle of Open Data is not "witchcraft". The principle essentially works in three steps-capture, analysis, and dissemination.

1. data collection and provision: organizations and government agencies can collect data and make it available in an open format. This means they are freely accessible. Of course, in a machine-readable format and secured with an open license.

2. data analysis and use: citizens, science, and business can access and use this open data. For example, to develop applications and tools, gain insights, or drive scientific research.

3. reuse and dissemination: this is a very important aspect. Open data should be able to be reused by other organizations, companies or individuals and integrated into their own applications and tools. Whether they also share it on different platforms and social networks for this purpose is not an issue. What is important is to increase visibility and facilitate access to the data.

Importance of Privacy and Security in Open Data

Open Data does not mean that there is no data protection at all, quite the opposite. The use of Open Data only makes sense if the data is of high quality and the privacy and security of citizens is maintained. For this reason, there are various guidelines and standards to ensure that Open Data meets quality, security and data protection requirements.

In detail, there are five different ways of dealing with Open Data

Anonymization: Personal information such as names, addresses, and social security numbers should be removed or anonymized to protect the identity of data subjects.

Aggregation: Data can be aggregated to prevent individuals from being identified. For example, averages or totals are used to publish information rather than detailed individual data.

Access controls: Security precautions that limit access to sensitive data - such as allowing data only to authorized users.

Data retention: ensuring that data is retained only as long as necessary for the purpose for which it was originally collected.

Awareness and training: Managers must be aware of their responsibilities when handling personal data. Training and awareness measures help to minimize the risk of data breaches.

Current Developments and Initiatives in the Area of Open Data

Given the interest in Open Data, it is not surprising that there are currently various developments and initiatives aimed at improving access to Open Data and promoting its use in various areas.

Open Data initiatives at the political level: Various countries have launched national initiatives to promote Open Data. The European Union, for example, has launched the Open Data Portal program to improve access to Open Data in Europe.

Collaboration and networking: Organizations and initiatives around the world are working together to facilitate access to Open Data and promote its use. Like the Open Government Partnership, which advocates for more transparent and participatory government.

Open Data Standards: standards and best practices in Open Data are being developed to improve the quality, interoperability, and reusability of Open Data.

Interagency Data Sharing: Several countries have already passed legislation to facilitate the sharing of data between government agencies to promote the use of Open Data.

Data sovereignty: There are efforts to put control over one's own data in the hands of citizens. For example, digital identities can be created that allow people to manage and share their own data.

Application of Open Data in development cooperation: In this area, too, there are various initiatives that focus on the use of Open Data to support development cooperation. In particular, there is a new focus on areas such as health, education and infrastructure.

Not least this overview of these different developments and initiatives shows that quite a lot has already happened on the topic of Open Data in recent years. But the end is far from in sight, as Open Data continues to evolve and enable an ever broader range of actors and industries to benefit from it.