Open Data Barometer Global Report



Key findings

A global movement to make government “open by default” picked up steam in 2013 when the G8 leaders signed an Open Data Charter – promising to make public sector data openly available, without charge and in re-useable formats. In 2014 the G20 largest industrial economies followed up by pledging to advance open data as a tool against corruption, and the UN recognized the need for a “Data Revolution” to achieve global development goals.

However, this second edition of the Open Data Barometer shows that there is still a long way to go to put the power of data in the hands of citizens. Core data on how governments are spending our money and how public services are performing remains inaccessible or paywalled in most countries. Information critical to fight corruption and promote fair competition, such as company registers, public sector contracts, and land titles, is even harder to get. In most countries, proactive disclosure of government data is not mandated in law or policy as part of a wider right to information, and privacy protections are weak or uncertain.

Our research suggests some of the key steps needed to ensure the “Data Revolution” will lead to a genuine revolution in the transparency and performance of governments:

  • High-level political commitment to proactive disclosure of public sector data, particularly the data most critical to accountability
  • Sustained investment in supporting and training a broad cross-section of civil society and entrepreneurs to understand and use data effectively
  • Contextualizing open data tools and approaches to local needs, for example by making data visually accessible in countries with lower literacy levels.
  • Support for city-level open data initiatives as a complement to national-level programmes
  • Legal reform to ensure that guarantees of the right to information and the right to privacy underpin open data initiatives

Over the next six months, world leaders have several opportunities to agree these steps, starting with the United Nation’s high-level data revolution in Africa conference in March, Canada’s global International Open Data Conference in May and the G7 summit in Germany this June. It is crucial that these gatherings result in concrete actions to address the political and resource barriers that threaten to stall open data efforts.

Project Type: Report
Organisation: World Wide Web Foundation
Release Date: January 2015
Keywords: open data, open government, index

As the UN leads a conversation on the need for a Data Revolution to support the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, research underpinning the Open Data Barometer highlights the lack of open and accessible data on the performance of key public services. If the political and social impacts of open data are to be realised, work to increase the supply of datasets from right across government will be needed, alongside sustained investment in capacity building, training and support for effective data use.

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