Societal costs and benefits of high-value open government data: a case study in the Netherlands

Paper by F.M. Welle Donker and B. van Loenen: “Much research has emphasised the benefits of open government data, and especially high-value data. The G8 Open Data Charter defines high-value data as data that improve democracy and encourage the innovative reuse of the particular data. Thus, governments worldwide invest resources to identify potential high-value datasets and to publish these data as open data. However, while the benefits of open data are well researched, the costs of publishing data as open data are less researched. This research examines the relationship between the costs of making data suitable for publication as (linked) open data and the societal benefits thereof. A case study of five high-value datasets was carried out in the Netherlands to provide a societal cost-benefit analysis of open high-value data. Different options were investigated, ranging from not publishing the dataset at all to publishing the dataset as linked open data.

In general, it can be concluded that the societal benefits of (linked) open data are higher than the costs. The case studies show that there are differences between the datasets. In many cases, costs for open data are an integral part of general data management costs and hardly lead to additional costs. In certain cases, however, the costs to anonymize /aggregate the data are high compared to the potential value of an open data version of the dataset. Although, for these datasets, this leads to a less favourable relationship between costs and benefits, the societal benefits would still be higher than without an open data version….(More)”.