Index: Open Data

By Alexandra Shaw, Michelle Winowatan, Andrew Young, and Stefaan Verhulst

The Living Library Index – inspired by the Harper’s Index – provides important statistics and highlights global trends in governance innovation. This installment focuses on open data and was originally published in 2018.

Value and Impact

  • The projected year at which all 28+ EU member countries will have a fully operating open data portal: 2020

  • Between 2016 and 2020, the market size of open data in Europe is expected to increase by 36.9%, and reach this value by 2020: EUR 75.7 billion

Public Views on and Use of Open Government Data

  • Number of Americans who do not trust the federal government or social media sites to protect their data: Approximately 50%

  • Key findings from The Economist Intelligence Unit report on Open Government Data Demand:

    • Percentage of respondents who say the key reason why governments open up their data is to create greater trust between the government and citizens: 70%

    • Percentage of respondents who say OGD plays an important role in improving lives of citizens: 78%

    • Percentage of respondents who say OGD helps with daily decision making especially for transportation, education, environment: 53%

    • Percentage of respondents who cite lack of awareness about OGD and its potential use and benefits as the greatest barrier to usage: 50%

    • Percentage of respondents who say they lack access to usable and relevant data: 31%

    • Percentage of respondents who think they don’t have sufficient technical skills to use open government data: 25%

    • Percentage of respondents who feel the number of OGD apps available is insufficient, indicating an opportunity for app developers: 20%

    • Percentage of respondents who say OGD has the potential to generate economic value and new business opportunity: 61%

    • Percentage of respondents who say they don’t trust governments to keep data safe, protected, and anonymized: 19%

Efforts and Involvement

  • Time that’s passed since open government advocates convened to create a set of principles for open government data – the instance that started the open data government movement: 10 years

  • Countries participating in the Open Government Partnership today: 79 OGP participating countries and 20 subnational governments

  • Percentage of “open data readiness” in Europe according to European Data Portal: 72%

    • Open data readiness consists of four indicators which are presence of policy, national coordination, licensing norms, and use of data.

  • Number of U.S. cities with Open Data portals: 27

  • Number of governments who have adopted the International Open Data Charter: 62

  • Number of non-state organizations endorsing the International Open Data Charter: 57

  • Number of countries analyzed by the Open Data Index: 94

  • Number of Latin American countries that do not have open data portals as of 2017: 4 total – Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua

  • Number of cities participating in the Open Data Census: 39

Demand for Open Data

  • Open data demand measured by frequency of open government data use according to The Economist Intelligence Unit report:

    • Australia

      • Monthly: 15% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 22% of respondents

      • Annually: 10% of respondents

    • Finland

      • Monthly: 28% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 18% of respondents

      • Annually: 20% of respondents

    •  France

      • Monthly: 27% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 17% of respondents

      • Annually: 19% of respondents

    • India

      • Monthly: 29% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 20% of respondents

      • Annually: 10% of respondents

    • Singapore

      • Monthly: 28% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 15% of respondents

      • Annually: 17% of respondents 

    • UK

      • Monthly: 23% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 21% of respondents

      • Annually: 15% of respondents

    • US

      • Monthly: 16% of respondents

      • Quarterly: 15% of respondents

      • Annually: 20% of respondents

  • Number of FOIA requests received in the US for fiscal year 2017: 818,271

  • Number of FOIA request processed in the US for fiscal year 2017: 823,222

  • Distribution of FOIA requests in 2017 among top 5 agencies with highest number of request:

    • DHS: 45%

    • DOJ: 10%

    • NARA: 7%

    • DOD: 7%

    • HHS: 4%

Examining Datasets

  • Country with highest index score according to ODB Leaders Edition: Canada (76 out of 100)

  • Country with lowest index score according to ODB Leaders Edition: Sierra Leone (22 out of 100)

  • Number of datasets open in the top 30 governments according to ODB Leaders Edition: Fewer than 1 in 5

  • Average percentage of datasets that are open in the top 30 open data governments according to ODB Leaders Edition: 19%

  • Average percentage of datasets that are open in the top 30 open data governments according to ODB Leaders Edition by sector/subject:

    • Budget: 30%

    • Companies: 13%

    • Contracts: 27%

    • Crime: 17%

    • Education: 13%

    • Elections: 17%

    • Environment: 20%

    • Health: 17%

    • Land: 7%

    • Legislation: 13%

    • Maps: 20%

    • Spending: 13%

    • Statistics: 27%

    • Trade: 23%

    • Transport: 30%

  • Percentage of countries that release data on government spending according to ODB Leaders Edition: 13%

  • Percentage of government data that is updated at regular intervals according to ODB Leaders Edition: 74%

  • Number of datasets available through:

  • Number of datasets classed as “open” in 94 places worldwide analyzed by the Open Data Index: 11%

  • Percentage of open datasets in the Caribbean, according to Open Data Census: 7%

  • Number of companies whose data is available through OpenCorporates: 158,589,950

City Open Data

  • New York City

  • Singapore

    • Number of datasets published in Singapore: 1,480

    • Percentage of datasets with standardized format: 35%

    • Percentage of datasets made as raw as possible: 25%

  • Barcelona

    • Number of datasets published in Barcelona: 443

    • Open data demand in Barcelona measured by:

      • Number of unique sessions in the month of September 2018: 5,401

    • Quality of datasets published in Barcelona according to Tim Berners Lee 5-star Open Data: 3 stars

  • London

    • Number of datasets published in London: 762

    • Number of data requests since October 2014: 325

  • Bandung

    • Number of datasets published in Bandung: 1,417

  • Buenos Aires

    • Number of datasets published in Buenos Aires: 216

  • Dubai

    • Number of datasets published in Dubai: 267

  • Melbourne

    • Number of datasets published in Melbourne: 199


  • About OGP, Open Government Partnership. 2018.  

Open Government Data Report: Enhancing Policy Maturity for Sustainable Impact

Report by the OECD: This report provides an overview of the state of open data policies across OECD member and partner countries, based on data collected through the OECD Open Government Data survey (2013, 2014, 2016/17), country reviews and comparative analysis. The report analyses open data policies using an analytical framework that is in line with the OECD OUR data Index and the International Open Data Charter. It assesses governments’ efforts to enhance the availability, accessibility and re-use of open government data. It makes the case that beyond countries’ commitment to open up good quality government data, the creation of public value requires engaging user communities from the entire ecosystem, such as journalists, civil society organisations, entrepreneurs, major tech private companies and academia. The report also underlines how open data policies are elements of broader digital transformations, and how public sector data policies require interaction with other public sector agendas such as open government, innovation, employment, integrity, public budgeting, sustainable development, urban mobility and transport. It stresses the relevance of measuring open data impacts in order to support the business case for open government data….(More)”.

To turn the open data revolution from idea to reality, we need more evidence

Stefaan Verhulst at apolitical: “The idea that we are living in a data age — one characterised by unprecedented amounts of information with unprecedented potential — has  become mainstream. We regularly read “data is the new oil,” or “data is the most valuable commodity in the global economy.”

Doubtlessly, there is truth in these statements. But a major, often unacknowledged problem is how much data remains inaccessible, hidden in siloes and behind walls.

For close to a decade, the technology and public interest community has pushed the idea of open data. At its core, open data represents a new paradigm of information and information access.

Rooted in notions of an information commons — developed by scholars like Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom — and borrowing from the language of open source, open data begins from the premise that data collected from the public, often using public funds or publicly funded infrastructure, should also belong to the public — or at least, be made broadly accessible to those pursuing public-interest goals.

The open data movement has reached significant milestones in its short history. An ever-increasing number of governments across both developed and developing economies have released large datasets for the public’s benefit….

Similarly, a growing number of private companies have “Data Collaboratives” leveraging their data — with various degrees of limitations — to serve the public interest.

Despite such initiatives, many open data projects (and data collaboratives) remain fledgling. The field has trouble scaling projects beyond initial pilots. In addition, many potential stakeholders — private sector and government “owners” of data, as well as public beneficiaries — remain sceptical of open data’s value. Such limitations need to be overcome if open data and its benefits are to spread. We need hard evidence of its impact.

Ironically, the field is held back by an absence of good data on open data — that is, a lack of reliable empirical evidence that could guide new initiatives.

At the GovLab, a do-tank at New York University, we study the impact of open data. One of our overarching conclusions is that we need a far more solid evidence base to move open data from being a good idea to reality.

What do we know? Several initiatives undertaken at the GovLab offer insight. Our ODImpactwebsite now includes more than 35 detailed case studies of open government data projects. These examples provide powerful evidence not only that open data can work but also about howit works….

We have also launched an Open Data Periodic Table to better understand what conditions predispose an open data project toward success or failure. For example, having a clear problem definition, as well as the capacity and culture to carry out open data projects, are vital. Successful projects also build cross-sector partnerships around open data and its potential uses and establish practices to assess and mitigate risks, and have transparent and responsive governance structures….(More)”.

Causal mechanisms and institutionalisation of open government data in Kenya

Paper by Paul W. Mungai: “Open data—including open government data (OGD)—has become a topic of prominence during the last decade. However, most governments have not realised the desired value streams or outcomes from OGD. The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI), a Government of Kenya initiative, is no exception with some moments of success but also sustainability struggles. Therefore, the focus for this paper is to understand the causal mechanisms that either enable or constrain institutionalisation of OGD initiatives. Critical realism is ideally suited as a paradigm to identify such mechanisms, but guides to its operationalisation are few. This study uses the operational approach of Bygstad, Munkvold & Volkoff’s six‐step framework, a hybrid approach that melds concepts from existing critical realism models with the idea of affordances. The findings suggest that data demand and supply mechanisms are critical in institutionalising KODI and that, underpinning basic data‐related affordances, are mechanisms engaging with institutional capacity, formal policy, and political support. It is the absence of such elements in the Kenya case which explains why it has experienced significant delays…(More)”.

On the Bumpy Road Towards Open Government: The Not-Invented-Here Syndrome as a Major Pothole

Paper by Lisa Schmidthuber, David Antons and Dennis Hilgers: “This paper investigates the role of public employees in absorbing external knowledge. Triggered by open government initiatives and open calls for participation, external actors are invited to integrate ideas, solutions, or experience into public organizations. Such exploitation of valuable external knowledge across organizational interfaces might, however, be hindered by negative attitudes of public employees towards external input. The rejection of outside knowledge by internal actors is known as the Not-Invented-Here syndrome. This paper sheds light on NIH attitudes in public organizations. After reviewing the state of the art of research on NIH, it emphasizes rethinking NIH in the public sector. The in-depth discussion of previous work thus serves to derive an extensive agenda for future research….(More)”

Evaluating Civic Open Data Standards

Renee Sieber and Rachel Bloom at SocArXiv Papers: In many ways, a precondition to realizing the promise of open government data is the standardization of that data. Open data standards ensure interoperability, establish benchmarks in assessing whether governments achieve their goals in publishing open data, can better ensure accuracy of the data. Interoperability enables the use of off-the shelf software and can ease third party development of products that serves multiple locales.

Our project aims to determine which standards for civic data are “best” to open up government data. We began by disambiguating the multiple meanings of what constitutes a data standard by creating a standards stack.

The empirical research started by identifying twelve “high value” open datasets for which we found 22 data standards. A qualitative systematic review of the gray literature and standards documentation generated 18 evaluation metrics, which we grouped into four categories. We evaluated the metrics with civic data standards. Our goal is to identify and characterize types of standards and provide a systematic way to assess their quality…(More)”.

Introducing CitizENGAGE – How Citizens Get Things Done

Open Gov Partnership: “In a world full of autocracy, bureaucracy, and opacity, it can be easy to feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle against these trends.

Trust in government is at historic lows. Autocratic leaders have taken the reins in countries once thought bastions of democracy. Voter engagement has been declining around the globe for years.

Despite this reality, there is another, powerful truth: citizens are using open government to engage in their communities in innovative, exciting ways, bringing government closer and creating a more inclusive system.

These citizens are everywhere.

In Costa Rica, they are lobbying the government for better and fairer housing for indigenous communities.

In Liberia, they are bringing rights to land back to the communities who are threatened by companies on their traditional lands.

In Madrid, they are using technology to make sure you can participate in government – not just every four years, but every day.

In Mongolia, they are changing the face of education and healthcare services by empowering citizens to share their needs with government.

In Paraguay, hundreds of municipal councils are hearing directly from citizens and using their input to shape how needed public services are delivered.

These powerful examples are the inspiration for the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) new global campaign to CItizENGAGE.  The campaign will share the stories of citizens engaging in government and changing lives for the better.

CitizENGAGE includes videos, photo essays, and impact stories about citizens changing the way government is involved in their lives. These stories talk about the very real impact open government can have on the lives of everyday citizens, and how it can change things as fundamental as schools, roads, and houses.

We invite you to visit CitizENGAGE and find out more about these reforms, and get inspired. Whether or not your government participates in OGP, you can take the lessons from these powerful stories of transformation and use them to make an impact in your own community….(More)”.

The Skeptic’s Guide to Open Government

Open Gov Partnership: “Whether you are inside or outside of OGP, you may not yet be convinced of the benefits of opening government. When you open government, what do you get in return? If you are asking this question, this guide is for you.
The guide summarizes what is known about the impact of opening government in five areas: 1) public service delivery 2) business opportunities 3) government efficiency and cost saving 4) prevention of corruption and 5) trust in government. Each chapter draws from empirical evidence, and highlights reformers who are opening government in innovative ways….(More)”.

My City Forecast: Urban planning communication tool for citizen with national open data

Paper by Y. Hasegawa, Y. Sekimoto, T. Seto, Y. Fukushima et al in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems: “In urban management, the importance of citizen participation is being emphasized more than ever before. This is especially true in countries where depopulation has become a major concern for urban managers and many local authorities are working on revising city master plans, often incorporating the concept of the “compact city.” In Japan, for example, the implementation of compact city plans means that each local government decides on how to designate residential areas and promotes citizens moving to these areas in order to improve budget effectiveness and the vitality of the city. However, implementing a compact city is possible in various ways. Given that there can be some designated withdrawal areas for budget savings, compact city policies can include disadvantages for citizens. At this turning point for urban structures, citizen–government mutual understanding and cooperation is necessary for every step of urban management, including planning.

Concurrently, along with the recent rapid growth of big data utilization and computer technologies, a new conception of cooperation between citizens and government has emerged. With emerging technologies based on civic knowledge, citizens have started to obtain the power to engage directly in urban management by obtaining information, thinking about their city’s problems, and taking action to help shape the future of their city themselves (Knight Foundation, 2013). This development is also supported by the open government data movement, which promotes the availability of government information online (Kingston, Carver, Evans, & Turton, 2000). CityDashboard is one well-known example of real-time visualization and distribution of urban information. CityDashboard, a web tool launched in 2012 by University College London, aggregates spatial data for cities around the UK and displays the data on a dashboard and a map. These new technologies are expected to enable both citizens and government to see their urban situation in an interface presenting an overhead view based on statistical information.

However, usage of statistics and governmental data is as yet limited in the actual process of urban planning…

To help improve this situation and increase citizen participation in urban management, we have developed a web-based urban planning communication tool using open government data for enhanced citizen–government cooperation. The main aim of the present research is to evaluate the effect of our system on users’ awareness of and attitude toward the urban situation. We have designed and developed an urban simulation system, My City Forecast (,) that enables citizens to understand how their environment and region are likely to change by urban management in the future (up to 2040)….(More)”.

Open Data Charter Measurement Guide

Guide by Ana Brandusescu and Danny Lämmerhirt: “We are pleased to announce the launch of our Open Data Charter Measurement Guide. The guide is a collaborative effort of the Charter’s Measurement and Accountability Working Group (MAWG). It analyses the Open Data Charter principles and how they are assessed based on current open government data measurement tools. Governments, civil society, journalists, and researchers may use it to better understand how they can measure open data activities according to the Charter principles.

What can I find in the Measurement Guide?

  • An executive summary for people who want to quickly understand what measurement tools exist and for what principles.
  • An analysis of how each Charter principle is measured, including a comparison of indicators that are currently used to measure each Charter principle and its commitments. This analysis is based on the open data indicators used by the five largest measurement tools — the Web Foundation’s Open Data Barometer, Open Knowledge International’s Global Open Data Index, Open Data Watch’s Open Data Inventory, OECD’s OURdata Index, and the European Open Data Maturity Assessment . For each principle, we also highlight case studies of how Charter adopters have practically implemented the commitments of that principle.
  • Comprehensive indicator tables show how each Charter principle commitment can be measured. This table is especially helpful when used to compare how different indices approach the same commitment, and where gaps exist. Here, you can see an example of the indicator tables for Principle 1.
  • A methodology section that details how the Working Group conducted the analysis of mapping existing measurements indices against Charter commitments.
  • A recommended list of resources for anyone that wants to read more about measurement and policy.

The Measurement Guide is available online in the form of a Gitbook and in a printable PDF version