New guidelines on the reuse of public sector information have been published today by the European Commission. They aim to help member states give better access to open data, for example weather data, traffic data, property asset data and maps.
Open data is used as the basis for innovative value-added services and products, such as mobile apps, which encourage investment in data-driven sectors. Recent evidence shows that the economic benefits for the EU from easier availability of PSI could reach 40 billion euros annually. The growth rate of companies having access to free PSI is 15% higher than those who need to pay.
The new guidelines address several issues following on from a public consultation which ended in November last year, including:
Guidelines on when public bodies can allow the re-use of documents without conditions or licences; The new guidelines give conditions under which the re-use of personal data is possible.
- Public sector bodies should not impose licences when a simple notice is sufficient;
- Open licences available on the web, such as several "Creative Commons" licences can facilitate the re-use of public sector data without the need to develop custom-made licences;
- Attribution requirement is sufficient in most cases of PSI re-use.
The new guidelines present five thematic dataset categories that businesses and other potential re-users are mostly interested in and could thus be given priority for being made available for reuse. For example:
- Postcodes, national and local maps;
- Weather, land and water quality, energy consumption, emission levels and other environmental and earth data;
- Transport data: public transport timetables, road works, traffic information;
- Statistics: GDP, age, health, unemployment, income, education etc.;
- Company and business registers.
The guidelines give an overview on how public sector bodies, including libraries, museums and archives, should calculate the amount they should charge re-users for data.
- Where digital documents are downloaded electronically a no‑cost policy is recommended;
- For cost-recovery charging, any income generated in the process of collecting or producing documents, e.g. from registration fees or taxes, should be subtracted from the total costs incurred so as to establish the ‘net cost’ of collection, production, reproduction and dissemination.
European Commission Vice President said:
This guidance will help all of us benefit from the wealth of information public bodies hold. Opening and re-using this data will lead to many new businesses and convenient services.
An independent report carried out by the consultants McKinsey in 2013 claimed that open data re-use could boost the global economy hugely. A 2013 Spanish study found that commercial re-users in Spain could employ around 10,000 people and reach a business volume of €900 million.