The Share-PSI 2.0 Thematic Network brings together a broad range of stakeholders in the re-use of public sector information to help them to reach consensus on best practice and technical standards, complementing existing and ongoing initiatives in the domain. The network's focus is on implementing the revised PSI Directive and includes government agencies and ministries from a variety of member states as well as standards bodies, academic institutions, commercial companies working in the field, and organisations that effectively interface between government and citizens using open data as the medium. The project organised a series of 5 workshops around Europe during 2014 and 2015. At the time of writing, preparations are being made for the final workshop in Berlin in November. ERCIM/W3C is coordinating the work and there is a direct communication and overlap of personnel with its Data on the Web Best Practices Working Group. The two groups have different but complementary remits. The W3C Working Group is concerned with technical issues whereas Share-PSI is more concerned with policy issues.

Logo saying: Open Data Canarias

The final result of the project will be that national, sectoral and community guidelines around the sharing of public sector information will be created, or updated, taking into account the information exchanged at the workshops and the best practice examples arising from those discussions. More than 20 such guides already exist or are under preparation amongst the Share-PSI partners. Examples include Open Knowledge's Open Data Handbook, the Flemish Open Data Handleiding, the Guía de Buenas Prácticas in the Canary Islands, and the Norwegian Veileder i tilgjengeliggjøring av offentlige data.

By referring directly to the Best Practices codified by Share-PSI and its participating standards bodies, or at least offering advice that is consistent with those Best Practices, the diverse range of guides that take account of local legislation and infrastructures will have greater commonality. This will promote interoperability and consistency, and thereby increase confidence amongst potential re-users of public sector information. This applies equally whether the re-use is within the public sector seeking to make efficiency gains, or among the business community seeking to provide new and innovative services.

The Workshops

The first workshop was held as part of the Samos Summit and took Uses of open data within government for innovation and efficiency as its theme. The report summarises the main points made during the workshop and draws a number of conclusions, the first of which is that for any PSI sharing programme to be successful there needs to be a strategy that coordinates the efforts of multiple agencies. As an example of how workshop outputs are captured as best practices, this particular conclusion is codified as the Share-PSI Best Practice Cross Agency Strategy.

Panellists at the Krems workshop include (L to R) Alon Peled, Alon Peled, Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Gregor Eibl, Federal Chancellery Austria, Wendy Carrera, Capgemini/European Data Portal

The network itself is large and includes many of the key people and organisations concerned with PSI across all but a handful of EU member States. The partners are proud that since the project began, representatives from Albania and Poland have joined the network. France and the Czech Republic's involvement has increased significantly too. It is clear from the partner list partner list that expertise and experience is not in short supply. Perhaps as a direct result of this, the most popular sessions at Samos were not the paper presentations but the bar camp sessions. Held at the end of the two day event, individuals were able to pitch ideas for discussions among the group. The success and popularity of these sessions lead to the agenda for the second event including two bar camp sessions and only two short plenary presentation sessions, a pattern repeated in all subsequent workshops.

The topic for Lisbon was Encouraging open data usage by commercial developers. The report shows that a key theme for the event was the need for engagement with the community of potential re-users. Making a series of spreadsheets available on a portal is not sufficient. A lot of effort is required to understand, clean up and transform data before it is usable in a commercial setting, effort that depends on there being a strong foundation in both legal and organisational commitments.

A snapshot of the agenda for Timisoara

The Lisbon workshop was the first of its kind in Portugal and attracted many people from across the Portuguese public sector. In Timişoara too, senior officials from the Romanian government participated, as did individuals from the public and private sectors in neighbouring Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary. Drawing on the experiences in Samos and Lisbon, leaders of each session in Timişoara were asked to include a discussion of what best practices could be identified from their work.

The topic in Timişoara was Engagement and identifying datasets for publication. The report emphasises the need to elicit and act upon feedback from the broader community and also provided support for development of two vocabularies in the W3C Data on the Web Best Practices Working Group. These will facilitate the provision of information about the quality and usage of a dataset. Finally, Timişoara has been a trigger for a proposed new Working Group at W3C, the Open Licence Expression Language WG, that will enable publishers to be explicit about the rights that consumers have in accessing and re-using data.

The fourth Share-PSI workshop was collocated with the annual CeDEM conference at the Danube University in Krems. Under the theme A Self Sustaining Business Model for Open Data, the workshop included many sessions and presentations by entrepreneurs making use of PSI. As reported, that event was quick to point out that the business perspective on PSI is very different from the public sector's or the open data evangelist's. Business starts with an idea for a service. Data is a necessary resource but so are many other things. Unusually for an event centred on PSI and open data, the point was made repeatedly that having to pay for data is no bad thing. It gives businesses a lever to pull for greater quality and continuation of service, as well as for providers to make the more valuable data available.

Developing the Best Practices

Each workshop comprises two very full days of discussion and debate among enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. In addition, the project partners meet for half a day before and after each event. Identifying a set of best practices from such a rich variety of inputs is challenging. A subset of partners committed time over the summer of 2015 to identifying and collating best practices on the project wiki. In each case, a session from a workshop, was written up as a story and associated with an element of the PSI Directive. A task force member then reviewed the stories associated with a specific element and created a set of best practices according to an agreed template.

A short statement of what the best practice is about.

Management Summary
This section provides the background and identifies both the challenge – the problem – and the solution.

Best Practice Identification
This section includes a justification for the solution offered, why there is a need to follow a best practice in the first place, an indication of which elements of the PSI Directive are addressed, and what is needed in order to implement it.

At the time of writing there is a section indicating the geographic applicability of the BP but since they are all applicable across the EU (at least) this element may be dropped.

Finally there is a contact point – a means of finding out more by contacting someone with direct experience of implementing the best practice – and a place holder for a list of related Best Practices.

The project meeting the day before the Timişoara workshop

Once the Best Practices have been written, all partners are asked to review them and indicate whether they agree that this is indeed a best practice. Further, they're asked to indicate whether they expect to cite the BP in their own guidelines or whether they offer advice that is consistent with it. Where there is a consensus supporting it, Best Practices are published on the Share-PSI Web site.

Each Best Practice is a stand alone document with a persistent URI to support easy citation. For example, http://www.w3.org/2013/share-psi/bp/ec/ is a persistent identifier for the latest version of 'Encourage crowdsourcing around PSI.' The documents are under version control so that each version also has its own URI that points to a specific snapshot. This mirrors the way versions of documents are identified by W3C.

The W3C Data on the Web Best Practices Working Group is at a similar stage of maturity to Share-PSI. The latest formally published version of its Best Practices is available at http://www.w3.org/TR/dwbp and the current editors' draft is on GitHub. The W3C Best Practices have been classified according to the various elements of the revised PSI Directive alongside the ones devised by project partners so that a complete list covering both sets of Best Practices is available.


Many partners are already benefiting from their participation in Share-PSI as highlighted in the previous progress report and in the following stories.

Greece: The Lisbon workshop has lead to a direct cooperation between MAREG and the OpenLaws project on the design of an open laws and law codification platform for Greek legislation. AMA (Portugal) is evaluating the Greek Transparency Programme presented in Krems and the applied project management model - based on a hierarchical network of 4,500 project teams - so they can implement an equivalent programme. The Portuguese Law on the new PSI directive uses the Greek law as an example. Share-PSI contacts also lead to the Slovenian implementation also being directly informed by the Greek experience.

In the Canary Islands, meetings between ULL and the Director for Information Society of the Canary Government, the Island Councillor for Information Technology of the Cabildo de Tenerife, OBECAN, a public institution for employment statistics, and several town councils led to the publication of more than one hundred new data sets through opendatacanarias.es. The knowledge acquired in the Share PSI network have provided a better guide to the local institutions. ULL has federated the open data portal with other local and island institutions: Cabildo de La Palma, and the town councils of Arona and La Laguna. An agreement between the two universities of the Canary Islands and the 88 local councils promotes the publication and re-use of open data and the localised best practices guide that is being developed is certainly a document of great value to many of these public institutions.

Lithuania: Being a partner in Share-PSI confers credibility when contacting the governmental sector to discuss the outstanding open data issues with the relevant authorities. UAB Linked Data has mentioned and discussed the project in meetings with various institutions, the most relevant being with Rita Butkiene, Associate Professor and Head of the Information Systems department at KTU, Kaunas Technical University.

Germany: ]init[ benefits from the Share PSI workshops by sending several different staff and using the workshops a kind of a open data training measure. As a private company, it benefitted from referencing its participation in Share-PSI in several public tenders including the creation of the German Gov-Data Portal, Government Data Consulting for the Land of Saxony and the creation of a German DCAT-Application profile for the German Gov-Data portal.

Next steps

The final workshop will be held in Berlin 25-26 November 2015 taking the theme: Maximising interoperability - core vocabularies, location-aware data and more. Confirmed speakers include representatives from the ISA Programme and the JRC's INSPIRE team. The workshop includes a full track presented by the European Data Portal project. The partners will identify further best practices from that event and continue to develop and expand the existing set, while writing or updating their localised guides.

Share-PSI and the W3C Data on the Web Best Practices Working Group will collate implementation experiences during a joint meeting in Zagreb 14 – 16 March 2016 as both groups are due to complete their work in July.