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Best Practices/Open Data 2.0 - Changing Perspectives

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Name of the Share-PSI workshop: Lisbon

Title of the Best Practice: Open Data 2.0 - Changing Perspectives

Outline of the best practice

Endorse government's ROI as ultimate yardstick for gauging the feasibility of Open Data programs.

Management summary


Despite all the efforts put in place by an international and highly motivated group of Open Data advocates operating from both within and outside the public sector, the yearned-for 'open-by-default' approach to date is still struggling to become a widespread practice and to generate the expected impact on the European socio-economic system.

Looking more specifically at the supply side (i.e., where PSI holders are situated), the non-infrequent governmental proclivity to throw data 'over the wall' while fulfilling a legal obligation or chasing a fashionable fad tends to eclipse the value orientation, thus hindering the ascent of a full-fledged 'Open Data Economy' and, simultaneously, taking a serious toll on the governmental ability to internalize benefits ushered-in by data liberation (e.g., reduction of data requests and elimination of unnecessary duplication made possible by the fact that information assets are no more trapped into data silos, economies of scope fuelled by collaborative coding among public agencies and software re-use on top of an accessible common data layer, recourse to collective intelligence for the purpose of solving tough governmental problems through data science), all this in a period when public budget constraints are tighter than ever.

For this reason, there is an urgent need to take a new perspective on the topic in order to put companies, citizens and - above all - governments themselves in the position to benefit from the significant, yet untapped, value residing in public sector's data vaults.


Drawing on the principle that a thriving Open Data ecosystem passes through the attainment of sustainability even on the supply side, this novel perspective endorses government's ROI as ultimate yardstick for gauging the feasibility of Open Data programs. Along this line, it is essential to acknowledge the self-interested nature of human behavior by focusing on the benefits that public administrators may gain as stewards of government data vaults while viewing current drivers falling under the banner of "Open Data 1.0" (e.g., transparency, accountability, FOI, input to scientific research, stimulus for entrepreneurial action) as significant, yet second order, positive externalities.

Governmental bodies thus realize that, besides responding to external pressures, the actual justification for opening data assets is that public bodies could directly reap tangible benefits, resulting in efficiency, effectiveness and hive of public sector innovation. Some illustrative examples are provided in the figure below, along a continuum representing the degree of maturity reached by a public body in the management of Open Data programs.

Title and Description

As a result, the "Open Data 2.0" paradigm - challenging the antiquated belief that public sector bodies are passive entities simply in charge of opening the data 'tap' - entails a radical shift in the way civil servants look at Open Data. This wave of change may be summarized as follows:

  • From legal obligation to operational necessity
  • From outward orientation to inward orientation
  • From cost to opportunity
  • From clerical function to strategic function
  • From requiring a leap of faith to generating evidence-based impacts.

Best Practice Identification

Why is this a Best Practice? What's the impact of the Best Practice?

The adoption of the "Open Data 2.0" approach would contribute to make a further step towards the obtainment of an outcome-based government whose actions demonstrate a clear link with their results generated (i.e., outcomes) in terms of value that, in turn, could be internalized by the governments (e.g., efficiency, effectiveness) without overlooking the quest for the creation of value for society at large ("public value"). PSI holder embracing the "Open Data 2.0" tenet will realize that this approach is purveyor of a self-sustaining virtuous circle (a.k.a. positive feedback loop) according to which the value perceived by PSI holders increases when the quantity and quality of data made publicly available expand, thereby rendering the data liberation process increasingly autonomous and driven by needs and priorities arising from public administrations. Stepping into the shoes of policy makers, the roll-out of Open Data programs will be seen no more as burdensome cost, but rather as viable investment documented by a well-crafted ROI.

Link to the PSI Directive

(Please use one or more of the categories listed on the last page of this document, as many as relevant)

  • Dataset criteria and priorities and value and scope w.r.t. datasets
  • Organizational structures and skills
  • Persistence and maintenance of information/data and metadata
  • Data quality issues and solutions / Quality assurance, feedback channels and evaluation
  • Selection of information/data to be published according to various criteria

Why is there a need for this Best Practice?

In the Open Data realm, there is a need is to overcome the great deal of initial excitement ('wow') - frequently accompanied by a leap of faith about the future to come - in order to get a realistic vision that draws on evidence to distill actionable insights ('how'). To this end, the notion of "Open Data 2.0" -accompanied by a cohort of international cases of success - will demonstrate that the 'open-by-design' principle is conducive to a win-win situation characterized by sizable benefits internalized also on the PSI holders' side.

What do you need for this Best Practice?

A PSI holder, regardless its scale (e.g., local, regional, national), may need:

  • An outcome-based mindset
  • Cost accounting routines able to quantify advantages that could be achieved thanks to Open Data
  • Repertoire of case studies serving as source of inspiration

Applicability by other member states?

Yes, a similar best practice does not have geographical boundaries.

Contact info - record of the person to be contacted for additional information or advice.

Dr. Michele Osella, Head of Business Model & Policy Innovation Unit @ Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (osella@ismb.it; @MicheleOsella)