Open Data in Local Authorities


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Open Data in Local Authorities presentation to Heads of Information Systems Conference in Enniscrone, Sligo on 28th September, 2011

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  • Today, I am going to talk about Open Data and why we should consider it; give an overview of Open Data in Ireland; share our experience with Fingal Open Data look at the benefits and challenges of Open Data
  • Open Data plays an important role in Open Government In particular, it underpins collaboration Open Data is …
  • Public data Which is not subject to data protection or other limitations
  • Open Formats Available in non-proprietary formats e.g. CSV, XML, KML, RDF, open APIs
  • Machine Readable In a format that computers can process
  • Accessible Available to the widest range of people for the widest range of uses
  • Why would we publish Open Data?
  • Transparency To Open up Government and enable the Public to see the underlying information. What is the actual evidence-based reality as opposed to the perceived reality
  • Participation To increase citizen engagement with Government. If Government and Citizens are to cooperate, then Government can’t be the only ones with the information
  • Collaboration In addition to Citizen-Government collaboration outlined earlier, also - To enable the combination of data from different public sector agencies To enable other sectors to collaborate with Government.
  • Economic Opportunities Public sector data can be used as the basis for online services, mobile applications, analytics, etc.
  • Where did Open Data originate?
  • In the United States, Barak Obama promised Open Government during his election campaign. This website, was created in 2009 to share US Government data. This is the seen as the main catalyst that has driven the Open Data movement
  • In fact, the EU were ahead of the game The 2003 EU Reuse of Public Sector Information Directive was designed to allow European companies to exploit the potential of Public Sector Data and to contribute to economic growth and job creation. In a 2009 report, the EU cited the value of EU Public sector data at an estimated €27B. However, the PSI directive was primarily about requesting or ‘pulling’ data from Government rather than the publishing or ‘push’ model of Open Data
  • In the two and a half years since the launch of, Open Data sites have sprung up around the world, mainly in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand 2010 – UK Government, London, United Nations, World Bank
  • What about Ireland? Up to November 2010 there were no Open Data websites in this country.
  • A number of people had been calling for Open Data. This Internet group was established by interested people to discuss possibilities for Open Data in Ireland.
  • was created by a collaboration of people from the Open Data Ireland discussion group and DERI research centre in NUI Galway takes data from Government websites, converts it to open formats and publishes it
  • The new Government has recognised the need for Open Data Both parties to Government have Open Government and Open Data policies The Programme for Government includes a number of objectives The EU eGovernment Action Plan also includes Open Data or PSI objectives
  • What about Fingal?
  • To cope with our phenomenal growth we relied heavily on data for service planning. We built up considerable experience of data sharing.
  • The Fingal Data Hub was created by the Fingal Development Board in 2009. It was a collaboration between 9 partner agencies. It was designed for sharing of anonymised data between partner agencies, to enable interagency cooperation and service planning. In 2010 the data was made publicly available.
  • Fingal Open Data evolved from the principles of the Fingal Data Hub and the Open Data movement. In Summer 2010 we were preparing a report with data about all Local Authorities which was difficult to find and only available in PDF We discovered the Open Data movement and felt that this was a better way We decided to take the initiative with the backing of the County Manager and Fingal Open Data was born It is the first and still the only Open Data website in this country, launched in November 2010 It is available at The website, which you can see on screen, provides public access to source data from Council systems.
  • There are currently over 90 datasets organised into 12 categories Detailed information is provided about each dataset, including description, date published and available formats.
  • The site has a Featured Applications section to showcase uses that Fingal Open Data has been put to
  • There is a blog where we post updates on Fingal Open Data and Open Data in Ireland
  • The data is subject to the Irish PSI Licence, drawn up by the Department of Finance, which allows for fair use of the data.
  • MS Dynamics – Ease of development & maintenance of Administration module for Data Catalogue; automatic updates from Data Audit tool created in MS Dynamics Evaluate Open Source options – Drupal, GeoNetwork & CKAN Available for anyone else to use
  • For Open Data to be of value, it must be put to some use
  • The datasets now available on Fingal Open Data enable many services to be developed such as those illustrated here. Four of these services have been developed to date
  • This is the first service that has been developed with Fingal Open Data. It was built as an added feature on the ‘Hit The Road’ website It displayed all polling Stations for the 2011 General Election and allowed a user to search for a Polling Station and get directions to that Polling Station using Public Transport It showed data from all 4 Dublin Authorities, but the data was scraped from the other 3 Local Authority websites.
  • This is an iPhone App that has been built with Fingal Bring Bank data It displays all Bring Banks It allows filtering on the type of recyclable material – glass, cans or textiles It displays information about the selected Bring Bank It also identifies the nearest Bring Bank to your location and will provide directions to Bring Banks
  • Local Planning Explorer Ireland was developed by DERI in NUI Galway in cooperation with Fingal County Council and Local Government Management Agency Fingal planning applications from Fingal Open Data Five Councils planning applications from a Microsoft Azure cloud service Remainder scraped using ScraperWiki
  • This Android App called Dublin Parking displays the location of disabled parking spaces in the Dublin Region The Fingal data came from Fingal Open Data The data for the rest of the Region was requested from and supplied by the other 3 Dublin Authorities
  • ESRI Ireland created this Traffic Camera Map on their platform Showcase the capability of their technology
  • Openly Local collates information from UK Local Authorities and presents it in a standardised manner
  • This website is an example of how visualisation services can be developed based on open data It provides a visualisation of the German Federal Budget. The coloured blocks provide a visual representation of the comparative sizes of different Government Departments expenditure. You can drill down to see the components of a Departments expenditure and compare expenditure from year to year.
  • Sparkfish Creative are a Cambridge company specialising in App development The MassTransit app is their main product They also provide consulting and contract services
  • iTriage is a Mobile Health App Healthcare questions, symptoms diagnosis Locate nearest healthcare providers Hospital waiting times Hospital pre-registration in selected areas
  • FixYourStreet is an open transparent tool for reporting problems to Local Government It also has an Open Data dimension, as the data is exposed through an Open API on the Ushahidi platform
  • This is an example of a request to the FixYourStreet API Documentation on the Ushahidi API is at
  • This allows for third parties to develop solutions against the data These could be Apps, Visualisations, alternative interfaces, etc HeyGov! is an example of the type of development that could be done with FixYourStreet data
  • There have been a number of developments in Open Data in Ireland over the summer
  • On the 4 th & 5 th July, the NDRC ran Ireland’s first Open Data Challenge In partnership with Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council, Microsoft and the Irish Internet Association Participants developed ideas and business propositions based on Fingal Open Data and Dublin City data Video of event at
  • This is the website for Just Park who came 2 nd in the Open Data Challenge
  • The Dublinked initiative was announced on 27 th June A collaboration between Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, Fingal & South Dublin County Councils and NUI Maynooth Platform provided by IBM A Network for Sharing Data to facilitate innovation in the urban environment through collaboration between private, public and research partners with the Dublin city region as a proving ground Invitations to participate are currently open Event in October to launch the Network as part of Innovation Dublin month
  • Enterprise Ireland are facilitating a National Open Data Working Group Membership includes Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council & LGCSB Chaired by Joe Horan Initiated in July, a workshop was held at the end of August to formulate ideas Aims to produce a white paper for Government on Open Data before end of year
  • Conference in Belfast on Open Government & eParticipation Presentations on Open Data, Open Source, Electronic Town Hall Meetings, mGovernment Meeting on the 2 nd day to make submission to Cabinet Office on Open Data
  • What are the benefits of Open Data to Local Government?
  • Open Data should not be seen as just publishing data for others to use Use Open Data as a vehicle for pursuing internal Data Management and Data Sharing Facilitate inter-Departmental data sharing – internal Open Data Also, inter-Agency data sharing Use the same approach and technologies to share internally, with trusted partners and with the public – the only difference is the level of permissions The exercise of carrying out a data audit will probably identify important datasets that is not being managed effectively The other related benefit is if all Local Authorities released the same datasets, then the issue of separate disconnected websites and services could be solved very quickly
  • Cost Savings Publish all FOI-able data by default Encourage those requesting access under FOI to first check the Open Data Reduce cost of FOI requests
  • Provide an opportunity for businesses to utilise the data to create products and services Also analytics for market research Create employment and pay taxes and rates Cost avoidance potential if the private sector create Apps and services that Local Government doesn’t have to
  • Basis for aspects of eParticipation initiatives – Development Plans, Service Planning, etc.
  • There are also a number of challenges
  • Open Data requires effort It needs someone to drive it It requires deployment of technical infrastructure (opportunity for shared services) Requires staff resources to identify and publish data (however a data audit would be good practice and publication of data should ultimately be automated)
  • We tend to be conservative in our approach – “Why do you want the data” There is usually a fear that the data will be misinterpreted or that the quality is too poor to release Use Metadata & release briefing notes to counter misinterpretation If the quality of the data is poor what about the processes that depend on it There may be a possibility to use it as an opportunity for improvement through crowdsourcing (UK bus stops) Maybe the Public Sector should adopt a patch culture, instead of trying to be perfect all the time We need to Let Go a bit
  • We need to agree standards for data formats, service vocabularies, data catalogues However, this should not prevent us from starting to publish Open Data Standards can be applied retrospectively Potential users of the data would prefer that the data be released in the first instance (just not in PDF) – go ugly, early
  • Because Open Data is such a new development, it is often difficult to determine whether it is succeeding. Using a metric such as visitor traffic to an Open Data website does not give any indication of whether anything useful has been done with the data. The performance of Open Data should be measured against the reasons for publishing the data. Appropriate metrics need to be defined for these purposes e.g. number of apps created, number of businesses utilising the data as the basis for products, increase in citizen involvement in decision-making, etc.
  • What are the next steps for Open Data?
  • We need to have more Irish Open Data We want to encourage Local Authorities, Government Departments and Agencies to start releasing Open Data
  • There is an opportunity for a quick win Spatial Data : we’re already publishing it on maps!
  • We need apps & services built with Open Data Initially this might be Fingal Open Data, but these apps should be built to consume Open Data from any Government agency Beyond that, apps could consume data from other European countries – the EU wants to encourage cross-border apps and services Apps can be developed by business, 3 rd level, volunteers, etc If we are to demonstrate the value of open data and encourage the release of more data, we need to be able to show the practical benefits through practical applications and services
  • With that in mind, we are planning an Open Data Competition – Apps4Fingal We also intend to hold an event – probably an App development day The competition should launch in the next few weeks
  • The work we have be doing with Open Data is now starting to have an impact nationally There is a great opportunity for Ireland to play a leading role in Open Data worldwide we are small enough to be able to rapidly deploy Open Data is still in its infancy worldwide There is a great opportunity for Local Government to take the lead in Open Data in Ireland we have a wide range of datasets of direct relevance to the public As I mentioned earlier, Fingal Open Data is available at And you can also follow us on Twitter at fingalopendata
  • In line with the theme, this presentation is licenced for sharing under a Creative Commons licence It is available for viewing and downloading on slideshare Thank you.
  • Open Data in Local Authorities

    1. 1. Comhairle Contae Fhine Gall Fingal County Council Open Data in Local Authorities HIS Conference - 28 th September, 2011 @ fingalopendata
    2. 2. What is Open Data?
    3. 3. Public Data
    4. 4. Open Formats
    5. 5. Machine Readable
    6. 6. Accessible
    7. 7. Why Open Data?
    8. 8. Transparency
    9. 9. Participation
    10. 10. Collaboration
    11. 11. Economic Opportunities
    12. 12. Open Data to date
    13. 13. U.S. :
    14. 14. E.U. : Reuse of Public Sector Information
    15. 15. Open Data Initiatives Worlwide
    16. 16. Ireland
    17. 17. Open Data Ireland
    18. 18.
    19. 19. Open Government Data Policy <ul><li>Ireland – Programme for Government </li></ul><ul><li>Publish Purchase Orders for more than €20,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Create a </li></ul><ul><li>European Union – eGovernment Action Plan </li></ul><ul><li>Committed to – </li></ul><ul><li>..making raw data and documents available for re-use in a wide variety of formats.. </li></ul><ul><li>..setting up PSI portals.. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Fingal
    21. 21. Rapid Population Growth
    22. 22. Shared Anonymised Data
    23. 23. Open Data relating to Fingal http://
    24. 24. Over 90 datasets in 12 categories
    25. 25. Applications
    26. 26. Blog
    27. 27. Irish PSI Licence
    28. 28. Technology <ul><li>Version 1 </li></ul><ul><li>.NET Front End & MS SQL Server Data Catalogue </li></ul><ul><li>Version 2 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Terminal 4 CMS Front End & MS SQL Server Data Catalogue </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Version 3 (in development) </li></ul><ul><li>Terminal 4 CMS Front End & MS Dynamics Data Catalogue </li></ul><ul><li>Future </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate Drupal for front-end </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate GeoNetwork and CKAN for Data Catalogue </li></ul>
    29. 29. Apps
    30. 30. Possible Fingal Apps Check bathing water quality for Fingal beaches Find Planning Applications submitted near you See the amount of waste recycled in Fingal Locate the place where you vote Find your nearest Bring Bank Locate disabled parking spaces in Fingal Find out where you can buy bin tags
    31. 31. Polling Stations Website
    32. 32. Bring Banks App
    33. 33. Planning Explorer
    34. 34. Disabled Parking App
    35. 35. Traffic Camera Map
    36. 36. U.K. Local Authority Information
    37. 37. German Federal Budget
    38. 38. Boston Transport App
    39. 39. Health Website
    40. 40. FixYourStreet
    41. 41.
    42. 42. Miami 311
    43. 43. New Developments
    44. 44. 4 th / 5 th July, 2011 – NDRC, Dublin
    45. 45. Just Park – 2 nd in Open Data Challenge
    46. 46. DUB linked Dublin Region Innovation Network
    47. 47. National Open Data Working Group
    48. 48. Conference & Strategic Summit Belfast, 22 & 23 September 2011
    49. 49. Benefits
    50. 50. Data Sharing
    51. 51. Freedom of Information
    52. 52. Economic Development
    53. 53. eParticipation
    54. 54. Challenges
    55. 55. Effort
    56. 56. Let go …
    57. 57. Standards
    58. 58. / Measuring Success
    59. 59. Next Steps
    60. 60. Linking Open Data cloud diagram, by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch. We Need Irish Open Data
    61. 61. Quick Win – Spatial Data
    62. 62. We Need Apps
    63. 63. © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA - Apps 4 Fingal Competition & Event
    64. 64. Comhairle Contae Fhine Gall Fingal County Council Open Data in Local Authorities
    65. 65. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License Use of any Fingal County Council or Fingal Development Board logos and brands are not covered by this license. Pictures as marked used under Creative Commons license. If you believe any content is infringing copyright, please contact us via http://