10th ITS European Congress, Helsinki, Finland 16–19 June 2014 Paper Number
Crossing borders with open data
Kasvi, Jyrki*
&...
Crossing borders with open data
2
The most effective solution is to open the data required by mobile traffic and transport...
Crossing borders with open data
3
While there is a variety of guidelines on how to open public data, good practices about ...
Crossing borders with open data
4
Finally, there should be no financial constrains for data use. The public authority open...
Crossing borders with open data
5
hauling companies may treat movements of their cargo as trade secrets. In some cases, th...
Crossing borders with open data
6
by apps using police statistics of the neighbourhood [5]. In order to ensure data integr...
Crossing borders with open data
7
A positive relationship between open data and standards can be identified, as the value ...
Crossing borders with open data
8
Roaming across Europe
Mobility apps require reasonable priced reliable mobile Internet a...
Crossing borders with open data
9
References
1. Open Knowledge Foundation (2013). Government data still not open enough - ...
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Crossing Borders with Open Data

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Crossing Borders with Open Data

  1. 1. 10th ITS European Congress, Helsinki, Finland 16–19 June 2014 Paper Number Crossing borders with open data Kasvi, Jyrki* & Salo, Jari TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre, Finland Salomonkatu 17A, 00100 Helsinki, Finland +358 50 4309360, jyrki.kasvi@tieke.fi Abstract Mobility apps for cross border traffic require access to different public data repositories in all the countries the apps are to be used in. Opening this data is the most effective way of making it available to apps developers and facilitating service innovation. Nevertheless, opening public data does not suffice alone. Both the international and commercial nature of mobility apps set further requirements for public authorities opening their data. These requirements include international data harmonization, open data accessibility, integrity and safety. Finally, data roaming costs may be prohibitive for users of international mobility apps, and may require regulation. Keywords: Open data, cross border mobility, smart transport. Introduction Cross border traffic and transportation call for mobile services and applications that operate fluently and without interruptions while people and cargo move from one country to another. In order to develop these mobility apps or services, application developers and service providers require a wide range of public and private information from various authorities in several countries; About road weather, traffic conditions and disruptions, public transport timetables, border station queues, road side services and cultural events just to mention a few. While the so called PSI directive on the re-use of public sector information (Directive 2003/98/EC) has eased access to public data within European Union, an apps developer may have to negotiate with authorities in 28 countries in order to cover the whole EU market. What is more, when passengers and cargo move from Union area to other countries, fluent access to data becomes even more crucial.
  2. 2. Crossing borders with open data 2 The most effective solution is to open the data required by mobile traffic and transportation services in all countries, particularly within the European common market consisting or the European Union and the EFTA countries. One can even say that circumambient open data is a precondition to a working mobility service market. While authorities of some EU members like United Kingdom and Denmark have already extensively opened their public data repositories, many others are only just beginning. [1] In addition, reciprocal access to corresponding public data in EU neighbours like Russia and Turkey should be negotiated on Union level. Otherwise, the administrative burden becomes too much for app and service developers, especially small and medium sized technology companies with limited legal resources. Open data for mobility While the PSI directive encourages public authorities to make as much of their data available for general use as possible, data required for mobility services should have priority. In addition to spurring economic growth [2], these services advance free movement of people, products and services, which are among the key principles of the European Union. As the end users of mobility apps range from hauliers to bus passengers, the apps require access to a wide variety of public data. For example, a lorry on an international route may involve routing apps for the driver, fleet management apps for the lorry company, logistics apps for the haulier and queue management apps for customs authorities, all with their particular needs for data and communication. Different mobility users require different services requiring different data sets. User groups Applications and services Data requirements Citizens Car drivers Navigation, smart routing, weather service, smart parking, roadside service information, driving habit feedback Geographic, weather, road condition, road works and maintenance, disruptions, car parks, traffic statistics, public and private services Passengers Timetables, fares, ticket sales, lodging, service information Timetables, reservation, disruptions Private companies Transport companies and hauliers Fleet management, fare collection, logistics, cargo tracking, customs Tax and customs records Road/rail/port operators Traffic flow, tracking Public sector Public national, EU and local authorities Emergency services, traffic management, road maintenance, border station queue management Traffic flow, incident detection
  3. 3. Crossing borders with open data 3 While there is a variety of guidelines on how to open public data, good practices about its utilization are less common. Some approaches stress that even open data is quite useless without ideas on how to utilize it from the start, while others encourage opening of all available data sets in order to see which data is most useful for developers and users. While both approaches have merit, the latter one, however, leaves more space for open innovation. In the traditional, closed model, a service ‘innovation’ has to be defined before access to data and data reparations can be negotiated between the authority and the apps developer. Correspondingly, the open model allows experimentation and development of new, even surprising ideas with low economic risks. What is more, authorities are often unaware of what kids of data people want and need most. As a result, opening of all the available data is often recommended. [3] Open data for app development While open data presents authorities with definite technical and legal requirements, these requirements are not necessarily enough to effect emergence of new commercial apps or services. While there have been an abundance of new ideas and innovative prototypes based on open data, the development of actual commercial mobility apps has been somewhat disappointing. In order to overcome this challenge, the requirements of commercial developers and their clients should also be taken into account when opening data meant for mobility apps. Common requirements for open data The commonly used description by opendefinition.org defines open data as “A piece of data or content is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike.” What does this mean in practice? Firstly, there should be no technical constrains for access to data. The data repositories opened have open application programming interfaces, use standard machine readable open data formats and provide sufficient data transfer capacity. Furthermore, there should be no legal constrains for access to data. Data is made available with a license that allows data to be exploited and distributed without restrictions by anybody for any purpose. For example Creative Commons licenses are among the most referenced open licensing schemes. Open licenses are based on the idea that the material is free to use, provided that the terms of use are respected.
  4. 4. Crossing borders with open data 4 Finally, there should be no financial constrains for data use. The public authority opening the data does not charge users of the data any access or usage fees. What is more, the location, technical definition and terms of use of the data opened have to be made easily available. Different kinds of data catalogues have been used to list and describe opened data sets with metadata, but while local developers know where to find the national open data catalogue, their usefulness for cross border service development is often negligible. For example, while Finnish authorities have been diligently opening their data repositories for few years now, the Finnish national open data catalogue1 is still available only in Finnish. Not even a Swedish catalogue is available in spite of Swedish being the other official language of Finland. As a result, the catalogue is practically unusable for foreign companies and developers. In order to facilitate international usage of open data, e.g. for cross border mobility apps, each country should have a public authority responsible for maintaining local open data catalogues and making national open data accessible not only for local companies but also for developers from other countries. Restrictions to openness Absolutely open public data will continue to be rare. The reasons behind different degrees of openness vary, and willingness of public agencies to provide datasets changes not just country by country, but also agency by agency. For example, data sources often include information that can be considered to belong under privacy policy and therefore anonymization is needed before publication. This is often the case in traffic related data, as data on the movement of vehicles may be used to track the movement of their passengers. For example, congestion fee data may have to be anonymized before opening. [4] If the need for anonymization has not been taken into account when the data base has been created, the cost can be considerable. In some cases, information in the data sets could be considered to be a risk for national or system security. This might appear more often in conjunction with maps of critical infrastructure, such as gas pipelines or food logistics systems. Even parts of the transportation system infrastructure may be considered sensitive. Sometimes, the public data repositories contain information that can be considered to be someone’s intellectual property or business asset or maybe form a part of that. For example, 1 http://www.suomi.fi/suomifi/tyohuone/yhteiset_palvelut/avoin_data/
  5. 5. Crossing borders with open data 5 hauling companies may treat movements of their cargo as trade secrets. In some cases, the ‘ownership’ of public information may be unclear and opening it may constitute a legal risk. It is an old saying that information is power. There could be mental barriers to open data to everyone and for new innovation and usage. These barriers are often high among agencies and administration used to having clear borderlines of responsibilities and field of operation. Although an authority may be required to gather data for its own operations, it almost never arrives in a form that can be automatically made open. Sometimes, the data needs to be anonymized or aggregated to alleviate privacy concerns, for a cost. In other cases, it needs to be re-formatted and placed in open data sources in specified formats in order to make the data useful to outsiders. New, more efficient connections to Internet may also be required in order to allow downloads of large datasets without disturbing other Internet services provided by the authority. Quality requirements for open data Further requirements for open data targeted for commercial mobility apps involve different aspects of the quality of the data opened. Data should be made available with a quality statement regarding its quality, as this will allow potential users to determine, whether the data is suitable for their purposes as is, or does data quality require additional measures. In practice, the various aspects of data quality address two issues: data accessibility and data integrity. The first quality issue is reliable data accessibility, that is, commercial apps may require the data to be available 24/7 with 99.98% reliability, but the public authority providing the data may be open only during office hours and 99.5% reliability. As the authority cannot be required to improve data accessibility beyond its own operational needs, the service developer has to take care of improving accessibility on its own cost. What is more, authorities with open data may make changes to their data repositories, making old data access routines obsolete. Authorities cannot be required to freeze their systems when they open data. As a result, services based on open data may cease to operate, if apps providers do not continuously maintain their data access routines. The second data quality issue is data integrity. Commercial apps users may require guarantees of the flawlessness of the data used by the apps. As the apps may have considerable financial impacts, the clients may also want to be able to trace the data back to its source in order to ensure its authenticity and timeliness. For example, real estate prices are definitely influenced
  6. 6. Crossing borders with open data 6 by apps using police statistics of the neighbourhood [5]. In order to ensure data integrity, the service provider using open data has to have safe and sound information security. The responsibility of the integrity of the service and potential damages has to be defined. As there is no completely error-free data, an error reporting and handling procedure is needed. When app users encounter inaccuracies in open data, they should be able to report them to the public authority maintaining the data repository. Commercial apps data quality requirements call for open data aggregators that collect open data from public authorities and ensure its availability and integrity for commercial purposes. Are these aggregators to be private service providers or financed by public sector, is yet to be seen. Care should be taken that these aggregators do not close access to original open data for individual developers and data tinkerers, as they are a valuable source of innovation for commercial apps developers, too. Comprehensive national and European data catalogues are still required alongside aggregators. Commercial open data ecosystem requires aggregators responsible for data quality. Standards, interfaces and licences Opening public data for mobility services is not enough. In order to mitigate mobility service innovation, countries should harmonize traffic related data for example between European Union countries and national administrative branches. Apps developers should not be required to create different interfaces in order to access data in each and every EU country. Union level coordination may be required in order to define and harmonize the standards and interfaces used.
  7. 7. Crossing borders with open data 7 A positive relationship between open data and standards can be identified, as the value of data increases; the more widely it can be shared and utilized. In general, it is clear that standard based data can be utilized, aggregated and refined better than data in a proprietary format. Hence, the authorities collecting and providing open data are encouraged to implement standard data formats. Usually, the selection of a standard to be utilized is quite straight forward. However, when different agencies are collecting, using and opening same or almost corresponding data for different purposes, a data harmonization exercise is very highly recommended. The harmonization and standardization of data structures and data exchange services are fundamental challenges for the information society as a whole as well as for Intelligent Transport Systems. The coordination and harmonization of traffic management measures between road operators is an essential part of maximizing the capacities of their road networks in order to reduce the effects of congestion and improving safety. For traffic management related data, there are several widely recognized data formats available, JSON and DATEX II being the most notable. The original DATEX standard was developed for the purpose of exchanging road traffic information among road operators and between road operators and service providers in order to improve the traffic conditions and to inform the drivers on the road and also for their pre-trip planning. The second generation DATEX II specification is aimed also for other actors in the traffic and travel information sector. DATEX II has become the reference for all applications requiring access to dynamic traffic and travel related information, ranging from road works to public events having on impact on traffic. It has been one of DATEX II’s main achievements to establish a logical model for this domain that is widely supported by users all over Europe. DATEX II is already a prerequisite on some EU programs in order to achieve conformity with other systems developed. JSON (Java Script Object Notation) is a lightweight data interchange format which is based on a subset of the JavaScript programming language. It is easy to read and write for humans and also easy for machines to parse and generate. The JSON format is defined in the ECMA-404 –standard. It is a text format that is completely language independent but uses conventions that are familiar to most programmers.
  8. 8. Crossing borders with open data 8 Roaming across Europe Mobility apps require reasonable priced reliable mobile Internet access across Europe. Fortunately the worst excesses of data roaming prices have already been addressed by Union regulation, but the roaming costs can still be considerable. When passengers or cargo cross Union borders, cost of required mobile Internet access may become prohibitive. Service providers may have to negotiate access contracts with national mobile operators. Recommendations Recommendations for authorities opening data for mobile apps development: 1. Give priority to data required for mobility services when opening data. 2. Use standard data formats and APIs in data repositories in order to make it easier to open them. 3. Provide sufficient broadband capacity for data downloads. 4. Inform developers of the data sets opened e.g. through open data catalogues. 5. Ensure data integrity and improve data accessibility. 6. Note the need for anonymization of data when developing new data repositories. Recommendations for companies and developers utilizing open data in mobility apps 1. Ascertain availability and integrity of open data used, for example through aggregators. 2. Ensure timeliness of downloaded open data used for service creation. 3. Ensure data security of your service. Recommendations for mobility apps end users 1. Report errors encountered in open data. 2. Participate in crowdsourced open data generation. Recommendations for legislators 1. Mobile data roaming costs should be kept as low as profitably possible. 2. Mobility related public data should be harmonized and standardized both internationally and between national administrative branches. 3. A public authority should be made responsible for national data catalogue maintenance.
  9. 9. Crossing borders with open data 9 References 1. Open Knowledge Foundation (2013). Government data still not open enough - New survey on eve of London summit. In: Open Data Index [online]. [cit. Apr 10th 2014]. 2. Koski, H. (2011). Does Marginal Cost Pricing of Public Sector Information Spur Firm Growth? ETLA Discussion Papers 1260. 3. Halonen, A. (2012). Being Open About Data: Analysis Of The UK Open Data Policies And Applicability Of Open Data, London: The Finnish Institute in London. 4. Blumberg, A.J. & Chase, R. (2006) Congestion Pricing That Preserves Driver Privacy, Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference, 2006. ITSC'06. IEEE. 5. Daily Mail Reporter (2010) Asbo App for iPhone tells you how anti-social your area is, Daily Mail 19 February 2010.

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