OGD: Oil, Gold, Democracy ?!

Open Government Data (OGD) are seen by many people as the new gold of the digital age. So Neelie Kroes (Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda Data) in her Opening Remarks at the Press Conference on Open Data Strategy in Brussels, 12th December 2011:

“Just as oil was likened to black gold, data takes on a new importance and value in the digital age. … Public data, generated by all administrations in Europe will become automatically re-usable. It will feed new applications and services. … We calculate that public sector information already generates €32 billion of economic activity each year. This package would more than double that – – to around €70 billion.”

OGD Portal

Since September 16th 2013 Switzerland has its Open Government Data Portal, too. It’s based on CKAN and is filled with about 1600 files, mostly statistical data.


OGD: Economic Impact

And Switzerland has its own report (by Adelheid Bürgi-Schmelz ) assessing the economic importance and impact of OGD. It’s a broad evaluation of methods and results (in German) with a long summary in English:

From an economic perspective, Switzerland would benefit from an introduction of OGD. The Swiss federal administration would obtain efficiency gains provided the compensation issue for federal offices can be settled. But ultimately, the issue whether OGD should be introduced in Switzerland is subject to political decision making.’ (p.14)  “Information is the currency of democracy.” Thomas Jefferson (p.8)



Ex post?

Are the now published data by several governments the data needed? What’s their impact after first evaluations?
These questions are more and more of interest. And governments are starting initiatives to ‘sell’ open data with specific actions. So the White House in January 2013 with its showcasing the best government data sources (and here):

‘We at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy ‘had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled’.



Evaluation by ODI ?


The website of the Open Data Institute in London provides some information about how open data are used. An interesting guest blog shows the situation on the local level.

And a press release of ODI (December 2012) gives an example in the field of prescribing practices:


‘…. This project is an example of how open data can be used to help services run more effectively and efficiently. In using open data to highlight trends, we see where we can do better and make improvements. Inefficiency in any system often results from poor or incomplete information about the overall picture. This is something that open data can address as Prescribing Analytics so dramatically illustrates. The analysis should be required reading for all GPs as they seek to make best use of their resources. …’. (ODI’s Chairman, Nigel Shadbolt).

To do

These are just some examples of evaluation work. It’s a fascinating and important work to be done in this field. And it’s worth to be done systematically.

See also https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/open-data-literacy/

When Luca meets Laura

How to explain important demographic indicators? Try it by telling the story of Laura and Luca. Statistical storytelling at its best!

“From the first breath of life until death, the road of life in Switzerland (and not only here) is strewn with an abundance of data averages from official statistics.
For the past ten years, an average 75,700 babies have been born annually in Switzerland, the majority of whom are boys: 106 boys to 100 girls. His name is Luca. As with most other children, this little boy will grow up in a couple with child(ren), go to school and move on to new horizons. On reaching adolescence he will have to be careful, however. Surveys show that young men aged 15 to 24 years have constituted for a number of years the group at greatest risk of death among persons under 25 years of age. …….
…… Then, around the age of 32, and as for almost two-thirds of Swiss nationals, Luca will join the group of people who have the opportunity to get married, completing the list of 40,700 marriages registered each year in Switzerland. Her name will be Laura. She will be approximately 29 years old when she says “I do” to Luca……..
……… Laura and Luca’s marriage will probably go through some rough times, in particular towards the 6th and 7th year of marriage, a difficult milestone for many couples who often decide to get divorced at this moment. Their marriage will in fact last an average of 15.5 years.” ……………………..
………. Read the full article written by Fabienne Rausa (FSO) here and the magazine ValueS here 


Mean Values

Statistical parameters are used to describe a population and are often based on a large number of observations in public statistics. So-called measures of location are most commonly used to provide information about «average» data. The most renowned location measurement is the arithmetic mean, but there are also other measures of central tendency to describe the «middle» which may be more suitable depending on the data in question.

A short short description of some mean values used in statistical publications can be found in the new edition of Statistics Switzerland’s information magazine ValueS.
Read the article in ValueS.


ValueS (Number 1/2013)


OGD – the statistical point of view

The World Wide Web has set the standard: vast amounts of information are freely available and ready for use. And the aim of many open data initiatives is for this to become increasingly true for government data as well. Although official statistics have been offering this service for a long time, there is still a need for action in order to meet important open government data criteria: data catalogues, licensing and machine-readable data formats to name a few.

Read more in this article published in the December issue of ValueS, the information magazine of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.


Evidence-based Decision Making

iPads (or any easily accessible device) with a dashboard application on it become more and more used tools (or Gadgets) for politicians.

Photograph: Andrew Parsons/ZUMA Press/Corbis

No 10 dashboard

David Cameron is (perhaps) looking at the ‘new custom-built “No 10 dashboard” web app’. With a little help from National Statistics ..

‘The app is hosted by the Government Digital Service (GDS) inside the Cabinet Office, and consists of a number of onscreen tiles, each of which can be selected to show more detail. One shows the latest growth figures and the FTSE index; one shows the prime minister’s diary; one shows the content of a number of Twitter feeds, including the official No.10 feed; another shows the insights from a daily poll by the polling group YouGov; another shows property and jobs data supplied by Adzuna, a UK startup that provides inputs about the number of jobs which are then blended with data from the Office for National Statistics.
Another tile shows regional economic data, while a final tile tracks the progress of key government initiatives such as the structural reform plan – the coalition’s scheme to cut the deficit – and compares government spending against budget targets.’
Source: The Guardian  

The dashboard idea is not a new one. Some (of much more) examples:

Statistics Finland …

… provides Findicator.


Ireland ist preparing



In Switzerland

Statistics Switzerland‘s website provides a set of indicators  measuring progress on the road to sustainable development.


In fact,

every Website of a statistical agency is more or less a dashboard for evidence-based decision making. See also OECD, IMF, World Bank



Personal Dashboards

There are also lots of individually configurable Dashboards based on dedicated search. So:

Squirro (Beta, on invitation)

trap!t, the sister company of Siri

etc and so on. Explore yourself!

.Is this a revival and a boost for evidence-based or data-based decision making?

opendata.ch 2012

Some good presentations from this year’s opendata.ch event in Zürich, Switzerland.

Nigel Shadbolt on Open Data and Economy


Abraham Bernstein, University of Zurich on Big Open Data Processing (in German)



Alain Nadeau, Swiss Federal Statistical Office FSO on Finding and Using FSO Data (in German)


See all presentations here

Swiss Statistics – Election Atlas 2011

Swiss parliament elections took place on Sunday 23 October 2011. As part of its services the Federal Statistical Office is making available a modern e-atlas in German and French. The Political Atlas provides a cartographic visualisation of the electoral strength of the main parties and party groups together with previous electoral results going back to 1919.

Wahlatlas Schweiz


This Atlas is based on a Content Management system which has been used for other atlases:

See also: https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/ipad-atlas/