From Quantity to Quality

Open Data is a much-debated topic and – since the Obama administration launched on May 21, 2009 – an international competition, too. Nearly 400 Open-Data Portals emerged meanwhile. But very often there is more concern about the number of published data than about the content of these data.


This issue has been addressed by Open Knowledge (okfn) with its Global Open Data Index (Global Open Data Index). 2015-08-24_OpenDataIndex‘ …simply putting a few spreadsheets online under an open license is obviously not enough. Doing open government data well depends on releasing key datasets in the right way.
Moreover, with the proliferation of sites it has become increasingly hard to track what is happening: which countries, or municipalities, are actually releasing open data and which aren’t? Which countries are releasing data that matters? Which countries are releasing data in the right way and in a timely way?
The Global Open Data Index was created to answer these sorts of questions, providing an up-to-date and reliable guide to the state of global open data for policy-makers, researchers, journalists, activists and citizens.’


The Challenge: Be more than a simple measurement tool

The Open Knowledge Community just started ‘a discussion with the open data community and our partners in civil society to help us determine which datasets are of high social and democratic value and should be assessed in the 2015 Index. We believe that by making the choice of datasets a collaborative decision, we will be able to raise awareness of and start a conversation around the datasets required for the Index to truly become a civil society audit of the open data revolution. – See more at

The result is a list of datasets that can be found on Google docs.


For National Statistics (in okfn’s definition), these are the (few) chosen sets:

‘Key national statistics such as demographic and economic indicators (GDP, unemployment, population, etc).
To satisfy this category, the following minimum criteria must be met:
– GDP for the whole country updated at least quarterly
– Unemployment statistics updated at least monthly
– Population updated at least once a year’

Open, Useful, Reusable

In OECD’s brand new publication ‘Government at a Glance 2015’ we can find a new indicator: The OUR Index. It stands for ‘Open, Useful, Reusable Government Data’.

‘The new OECD OURdata Index reveals that many countries have made progress in making public data more available and accessible, but large variations remain, not least with respect to the quality of data provided. Governments need to make participation initiatives more accessible, targeted, relevant and appealing.’ (p.8)


‘The data come from the 2014 OECD Survey on Open Government Data. Survey respondents were predominantly chief information officers in OECD countries and two candidate countries (Colombia and Latvia). Responses represent countries’ own assessments of current practices and procedures regarding open government data. Data refer only to central/federal governments and exclude open government data practices at the state/local levels.’ (p.150)


Based on G8 recommendations

‘The OECD OURdata Index measures government efforts to implement the G8 Open Data charter based on the availability, accessibility and government support to promote the reuse of data, focusing on the central OGD portal in each country'( p.33)

‘The G8 Open Data Charter defines a series of five principles: 1) open data by default; 2) quality and quantity data; 3) usable by all; 4) releasing data for improved governance and; 5) releasing data for innovation, as well as three collective actions to guide the implementation of those principles.’
‘As a first step in producing a comprehensive measure of the level of implementation of the G8 Open Data Charter, the OECD pilot Index on Open government data assesses governments’ efforts to implement open data in three dimensions:
1. Data availability on the national portal (based on principle 1 and collective action 2);
2. Data accessibility on the national portal (based on principle 3) and
3. Governments’ support to innovative re-use and stakeholder engagement (principle 5).
The only principle not covered in this year’s index is Principle 4: Releasing Data for improved governance value (e.g. transparency) as existing measurement efforts have focused primarily on socio economic value creation’ (p.150)


And here comes the ranking

2015-07-10-OURdataIndexData for this chart:

Detailed data for the countries:

The publication

The publication: OECD (2015), Government at a Glance 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris.


The Cui-bono Approach to Open Data

What’s the problem? Which data are needed to solve it? Who gets an advantage of it?

These few questions are valuable key for implementing the open data culture. Open data not as ‘l’art pour l’art’ but in a pragmatic approach, demonstrating that the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’.


It seems to work very well as Ton Zijlstra showed in his presentation at the Swiss Opendata Conference 2015.

He gives some examples of situations where open data helped to provide a solution to a problem and where stakeholders got an answer to their issues.


link ti

Country Portraits – Open and Embedabble

Looking for important statistical indicators of European countries? Comparing these countries? Taking the application to your own website? Making a brochure of it?

All this is provided by a newly designed application on Statistic Switzerland’s portal.




And download all countries as a brochure


Open Data

The Source Data (from Eurostat and Swiss Statistics) are available as an EXCEL file: So data are open and the app made from these data is open, too. It provides selecting and embedding and also the output of all indicators as a PDF file. It may also be embedded into third party websites or other apps can be written by other people.


App made with a CMS

This Portrait-App is one of several Apps of the same flavour. There are also portraits of the 26 Swiss Cantons, the biggest Cities and and the (more than)  2500 Communes.


A Content Management System helps building these Portrait-Apps once the data are in correct shape. And this in a very short time (hours).

Europe has an Open Data Portal, too

The European Commission

opened its Open Data Portal some days ago.
Powered by CKAN.
Most of the 5811 datasets (97%) are statistical ones provided by Eurostat.
Top Publishers
Eurostat (5634 datasets)
European Environment Agency (106 datasets)
Joint Research Centre (37 datasets)
Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (12 datasets)
Publications Office (11 datasets)
Directorate-General for Education and Culture (3 datasets)
Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (2 datasets)
Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (1 datasets)
Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry (1 datasets)
Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (1 datasets)‘.

Linked Open Data are provided

An important step! ‘The European Commission Open Data Portal is well aligned with the initiatives of linked data and semantic web technologies. The dataset metadata is available as triples on triple store and attached to the dataset records.’

One App for the moment…

… but an interesting one creating visualisations based on RDF input, with javascript based output (Highcharts charting library).
CubeViz is a facetted browser for statistical data utilizing the RDF Data Cube vocabulary which is the state-of-the-art in representing statistical data in RDF. This vocabulary is compatible with SDMX and increasingly being adopted.’

open data and official statistics: how and where?

There’s a hot topic concerning official statistics as well as many governmental bodies owning data: open government data OGD.

Official statistics in most countries offer open data for years now. But mostly in their own silos and in various flavors: From PDF to XLS and CSV to RDF LOD, in interactive databases like px-web, oecd.stat, genesis-online etc., with visualization tools and various search facilities.

On the other hand there are initiatives to provide software, create standards and build platforms in order to bring together myriads of data sets and making these accessible in one place.  is such a platform assembling more than 3800 datasets (June 2012). is powerd by a software called CKAN

… claiming to be …


What about official statistics?

the Data Hub contains a lot of data sets from official statistics

Among these are simple links to National Statistical Institutes

But also machine readable linked open data


Several institutions are using CKAN with their own themes.

UK (in CKAN). The Office for National Statistics ONS shows a lot of data (847 data sets) in the CKAN powered catalogue, with rich metadata and links to the ONS website.

EU (in CKAN). Europe’s Public Data aggregates datasets from several sources,


CKAN Data Store

As far as I can see statistical institutions use CKAN as a catalogue linking to the sources on the institution’s websites. But CKAN could also be a host for the data itself:

‘As well as holding metadata and links to the offsite data, CKAN can provide secure storage for the data itself. When creating the dataset or resource, you can either link to data hosted elsewhere, or upload it in the same action as registering it on CKAN.’ (link to CKAN).

It would be very interesting to know who in official statistics already envisages such a solution for it’s data ….!

10 billion

Hans Rosling is an early fighter for open data and one of the best, no: the best in presenting insights from these data.

His last example comes from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in Doha, Qatar (April 16-20, 2012) and demonstrates that ‘religion has very little to do with the number of babies per woman’.


Some more examples of what has been done with open data are given by

With an overview of Apps:

Some of these won prizes in the

And now a new competition sponsored by The Guardian and Google is under way,

‘The Guardian Datastore and Google have teamed up to see who can help visualise the data which will show which governments are adopting the economic policies that will facilitate job growth and innovation to lead the world out of the economic slump.’

They are giving hints to datasets, called ‘the world’s key economic datasets from the UN, World Trade Organisation, IMF and some of the world’s major economic experts…’