Introduction

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform leads policy development and implementation activities under the Open Data Initiative across the wider Public Service.

The challenge of building more open, transparent and accountable public governance in Ireland is a key objective in the Irish Public Service; and progress is being achieved through a range of reform initiatives.

The Open Data Initiative is a key part of these reform activities.  It is closely aligned with the Public Service Reform Plan, the ICT Strategy, and the Civil Service Renewal Plan. Internationally, it is a core element of the EU-wide approach to the “Re-Use of Public Sector Information”, which has been transposed by Ireland. It is also central to Ireland’s participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The vision for the Open Data Initiative is to create an environment where the economic, social and democratic benefits of Open Data are recognised and realised. The Initiative aims to create an environment where, by opening up Government data, new opportunities for research, innovation, transparency, engagement and greater efficiency are delivered and realised by public bodies, businesses, researchers and citizens.

Open Data Portal and Technical Framework

The Open Data portal, data.gov.ie, provides access to official data in open format. The portal was originally launched in July 2014 and has been significantly enhanced since then. The portal currently links to nearly 4,500 datasets from some 90 publishers.

Underpinning the publication of Open Data is a Technical Framework which was the subject of a public consultation process during 2015.   The Technical Framework provides a clear set of requirements for public bodies to ensure that published datasets meet clearly defined standards and are published in a consistent, persistent and truly open way, making them more discoverable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

The Framework comprises five key components:

  1. An Open Data Licence
  2. Formats
  3. Metadata
  4. Standards and
  5. Unique Resource Identifiers

Lifecycle Approach to Open Data

The Open Data Initiative is based on a lifecycle approach to Open Data, with a number of core components such as data audits, publication planning, delivery of data in open formats and release via data.gov.ie.

Those elements focus largely on the supply side of Open Data, but with a clear emphasis on making it easier for the user to make use of published data for any purpose.

Development of an Open Data Strategy

  • A Foundation Document for the development of an Open Data Strategy has been published and sets out the key issues that need to be incorporated into Ireland’s Open Data Strategy; and identifying some critical requirements if Ireland is to achieve the potential benefits of Open Data.
  • The preparation of an Open Data Strategy for 2017-2020 is underway under the leadership of the Open Data Governance Board, with input from key stakeholder groups.

Open Data Governance

  • The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is supported within the Department by a small Open Data Policy Unit.
  • Two key governance structures have been established:
    • A Public Bodies Working Group (PBWG) provides technical advice to support the Open Data Initiative. A key output of the PBWG was the Technical Framework.
    • An Open Data Governance Board (ODGB) has been established to provide strategic leadership and governance in line with best international practice in the area of Open Data. It is tasked with considering how to improve the capacity and capability of public bodies in implementing Open Data, and considering opportunities to maximise the value of public sector data and information for long-term economic, social and democratic benefits. The ODGB will make recommendations to Government in this regard. Membership of the board is available here.
    • The ODGB’s Mandate allows them to consider how to ensure an Open Data Initiative that meets the needs of users and helps public bodies to plan their activities accordingly and encourage an ongoing collaborative process.

Research and Consultation

Details of research and public consultation on Open Data are available here.