World Wide Web Foundation, founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, releases the fourth edition of its Open Data Barometer, ranking governments on their use of open data for accountability, innovation and social impact.
Governments failing to progress on open data Credit: Joho/DPA/Press Association Images
The UK government has been ranked number one out of 115 countries for releasing open data, despite “worrying changes” in policy, according to an influential report.
However, the report found that, globally, key accountability metrics on government spending, public contracts, company ownership and land ownership are among the least open, and often poor quality.
Commenting on the findings, senior researcher and report author Carlos Iglesias said: “It is frustrating to see virtually no improvement since last year, and some early leaders turn their backs on the open agenda.
“This failure to progress is a missed opportunity for governments to be transparent with citizens and win back trust.
“Yet, with some relatively simple steps, governments could drastically improve their scores. For instance, adding open licences to existing datasets would double the number of open datasets.”
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The report found that the early pioneers of open data are stalling in their progress – even backsliding in some countries.
Scores for Northern European countries and the United States have fallen this year, and the report said that “even the UK, an open data champion, has seen worrying changes in key policies”.
Globally, fewer than one in 10 datasets studied are fully open — unchanged from last year — showing that most countries are failing to make any progress on delivering vital public information.
Leaders must focus on opening up the data that matters most – such as transport, education and healthcare, according to the foundation.
It recommended that governments adopt its international Open Data Charter, to ensure that data programmes remain unaffected by political cycles.
Web Foundation policy director, Craig Fagan said: “The case for open data is clear. Citizens have a right to access the data their taxes pay for, and use it to engage in public decisions and improve their lives. Governments need to stop dragging their feet and make government data open by default.”