Open Data Scorecard: New Research Shows Governments Not Open Enough

Mark Boyd
Oct. 28 2013, 09:00AM EDT

Governments around the world are still lagging at opening data and even less are offering data via APIs, accessible in machine-readable format, according to a new annual index released by Open Knowledge Foundation today.

The Open Data Index surveyed 70 countries on the degree of openness across a number of data fronts, including transport information, election results, government spending and registration of companies. The UK and US topped the list in being most open, but even they had significant areas lacking. The US, for example, scored well on most areas except openness of company registrations, which makes it difficult for external parties to monitor tax avoidance and other forms of corporate corruption.

Open Data Index top and bottom 10 ranking countries

There is still a long way to go in opening data via APIs. (This was a sentiment shared by panel members at API Strategy and Practice last week, and was one of the drivers behind the workshop led by Kin Lane from API Evangelist that showed how developers and non-programmers can open government data themselves in API format.)

Less than half of the key datasets amongst even the top 20 leading governments in open data were using APIs to allow reusable access to the data. Open Knowledge Foundation noted that this prevents businesses and citizens from being able to build and share commercial and non-commercial services based on government open datasets.

Open Data Index proportion of datasets open by subject matter

Launching the Open Data Index and speaking ahead of an Open Government Data Summit to be held in London at the end of the week, Open Knowledge Foundation Founder and CEO, Rufus Pollock, said:

"For the true benefits of open data to be realised, governments must do more than simply put a few spreadsheets online. The information should be easily found and understood, and should be able to be freely used, reused and shared by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose."

Detailed findings of the Open Data Index can be read online.

Graph Images: Open Data Index 2013, Open Knowledge Foundation.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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