Open Government, beyond the Open Data

Many times, Open Government get confused with Open Data due to the superfluous similarities that are between them. People think that Open Government is only to have Administration data sets available for general  public, however it is being missing to consider the core of this new governance model: the citizen. Today we will unravel the complexity of the Open Government for you.

Open Government  is a paradigm based on the following aspects:  transparency, open data, public participation and collaboration. Let’s review each of them: 

Open Public Data

Gobierno Abierto

Open Data, integrates all the information that is considered of public interest. This means that such information should be relevant and beneficial to society.

The requirements for public data are the following one,  these must be accessible, free, non-discriminatory, timely and above all, they must be updated periodically in open format.

Sometimes, it is questioned how a Open Data policy can affect the right to protect people privacy through data protection. But actually, it does not harm it,  this is the reason why it needs to be highlighted that Open Data only addresses high quality data of public interest. The privacy of personal data falls within own policies for this purpose. 

Open data acts as a bridge to the citizenship. The real purpose is to strengthen the democratic systems and overall, to increase the level of trust that citizens have in the system of government itself.

It is intended that governments and public administrations have a commitment of effectiveness and efficiency. Open Data is based on the principles of fairness, integrity and transparency. The Open Data is presented as the great potential for participation and innovation.

However, open data, and therefore providing information to citizens, have a second utility that makes them even more special. Open data can be reused even for commercial use. Thus, if for example the National Institute of Meteorology has an open data portal with meteorological records, anyone could develop a Mobile App for weather forecasting that is fed from the information provided in that open data portal.

The possibility of reusing open data is a breakthrough because it helps reviving the economy. By sourcing information from which feed applications and /or products, the cost and effort required for commissioning is much less. So many more innovative projects and which in turn can improve the quality of life of citizens, can become realities.

Transparency

Gobierno Abierto

Let´s start from the following basis: the citizens are the priority of the entire system of open government. These policies are intended to increase citizen engagement and the level of trust on countries and their rulers. Therefore, the entire fabric of the Open Government revolves around citizenship.

Thanks to new technologies, and the new era of digital culture, access to information is being much more fluid. The Internet and all technological range around open information are allowing  a much easier access to information. However,  due to the overload of useless information, the ease for finding information gets stuck, citizens receive plenty of information with no value. 

Therefore, the principle of transparency is included within the Open Government. Transparency is based on showing citizens how public resources are managed, why specific policies are adopted and what the results of that efforts are.  It  supposes to act as a booster for economic growth.

Transparency intends to explain the programs developed by the Administration about the use of technologies and knowledge of relevant data. Controlling transparency should be done by an independent body to the government.  Even though you can see that things related to transparency are being done, still there are many things left.

Citizen Participation

participación-ciudadana

As we mention earlier, the citizen is the key piece of this puzzle. It is understood that as a result of open government, the society will turn in a well informed one. If  If citizens are a real good understanding of public interest topics, then, they will be ready to become part of government decision-making. 

The maximum of democratic government is that power resides on the people. This is precisely what open government intends to do, that citizens take an active part in decisions making when it comes to subject that affect the economic and social development of a country. It aims to encourage participation through an open line of communication.

Citizen participation takes the form of Open Government portals where citizens can interact with the Administration. There are different formats, however in all of them, they are given the power to ask, claim or reveal their view. Depending on the level of openness of the body in particular, there are different formats, surveys, forums where citizens can write freely, there is a moderator, etc.

Is citizenship prepared for this informational flood? Would they know how to manage these data for development? The answer is very complicated for two reasons, the paradoxical lack of information and new legislation that is being created in countries that want to join, and the fear that if all the information is public can be manipulated by the lack of knowledge of the person responsible to manage it.

Therefore, the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is conducting an extensive legislation with various points of interest, we are going to will highlight two of them.

The first point is a law that regulates access to information and press freedom. In the Spanish Constitution, to cite one example, the right to information is recognised to all Spaniards. However, there are certain gaps on who has the duty to report, or what is really relevant to the public, acting as a barrier to safeguard this right.

The second point to be discussed is the law on privacy and the data protection. It is possible you think:  If  relevant data should of public interest would be available for all citizens,  should be at the fingertips of citizenship  my data too? What about the laws on data protection? What about the right to forget that is also regulated by law? This is precisely one of the great challenges of the OECD.

Action and involvement = benefits 

open government

These two points Open Data Transparency and Citizen Participation should be engaged so that citizens feel involved and informed in order to take advantage of their own system of government. Hence a number of benefits are deducted.

Citizens can access the various platforms that Public Administration offers to the problems they pose so the implication is much higher.

Meanwhile the administration is benefited because the people involved in improving public service by generating their own content applications that can be developed from Open Data.

Obviously, public data provide valuable content that create a network of innovative services that will go in favor of the economy besides avoiding intermediaries between Administration and citizen, so the economic cost is also reduced.

Through forums, blogs, social networks, employees of the Administration improve its service through collaboration.

Finally, it allows a binding political positions have close ties to the interests of their own citizens.

In conclusion, the Open Government is a guarantee of citizen sovereignty. Although it may seem like an utopia, many countries have joined the bandwagon of open government and some major paradigms are developing policies to regulate these three new concepts to many. Is it possible to implement this ideal of government according to the theory that there are reflected on paper, and that is truly beneficial to the citizen? The answer is in the air.

See you all next week.

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