The public service comprises a diverse range of government departments, offices and agencies, who deliver a wide range of services across all areas of society and business. These organisations produce large quantities of valuable data.
The concept of open data is about making the data held by these public service bodies available and easily accessible online, for reuse and redistribution. Open data has been identified as a fundamental resource for governments, business and civil society. The positive impacts of open data are wide-ranging and cover political, social and economic spheres. These can range from improving transparency and efficiency of government, potential for business innovation and a vast array of social and personal benefits.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has policy responsibility for Ireland’s open data policy. A key output has been our national open data portal, which provides access to official non-personal government data, in open format. The portal currently links to over 8,800 datasets from some 100 publishers. This data must be published under an open licence so it can be freely used, re-used and redistributed.
Underpinning the publication of our open data is a technical framework that provides a clear set of requirements for public bodies to ensure that published datasets meet clearly defined standards and are published in a consistent way that makes them more discoverable, accessible, and reusable.
The department published an Open Data Strategy for 2017-2022 in July 2017. The goal is for Ireland to become a leader in open data and to create an environment where the economic, social and democratic benefits of open data are recognised and realised.
Two core objectives of the strategy are as follows:
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is supported within the department by a small Open Data Policy Unit in the Reform Division.
Two key governance structures have been established:
An Open Data Engagement Fund has been developed in conjunction with the Open Data Governance Board. This is a competitive fund designed to provide support towards promoting the reuse of open data on the national Open Data portal. Applications can be made for funding to support a variety of Open Data related activities.
The total amount of funding available each year is €30,000 and the maximum available for any one project is €5,000. Applications can be made by any organisation or individual. It is intended to make the fund available over the lifetime of the Open Data Strategy.