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UK set to slip to third place in global open data rankings

David Bicknell Published 09 May 2017

Draft results, which won’t be finalised until mid-June, see the UK currently take third place jointly with France behind Australia and Taiwan, having topping the rankings in 2013 and 2014


Provisional 2016 results from the Global Open Data Index (GODI) will see Britain slip from second place to third if the draft rankings are confirmed.

The results , which currently see Australia and Taiwan jointly in first place, followed by the UK and France in a joint third ranking, were proposed last week but will not be finalised until June 15 after a 30-day so-called “dialogue phase”.

In 2013 and 2014 the UK topped the rankings.

GODI describes itself an independent assessment of open government data publication from a civic perspective, enabling different open data stakeholders to track government’s progress on open data release.

GODI says that for the last five years it has been revising its methodology to fit the changing needs of the open data movement. This year, it says it changed its survey design by adding experimental questions to assess data findability and usability.

It also intends to use the survey as a “tool for conversation”, which is why it is releasing the results in two phases. Describing the two phases, it said:

    “The dialogue phase - We are releasing the data to the public after a rigorous review. Yet, during our assessment some information might have remained unnoticed. We give all users a chance to contest the index results for 30 days, starting May 2nd. In this period, users of the index can comment on our assessments through our Global Open Data Index forum. On June 2nd, we will review those comments and will change some index submissions if needed.”

    “The final results - on June 15 we will present the final results of the index. For the first time ever, we will also publish the GODI white paper. This paper will include our main findings and recommendations to advance open data publication.”

In a commentary on last year’s results, which saw the UK in second place to Taiwan, the Index said, “For a third year running the United Kingdom has come out at or near the top of the Global Open Data Index. Unlike many of the countries that did well in previous years, the UK's overall standing has not been greatly affected by the addition of five new categories. This demonstrates the broad scope of the UK's open data programme. Practitioners within UK government who work to develop and release open datasets have much of which to be proud.

“However the UK's role as an open data leader also carries the risk of overconfidence. Policymakers can easily be tempted to rest on their laurels. If we look in more detail at this year's submissions we can find plenty of learning points and areas for further development. There are also some signs the UK open data agenda may be losing momentum.”

Criteria included in the rankings include areas such as national statistics, procurement, national laws, administrative boundaries, draft legislation, air quality, national maps, weather forecast, company register, government spending, election results, locations, water quality, and land ownership.

Commenting on the draft rankings, the Open Data Institute's policy associate Peter K Wells said, "We have previously called for the UK government to accelerate its progress on data. Strong data infrastructure which is as open as possible is a competitive advantage to a 21st century economy. Other governments recognise this as can be seen by both the UK's comparative drop in this index and in the investments by other nations that we highlighted in the industrial strategy.

"But there are some things missing from the index that we should be mindful of when considering our position. For example the capacity of nations to take advantage of data and use it to build businesses, and the openness of data outside of government in sectors such as transport, banking and sports. Those factors could be more important indicators in the future."

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