Open Data fosters civic engagement in Eastern Europe
How do Open Data change societies? The global network TechSoup, that manages philanthropic technology programmes, tries to reduce technological barriers by connecting hackers, designers, public officials and social activists. Anna Sienicka (Europe's vice-president at TechSoup) explains that linking people and merging the offline and online world leads to successful adaptation of innovations such as Open Data.
Governments are in a process of becoming more and more transparent and responsive. The focus on open, collaborative and participative governments is particularly visible in Eastern Europe, where the public sector has been undertaking efforts to establish stronger relationships with citizens and civil society. Open Data plays a key role in this process. By opening up their data, public institutions also send a strong signal that they are committed to becoming more transparent and accountable. With Open Data at hand, citizens can analyse public expenses to check how their taxes are used and to evaluate legislative processes. In this way, Open Data contributes to more democratic engagement and participation.
TechSoup for instance launched Warsaw's Open Data platform (Poland). By publishing data and organising data app competitions, IT specialists, activists and public officials were brought together to come up with new ideas based on Open Data reuse. In this context, the Ukrainian Open School app is a great success story. The app provides reviews and ratings of secondary schools and allows students and parents to make informed decisions.
In short, insights into public procurements, air pollution, public transport and demographics, education and science enable people and societies. More information on the societal value of Open Data and the other benefits that Open Data holds can be found in the European Data Portal's report here!