The Irish Open Data Unit comprises of a small team of 4 people within the Ministry of Public Expenditure and Reform with responsibility for Ireland’s Open Data Initiative.
Our Open Data Initiative in Ireland has gone from strength to strength since it was instigated in 2015. In 2019, it was confirmed that Ireland is continuing to lead the way in Europe for Open Data having been ranked top of the European Commission’s Open Data Maturity survey for the third consecutive year. Separately, the OECD 2019 ‘OurData Index on Open Government Data’, placed Ireland 3rd behind Korea and France respectively (up from 17th place in 2017). We are very proud of these achievements and strive to ensure we retain our high rankings in the years ahead.
A key output of our Open Data Initiative is the national open data portal, data.gov.ie, which now provides access to over 10,000 open government datasets that are being widely accessed and re-used. 31% usage of the portal originates internationally while 69% is located in Ireland. The datasets are from across a number of themes; some of the most popular datasets are on housing, real-time passenger information, health and crimes. Of recent particular interest were health related open datasets including Covid-19 data, with a marked increase in the number of views and downloads of hospital, pharmacy and nursing home datasets since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the Teams’s key roles is building our relationships with public service organisations to promote open data and the publication of government held data. We do this through regular communication with our network of Open Data Liaison Officers who are appointed in government departments and agencies across the country and through a number of outreach events including our annual Open Data Conference. The 2019 Conference ‘Open Data Challenges and Opportunities' took place on 27 November 2019 in the National Gallery of Ireland. We also run open data training courses to build capacity across government.
Success in any open data initiative should be measured on whether the data is being re-used and the Team regularly engages with data re-users. The portal has a showcase page that showcases examples of data re-use, we run our Open Data Impact Series events which bring data publishers and data re-users together to discuss data quality, the availability of data and how it is being re-used. Some examples of these events are ‘How data can help the Environment’ and Supporting Art, Heritage & Culture Open Data. We also run an annual open data engagement fund which provides €30,000 in funding towards open data projects resulted in some excellent examples of open data reuse.
During the current crisis, we have re-purposed our Open Data activities online where possible. Open Data training has been provided online for free to public servants and we held an Open Data Impact Series event ‘Open Data and Covid-19’ on June 23rd. Also check out the latest addition of impact stories to the Portal at https://data.gov.ie/impact.
This article was written by Marian Beakey from the Irish Open Data Unit.