Assessing open data developments across Europe: Discover the Open Data Maturity Report 2022
The Open Data Maturity Report
Today, data.europa.eu publishes its eighth ‘Open Data Maturity (ODM) Report’. This is an assessment that began in 2015 to measure the level of maturity of countries in the European Union (EU) and their progress in promoting open data publication and reuse.
While remaining mainly an EU exercise, throughout the years the assessment evolved into an overview of the efforts and priorities of 30+ countries. In 2022, the ODM self-assessment was completed by 35 countries: the 27 EU Member States, the 3 European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland), 4 candidate countries (Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine), and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Since 2018, the ODM assessment measures maturity along four dimensions (Figure 1):
- Policy – this dimension sheds light on the open data policies and strategies in place in the European countries;
- Impact – this dimension analyses the willingness, preparedness, and ability of European countries to measure both the reuse of and impact created by open data;
- Portal – this dimension focuses on the features, use and sustainability of countries´ national open data portals;
- Quality – this dimension examined the measures adopted by portal managers to ensure the systematic harvesting of metadata from sources across the country.
This year, all four dimensions were streamlined to better include regional and local realities and specific types of open data (e.g., high-value datasets). In particular, the impact dimension was re-structured, among others, to better distinguish between measuring the reuse of open data and the impact created through this reuse.
Figure 1 - Open data maturity dimensions
Based on these dimensions, the ODM assessment gives an overall score to participating countries and clusters them into four different groups, from the most mature to the least: trend-setters, fast-trackers, followers, and beginners. Moreover, the report highlights trends and best practices from countries´ responses.
Overall scores of 2022 participating countries
Overall, the average ODM score of the EU27 for 2022 is 79%: EU Member States perform as well as last year in the portal (83%) and quality dimension (77%), but lagging slightly behind in the policy and experiencing the largest decrease in the impact area (Figure 2).
Figure 2 – The Open Data Maturity scores of the EU27 (EU28 until 2022)
While continuing to be the most mature measurement of the assessment (86%), the policy dimension decreased by 1% compared to last year due to the change of content or scope of some questions. For example, among the questions on policy implementation, more attention was given to support mechanisms for data publishing, with specific questions on geospatial, real-time/dynamic, and citizen-generated data. In this latter regard, only 33% of EU Member States have measures that incentivise the publication of and access to citizen-generated data. Moreover, the decrease in policy seems to be in line with the common challenge reported for Member States, namely the difficulty of enabling a coherent open data governance across various levels of government and institutions.
The re-restructuring of this year’s impact indicators is the main reason behind the 7% drop in the overall impact score (71%). However, this result should not so much be seen as a decrease in maturity level, but rather as a more accurate picture of how difficult it still is for countries to assess the impact of open data. More specifically, it seems that EU Member States are doing progress in monitoring the reuse of open data (e.g., via interviews with reusers and feedback mechanisms), but only few have data (e.g., in the form of a study) on the impact that this reuse creates. For instance, only 8 out of the 27 EU Member States stated that they held data on the impact of open data on the environment and connected issues.
This is also in line with what was reported by the speakers of the data.europa academy webinar ´Measuring open data impact in Europe`. The webinar focused in fact on the existing frameworks for open data impact assessment, highlighting the absence so far of a common European methodology. Guest speakers from the French and Polish national open data teams presented real-life examples of how they measure open data impact, sharing their knowledge but also their challenges.
Like the EU27, EFTA and candidate countries also seem to mostly struggle with the impact dimension (Figure 3). While similar reasons as the one mentioned above also apply to this group of countries, it is worth mentioning that states such as Albania or Bosnia and Herzegovina are still at the beginning of their open data journey. Hence, priorities for them are rather creating the right policy environment and developing a functioning open data portal.
Figure 3 - 2022 score per dimension for EFTA, candidate countries, and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Best practices across countries and dimensions
Despite the effects that the war is having on the development of open data in the country, Ukraine continued its development in the open data field, passing from a policy dimension’s score of 98% in 2021 to a full 100% score in 2022. A highlight of Ukraine’s policy answers is its new open data strategy, which entered into force in June 2022. The strategy aims to enable a better decision-making process for citizens, politicians and civil servants based on open access to information; increase the transparency of the government's activities by ensuring confidence in its decisions and fighting corruption; and introduce innovative products and services based on open data.
Another country that shows an impressive progress is Czech Republic, which improved its overall score by 14 percentage points between 2021 and 2022. In particular, Czech Republic is among the top performers in the impact dimension (100%). Besides a more comprehensive impact assessment methodology, Czech Republic reports a project called ´National Environmental Reporting Platform’ that until 2023 will focus on available sources of environmental open data and analyse their impact on the social, political and legislative requirements caused by the climate and environmental changes.
France is the only EU Member State that obtained a maximum score (100%) for the portal dimension, improving their score of 2 percentage points compared to 2021. As with last year, the French national portal team puts a substantial amount of effort in the improvement of the services of the portal, which is reflected in their maturity score. For example, they highlight the key datasets published on the national portal by offering editorial content, where they publish a monthly article to showcase the most important publications (datasets or reuses) during the last month. Moreover, they offer a newsletter and a blog to make popular publications more visible, draft articles about new datasets, and inform portal users through notifications when new datasets are available on the portal. Furthermore, the national portal is active on social media (e.g., Twitter) and events are regularly organised to promote the visibility of the portal, including hackathons. These initiatives have facilitated communication and collaboration between the different stakeholders interested and working with open data, including members of academia, private companies, public sector institutions, and data providers.
This year, France and Ukraine (93%) had the highest score in the quality dimension. Examples of best practices from these countries are the extensive list of guidelines and tools for data providers on how to publish open and metadata, as well as regular activities to incentivise data publication (France), and close monitoring of improvements to open data quality and linked data (Ukraine). However, next to France and Ukraine there are other high performing countries in this dimension such as Slovenia and Norway, both scoring 92%. Slovenia deserves particular attention regarding their work around open data quality. All Slovenian ministries and public (sectoral) bodies are required to publish and maintain data. Additionally, the published data or datasets must align with certain principles of open data and be approved by the Sectoral Editor in the various public bodies before being verified by the Chief Editor. Moreover, following the data and datasets publication, the editors are required to maintain data and ensure that they are up to date. This approach is defined in the Governmental decision on Editorial Policy. For Norway, D-CAT compliance is very important. The national open data portal does not allow registrations where mandatory classes are missing. For optional classes, metadata quality is measured and displayed for each individual dataset.
In conclusion, the Open Data Maturity report 2022, the numerous best practices from participating countries, as well as the publication of the completed questionnaires and final results aim to inspire the national open data teams, as well as anybody fostering open data availability and reuse. This includes providing recommendations to prepare for the implementation of the high-value datasets (as part of the Open Data and Public Sector Information Directive) and the Data Governance Act. Looking ahead, cross-border collaboration is also stimulated further with key activities of our data.europa academy, research, and data publication to come in 2023. In particular, keep an eye out for the next ODM data stories on open data impact and open data fast-learners and don´t forget to register to the related webinars as of January 2023.