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Lack of transparency and effective strategies, only few Countries appreciate the importance of open data

The World Wide Web Foundation of the Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee published the second edition of the Open Data Barometer, a tool to monitoring transparency level and accessibility of datasets around the world. The classification examines the development of the countries in terms of accessibility, openness, fulfillment of undertaken commitments and availability of the data.

A global movement to make government “open by default” picked up steam in 2013 when the G8 leaders signed an Open Data Charter – promising to make public sector data openly available. In 2014 the G20 largest industrial economies followed up by pledging to advance open data as a tool against corruption, and the UN recognized the need for a “Data Revolution” to achieve global development goals.

The 2014-15 edition of the Open Data Barometer examines open data readiness, implementation, and impact across 86 countries, and provides a country ranking based on scores in each of these three categories. According to the definition of the survey, readiness identifies how far a country has in place the political, social and economic foundations for realizing the potential benefits of open data. Implementation identifies the extent to which government has published a range of key datasets to support innovation, accountability and more improved social policy. The third index, impact, identifies the extent to which open data has been seen to lead to positive political, social and environment, and economic change in terms of transparency & accountability, and improved government efficiency and effectiveness and economic benefits.

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 The report points to a growing divide between those countries able to establish and sustain open data programs, and those countries where open data activities have stalled, moved backwards or not yet begun.

The UK once again earned the top spot in the Barometer’s global rankings this year, followed by the US, Sweden and France. Among developing nations, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil all were praised for strong progress. Italy is at the 22nd place, clustered with those countries where open data programs are developing. The fields that need more attention in Italy are datasets from public administration, land registers, public sector contracts, and company ownerships.

The report highlights certain factors common among successful open data initiatives. Among these countries it has been observed an high-level of political commitment and consistent and sustained support for both national and city-level open data programs and ability of government, civil society and entrepreneurs to understand and use data effectively.

Yet over 90% of the 86 countries surveyed in this edition of the Barometer do not publish key datasets in open formats while fewer than 8% of the countries surveyed worldwide publish datasets on government budgets and spending, public sector contracts, and company ownership in open formats and under open licenses. Commenting on the report’s findings, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor and founder of the Web Foundation, noted that “governments continue to shy away from publishing the very data that can be used to enhance accountability and trust” and highlighted the power of open data “to put power in the hands of citizens”.

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