Open data refers to raw data collected by public administration entities, businesses organisations and private individuals that is, or can be, made freely available to everyone to use.
Information society - a shared effort
Open sharing of data helps create a functional society and promote better services. Using such an open operational model in the provision of services could breed a new Finnish success story that helps create growth and sustains the public sector.
Increasing the amount of data in the public domain is still a major challenge. Currently, the majority of information is isolated in ”silos” within different public sector agencies and businesses, each of which is developing their own portals to the various databases. As far as people and businesses go, this is an annoying state of affairs since time is wasted in finding the information, learning to navigate different portal systems, reading meta data and integrating data obtained from different sources. As a consequence, statistics are often lagging behind a year or two.
Thus, authorities and businesses should boldly offer real-time, raw – unprocessed – data for public use, which would allow service providers to refine it into new solutions. The only way to find human-oriented solutions to complicated social problems is for administrations, companies and the public to engage in more cross-boundary cooperation.
Rigid structures must be abandoned in favour of flexible, networking models that can pave the way for a successful Finnish society. This will be further helped by new networking and open development platforms, as well as the availability of open data.
New service concepts are currently being developed to give people and companies easier access to services and to close the gaps between companies, public administration and the population. These concepts often find new ways of using public data and its subsequent processing. A major element of the work is the active participation of the public in the development or even in the launching of the new service models.
In order to promote the open sharing of data and its consequent use we need to develop and pilot innovative service concepts. The purpose is to discover their potential for social effectiveness, communicate the results and share the new best practices and services. Creating something new is based on doing and experimenting.
Some platforms for experiments
- The purpose of the Helsinki Region Infoshare project is to make regional data available to residents, companies, organizations and other interested parties. The project parties include the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, Forum Virium Helsinki and Sitra. The project is coordinated by City of Helsinki Urban Facts.
- Protomo. Sitra has been involved in supporting the Protomo concept, a diversified innovation and entrepreneur community. Protomo offers prospective entrepreneurs facilities free of charge, complementary know-how, community support and specialist sparring to help increase market access for new products and services. In a Protomo community, prototypes for products, services and business ideas can be developed with no immediate risk, together with other experts and potential customers. Hundreds of jobs have been created through Protomo, and dozens of new companies.
- Apps4Finland. The Apps4Finland contest aims at finding service concepts that use the public administration’s open databanks. The contest is organised by the Finnish Association for Online Democracy. Sitra helps the best entries to find funding for further development of their ideas.
- Ominvoimin. The human-oriented project gathers stories of what can be achieved through voluntary group efforts and grass-root activities. Descriptions of the innovations and pitfalls that have accelerated or hindered good ideas are also included.