From access to re-use: a user’s perspective on public sector information availability

Frederika Welle Donker

paperback/ gebrocheerd: € 29.95: GRATIS verzending! (NL)
ISBN: 9789492516275, geïllustreerd, December 2016, Engels

Uitgever: TU Delft Open


If data are the building blocks to generate information needed to acquire knowledge and understanding, then geodata, i.e. data with a geographic component (geodata), are the building blocks for information vital for decision-making at all levels of government, for companies and for citizens. Governments collect geodata and create, develop and use geo-information - also referred to as spatial information - to carry out public tasks as almost all decision-making involves a geographic component, such as a location or demographic information. Geo-information is often considered “special” for technical, economic reasons and legal reasons. Geoinformation is considered special for technical reasons because geo-information is multi-dimensional, voluminous and often dynamic, and can be represented at multiple scales. Because of this complexity, geodata require specialised hardware, software, analysis tools and skills to collect, to process into information and to use geoinformation for analyses.

This dissertation demonstrated that many aspects that should facilitate accessibility, such as standardised metadata, have already been addressed for geodata. This research also showed that for other types of data, there is still a long way to go. There is a growing demand for other types of data, such as financial data and healthcare data. Public sector organisations holding such types of data need hands-on guidelines to enable publication of their datasets, preferably as open data. However, data published as open data are forever and cannot be recalled. Therefore, the decision to publish public sector data as open data is complex: datasets are often of a heterogeneous nature and may contain microdata (data that quantify observations or facts, such as data collected during surveys) Although microdata may not necessarily contain personal data, the datasets will probably have to be processed before publication to address confidentiality and data quality issues. In addition, there is a tension between open data and protection of personal data. The big question remains to which level the data need to be aggregated and/or anonymised to ensure protection of personal data now and in the future, and at the same time keeping sufficient significance to be re-usable. Another issue that needs further research is data-ownership of sensor data and co-created data. Increasingly, sensor data generated by e.g. smart phones, smart energy meters and traffic sensors are collected by the public sector and the private sector and become part of a big data ecosystem. In addition, public sector organisations cooperate with other public sector organisations and the private sector to create information from their data, so-called co-created information. Citizens also collect data or complement information on a voluntary basis, e.g. bird counts data. Co-created information will become more commonplace in the coming decades, as will the contribution of sensor data to a big data ecosystem. However, the aspect of who owns the data in which part of the information value chain has not been researched. Uncertainty related to third party rights will pose a barrier to publishing open data. Therefore, the aspect of data-ownership for sensor data and for co-created data should be further researched.

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