Open data and usability: publishing data for re-use in Sweden

By 29 november, 2017Uncategorized

Mountaineers climbing in snow, Mount Olympus. 1913. University of Washington. Inga kända copyright-restriktioner.

A targeted effort for publishing data from Swedish state authorities for re-use is ongoing in Sweden. Swedish National Archives is promoting the work as a part of an assignment from the Swedish government.

The National Archives in Sweden has been assigned by the government to promote the efforts of the state authorities to create access to digital information and open data. According to the assignment, the National Archives will collect and publish lists about the available Public Sector Information (PSI) from government authorities, encourage state authorities to publish open data according to common guidelines, and also manage and develop the national open data portal oppnadata.se, as well as a web tutorial vidareutnyttjande.se. Another part of the task is to provide support for individuals to find data in the state administration and assist them in contacts with the relevant authority.

During the spring, the National Archives has worked to lay the foundations for a more efficient publication of PSI lists and open data sets. The next step involves adapting the specifications to enable a coordinated publishing of PSI-lists and data for reuse, as this is not yet established in Sweden.

Common specifications, guidelines and having one portal as a single access point are essential for making digital information searchable at a national level, findable and as usable and reusable as possible. As part of the assignement, the National Archives has conducted a pre-study on collecting and publishing PSI-lists, which concluded that there is a need for coordination of the publishing of PSI lists and open data sets and that this can be done in the national data portal through a national adaptation of the metadata format DCAT-AP. In order for lists to be collected and published in the data portal oppnadata.se, there is a need for guidance on how to create and publish PSI lists, as well as coordinating the publishing of datasets for reuse.

The result of this study has been the basis for the National Archives’s ongoing work on establishing the national adaptation of the metadata format DCAT-AP and the development of the data portal to display both lists and datasets.

The National Archives is currently working on providing guidance on how to publish PSI lists and datasets for reuse. This work is expected to be completed during the second half of 2018.

Part of our work is also to motivate and support authorities to increase the usability of their information and to publish metadata in the national data portal. The assignment is both about enhancing awareness and promoting work on how to publish data for reuse with guidelines and recommendations, combined with supportive technical solutions. Among other things, there is currently a digital step-by-step guide, newsletters, seminars and workshops.

At the same time, the Swedish National Archives works with adapting the national data portal by merging the data portal with the web tutorial. The National Archives has also started work on harvesting other Swedish data portals into national data portals, and recommendations on licensing and on use of persistent identifiers. In December 2017 a new user-adapted version of the Swedish data portal will be released.

The work with developing the websites (data portal and tutorial) showed that the data available for re-use is currently available to some extent at the authorities’ websites or at specific external services, but not always through the national data portal oppdatata.se, which indicates an increased need for coordination, standardization through common specifications and the harvesting of metadata from the authorities’ websites, in order to create a single acces point for users, as well as the ability to interact.

The National Archives survey of user needs showed, among other things, that authorities have a relatively good basic knowledge and understanding of data for re-use. However, in-depth information is required about how to for example create a PSI list and publish information on the national data portal.

Regarding the common needs from both authorities that publish data for reuse and from users of open data, results of the survey showed a need for coordinated support through guidance and courses (regarding publication and use), common standards and formats, examples of reuse of data, as well as a need for more interaction and communication.

In the report from the National Archives to the governement published in September 2017, there was a proposal for long-term responsibility for the coordination of government agencies’ efforts to make data available for re-use, with the task of continuously supporting government agencies in the work of open data and PSI issues, and supporting data users from the government administration. Also there was a proposal on the responsibility for the long-term operation, management and further development of the national data portal opendatata.se, including the PSI list collection and open data guidance.

Sanja Halling

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