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Open data can unlock growth in Europe

Public Service Europe - The digital revolution and explosive growth of the social media culture is transforming the relationship between government, business and citizen. But when times are tough, opening up access to public data to improve the transparency and accountability of public bodies is not typically seen as a high priority.

Now, though, the European Commission has seen the potential of public data – data produced, collected or paid for by public bodies in the European Union – to deliver much wider economic and societal benefits. The commission's strategy, released on 12 December 2011, promises a future in which new businesses create economic growth by delivering innovative services; public administration is more transparent and efficient; and, policy decisions at all levels of government are based on greater evidence and insight. Legislating to open up access to public data, no matter what its origin or volume, does not by itself increase administrative efficiency or transform commerce. But opening up data is a necessary first step towards deriving valuable insights.

By acting on three key recommendations, the commission can unlock the potential of public data and, in so doing, engage citizens and entrepreneurs and reinvigorate national economies still struggling to deliver growth.