This report by the European Data Portal, investigates the Open Data Initiatives in eight medium-sized European cities: Dublin, Florence, Gdansk, Ghent, Helsinki, Thessaloniki and Vilnius. Overall, this report shows that not only Europe’ s most prominent cities like Barcelona and Paris – as featured in a previous report of the same entity – are maturing on their Open Data journey, but that also medium-sized cities are taking bold steps on their Open Data journey.
On a national level, more and more European Union Member States are recognising the potential value of Open Data and are acting upon it. Open Data portals are in place, increasingly backed by solid Open Data policies. But it is not only the national level that matters. For a successful national Open Data initiative, the whole publication chain should be taken into account. Cities have an important role to play here. Specifically the larger European cities publish a lot of data on topics such as urban planning, tourism, and increasingly real-time data in the transport and mobility area, such as datasets on available parking spots. Moreover, cities also benefit from the use of Open Data to tackle typical urban challenges such as congestion and pollution, and to improve the quality of urban public services and the interactivity between the local government and citizens.
All of the above cities have Open Data strategies in place, which are not stand-alone initiatives but are often embedded in broader digital or Smart City strategies. Smart City strategies are important drivers for Open Data, as a more connected city and the deployment of smart devices (e.g. sensors on lamp posts to measure traffic density) result in a lot of useful data that can be used to enhance the quality of life in the city. This requires a solid data management system and a focus on stimulating the re-use of this data to tap the value that lies within it. Seven out of the eight cities kick-started their Open Data journey top-down driven, initiated and guided by the political leadership of the city. Over time, these approaches also incorporated more community led initiatives to move forward with Open Data. On the contrary, Ghent has been successfully adopting a bottom-up approach straight from the beginning.
Almost all cities have a coordination mechanism in place with the national level. This is important because it facilitates interoperability of different systems and by sharing best practices and experiences, portals can more easily overcome certain barriers. The barriers faced by the portals are very much in line with barriers faced at a national level, with the technical barrier being the most persistent. The dialogue with the national level on the one hand, and partner-cities and institutions on the other hand help the cities to overcome these barriers. Partnerships such as the 6Aika project (Helsinki), the ‘˜100 Resilient Cities’ (Thessaloniki) and the Bloomberg ‘˜What Work Cities Partnership’ (Florence) allows cities to standardise approaches and to exchange best practices.
The cities differ with regards to data available on their portal (from 28 datasets in Gdansk to 1,392 in Florence) and portal features. Most of the portals are not only focused on this ‘˜core task’ ‘“publishing data – but also include features aimed at engaging with users, such as news items, event sections and feedback mechanisms. In order to boost awareness on what can be done with the data, cities provide tangible examples and visualisations; some even offer separate city dashboards. Other initiatives to reach out to citizens are often centred around the practical application of Open Data, such as local hackathons and meet-ups. Overall, this report shows that not only Europe’ s most prominent cities like Barcelona and Paris – as featured in the first report- are maturing on their Open Data journey, but that also medium-sized cities are taking bold steps on their Open Data journey. This is important, because cities are crucial components of the Open Data publication chain.