CBS opens its doors to share expertise on Open Data

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) recently opened its doors to share its knowledge about Open Data with various authorities. Registrations poured in as over 100 participants signed up within one week , clearly showing the broad interest. Besides a presentation on CBS Open Geodata, three other themes were discussed: privacy protection, metadata and the publication of Open Data. Tanya Gelsema and Eric Schulte Nordholt both work closely with these subjects at CBS and explain the most important themes.

More transparent and accessible

CBS introduced an Open Data portal site in 2014, where altogether nearly 4,000 data collections are available as Open Data. The portal provides unlimited public access to huge quantities of – completely anonymous – CBS data. Gelsema: ‘Open Data is a prominent theme for the government. By making available an ever larger amount of Open Data (OGD), the government becomes more transparent and accessible to citizens. This can boost new economic activities and more re-use of government data.’

Helping other governments

The first presentation at the meeting focused on Open Geodata, which is data hosted by Publieke Dienstverlening Op de Kaart (Public Services on the Map). Anyone interested can view and download geospatial datasets by municipality, municipal district and neighbourhood. Gelsema: ‘The audience rose some important questions, like: how do I combine CBS data with data from my own organisation and how to visualise this on a map, for instance.’ The other three lectures dealt with presenting of Open Data. Gelsema: ‘Of course, CBS has ample experience in the publishing of data, but other authorities are dealing with many questions like how they should present data in a safe and concise manner; how to organise your own data properly, which metadata are required, what kind of additional information do you provide? CBS is quite happy to help.’ One of the presentations elaborated on how CBS can be of assistance and has recently helped other authorities with the publication of their Open Data.

Privacy protection

Eric Schulte Nordholt delivered a presentation on privacy protection. ‘More and more data are becoming available through CBS, so over the past few years, we have invested a great deal in the protection of privacy. What we have also noticed in the past two years is a sharp increase in the number of questions on this subject: what is allowed and not allowed when it comes to privacy protection? Some organisations tend to be too cautious while others are publishing too much information. CBS has a great deal of expertise on privacy protection.’ According to Schulte Nordholt, CBS leads the world in the development of methodology and software in the field of data security. These developments are followed by other statistical offices with much interest. ‘We like to share our expertise with other parties. CBS can give advice, do research or deliver a presentation as well during a meeting.’

Afternoon information session on Open Data in autumn

Given the broad interest, CBS will organise another afternoon information session about Open Data on Monday 7 November (in Dutch only). More information can be obtained via: