CBS rises to 2nd position in open data inventory

29/03/2018 13:30 / Author: Miriam van der Sangen / Category: Innovation and development
Earlier this month, Open Data Watch published a report ranking 180 different statistical institutes in terms of the availability of open data. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) was awarded second place, after Statistics Denmark. This called for an interview with Dennis Ramondt and Erwin van Mierlo, both closely involved in the open data policy of CBS.

Open data portal

Open data makes public government (open) data easily reusable and improves government transparency. As of July 2014, CBS makes statistical information available as open data and thus has become one of the largest open data suppliers of the Netherlands. More than 4,500 datasets are currently available on the CBS open data portal. Through this portal, any member of the public has unrestricted access to the large amounts of –anonymous – data CBS has available.

Global monitoring

The topic of open data is not only high on the national government agenda, but also features more and more often on international agendas. It was a topic of discussion during the meeting held by the United Nations Statistical Commission in New York City, held 5-9 March this year. Product owner of open data at CBS Dennis Ramondt: ‘The Open Data Watch report was discussed there as well. They monitor open data policies around the globe. By now, statistical institutes from 180 different countries participate, which is almost 100 percent. This is interesting because it allows for an international comparison. It shows that not only CBS is doing well, but also the statistical offices in the Scandinavian countries.’

Inventory

In 2015, Open Data Watch launched the Open Data Inventory (ODIN). This inventory provides for an extensive assessment of the coverage ratio and openness of the open data on the websites of the statistical agencies. For this purpose, a methodology is used which is guided by the most recent open data standards. Ramondt: ‘CBS has participated since 2016. That year, we made it to 38th position because the Open Data Watch assessment only covered our English language open data tables. In 2017, they reviewed the open data tables in both Dutch and English. In addition, CBS completed a questionnaire on open data, which was assessed by Open Data Watch.’ Eventually, this resulted in 2nd position for the Dutch statistical office. The Open Data Watch assessment can be found on their site.

Growth potential

At the moment, CBS open data tables are used more extensively than StatLine, CBS’ electronic databank which allows users to compile customised tables and graphs. Ramondt: ‘Open data are not a secondary but a main product at CBS, and take up a prominent place in all our data provision. And we still have growth and innovation potential.’ At the moment, CBS is working on the next version of the open data portal. This will allow for larger datasets and easier linking between datasets. Data have also become more findable. Reference datasets are also being made; these are the frequently used datasets, e.g. on the number of inhabitants in the Netherlands.’

More interest

As a relationship manager at CBS, Erwin van Mierlo is involved in open data. He is observing a growing interest as well: ‘In the final quarter of 2017, the data were requested nearly 2 million times. We also offer the open data infrastructure we developed to other government organisations. The SME sector, RIVM (the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, tr.), the National Police Force and Iv3 (financial data of decentralised government, tr.) are some examples.’ According to van Mierlo, the annual meeting which is held by CBS for open data users also attracts many interested parties: ‘For this month’s meeting on 29 March, around 95 participants have registered who come from businesses, municipalities, provincial government and ministries.’ At the government portal as well, which offers all available and reusable data of the Dutch government, CBS is well represented with its more than 4,500 open data sets.

What is Open Data Watch?
Open Data Watch is an international non-profit organisation which works at the cross-roads of open data and official statistics. It monitors the open data policies of 180 countries, measures their success and their influence, shares knowledge and partnerships. The organisation furthermore provides strategic advice and practical support to national governments, international organisations and other NGOs.