Ireland strengthens its Open Data strategy with a governance body and a new portal

The Irish Government opened an ‘expression of interest’ for a new open data public body in charge of the Open Data Strategy Governance and presented a new version of the national Open Data portal.
These two announcements were made during an event that took place in Dublin on 30 June, organised by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Its goal was to bring all national open data stakeholders in the country (civil society, businesses, research and academia, and public servants) to share their vision on open data and help the Irish Government to build a national Open Data Strategy.
This event followed the launch of a public consultation on two key documents: the Foundation Document for the development of the Public Service Open Data Strategy; and a Technical Framework ‘to underpin the publication of datasets in open format on the portal,’ the Government said. Details of these two documents were given during the event.
A draft of the two documents was prepared by the Public Bodies Working Group, which has been in place since October, Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, said during the event. This public body “has already made a huge contribution in terms of the development of the draft Technical Framework and the Strategy Foundation Document, and the development of an audit methodology through publishing datasets, and their participation and assistance on a number of seminars and other events,” he added. The Government states on its website that the Public Bodies Working Group is comprised of ‘officials from a number of public bodies with expertise in relation to data’.
The new public body, related now to governance and announced during the event, will complement it and will help “to realise our vision”, the Minister said. “It will have a leadership role in progressing the Open Data Initiative, including identifying opportunities to maximise the value of public sector data and information for long-term economic and social benefit.” It will directly report to the Minister and will be in place for at least two years. It gathers representatives of public and private sectors.
A new Open Data portal
During the event, a beta version of a new national Open Data portal was also presented. The number of datasets now linked to the new portal totals 840 and this latest version includes “developments that make it more searchable and improve its presentation and operation,” the Minister said. This national portal is “central to the initiative” of the Irish Government, he added, “providing a single source of access to official data in open format”.
During the event, breakout sessions were also organised to help attendees building a national Open Data strategy. Key themes were open data in the public sector, open data for business and open data for researchers and academia.
Ireland joined the Open Government Partnership in 2014 and put open data at the centre of its first national Action Plan 2014-2016. The Open Data Initiative is part of a range of reform plans for public institutions in Ireland.

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