Irish Govt builds its first Open Data Portal – 418 datasets made public

22 Jul 2014

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Leinster House in Dublin

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The Irish Government has released more than 418 datasets from 45 public bodies to what is Ireland’s first national Open Data Portal.

Located at data.gov.ie, the Open Data Portal is an alpha site described by the Government as an “important first step” in encouraging more public bodies to publish datasets on this portal for public use.

The portal forms a core element of Ireland’s first Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan which, following Government approval, will be published and transmitted to the OGP Steering Committee to facilitate Ireland’s full membership of the partnership.

“This work builds on initiatives already in place in Ireland taking into account best international practice and will enable the development of a national open-data strategy,” the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, TD, said this afternoon.

The portal has been developed by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway.

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Deirdre Lee, a research associate at the Insight Centre, explained the portal has been developed in line with international best practice.

She addressed whether there has been much resistance to the idea of opening up public-sector data to the public, saying there is quite a lot of activity already under way.

“We found that there was a lot of activity going on already in terms of open data, especially at a community level in Ireland, such as the work by Fingal County Council, as well as Dublinked. The Central Statistics Office has created Statbank while the Environmental Protection Agency also release quite a lot of data. The Marine Institute and other geospatial organisations are quite involved in open data.

“We’ve found that public bodies are very enthusiastic about embracing it. There is transparency and economies of scale but also the internal benefit of being able to access data from other public bodies.”

International best practice

Releasing and structuring all public-sector data to correspond with the Open Data Portal initiative, Lee said, was not going to happen overnight.

“But we’ve definitely started on the journey by publishing the initial datasets and growing from there.”

She said countries that are ahead in terms of open data are Norway, the UK and the US.

“They are very advanced and we’re seeing international best practice focus on how the different qualities of data can be brought up to standard.

“Now they are seeing higher quality data that is useful and usable made public, moving beyond the initial low-hanging fruit to valuable datasets that could make a difference.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com