Open Knowledge In The Spotlight This Week In Geneva 16/09/2013 by Alessandro Marongiu for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Experts from all over the world are gathered this week in Switzerland to discuss open data initiatives, trends and future developments in the context of the 2013 Open Knowledge Conference, an annual event organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation. This year’s conference is focussed on open data, a theme that will be broken down into a number of sub-topics, such as open data and governments, open development and sustainability, open science and research, technology and business. The conference takes place in Geneva on 17-18 September and some satellite events will follow on 19 September. The conference aims to explore how open data is expanding to new sectors and new areas. It will focus on coordination and public policies needed to build a global and interconnected ecosystem of open data. The main speakers include Ellen Miller, co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, John Ellis, professor at the London King’s College, Chris Vein, chief innovation officer for Global Information and Communications Technology Development at the World Bank, and Victoria Stodden from Columbia University. Today, a series of pre-conference events and workshops set the stage for the next two days of discussions. The main issues and challenges in the open data scenario were illustrated in two panels on open data and governance. Against the background of a growing number of open data initiatives launched by governments worldwide to promote transparency, several speakers stressed that opening up large data sets is meaningful only if data are understandable and accessible. “There is a difference between public data and open data: not everyone can understand, replicate and use data even when they are public,” said Anahi Ayala Iacucci from Internews, an international NGO active in more than 90 countries with the intent of empowering local media. “Data are relevant only if linked to a story,” she added. According to the panel’s participants, two main challenges emerge when implementing a data-opening policy. The first concern lies on the supply side and how data are released. Luigi Reggi of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development described the difficulties faced in collecting data. “In Italy there are 52 different managing authorities with different monitoring approaches. It is easy to get lost in numbers,” he said. In the same vein, Irina Tisacova of the Moldavian e-Government Center highlighted how internal infrastructures can be data unfriendly. “In launching an open data platform, we saw that major challenges emerged from collecting, archiving and transmitting data between different agencies. Differences in formats and standards are also relevant issues,” she said. A second challenge concerns the users of open data platforms and the relationship between the data suppliers and the users community. According to the panellists, in many instances it is difficult to assess how data are used, and collaborating with data interpretative communities may prove difficult. Marcus Dapp of the Open Knowledge Foundation claimed that “there is a disconnection between administrations and the community.” “Opening data frightens the administrators because an unknown number of people can use data that were previously kept undisclosed. It is a loss of control,” he said. New challenges emerge as long as open data touch new areas of interest. According to Dirk Helbing from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, “We are entering an age of big data,” in which opening up data will be the basis of the future innovation ecosystem. “The advantage of opening up data is to create new potential, a potential that I am not sure proprietary use can achieve,” he said. However, the release of data from the public and private sectors may impact the balance of rights and blur the boundaries of different sets of laws, some panellists said. “The right to privacy and the right to access information are both human rights and they should be balanced,” stressed Javier Ruiz of the Open Rights Group, a non-profit organisation advocating for the protection of digital freedoms and privacy. “We want the data out, but we should do it properly. If someone decides to share data, he should then be able to control it,” he said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Alessandro Marongiu may be reached at email@example.com."Open Knowledge In The Spotlight This Week In Geneva" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.