Madrid, 22 February 2014 – As open data activists around the world celebrate «Open Data Day» on 22 February 2014, Access Info Europe recalls that Open Data is an integral part of all work to promote open government and has been integrated into the core of the Open Government Standards, which are being promoted by civil society as a framework for determining and evaluating government progress on openness.

To mark Open Data Day 2014, Access Info reiterated its call for governments to ensure that all data released in digital formats is made available in an open format. In practice this means releasing data in a machine-readable format using commonly available, open source or free software tools, and ensuring that the data can be processed, evaluated, and reused without limits. There must be no technical or legal limits on reuse of the information.

Helen Darbishire, Founder and Executive Director of Access Info, explained the importance of making government data freely available in open formats: «True openness means that everyone has the same opportunities to access and use public data sets. Open formats help unlock the social and economic potential of information, particularly large data sets, but also other types of data. Open formats permit wide distribution of information, which in turn contributes to better understanding of public institutions and increases opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.»

The main elements of the Open Government Standard on Open Formats are:

» Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).
» Information stored electronically should be delivered to those who request it electronically and in an open format. Information published proactively should always be made available in open formats.
» Data must be machine-processable: Data are reasonably structured to allow automated processing of it.
» Data Formats must be Non-Proprietary: Data are available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control.