Grants/Open Government Observatory

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Open Government Observatory

Applicants: London School of Economics and Political Science, CCUK
Affiliation: CC UK, CC Germany, CC Spain, CC Polland
CC affiliated? Yes
Contact: Prodromos Tsiavos
Coordinator: Prodromos Tsiavos
Project Start: 2010/09/01
Project End: 2011/09/01
Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Open Government initiatives are gaining momentum all over the world over the past five years. While the term Open Government has been in use for at least half a century to represent notions of transparency, participation and accountability, only recently it has been associated with the use of Free Software, Open Content, Data and Services. It has gradually grown to encompass a wide variety of public policies ranging from the use of Free Software in public services and the establishment of national open science policies to the open release of public data, the use of open e-government services and standards, and the effort to create a cultural and educational commons.

In their effort to move toward the direction of Open Government, national administrations have frequently sought the advice of experts both from the Free Software and Creative Commons communities. However, despite the instrumental role of Free Software communities and national Creative Commons projects in facilitating this transition, such efforts still remain to a large extent fragmented, while we lack a full understanding of the mechanics of the interaction between Free Software and CC licences with a regulatory regime built around proprietary and closed systems. Creative Commons and Free Software licences have been built on the basis of Copyright Law, however, they need to interact with an increasingly growing body of public information regulations and administrative law provisions which govern the flow of information within the public sector and regulate the interactions between private organisations and governmental institutions.

Aim of the Open Government Observatory is to establish a virtual organisation that will promote the role of open licensing in Open Government initiatives and operate as a one stop shop for all relevant stakeholders interested in the application of open licensing schemes and principles in the realms of open government.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

The project will seek to produce: a report mapping the various areas of legislation where open government initiatives make use of open licensing schemes. The report will focus on the following areas: Public Sector Information Geo-spatial data Public Procurement legislation Culture, Research and Education specific legislation Use of Memoranda of Understanding as a means for establishing common open licensing policies repositories Linked data issues Government Clouds and Open Government A workshop to lay the foundations of the virtual organisation and spark the network needed to support it.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

The project targets the community of public servants, practitioners, technology companies and activists supporting Open Government initiatives. The community will benefit from the sharing of resources and best practices as well as by the network of individuals representing organisations having a vested interest in promoting open government />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

Most of the participants to the network are either directly or indirectly involved in national and regional open government initiatives. The involvement of CC affiliates in Open Government initiatives has proven that we need to go beyond the thinking of licensing as the primary tool for supporting the production of open content, source, data and services and seriously consider the use of standardised operational procedures as well as sharing law drafting strategies and solutions. The participants have experience with working with national authorities responsible for the national management of Public Sector Information, national and regional funding bodies, the drafting of specific national legislation (such as the national implementations of the EU INSPIRE Directive) and the implementation of operational procedures for opening up public content.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

The measurement will involve assessment of the degree to which open governments projects truly correspond to criteria of openness developed in the report mentioned above, as well as the degree of uptake of the developed tools.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

All the CC-Europe national affiliates, CC Australia, representatives from the CC-Asia group and participants from projects such as COMMUNIA, EVPSI-LAPSI, European Linguistic Informatics Network and the INSPIRE community.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

Governments are holders of a great variety and range of resources and, particularly with respect to data, they are the guardians of vital data sets and the guarantors of their collection and evaluation. By assisting them to make them open in a way that ensures compatibility and interoperability between different licences, technologies and data structures, this project will increase the horizon of the commons. The opening up of scientific and educational resources constitutes a key aspect of any open government policy and the report this project proposes to produce will allow a mapping of the necessary legal reform as well as a range of tools that could be used in order to facilitate the whole process.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

The project requires technical skills related to the specific ways in which public data can be identified, collected, stored, cleared and conserved. While the project will only use minimal technologies in order to achieve its objectivves, the members of the project need to have the technical skills to appreciate how data can be opened both in the legal and the technical and organisational level. Most of the participants to the project are already working with their respective governments in assisting the opening of governmental content, data and software and have the technical skills required to facilitate such a procedure. What the project requires is a platform where such knowledge may be shared and improved and that is why the last component of the project refers to a virtual or real meeting place for Open Government experts.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

The project faces two types of challenges: (a) long term legal issues: most of the legislation is not built with opening up access to governmental information in mind. In addition, there is a variety of terms used in order to describe the “object” to be opened, ranging from information to content, data or works. All these terms are not consistent and the relevant legislation remains to a great extent fragmented and without a strategic orientation (b) mid-term operational issues: even where there is the political will to bring open government, there are frequently problems related to the level of expertise in operationalising open government policies and coordinating initiatives from respective departments. The first challenge may be tackled by mapping the legislative terrain, think beyond the Intellectual Property dimension and use good legislative practices from other jurisdictions. The second challenge may be addressed by sharing knowledge through real or virtual meetings and by producing toolkits that could assist governments in producing their own operational procedures.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

The project will operate as a testbed for raising funds both in national and regional level. There is funding both in specific jurisdictions for open government research (e.g. JISC and ESRC/ EPSRC in the UK) and in specific regions (e.g. EU FP7). There is always the possibility of matching the fund that has been provided by CC with funding offered by private funders or directly by specific governments.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

The project should move in three phases. The first phase for which funding is required from CC requires that a basic mapping of the issues as been done and the most pressing issues have been identified. In the second stage, this mapping will be used in order to produce the toolkit that will then be adopted by different governments in order to tackle their respective needs. The third stage will involve the active exchange of knowledge with respect to the operationalisation of open government policies. By monitoring and sharing practices the project could organically scale also by bootstrapping on existing CC projects and increasing familiarity with successful open government practices in countries using it as a tool to achieve different purposes and objectives. An on-line collaborative toolkit providing specific tools (such as model agreements and laws, operational procedures and technical solution) for managing the transition to open government infrastructures. This will focus on four levels: technological procedural/ operational legal educational A virtual organization collecting information on and assessing the progress of open government initiatives around the globe

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

promotion through the CC main site use of CC brand along the Open Government Observatory expertise and know-how support

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

Email Twitter Live meetings (e.g. CC Asia, CC Europe) Live meetings (e.g. ePSI meetings, OpenGovLabs, Hack the Government) with Governments, Public interest groups, NGOs and individuals involved in the OpenGov movement.