The open data vision is a bold one but it will take considerable work to make a reality. What impact has it really made so far?
Our research finds that 55% of countries surveyed have open data initiatives in place, yet less than 10% of key government datasets across the world are truly open for reuse. It also found that valuable but potentially controversial datasets – such as company registers and land registers – are among the least likely to be openly released. This could be because governments want to preserve lucrative access charges, or from a desire to keep a lid on politically sensitive information, or both. However, the net effect is to severely limit the accountability, development and economic benefits of open data. The barometer ranks the UK as the most advanced country, scoring above the US (2nd), Sweden (3rd), New Zealand (4th) and Denmark and Norway (joint 5th). The leading developing country is Kenya, joint 22nd with the Czech Republic and Switzerland .
The barometer also highlights that strong evidence on the impacts of OGD is almost universally lacking. Few OGD programmes have yet been formally evaluated, and the majority of discussion surrounding impacts remains anecdotal. Our research asked about six kinds of OGD impact (government efficiency, transparency and accountability, environmental sustainability, inclusion of marginalised groups, economic growth, and supporting entrepreneurs) and in countries no examples of impact could be found, and on average evidence of impact was scored at just 1.7 out of 10.