As part of its ‘digital agenda’ the EU Commission is consulting on re-use of public sector data
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). PSI covers all sorts of data generated by public sector bodies (such as maps and meteorological, legal, traffic, financial and economic information) that can be re-used by anyone else. Data like this is important for innovative products, such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and travel information applications that can be downloaded on smart phones. Public data that is reused (for free or for a fee) generates an estimated market turnover of at least €27 billion in the EU every year, according to a 2006 study. Contributions to the consultation will feed into the review of the PSI Directive, part of the Digital Agenda for Europe that aims to contribute to the EU goals of increasing competitiveness, innovation and job creation. The consultation will run until 30 November 2010.
Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: 'Better and more use of public sector information has great potential to generate new businesses and jobs and to provide consumers with more choice and more value for money. The mobile apps market, partly based on PSI-generated data, could grow to €15 billion by 2013. However, much of Europe's PSI is insufficiently or even sometimes not exploited. We cannot lose out on this opportunity. We need to consider whether and how the EU rules on re-use of PSI should be amended to fully unlock PSI's economic potential.'
All interested parties are invited to send their views on key issues of PSI re-use and, in particular, on possible amendments to the provisions of the current Directive. The consultation includes questions on 1) the PSI re-use context and possible action to consider, 2) substantive issues regulated by the PSI Directive, 3) practical measures, 4) changes that have taken place and barriers that still exist, and 5) other issues to comment regarding the review of the PSI Directive. By way of example: 'Could further action towards opening up public data resources and practical measures facilitating re-use (asset lists of available documents, simplified or no licensing conditions, marginal costs etc.) contribute to unlocking innovation and developing new services, applications and mash-ups?', 'In your opinion, should more re-use friendly formats (e.g. machine readable) be promoted?' and 'Should the Commission promote practical measures such as national portals (like the www.data.gov.uk or the www.data.gov in the US) with a strong political drive towards opening up the wealth of public sector data?'.
The consultation will close on 30 November 2010 and can be accessed at http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=psidirective2010
A revision of the PSI Directive is identified by the Commission as one of the key actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The EU PSI Directive regulates the behaviour of public sector bodies participating in the market for re-use of public data and encourages EU countries to adopt proactive PSI re-use policies. The Directive has helped to remove some of the barriers to re-use, such as monopoly positions of public sector bodies or lack of transparency in the market for re-usable public data.
A 2009 review of the Directive by the Commission was very positive about its effects but also warned that to realise the full potential of PSI for the EU economy, EU Member States must remove remaining barriers to re-use and pointed to practical problems such as lack of awareness of what public sector information is available and public sector bodies failing to realise the economic potential of their data. The Commission concluded that the 2003 Directive had not yet achieved its full impact and decided to run a further review at the latest in 2012, when more evidence on the impact, effects and application of EU rules on public sector information will be available. The results of the consultation will feed into the review.
For the Commission's Public Sector Information web site, see http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/psi/