For many cities and towns, open administrative data, such as local-level statistics or data relating to public transportation or the environment, are a relatively new area of activity. Yet whether they are used for strategic decision making in public administration or for artificial intelligence (AI), open data – i.e. data that can be freely used, reused or distributed – are an important building block in efforts to digitalize public administration. Over 90 percent of the local-level data experts surveyed say they are in favor of policies that provide greater access to data. At the same time, they see a number of obstacles to achieving that goal. Limited personnel and the lack of a legal mandate are the most common reasons given for why open data are still not available. The fear that data will be misused and privacy concerns are also considerations preventing communities from making data generally accessible. Those are the key findings from a survey we carried out together with Difu, the German institute for urban affairs, on the availability of open data. Over 200 German communities with more than 10,000 inhabitants participated in the survey.
As the findings also show, in addition to lacking the required resources or specialized expertise, communities have difficulty publishing data since the processes and procedures used by public administrators have only been standardized or digitalized to a limited extent. Approximately half of the data experts see advantages, especially during the current corona pandemic, in making data generally available, for example in hazardous situations. Above all, experts feel that using open data to inform the public and facilitate an exchange between various authorities are the primary benefits. However, they see little advantage for developing innovative business areas.