Last Wednesday in Berlin, about 25 people gathered in the spaces of New Thinking Store.
They were there to found the Open Data Network in Germany as a legal entity. I happened to be in Berlin for another event (will post later), and thought it was a good opportunity to go there and show my support, as well as meet up with a number of Open Data advocates (some of them familiar faces from last month’s Reboot_D).
Clearly a Political Topic
During the short intro round in which each of those present shared their background and reason for being there, one thing very clearly stood out: Open (Government) Data is of high political interest. All major parties were represented, and at significant level as well. The Greens (with a national board member), the Left Bloc (Die Linke), the Pirate Party, Labour (SPD, just voted out of power last month), christian democrats (CDU, currently in power), and right wing liberals (FDP, currently in power), all were represented. I thought that was rather impressive.
The Open Data Network will work towards a ‘citizen centered’ information society, where transparency and participation are key words, as well as the translation of civil rights and privacy to our information age.
Now, founding a legal entity isn’t all that exciting to do. There are statutes to vote on and underwrite, board members to be chosen, etc. So next Wednesday there will be a much more practically oriented follow up meeting to work on a first tangible project: the ‘Germany API’.
This will be a general API for different sources of information and data in Germany, to allow others to more easily build their own apps and mash-ups with the underlying data. It resembles somewhat the HNS.dev in the Netherlands that aims to do the same.
Building something like this would be a good step forward as it allows people to get engaged in using public service info and data in a more low-threshold fashion.
The Open Data Network also will act as the local contact for Germany for OurData.eu. Connecting to other European initiatives and showing existing sources, initiatives and examples of re-use is well within their scope of activities, and I am happy they want to take on that role. I am looking forward to see more entries on OurData.eu from Germany.
The association of medium sized cities in Germany apparantly has a keen interest in Open Data. In my view it is on the municipal level that open data is most easily leveraged in ways that have meaning for individual citizens: info that matters right in your own neighbourhood. So it is exciting to hear that the Open Data Network will be working closely together with a number of German cities to help move open government data forward. Perhaps the recent progress in e.g. Vancouver can serve as an example.
It was fun to be witness to this founding meeting, as well as talk to Berlin-based Open Data enthusiasts over a beer or two.