Joining efforts to make the government data open “by default”

Kyiv, 16 March – to discuss the ways for open government data development in Ukraine, UNDP together with other bilateral partners supported the first international "Open Data Conference in Ukraine" which gathered over 100 representatives of state institutions, civic activists, international experts and other stakeholders.

The Revolution of Dignity in the winter of 2013-2014 demonstrated an enormous demand of people for openness, accountability and transparency of the Government at all levels. This demand coupled with a declared political will to open up the governance system expressed by the President, the Parliament, and the Cabinet of Ministers has opened a real window of opportunity to stimulate first steps towards opening government data in a systematic manner in line with international standards, said Inita Pauloviča, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Ukraine in her welcome words to the Conference participants.
Last year, UNDP supported the development of and public consultations on the open data legislation which will set out the core principles for the open data regime in Ukraine which was voted in its first reading on 5 March as a part of the Presidential "Digital Ukraine" reform package. As stated by Dmytro Kotlyar, member of Reanimation Package of Reforms and the key co-author of the draft law, when adapted, it will make the government data "open by default" and will create additional opportunities for democratic control over authorities, tackling corruption, well-informed citizen participation in decision-making, enhanced and friendly public services.
So which data should Ukraine consider opening in the first round? The European experience shows that among the priority datasets there are local and national budgets, crime statistics and safety, schools and their performance, pollution and energy consumption levels as well as wealth and health data. As datasets open up, mandated by the new legislation, gains to the national economy may materialize as added value to software and services based on open data is generated, claims Maksym Klyuchar, UNDP Governance Expert. Estimates from the Warsaw Institute for Economic Studies state that big and open data may generate up to 206 billion Euros of GDP for the EU-28 by 2020 if the growth levels are sustained. May this, then, become a booster for the Ukrainian economy as well?
In Ukraine, the last couple of years were characterized by dynamic, mostly bottom-up achievements. The portal was launched in early 2014 in testing regime with the first batch of 100 test datasets. At the same time, the data portal in neighbouring Moldova has 787 datasets and the United Kingdom, a globally recognized leader in the open data movement, hosts over 23 000 datasets in the public domain. Ukraine has a long way to go, but also the unique opportunity to press forward with the reform agenda.
During 2014-2015, the course for democratic reforms was declared by Ukraine in line with its international commitments, including the Association Agreement with EU. Oleksandr Ryzhenko, Head of the State e-Government Agency, told that the public administration reform aimed at raising transparency, effectiveness and democratization of power, became one of the most expected by the citizens. It was reflected in the official documents of the highest level, including the Coalition Agreement of the Parliament 2014, the Action Plan of the Cabinet of Ministers, and the Sustainable Development Strategy for Ukraine 2020 approved by the President's Decree. The open data theme as part of the overall e-governance reform is an integral part of all mentioned programme documents.
The key purpose of the Conference was to demonstrate the citizens of Ukraine and the world community that introduction of the open government data is a real priority for Ukraine and an integral part of its reform development agenda. Denis Gursky, founder of the SocialBoost CSO which organized the Conference, said that approval of the law mentioned above will become the first step to develop the open data in Ukraine. After that, stimulating the demand for the open data among the IT specialists and social innovators will be critically important in order to promote development of the socially important services and applications for solving the critical development problems, whereas the potential investors will receive a new business niche and a wider range of opportunities.
The Conference was themed around the following topics:
Government open with data where the keynote on inspiring world of open data was delivered by Hannes Gassert from the Open Knowledge Foundation, Switzerland, and the panel discussion on how open data will transform Ukrainian Government was held.

Open data world practices presented the experiences of Moldova on starting the open data office from scratch, Australian vision of open data as a new market for commercial company, the Polish experience on how a group of active citizens turned into a powerful NGO that influences government policy in open government data and eGovernment, and the UNDP vision on synergies between civic and governmental approach to open government data.

Projects based on open data were presented by the SocialBoost and the activists of the specific thematic start-ups including CityTransport,, Edumeter and Garna Hata. It was followed by the panel discussion on improving the public-private partnership and start-ups with open data.
It is expected that the expertise exchange during the Conference will take Ukraine a step closer to the ultimate desired outcomes: more transparent, engaging, user-friendly and less corrupt state agencies, procedures, services and approaches to governance, which Ukraine needs so much as a source of its growth and development.