Ukraine is experiencing an explosion of open data – the same data, which, considered a bonified success by investigative journalists and everyday citizens in the 2010s, is now an element of everyday life with the maximum effort of two to three clicks.
Anyone who reads my blog will hardly be surprised by the open register of court decisions. This is the norm. The natural law. And the advantage of Prozorro and open public procurement is not worth talking about.
To serve and prevent
What is the essence of open data? It is transparency, accountability, and the engagement of as many opinion leaders as possible. All this concerns both the state apparatus and business.
For example, in one of his last comments, E-data project manager Alexander Schelokov noted, “In 2015, the information space was filled with so many mini-investigations that budget money was used here and there to buy expensive coffeemakers or 100 000 pairs of socks. In 2016, the number of such precedents decreased, and in 2017 there were none at all.”
The openness of procurement plans is supplemented by data on income and expenditure, not only for each locality in Ukraine, but throughout the country. And this is why portal openbudget.gov.ua is so important.
Not only about money
More recently, we found that open data not only allows us to save money on purchases and check the budget cries of officials, but also to bring consciousness to our lives.
For example, this summer, the Ministry of Environment published data on the state of surface water in Ukraine. And this is a reason to be proud of the country: based on the latest release of the Global Open Data Index, we are featured among 15 other countries that take this issue seriously.
The system analyses surface water using 16 parameters. This knowledge has a very specific use: it becomes clear who pollutes the river near you or your place of work. Is it from your actions?
Or take the interactive map “Zlіt Dozvolen” (Take-off Allowed).
Two years ago, journalists and businesses that were planning to enter the Ukrainian market could rely only on information requests to obtain necessary airline data. While, data containing decisions of the State Aviation Administration, for example, a group that met only once a month, and appeared in the form of an Excel spreadsheet with directions and deadlines issued to airlines, was shared with less deserving individuals.
The sober mind triumphed and with the help of foreign project “Transparency and accountability in public administration and services/TAPAS”, the State Aviation Service started publishing industry-key data online: air routes (already used and those in the works), the number of active airlines and their workload, detailed information about carriers, and much more.
I have already written about national initiatives. Fortunately, there are some cities which have turned out to be proactive and begun making available data that is important for the local context.
In Lviv, by 2016, a group of civil servants-enthusiasts took shape, and began digitising city data, creating
the Telegram-bot LvivCityHelper. The bot can promptly answer user questions regarding repairs, education, a register of urban planning conditions and restrictions, as well as permits for summer sites. Compare all this with Kiev 1551.
And that’s not all. Ahead of the rest where open date is concerned, Lviv’s mayor published data on city planning, recreation, health protection, culture, economy, etc on the Open Data Lviv website. And on the Lviv geoportal, figures on demography and the address register are available.
What is waiting for business?
When another registry or open data file opens, an official starts crying somewhere. The start of this multi-thousand-strong sob began in 2015, when the Cabinet of Ministers, by Decree No. 835, ordered the publishing of open data in so-called machine-readable form.
Business is pleased with these successes and believes that what has been achieved so far is only the beginning.
Thousands of entrepreneurs have been waiting for the state to open data in areas that traditionally pulled Ukraine down in the Doing Business ranking. In particular, the discovery of geological data, information about getting electricity (connection to the power supply network), inspections of enterprises by regulatory authorities. Regarding this last point, I will say that of the 33 existing inspection bodies only 26 willingly share information with the network, where key player State Fiscal Service is not one of them.
But as water wears away stone, then the SFS will at some point succumb to the effects of the inevitable.