A few days before starting our trip, we get the opportunity to take part in the 3rd Berlin Open Data Day hosted by the Fraunhofer Institut in cooperation with the Berlin Senate Administration for Economic Affairs, Technology and Research (equivalent to regional Ministry).
By gathering representatives from the private and the public sector (at national, regional and local level), this one-day seminar has demonstrated how actual and significant is the will to open public data and to join citizens on this process.
In Germany, even if the national state already launched its open data platform https://www.govdata.de/, it is not its competence to force the german regions and municipalities to proceed that way. Each of them is free to go ahead with open data or not. Of course, the federal state promote to be innovative on this issue and to create an open data platform which can be used by developers to create tools and applications for various purposes, from e-participation (an example could be Frag Den Staat) to local information such as public transport.Berlin counts among the german regions which are much active on this field and has its own open data portal http://daten.berlin.de/.
Also, Berlin participates with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Helsinki, Rome & Bologna into the Open Cities project http://opencities.net/content/project co-founded by the European Union to encourage innovation in public administration. The workshop we attended today showcased some examples from Barcelona (we would like to underline the project Barcelona Urban Lab), Paris and Amsterdam where citizens have been associated to their local administration to improve comunication between each other and make their daily life better.
During the whole event, the major role of the developers in this matters has been made clear. The process of gathering data, transforming it (if necessary) and building applications has been demonstrated by some app builders who expressed the need for more and better structured data (standard formats) and more appropiated licenses that don’t prohibit the use by third parties.
In order to accelerate this progress, some programs and initiatives which motivate the creation of the so called “civic apps” have been presented. Two examples are StadtLandCode and Code4Europe and it was good to hear that new challenges are to come.