International Open Data Day @ Kyoto, Japan

Map Open Data day

Do you know what happens on the 22nd February? If you do, you may have participated in one of the 145 events taking place worldwide for the International Open Data Day (ODD). This date „is a gathering of citizens in cities around the world to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data to show support for and encourage the adoption open data policies by the world’s local, regional and national governments“. Targeted not only for developers or designers but for anyone willing to dive in the topic, the ODD is a great opportunity to get involved with the movement which is already changing the way citizens and government interact.

With the only constraints that the events should be open and take place on the 22.02, local communities are free to shape the form and contents as they want. Since we are currently in Japan, we looked at the list of the 33 events in the country and decided to attend the one in Kyoto.

DSCF5876There, a small group of volunteers (coming from the public and private sector such as members of the OpenStreetMap Foundation) initiated for the first time in the Kansai region a session of the Open Data Day. The event was created and managed via Facebook and took place in the coworking space of the Research Park Machiya Studio. More than 40 participants, a mix of all ages and professions from the surrounding region, were gathered by the wish to learn together how to digitally share knowledge and make use of it. OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia were on the agenda and the attendees were separated in four groups to explore four different areas close to the venue. Because Kyoto is the ancient capital city of Japan and counts with numerous historical places, the central theme was to search for old buildings and places of interest in order to report them on the both collaborative platforms and thus extend the quantity and quality of the data already available. After finding out the basics and downloading the Pushpin OSM mobile editor, each group could go out and start working.


Today´s event was a great environment to research about the general status of Open Data in Japan. If a program for Building e-Government was launched from 2003, the first initiatives were not implemented before 2008, when a public CIO forum was set up and these efforts led afterwards to the creation of the so-called Open Government Strategy in 2012. This development proved to be extremely relevant after the devastating earthquake in 2011. Indeed, thanks to the short-term coordination and reaction possibilities that existing data (partly real-time) facilitated, the damage could be effectively reduced. Actually, disaster management is one of the main focus within the japanese strategy regarding public data.

Fast forward to last year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication released Datameti, a test platform for sharing governmental data. However, this was not done in an open way (copyright licensed) so it was December 2013 when the official central open data platform was launched, also in beta version but this time using Creative Commons licenses. On this platform, built using OKFN’s Open Source framework CKAN, users can find datasets categories by the different ministries and agencies releasing them.

Although there are still many issues to be solved, such as statistical information regarding budget and expenditures still being released under copyright, the overall situation of the Open Data movement in Japan is good. A prolific future is certainly asserted by the engagement of organisations and citizens all over the country, like those taking part in this year’s Open Data Day.

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Open Steps

Open Steps

Open Steps is an independent blog aggregating worldwide information around Open Cultures in form of articles, videos and other resources. Its aim is to document Open Knowledge (OK) related projects and organisations either using Open Data, promoting Open Source technologies, launching Open Government initiatives, following the principles behind Open Science, supporting the release of information or practising Data Journalism. In this way, this site seeks to continue, this time virtually, the globetrotter project realised between July 2013 to July 2014 and discover further OK projects all around the world. Subscribe to our newsletter to be part of this amazing journey!

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