--- Posted by Richard Swetenham, DG INFSO, Head of unit: Access to Information

In modern society, government bodies at all levels - local, regional, national, European and international - collect vast amounts of information as part of their public tasks. Dissemination and re-use of public sector information (PSI) can be seen as

  • a means to increase the transparency and accountability of government
  • civic capital, working to increase citizen participation in government activities
  • a means for improving internal government communication and efficiency
  • a vehicle for promoting economic activity and innovation
  • a means for international diplomacy and global information sharing
 in addition to the reasons for which it was originally collected.

Used properly, public data can be the raw material of innovation, creating a wealth of business opportunities that drive our economy forward. Government information is a form of infrastructure no less important to our modern life than our roads, electrical grid, or water systems.At the Digital Agenda Assembly (#daa11eu), the workshop dedicated to "Open Data and Re-Use of Public Sector Information" (hashtag is #daa11psi) will bring together policy makers, open data advocates, public sector content holders and commercial re-users of public sector information.

Preparatory meetings have been held whose results will feed into the Digital Agenda Assembly discussions.

1)   LAPSI, the European Thematic Network on Legal Aspects of Public Sector Information, The LAPSI network aims to make PSI in Europe more accessible, re-usable and exploitable, namely through an analytical work and the diffusion of information in areas of public interest at Community level. They organised a conference in Milan 5 - 6 May 2011.

2)   The Share-PSI.eu initiative brings together diverse stakeholders in the European public sector information ecosystem, including civil society, the media, government, academia, commercial re-users to forge the lightweight agreements and standards that are needed to enable interoperability and integration of public sector information across Europe and beyond. A workshop was held in Brussels on 9 - 10 May 2011.

The summary report of the results of this workshop is also available as a a commentable document. It identifies a number of follow-up questions. You can give your own input and add suggested responses.

Share-PSI workshop Removing the roadblocks to a pan European market for Public Sector Information re-use, Brussels 10 - 11 May 2011; All sessions and presentations; All submitted position papers; The raw collaborative notes of the entire workshop.

In addition, there are two competitions whose results will be announced at the Digital Agenda Assembly:

1)   The Open Data Challenge (Hashtag is #opendatachallenge)

The Open Data Challenge is being coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Forum Academy under the auspices of the Share-PSI initiative.

They are challenging designers, developers, journalists, researchers and the general public to come up with something useful, valuable or interesting using open public data.

 There are four main strands to the competition:

  •  Ideas – Anyone can suggest an idea for projects which reuse public information to do something interesting or useful.
  • Apps – Teams of developers can submit working applications which reuse public information.
  • Visualisations – Designers, artists and others can submit interesting or insightful visual representations of public information.
  • Datasets - We encourage the submission of any form of open datasets produced by public governmental bodies, either submitted directly by the public body or by developers or others who have transformed, cleaned or interlinked the data.
 2)   Hack4Europe! (hashtag is #Hack4Europe)

Europeana (hashtag is #EuropeanaEU), Europe's libraries, archives and museums online, will organise a series of hackathons to showcase the potential of the API usage for data providers, partners and end-users. The hackathons are informal workshops bringing together competent and enthusiastic software developers to build cool projects within a day or two (sketches, prototypes, even working applications). The hackathon roadshow will be held simultaneously in 4 locations (London, Barcelona, Poznan and Stockholm) in the week 6 - 12 June and will provide an exciting environment to explore the potential of open cultural data for social and economic growth in Europe. Participants will be encouraged to try out their ideas for creative reuse of the Europeana content and build applications showcasing the social and business value of open cultural data.