European Commission introduces Open Data strategy for Europe

Marguerite Imbert 2011-12-12 0

The European Commission today gave app developers and other internet start-ups across Europe a huge shot in the arm (expected to deliver a €40 billion boost each year) by announcing its Open Data Strategy for Europe. The Open Data movement, which has already advanced apace in the UK and France, makes public data from EU and national institutions available for the use of app developers. Now, for instance, a developer will be able to access public transport timetables, passenger numbers, etc. to develop apps for the public. “We are sending a strong signal to administrations today,” said Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes in a press release. ”Your data is worth more if you give it away.”

Free, Gratis, Complimentary

Crucially under the rules announced, virtually all data will be free or almost free and available for use for any purpose, including commercial exploitation. The EU strategy will involve the setting up of an EU data portal which is undergoing beta testing and is expected to be up and running in spring (2012).

Regulator will enforce the rules

A system of regulations for open data use will be put in place, with a regulator to police data users and providers. The current (2003) data rules will be expanded to include libraries, museums and archives. The rules should be in place in 2013 and then EU member states will have 18 months to enshrine them in law.

Another attention-grabber for Berlin’s start-up community is new grants which accompany the strategy launch: 100 million euros will be made available in grants over two years to fund top research into improved data-handling technologies. Let’s hope the euro is around long enough for that to be relevant!

To watch the full press conference by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda, click here.

Image credit: Flickr user tiseb.

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