Moving open data efforts forward

OPEN DATA 2The author works for the E-Government Center of Moldova and is the Coordinator of the national Open Data initiative, managing the open data portal and the open data working group.

The E-Government Center of Moldova launched version 3.0 of the open government data portal www.date.gov.md on Monday, February 24th. The portal update was launched in the context of the International Open Data Day celebrated on February 22nd around the world as well as the new Law on public sector information reuse.

The new portal is a switch from WordPress to the open source software CKAN for the open data catalogue and Drupal, also used for new government webpages, for front end and portal administration. Adoption of these two technological platforms offers various advantages: from a more user friendly interface and refined search engine to improved dataset administration functionalities for public institutions.  The development of the new version was encouraged by the users of the portal who reported difficulties in navigating the portal and finding relevant information.

The new version allows searching for data by keywords, groups, institutions and formats. All the datasets are open for reuse under the Conditions for use and reuse of public sector information (national version of an Open Data License) adopted by the recent Law on public sector information reuse, promoted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications. The portal currently uses only the Romanian language, but it will also be available in Russian and English.

Another advantage if this platform is that public institutions can upload data through API and data consumers, especially developers, can download data through APIs. This functionality could facilitate open data apps development. In addition to datasets, the portal holds a government database repository with public interface and an application gallery where public institutions as well as (re)users can promote their open data applications. The portal also offers improved progress monitoring and reporting tools for public institutions.

The portal embedded the social media component, which allows users to share the portal content on multiple social media platforms as well as register with their Facebook or Google+ account in order to leave comments, suggest datasets, upload applications or photos for the first page of the portal. Due to improved portal functionalities, public institutions will be immediately notified about comments received for their datasets, which will facilitate communication between data suppliers and consumers. In addition, the Open Government Data Facebook page was opened for the launch of the new version of the portal in order to boost the open data community and improve communication with open data (re)users.

While preparing the launch of the new version of the portal and in the context of the Law on public sector information reuse, the e-Government Center established two working group to promote the release of open government data: one group consists of coordinators responsible for public sector information reuse from all the central public administration authorities and the other one is comprised of open data coordinators who manage data published on the portal. These coordinators will be responsible for developing Lists of reusable public sector information that they hold, including the formats of files and their release time frame. The open government data portal offers autonomy to public institutions to independently manage their datasets.

The new version of the open data portal offers improved functionalities for data users and suppliers and plays aa a technological tool to facilitate public data release. The content of the portal remains the responsibility of public institutions. With the two new working groups, a new Law on public sector information reuse and new functionalities of the portal including data publishing through APIs, the initiative should advance at a faster speed in order to give citizens greater access to reusable for sector information to increase public accountability and transparency as well as contribute to an application based economy and innovation.

Irina Tișacova
Open Data Consultant | e-Government Center

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