FEATURE STORY

Unleashing the Potential of Open Data in Russia

January 13, 2015



In recent years there has been an explosion in the development of Open Data – evolving from a highly specialized subject into one of global relevance and influence. Open Data is an increasingly important component in the design of social and economic policies – in developed and developing countries alike; it is increasingly institutionalized by governments, businesses, civil society organizations and international institutions.

What Can Open Data Offer?

Open Data essentially refers to the idea that certain data should be made freely available for use and re-use by anyone and everyone. Data that is truly “open” generally has the following characteristics: accessible via the Internet; in digital and machine-readable format for interoperability with other data; and free of restriction for use or redistribution.

There are many areas where Open Data provides value-added, and many examples of how it has been used to good effect. Open Government Data, for example, can help citizens to make better decisions and choices with regard to accessing and utilizing public services, and can encourage people to be active in society.

Based on general Open Data principles, Open Government Data provides transparency through free and unrestricted access to government data and information: in other words, it lets people know what the government is doing on their behalf. Transparency isn’t just about access, however. It is also about sharing and reuse of data, which can be instrumental in helping to visualize, analyze and understand complex socio-economic issues.

Open Government Data also provides business opportunities by granting people access to a wide variety of valuable data which can then help drive the creation of innovative ventures and services, many of which deliver social and commercial value.

Participatory governance is an equally important aspect of Open Government Data, enabling greater citizen-government engagement (through elections or referendums) and encouraging input into national and local government decision-making. These opportunities are part of the shift from a “read-only” society to a “read/write” society – one in which it is possible for citizens to not only see what is happening in terms of governance, but also to contribute.

Open Data in Russia

Open Data, especially data released by the government, is an immense resource that is still relatively new and as yet largely untapped in Russia. Nevertheless, some in-roads have been made recently. For example, almost 2,400 datasets have been made public through Russia’s Open Data portal (http://data.gov.ru/), in addition to some regional and city data portal initiatives. The Open Data portal provides access to 2,398 datasets (as of December 2014) and is divided into 16 major topics that include hydrometeorology, mapping, education, transport and health.

Clearspending (http://clearspending.ru) is a portal that uses Open Government Data to track and visualize government spending, and monitors over 12 million contracts, 270,000 contractors, and 900,000 vendors. Importantly, it has helped to identify over 4 million procurement violations to date.


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Russia’s Open Data Portal: http://data.gov.ru/


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Clearspending: http://clearspending.ru


But, Russia still has some way to go. The country is facing a growing demand from its population for transparent and reliable information about government decision-making. To this end, the World Bank is assisting Russia in the establishment of efficient open government practices, based on the best international experiences and adaptation of global practices specific to Russia’s needs.

Two new World Bank studies, Open Data for Economic Growth in Russia and Opportunities and Strategies for Mainstreaming Open Data in Transport Projects in St. Petersburg, draw on the most recent developments in Russia’s Open Data initiatives and provide unique insights into the http://data.gov.ru/ platforms and its usage patterns.

Open Data for Economic Growth in Russia provides recommendations for policies and actions that could maximize economic growth from the open data initiatives, and suggests that the government should not only supply data, but also demonstrate leadership in catalyzing open data collaboration across the country at all levels.

Opportunities and Strategies for Mainstreaming Open Data in Transport Projects in St. Petersburg focuses on the potential of Open Transport Data in St. Petersburg, as part of the preparations for the National Urban Transport Improvement Project in Russia. Although it is principally intended for use by St. Petersburg transportation authorities and federal agencies involved in the preparation and implementation of the project, the report’s recommendations can also be of great interest to a wide range of open data experts and practitioners – many of whom are looking for innovative new ideas for developing open data projects in the area of urban transport.


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