content citizen. 3. 3. Open Data- From Policy Formation

content
in detail1.
However, projects to enhance e-democracy do not always have to accommodate to
the masses – they can also be targeted at an expert level or at intermediates that
in turn make the data broadly accessible for the “average” citizen.

3. 3. Open Data- From  Policy Formation to Implementation

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Transparency
can be implemented via two different pillars: general public information and
data. While the publishing of information has a longer record of debate and is
focused at a larger audience, the concept of publishing raw data, as in the
open data approach, aims at a certain expert group or elite. While open data
does depict on open government principles, it is noticeable that with open data
the state not only decides itself to publish information, but to publish
standardized raw data. On this starting point, new intermediates can develop applications
and services to make data comprehensible for the public. The result is the
formation of broader elite or expert group that knows how to access, edit, and
use information, and can sustain the cause of transparency and free information
for general audience.

Open
data requires that data be available free to everyone, without limitations connected
with copyright or other mechanisms of regulation and control. This means the stipulation
of public and non-personalized data (i.e., non-textual material) offered freely
for use, ideally in a central portal2.
Open data promoters have already developed a set of principles guiding this
practice (Tauberer, 2014).

The
surplus of open data can be applied to many diverse contexts. The scientific  or expert community, by publishing raw data
from studies for use by other scientists, could put open data to extensive use.

Open
data principles involve the provision of raw data, ideally via open APIs (API- application
programming interfaces), which allow externally developed mashup services
developed either for profit or nonprofit applications. One such example is the
central data portal of the U.S. government3
(http://www.data.gov). In CEE, countries implemented the same concept of
governmental open data portal in accordance with EU regulation (Mercier, 2015).
There are other examples of transparency and e-participation at national level,
but bigger cities too are planning to provide access to raw data from numerous
administrative databases (Córdoba-Pachón
& Ochoa-Arias, 2010; Misztal, 2016; Smith, 2008).

 

4.1. e-Participation
and the Bottom-up initiatives

If
governments do not support open information, transparency, and the development
of open data portals, it is very likely that society will do so on its own (Lindner et al., 2010).
However, the bottom-up approach is very different from state initiative.

Madjeski
K. highlighted this feature:

„Most of the existing
solutions seem to grow from watchdog-like activities: monitoring parliaments
and local councils, courts, procurement, budgets, media and promises made by
politicians. There are also some projects developed to strengthen civic
engagement and participation: e-petitions, civic reporting, etc. usually run by
global rather than local players.” (Madjeski, 2016, p. 2)

Likewise,
and as opposed to the government-initiated portals in CEE, most initiatives are
driven from the bottom up, started by civil society or interested
non-governmental parties. Activists seek to convey the importance of open data
via non-governmental initiatives.

Several
examples from the region are worth mention.

1 This
is the case of Romania, where the specialized discourse is a barrier when we
address the  transparency  and open data. „The
accounting regulations specific to the public sector (OMF 1917/2005) do not
approach the idea of dissemination, respectively transparency of the financial
information of the public sector entities. The analysis of the aspects regarding
the dissemination of the financial information takes into account the
identification of the coordinates of the financial information into the public
sector entities. In this respect, the analysis of the accounting regulations
shows the fact that the regulators did not presented explicitely the
connotation of the financial information or their typology. However, by
presenting the structure of the financial statement: balance sheet, the
account of patrimony earnings, the treasury flow statement, the situation of
the modifications into the structure of assets/debts, annexes to the financial
statements, the account of budgetary execution, we infer that they generate the
sole financial information.” Stefanescu and Turlea (2013,
p. 137)

2 A
data portal is defined as a single
point of access to data (sometimes defined as structured data) from a variety
of web sources to facilitate linking and reuse for commercial and
non-commercial purposes. According to Rémi Mercier in 2015 there were more than 2600 Open Data Portals around the world. See Mercier
(2015).

 

3 http://www.data.gov