[Press Release] 2014 Open Data Index Shows Slow Progress by Governments in Opening up Key Data

Nikesh Balami

Nikesh Balami


Sat Dec 13 2014


Open Knowledge has published its 2014 Open Data Index which shows that whilst there has been some progress, most governments are still not providing key information in an accessible form to their citizens and businesses. With recent estimates from McKinsey and others putting the potential benefits of open data at over $1 trillion, slow progress risks the loss of a major opportunity.

Rufus Pollock, Founder and President of Open Knowledge says,

‘Opening up government data drives democracy, accountability and innovation. It enables citizens to know and exercise their rights, and it brings benefits across society: from transport, to education and health. There has been a welcome increase in support for open data from governments in the last few years, but this year’s Index shows that real progress on the ground is too often lagging behind the rhetoric.’

The Index ranks countries based on the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas, including government spending, election results, transport timetables, and pollution levels.

The UK topped the 2014 Index retaining its pole position with an overall score of 96%, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. Finland comes in 4th while Australia and New Zealand share the 5th place. Impressive results were seen from India at #10 (up from #27) and Latin American countries like Colombia and Uruguay who came in joint 12th.

Sierra Leone, Mali, Haiti and Guinea ranked lowest of the countries assessed, but there are many countries where the governments are less open but that were not assessed because of lack of openness or a sufficiently engaged civil society.

Francis Maude, Minister for the UK Cabinet Office and responsible for the UK open data agenda, says:

‘I’m delighted to see the UK retain our number one position in the Open Data Index. As part of our long-term economic plan this Government has driven an impressive transparency agenda for the past four and a half years. We have called for people to hold our feet to the fire and the Open Data Index is a great tool for doing just that. This isn’t always easy but we remain committed to our efforts to be the most transparent and open government in the world.’

Overall, whilst there was meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 104), the percentage of open datasets across all the surveyed countries remained low at only 11%.

Even amongst the leaders on open government data there is still room for improvement: the US and Germany, for example, do not provide a consolidated, open register of corporations. There was also a disappointing degree of openness around the details of government spending with most countries either failing to provide information at all or limiting the information available – only two countries out of 97 (the UK and Greece) got full marks here. This is noteworthy as in a period of sluggish growth and continuing austerity in many countries, giving citizens and businesses free and open access to this sort of data would seem to be an effective means of saving money and improving government efficiency.

Rufus Pollock says:

‘For the true benefits of open data to be realised, governments must do more than simply put a few spreadsheets online. The information should be easily found and understood, and should be able to be freely used, reused and shared by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.’

Media contact: Susanne Kendler & Emma Beer, Open Knowledge, email: press@okfn.org, twitter @okfn, phone: 0044 (0)1223 422159

Notes to the Editor

For detailed Information and downloadable graphics: http://index.okfn.org/

  • The Open Data Index is run by Open Knowledge in collaboration with a global network of experts and contributors. In the process, members of the public, civil society organisations and open data experts assess the availability and accessibility of the defined data-sets in places around the world. Their submissions are then peer-reviewed and checked by an expert team of local and dataset reviewers and points are awarded in accordance with the findings.
  • The Index provides an independent assessment of openness in the following areas: transport timetables; government budget; government spending; election results; company registers; national map; national statistics; legislation; postcodes / ZIP codes; emissions of pollutants. For more, see http://index.okfn.org/dataset/
  • Countries and places assessed are: United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, United States, India, Taiwan, Colombia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Uruguay, Iceland, Netherlands, Romania, Chile, Japan, Isle of Man, Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Turkey, Kosovo, Malta, Spain, Latvia, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, South Africa, Portugal, Israel, Pakistan, Paraguay, Ecuador, Republic of Moldova, Indonesia, Jamaica, Russian Federation, Argentina, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Belgium, Costa Rica, Greece, Hong Kong, China, El Salvador, Burkina Faso, Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Nepal, Senegal, Singapore, Tunisia, Guatemala, Lithuania, Philippines, Virgin Islands US, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Morocco, Panama, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Kenya, Lebanon, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Cyprus, Lesotho, United Republic of Tanzania, Benin, Oman, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Mali and Guinea.
  • Where we have received submissions for 2013 and 2014 from places that may not be officially recognised as independent countries, we have included these if they are complete and accurate submissions. Therefore, the Global Open Data Index 2014 ranks ‘Places’ and not ‘Countries’.
  • Open Data is information which can be freely used, reused and shared by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. Truly open data demands a range of both technical and legal qualities which ensure that anyone can reuse it freely, for maximum benefit, and the Global Open Data Index assesses all of these. The Open Definition sets out the principles which define “openness” in relation to data and content: http://opendefinition.org/
  • Open Knowledge, founded in 2004, is a worldwide network of people who are passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and turn it into insight and change. Our aim is to give everyone the power to use information and insight for good.

Nepal is ranked #63 in the 2014 Index. You can check Index and also read what Open Knowledge Nepal says about Global Open Data Index from Index Stories Blog.