OpenDataNI – a new platform for open government data

The movement towards open data in Northern Ireland has taken a big leap forward in the last week with the launch of OpenDataNI. This data portal has been developed as the platform to deliver open datasets to the public under the Open Data Strategy. It is the one place where a wide range of data from public sector organisations can be accessed. The data is made available under the Open Government Licence, which means that it is free to anyone to copy, adapt, commercially exploit and publish.

The portal has nine topics across which datasets are spread, including Health, Education, Finance, Environment and Agriculture, Property and Land, and more.

Public sector organisations, including councils, will publish their data on this portal. At the moment, there are datasets from a number of bodies such as the Driver and Vehicle Agency, NI Water, NISRA, DCAL and Land & Property Services.

At the outset, departments and agencies have prioritised which data to publish. But the portal also has a data suggest function where users can ask for data that they think should be published on the portal. A number of requests have been made by the Detail Data team. Suggestions are publicly visible, as are the responses from the data holders, providing an easy way for users to see how the Strategy is progressing.

At this stage, OpenDataNI has datasets such as the monthly GP Prescribing Data, the NI Transport Network, and education activity. You can even find out the pass rates at the various driving test centres. There’s also a Census microdata sample dataset for students wanting to get experience in using large survey datasets.

Spatial NI also has a re-vamped open data resource finder for Ordnance Survey NI geo-data (this supports the visibility of the data on OpenDataNI). Many of the datasets here have been published for the first time, and they’re available in a variety of formats.

Development

Open data has proven beneficial economic and social impacts. It can also help to improve citizen engagement with government and public services.

At the moment, open data is largely an untapped resource in Northern Ireland. There are a number of public datasets that could be brought to OpenDataNI. We also know that there are a number of data sources that the public would like to access, to make better decisions, develop innovative products and services, undertake research and gain better insight into how their public services perform.

So we highly recommend registering a user account on OpenDataNI and thinking about what data you’d like to see on there. You can (should) also follow @opendatani on twitter.

Complementary services

Earlier this year Detail Data launched its own open data portal which currently hosts 60 datasets from 20 different sources including academic, statutory and voluntary and community organisations. It also includes datasets used in data-driven news articles published by the project.

The Detail Data Portal is specifically relevant to the voluntary and community sector, but many of the datasets on OpenDataNI are obviously important to all sectors.  To ensure no duplication of sources between the two portals the Detail Data Portal links to data held on the OpenDataNI portal where relevant.

It looks like things are coming together in Northern Ireland, we look forward to what the future will bring!

– ODI Belfast

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