Europe says (scientific) data should be Open. Neelie gets it! Do publishers?

Even in the burgeoning era of Openness it’s great to see the strong stance from many political leaders. Here’s European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes Brussels, 22 September 2011 (by Ton Zijlstra) (I have edited savagely)

Speaking at the Open Forum Europe Summit 2011 yesterday in Brussels European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has delivered a speech titled “From Common Standards to Open Data“.

In her speech she presented the progress made towards a new legal framework for European Standardisation, and interoperability. Saying that “standards are indispensable for openness, freedom and choice“, she said that in the coming years the focus of work will be to make the proposed legal framework become law as soon as possible. Furthermore also the new European Interoperability Framework has been created that will help create more and better interoperability, such as for cross-border public services in Europe.

We are going to take action: we are going to open up Europe’s public sector

I am convinced that the potential to re-use public data is significantly untapped. Such data is a resource, a new and valuable raw material. If we became able to mine it, that would be an investment which would pay off with benefits for all of us. (PMR emphasis) …

Third, benefits for science. Because research in genomics, pharmacology or the fight against cancer increasingly depends on the availability and sophisticated analysis of large data sets. Sharing such data means researchers can collaborate, compare, and creatively explore whole new realms. We cannot afford for access to scientific knowledge to become a luxury, and the results of publicly funded research in particular should be spread as widely as possible.

PMR: to hear a politician urging this is enormously encouraging

And, perhaps most importantly, benefits for democracy because it enhances transparency, accessibility and accountability. After all, what could be more natural than public authorities who have collected information on behalf of citizens using their tax money giving it back to those same citizens. New professionals such as data journalists are our allies in explaining what we do.”

PMR: lots of exciting stuff on Open Data omitted…

We’ll also be looking at charging regimes because expensive data isn’t “open data”. In short,getting out the data under reasonable conditions should be a routine part of the business of public administrations.

We are planning two data portals to give simple and systematic access to public data at European level. First we should have, bynext spring, a portal to the Commission’s own data resources. And second, for 2013, I am working on a wider, pan-European data portal, eventually giving access to re-usable public sector information from across the EU, federating and developing existing national and regional data portals.”

PMR: I’ve missed a good deal out. Read it. The message is:

  • Politicians care about open data
  • Politicians care about open science data
  • Politicians aren’t likely to be very happy with people who try to keep scientific data closed

So things are looking up. Open Data has arrived. I’m hoping that scientific publishers will realise that the future has arrived. Because if not, they will find their don’t have many allies.

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