The European Commission today announced its open data strategy, which it expects to deliver a €40 billion annual boost to the European economy.
The Commission plans to established on open data portal next year, making information held by EC bodies available to the public for free.
The EC will also invest €100 million in research into new data-handling technologies, it said, and update a 2003 directive on public sector information reuse in order to create a "level playing field" for open data in the EU.
The updates will ensure that any documents made accessible by public bodies will be free for reuse, either commercially or non-commercially, unless protected by third party copyright. Machine-readable formats will be compulsory, and public bodies will not be able to charge more than cost of the provision of data. An EU regulatory body will be set up to enforce these principles.
Neelie Kroes, the Commission’s vice president for the digital agenda, told EU bodies that the best way to get value from data is to give it away.
"So start releasing it now," she said. "Use this framework to join the other smart leaders who are already gaining from embracing open data. Taxpayers have already paid for this information, the least we can do is give it back to those who want to use it in new ways that help people and create jobs and growth."
The Commission offered the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority (DECA) as an example of successful open data project. After DECA dramatically reduced the charges on its data, the number of re-users went up by 10,000% leading to a re-use market growth of 1,000% over eight years, the Commission said, adding that the additional tax revenue for the government is estimated to be four times the reduction in income from fees.
The Commission said that updated directive is likely to come into effect in 2013, and that member states will then have 18 months to implement it into their national legislation.