Videos & Podcasts

re:publica Thessaloniki 2017. Smart Cities, Open Data & Citizen Participation

(the original article – in greek – can be found here)

This year I had the privilege of participating in the maiden voyage of re:publica (2017) in Thessaloniki, as an ODI Open Data Certified Trainer and an entrepreneur, in a panel about smart cities, open data and citizen participation in open government procedures. Following you can watch the video with greek and english subtitles available (thanks to Heinrich Böll Stiftung Greece).

Following you will find three key points that, in my personal opinion, summarize the discussion:

I. Why bother working with open data when the citizens don’t seem to care?

A sound open data infrastructure can, potentially, function as a means of transparency and / or fighting corruption. The possibility that citizens are indifferent towards open data should not discourage a public authority that wants to continuously evolve and become better. Moreover, we need to ask ourselves whether the information published as open data is understandable and has a practical use for the interested parties (citizens, companies, organizations, etc.).

II. Civil servants might hesitate or  be negative  towards open data education.

Yes they might! However, their reaction depends on the motivators that accompany education. If dealing with open data is, or will become in the near future, a de facto responsibility of all civil servants, the idea that an expert can train them to undertake this “new” responsibility quick and easy, might not strike them as such a bad idea.

III. Open data published by public authorities are  usually too “specific” for a third party (i.e. freelancer, company, etc.) to exploit.

A great opportunity accompanying open data is the fact that open datasets can be combined. For example lets say we have an open dataset of the public schools in a city and another open dataset about crime in that same city. Studying them separately those two datasets probably give as basic knowledge but, combined, could become the fuel for an application that could help a young couple to choose in which neighborhood to live.

Open Data can be the means to innovation for companies that develop software, freelance developers, students, researcher and so forth. And (ideally) this software can then function as the interface between the citizen and the public authorities.

(special thanks to Heinrich Böll Stiftung Greece for the invitation)