UK lagging behind Europe on open data maturity

28 December 2021 3 min. read
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A pan-European study of open data maturity has found the UK is only a ‘beginner’, compared to the bulk of the continent. France is the most mature open data nation in the EU, while Norway and Ukraine were found to be trend-setters outside the block of 27.

Open data is data that anyone can access, use and share. Governments, businesses and individuals can use open data to bring about social, economic and environmental benefits. Each year, Capgemini Invent undertakes a study measuring the level of open data maturity across Europe, detailing the progress achieved by European countries as they push forward with open data publication and re-use, and the different priorities they have set to enable this.

Requested by the European Commission and the Publications Office of the European Union, this year’s edition found that while within the EU27, further improvements have been recorded in 2021 in terms of four key criteria (policy, impact, portal and quality), the former 28th member state of the block is lagging well behind in terms of its application of open data.

The overall open data maturity scores of the 2021 assessment

The remaining 27 nations of the EU have an overall maturity score of 81%, an increase of 3%-points on 2020 results. However, the UK is still lagging back in the high 60s. This cuts a stark comparison against neighbouring Ireland, which has the EU’s second highest maturity rate, at more than 90%.

After being a trend-setter for six years, the study found France is now Europe’s most mature open data nation, with a score of 97.5%. Also noteworthy is the peak performance among countries outside the EU27. For example, Norway jumped from beginner to fast-tracker and Ukraine became a trend-setter in 2021.

While these countries continue to invest in open data maturity, the UK could be missing out on a plethora of digital benefits. According to Daphne van Hesteren, Consultant at Capgemini Invent and co-author of the report, these impacts could be “social, economic or environmental,” all of which could be considered “the ultimate goal of open data efforts across Europe.”

The amount of local of regional public bodies to conduct open data initiatives compared to 2020

Van Hersten added, “The report shows that having the right policies in place, offering advanced portals to find data and foster interaction between publishers and re-users, and having high data quality are crucial to make re-use easier. The numerous data-driven dashboards and initiatives related to the Covid-19 pandemic are great examples of the impact that can be achieved through open data.”

Looking more closely at how open data creates high social impact for raising awareness on health and wellbeing related issues, Capgemini Invent considered its use during the current pandemic. Last year, the need to respond to the crisis led many countries to start publishing related data and developing initiatives and dashboards to make data more easily understandable and insightful for European citizens.

In 2021, the initiatives and dashboards are in most cases complemented with recent statistics about national vaccination rates, vaccination production capacity, protective equipment availability, intensive care resources, etc. Therefore, this year’s assessment demonstrates a continuation and strengthening of the high social impact created by these efforts.