It’s not an overstatement to say that 2016 has seen a Big Bang taking place in the world of data. Far-sighted developed countries, like the US, the UK, Australia and Japan, started to open up government data to the public earlier than others.
Since 2013 the South Korean government has been making government data available to the public (except data pertaining to the protection of personal data, intellectual property rights, public order and national security).
In particular, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has been taking the lead in opening op government data, with a view to fast-tracking Government 3.0.
However, opening government data is one thing and skimming the cream off open government data (OGD) and helping the public tap into the data is quite another.
Therefore, the MOI in 2014 had handpicked 36 areas for the government’s OGD initiative to help the public access high-quality OGD deemed highly relevant to the daily lives of the public or commercially useful.
The opinions of the public were reflected in the process of selecting the 36 areas. A public-private taskforce, comprised of the Open Data Strategy Council and a private company, picked the cream of the crop after reviewing various types of government data.
From Feb. to Dec. 2015, the MOI and the National Information Society Agency (NIA) carried out a project called Data Big Bang, aimed at opening government data in 11 of the 36 areas.
The Data Big Bang project was about building an OGD system by consolidating all the processes needed for making government data available, from data quality control and standardization to building open databases and developing open API (application programming interface) services.
Take, for example, traffic accident data. Nearly 20,000 datasets of the National Police Agency’s data on fatal traffic accidents and the Korea Road Traffic Authority (KoROAD)’s data on accident-prone areas have been disclosed through open APIs and map services. The 2,000 datasets include locational data concerning Type 1 vehicles’ traffic accidents and data on accident-prone areas for Type 5 vehicles.
Under the Data Big Bang project, the opening of government data was completed in 11 areas last year, including data on municipal licenses and permits (in June); data on the coffers of the government (in July); construction data, real-time data on public water supplies and data on the prices of agro-fishery products (in Nov.); and real estate market data and data on commercial districts (in Dec.).
Furthermore, 2.8 billion datasets, including 74 high-volume data files, have been opened through 56 open API services. The government estimates that such a level of government data openness would translate into socioeconomic effects worth 1.3 trillion won.
The Big Bang Data project is still underway. This year, the project is focused on building systems for opening up government data in 11 areas, including data on national spatial infrastructure, procurement and pension. Government data in 23 of the 36 areas will be made available to the public this year, bringing the total to 34. Government data in the remaining two areas, i.e. data held by the National Tax Service and copies of judgments and sentences handed down by the Supreme Court, will be gradually opened to the public until 2017 in a way that can protect personal data.
Meanwhile, to ensure the public’s easy access to open government data, the MOI has been running a website dedicated to the OGD initiative (www.data.go.kr).