On 15 September 2011, Minister Piet Hein Donner of the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties - BZK, in Dutch) officially launched the open data portal of the Dutch Government, data.overheid.nl . Using this portal, anyone can locate and freely re-use Government data.
The Government has vast amounts of information covering such matters as the environment, buildings, population and infrastructure. Much of this information is open data, which means that it is freely available to anyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other control methods.
Data.overheid.nl is intended to be the gateway through which all public sector information can be easily and quickly accessed, freely or at low cost. It guides the user in searches of the websites of all Governmental institutions, and of closely affiliated organisations, such as libraries, schools and healthcare institutions.
The re-use of public sector information is not only fun and useful, but also has economic value. According to a study commissioned by the European Commission, the re-use of public information can produce a value of about â‚¬27 billion annually. Businesses can re-use this information for developing all kinds of products. Currently, for example, a weather website run by a media group uses data from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut - KNMI, in Dutch), and a site providing geographic, demographic, political and economic information which is run by an eBusiness management consultancy company, presents data from Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek - CBS, in Dutch), the Electoral Council (Kiesraad, in Dutch) and the Land Registry Office (Kadaster, in Dutch).
There are many more potential applications of public data. For example, the 'Apps voor Nederland' (Apps for the Netherlands) competition involves using open government data to create innovative computer applications (apps). The competition was launched at the PICNIC festival, a three-day event held in Amsterdam in September 2011 which focused on developing innovative and creative solutions for people, society and business, and at which Minister Donner officially announced the launch of data.overheid.nl. Apps voor Nederland is an initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (Ministerie van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en Innovatie - EL&I, in Dutch), the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap - OCW, in Dutch).
Minister Donner spoke in a video message about a beginning: "There will be more Government information available which will be easier to find and therefore more inclusive. Then it is up to users to employ that information in a creative, innovative and effective way to convert it into applications which can give us all something."
Note: The original article in Dutch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 0 (CC0) License