Estonian entrepreneurs will soon have a new resource to build services off of. Collections of data gathered by the Estonian government will be made available in a machine-processable format, enabling citizens and companies to create services on public sector data. The government’s goals are to make the data free, high quality, and easily accessible– hopefully providing higher quality services available to the public, more transparency in decision-making, and new investments and jobs.
It’s a respectable initiative that all fits into the e-Estonia trend pushed to put Estonia on the forefront of how citizens interact with their government through online services. Estonia already offers e-tax board, e-police, e-school, e-health, e-business, and other similar services you can put an “e-” in front of.
“I’m convinced that public sector data belongs to the public,” says Keit Kasemets, Strategy Director of the Government Office of Estonia. “It means that it can’t belong to the public sector itself, but it must be accessible to companies and individuals. Why should we hide public data we have already collected for tax-payer’s money?”
The MEPSIR (Measuring European Public Sector Information Resources) report estimated that the public service information market in Europe already at 27 billion EUR in 2006. It has been almost doubled within 5 years by interim technology innovations and improvements.
The website hosting this data should open this spring, and Kasemets says that any past legislation that may get in the way of this initiative will be removed in 2012. Who knows, maybe this will open some interesting opportunities for Estonian entrepreneurs.