On September 21, Ukraine’s first Open Data Forum brought together representatives from the government, nonprofit, and private sectors who will inform and shape the country’s open data agenda.
Co-organized by Eurasia Foundation and Ukraine’s State Agency for E-Governance as part of the USAID and UK aid Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services project, the Forum was Ukraine’s largest open data event to date. More than 300 participants discussed how Ukraine will open public data sets at the national and municipal levels and use open data to tackle corruption, improve education, and promote business development.
“Why is open data important for Ukraine?” asked Oleksandr Ryzhenko, head of Ukraine’s State Agency for E-Governance. “Because it is first and foremost about openness; it marks a major step toward combating corruption and ensuring the transparency of public authorities.”
“The key challenge for open data is philosophical,” said Maxim Nefyodov, the first deputy minister at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. “Some government officials still believe that data belongs to them and it is unacceptable [for others] to make commercial gains on this data.”
The event showcased the best international experience with open data and provided Ukrainian government officials the opportunity to engage with the local startup community and technology leaders to explore how to design and implement effective open data reforms that will promote creative solutions and increase transparency.
“Today’s inaugural Open Data Forum in Ukraine is another signal that Ukrainians are demanding an unprecedented level of openness and transparency from their government,” said USAID/Ukraine Mission Director Susan Fritz.
“Mass media, business, and the general public can use open data to improve the effectiveness of their work, increase profitability and control the government,” said Oleksandr Ryzhenko. “Open data enables people to take part in governing the country, as information today is one of the main values.”
The event also recognized major open data achievements in six categories: business, government, city, social impact, leadership, and media. The public nominated and voted for award recipients, including:
Open Data Business Award: Open Data Bot created a service that monitors the public registries of Ukrainian companies and court decisions to help companies protect themselves from corporate raids.
Open Data Government Award: The Ministry of Justice opened its registry of property rights, which will promote transparency and reduce corruption risks.
Open Data City Award: “Breakthrough of the Year” Dnipro City Council has been publishing high quality data sets on the Dnipro Open Data Portal since spring 2017. Lviv City Council has committed significant human and financial resources to its open data program.
Open Data Social Impact Award: The Better Regulation Delivery Office, a Ukrainian nonprofit organization that promotes effective regulation and greater economic freedom, used open data to create tools that give users access to information about regulations in just a few clicks, such as requirements to start a business.
Open Data Leader Award: Andriy Gazin, an independent data journalist and analyst, advocates for open data by providing training and open data visualizations.
Open Data Media Award: Kantselyarska Sotnia, which means “Stationery Hundred” in Ukrainian, is a nonprofit organization that does educational work on the discovery of government data, engages volunteers to help analyze it, and makes it available to journalists in digital formats. Kantselyarska Sotnia decrypted and digitized declarations of government officials, members of parliament, law enforcement officers, and other civil servants.
“Here in Ukraine, we’re in the foothills of what can be done with open data,” said Lord Francis Maude, former UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment and a leading proponent of open data. “There’s much more to do and huge prizes ahead for the reformers who make that happen. Open data and digital are essential tools in the fight against corruption”.