Can we consider a commune to be open once it releases any information on its website? Tim Berners-Lee, one of the creators of the World Wide Web we know today, distinguishes 5 levels of data openness.

1. Document

Content is available on the Internet under an open license, mostly in the researchable PDF format.

2. Table

Data are structured – most often in a table – and made available as PDF (with the use of online tools, such table can be changed into the one described below).

3. Open table

Data are not only structured but also made available in an editable format (eg. *.xls, *.csv).

4. Open data that are up to date

Data have all elements mentioned in point 3 but additionally, it’s possible to link them anywhere in the Web, provide their source and automatically import them to other services.

5. Open and linked data that are up to date

The last level of data openness gives users not only access to open, up to date, researchable data but it also links to other open datasets allowing to extend their knowledge.

Summing up: information release on the Internet only fulfils the first level of data openness. It’s worth enabling inhabitants, business representatives, students or NGOs to take advantage of all levels of data openness.

What are the benefits and challenges for communes?

Level 1 and 2 are easy to publish and they are not time-consuming.

Level 3 may require converting data but most computer programs allow to save files in formats such as *.csv.

Level 4 requires planning the way data are published on the Internet (at least file names which should stay unchanged) and devoting a bit of time to present data (also graphically). At the same time it allows to re-use nformation – also from outside of a particular office.

Level 5 provides the possibility to make complete search of data and find them via Web browsers, but also requires means needed to link to other databases and open information (and to check whether the links are up to date as the source we’re linking to could change the structure of the website which makes the links lead to incorrect sites).

Is such opennes possible in Poland?

Yes. And not only communes can take advantage of it but also individuals who will know what happens around them. It can be also beneficial to buissnesses, start-ups, scientific projects, research works and grant applications prepared by NGOs.

What data are we talking about?

All data owned by communes: list of taxi licenses, alcohol licenses, fishing licenses, parking passes; register of driving instructors; register of resolutions, rulings, interpellations, public information requests; communes’ register of historical objects, list of real estates for sale, construction permits, donations for NGOs; catalogues of books, audiobooks, films; list of donations for schools, register of contracts, lists of gatherings, road works, administration decisions regarding architecture, list of markets, register of logging permits, etc.

Material prepared on the basis of: 5-star open data