Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

With Project Homer, Open Data settles down in the Mediterranean

Written by Caroline Garcia avec l'Institut de la Méditerranée on Thursday, November 1st 2012 à 09:58 | Read 1593 times

The Mediterranean Institute is taking part in the first transnational project to open up public sector data. Christened Homer, it aims both to increase transparency in public policies and generate innovative business applications.

EUROPE / MEDITERRANEAN AREA. Nineteen partners from eight Mediterranean* countries are involved in the European project called Homer (Harmonising Open Data in the Mediterranean through better access and Reuse of public sector information) to harmonise the opening up of public data (Open Data) in the Euro-Mediterranean area.  First developed in the United Sates, the concept of Open Data is now emerging in Europe.  What is it?  Public organisations (communities, agencies, government services) choose to open up a portion of the information they provide to the public.  This could be the town register or cadastre, a list of hotels in a region, or even school lunch menus.  Much information previously considered private or even confidential was stored but never used.

A Mediterranean transnational digital market

Homer' partners met in Crete, from 2012 october 2nd to the 4th to address the capitalisation strategy of the project. (photo : Homer projetc)
Homer' partners met in Crete, from 2012 october 2nd to the 4th to address the capitalisation strategy of the project. (photo : Homer projetc)
The European Commission has greatly encouraged the public sector to act in this area, by suggesting it provide datasets accessible to all.  At first, it was tourist information on heritage and transport, deemed of no great sensitivity that was compiled and made available in a raw format to potential users. Brussels has ticked off the opening up of public sector data as one of the elements of Europe 2020, whose goal is “to put European economies back on the road to high, sustainable growth”.  To support this claim, Europe highlights several national studies: in 2007 the German market for geographic information, one of the areas the opening of public sector data will stimulate most easily, was estimated at 1.4 billion euro, that is, a 50% increase since 2003.  In the Netherlands, the sector of geographic information alone employed 15,000 people full-time in 2008.  In 2009, the British government considered Open Data as “the lifeblood of the knowledge economy”.  Open Data is also a way of improving transparency in public policy by facilitating citizens’ access to all sorts of elements of governance. 

Project Homer, launched in Italy in April 2012, is co-financed by the programme for European Territorial Cooperation in the Mediterranean.  With a total budget of €3.6 million (including €2.8 million from the European Regional Development Fund), this is the first transnational project to make public data available.  The areas concerned are:  energy, the environment, agriculture, tourism and cultural heritage.  The goal is to merge all actors involved in initiatives to open up public data, harmonise policies and Open Data portals in the Mediterranean, and also identify the obstacles to reusing public data by laying the foundations for a Mediterranean transnational digital market. 

* Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Slovenia 

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