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The Belgium leaps forward on the national Open Data Index

December 10, 2015 in Featured, Open Data News

Open Knowledge International just launched the final 2015 index, ranking 122 countries based on the openness of 13 key datasets. In this ranking Belgium jumped from the 53rd place to 35th place and went from being 39% to being 43% open. What does this mean and how will this affect open data publishing in the future?

It means the federal government takes off

In last years blog, we had to put things in perspective on Why Belgium ranks so low on the Open Data Index. One of our outtakes was that open data publishing was very active in local cities and regions, but not so much on a federal level, which is vital to a decent score on the index. That’s because said index mainly focuses on national efforts and datasets. The Belgian government took notice of this during the Open Belgium Conference 2015 and committed to working towards a strategy to overcome this.

Five months later, an Open Data strategy was approved by the federal ministerial council defining the baseline of a more Open Belgium.

Statbel takes the first leap in the dark

After publishing that strategy during the summer, the first noticeable changes happened. Statbel, the federal department responsible for the national statistics was the first one to announce that their data would fall under an open license and has now opened the first datasets, with more coming soon. This is great news as ‘national statistics’ is one of the key datasets on the open index. So normally, this dataset should receive all points on the index of 2016, given that the right data is open.

We’re not quite there yet

There is still a long way to go though, if we ever want to tie with our neighbouring countries. All 13 key datasets focus on very different departments from government spending to weather forecasts. And to make matter more complex, datasets like water quality and pollutant emissions are not a federal responsibility, but a regional one. So even if for example the Flemish, Brussels or Walloon government scores very high on one of these datasets, only if all regions have the same data available will we get to score positive on this matter.

Since Statbel took the first steps and a federal Open Data strategy is on the table now, we’re having high hopes for 2016. Even though we’re not quite there yet, and still lagging behind neighbouring counties, a truly Open Belgium is approaching. We’re looking forward to all Open Data efforts in 2016.

Escalator” by Unsplash is licensed under CC0.

Apps for Europe is looking for the best open data apps

September 1, 2014 in Applications, Featured, Open Data News

With 10 Business Lounges happening throughout Europe this year, Apps for Europe is trying to find the best open data applications and startups that Europe has to offer. Open Belgium invites all the Belgian developers, startups and companies that use open data as a recourse to join this competition. You have the chance to win a spot at the International Business Lounge @ Future Everything at Manchester in February 2015. The finalists have the chance to pitch their open data application to a crowd of international investors, open data experts, incubators and more.

There are two possible ways to enter the competition.

1. You can find a Local Business Lounge hosted in one of the many European Cities. In Belgium the Local Business Lounge will be hosted in Transforma BXL during Open Data Brussels. More information about this business lounge on this blog later this month.

2. You can also enter the online business lounge by providing information about your application, team and business model. The Apps for Europe online competition will run from September 1st to December 31st 2014.

About last years competition

Last years winner has show the potential of using open data to enhance their company and expand their services. Since the international Business Lounge at Future Everything last year they were able to reach new cities and raise almost 140.000,- in crowdfunding. A true success story!

And talking about a successes, the audience award was won by Nostalgeo, a Belgian application from Nazka that enables you to compare old postcards with todays street view. Nostalgeo was a finalist at the international business lounge by entering the local Business Lounge during Open Data Day in Flanders.

Other Belgian finalists were, making KBO data searchable and Carambla, the parking app that provides information about parking space in 3 major cities in Belgium. And next year we want a strong Belgian presence at the international Business Lounge as well.

Nostalgeo at the International Business Lounge

Ides from Nostalgeo receiving the Audience award at the International Business Lounge 2014

Over the past years many local, regional and national app competitions in Europe have been organized to stimulated developers and companies to build new applications with open data. Apps for Europe has taken it to the next level. By adding Business Lounges to local events we introduce the world of open data development to that of investors, accelerators, incubators and more. Want more information about the Apps for Europe project? Mail to Pieter-Jan or leave a comment below.

Choose local open data with us

August 21, 2014 in Events, Featured, Open Data News

Open Belgium has been carefully planning the release of a Local Open Data Census, which is a benchmark, similar to the National Open Data Census, as a way to measure local Open Data efforts. The goal is to acknowledge Open Data efforts of Belgian local governments who already have a lot of datasets online and to motivate those who are considering Open Data as well. Which Open Datasets we’ll use as a benchmark for this ranking is entirely up to all of you!

Go to the Allourideas survey and choose which of the two proposed datasets seems the most interesting to you. If neither of them sounds good, just add your own dataset with a short explanation. The more you vote between two datasets and add new datasets, the more enriched data we have to make this a good census.

The objective is to have 10 to 15 datasets to rank the local governments on this page. The survey runs for three weeks, which means we’ll stop the survey on friday the 12th september at noon. So start voting and suggesting!

Local Data Census


A little background

OKFN central released the local city data census earlier this year in order to rank local governments within a certain country on their Open Data efforts. Excited as we were, we immediately asked if we could moderate this ranking for Belgium. The only thing was that the standard datasets, which you can still view on the local data census template, are not always applicable to the local governments in Belgium. For example, air quality is something that is measured on a regional level in Belgium, not on a local one. So you can’t motivate cities to open up these datasets, because they don’t own them in the first place.

That’s why decided to change the datasets by the power of the crowd: The Belgian citizens and open data enthusiasts. In order to start up the local data census we want involve as many people as possible in this 3 part process. Three parts you say? Yes!
We started by asking the attendees of Open Antwerp in June what they found of the standard datasets in the local data census and whether these were applicable on a Belgian local level. It was a good testing ground, seen that the room was filled with citizens, open data experts and public servants at the same time. In the end they all rejected 8 of the 15 datasets, accepted 6 and doubted about 1 of them. Even better, they suggested 20 more datasets!


OK that’s 26 datasets, what now?

That’s what we wondered as well, we didn’t want to choose ourselves between these 26 datasets and communicate that a group of plus 20 people decided on one afternoon which datasets will be used for the local data census. No we wanted to ask everyone what they think of these datasets and if we missed any of them that might be better alternatives. So that’s why we started this public survey that will take about 3 weeks. We hope this will provide us with an idea which datasets are preferred by the general audience.

After 3 weeks we’ll stop the ‘All our ideas’ survey and will submit the list of datasets and their popularity to the Open Belgium ambassadors. They will figure out whether the new datasets do apply on a local government level and which of the most popular datasets should be assigned to the local data census list. In order to narrow the list of datasets down to 10 to 15 they’ll take into account the popularity of a dataset, the variation of different datasets (Mix between transport, financial, health, environmental, legislative and civic information datasets) and which datasets apply to big as well as small and medium local governments.

When approved by the ambassadors, this final list will be implemented in the Belgian Local Data Census and we’ll start contacting Local City Governments and encourage them to fill in the census for their city. The local data census, just as the national one, is community based, so citizens themselves can also add datasets to their respective city.


A glimpse of the hopefully near future:

After the release of the local data census we want to involve the regional governments in building a regional census, which means less parties to approach, but all the more complicated, as we work with regions and communities in Belgium. This would enable us to set-up an interactive webpage on, aggregating the results from the National, Local and Regional data censuses, enabling anyone to see who is doing what concerning Open Data efforts in Belgium.

A challenge? Yes, but one we want to tackle together with the community.

Magazine image by aussiegall

Relaunching BeLaws

May 23, 2014 in Applications

Tim Esselens has launched BeLaws back in 2011. It is a search interface on top of all the laws in Belgium.

We have done some maintenance on the server and have added a new feature: the forums. On the forums you can ‘cite’ a law (which will be previewed within the text) and you can discuss it with fellow BeLaw-ers.

Screenshot from 2014-05-23 14:10:01

Hope you like it and I hope we will see you on the forums!


The City of Antwerp releases 210 extra datasets on their Open Data Portal

February 11, 2014 in Open Data News

Great news for all the developers, start-ups and development enthousiasts who use Open Data in their applications. Since yesterday, the 50 available datasets of the City of Antwerp have been expanded with no less than 210 fresh and new datasets. These new datasets are all about geodata and there is a lot of interesting data to be found. Like data about public WiFi locations, the locations of available party venues or rehearsal rooms. Or Open Data on how fast you can go in a certain street, the driving directions and the different parking zones or their parking fees. There’s even data provided about where the public barbecues are, where you can work out in your neighbourhood, where to take the train, tram or bus or where to go shopping in Antwerp. So there’s geodata for every occasion.

And that’s not all! They’re also using the Datatank so it’s all machine readable and ready to use.

Everyone who wants to work with this data can do this without any limits concerning copyright an patents. You can use it to make applications, websites and in this way cooperate to a better service provision. You can read the license (in Dutch) on the website.

The original Dutch article is on

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