The public sector gathers and stores large quantities of data that could be of interest to individuals and businesses, but the data is not often accessible to the public. Yet unimpeded access to such data constitutes one of the fundamental principles of democracy, and is a vital element in a policy of transparency and openness. By staying locked in its original environment, the data is hidden and as a result is under-used. The Luxembourg Government's Open Data strategy, which forms part of the Digital Luxembourg initiative, addresses the very heart of this problem.
The Open Data strategy provides for the possibility of universal access to public data, thereby enabling individuals, businesses and the media to reuse, combine or share data for any appropriate purpose, including for commercial purposes. An open data policy not only makes public-sector activities more transparent; it also encourages public actors to make better use of their resources. The Government and its administrations, businesses, the media and individuals can use public data to create social, economic and environmental added value, and to improve performance in public services such as education, transport, public safety and the health sector.
As part of their statutory missions, the Grand Duchy's public sector bodies constantly gather, manage and use data, information and documents. According to the Luxembourg Government's Open Data strategy, all this data - except data that may not be made public by law - is open to the public by default. Excluded data includes data protected by intellectual property rights, data relating to national security, and data containing personal information.
In the European Union, the legislative framework of the Open Data movement is set out in Directive 2003/98/EC and Directive 2013/37/EU on the reuse of public-sector information. In the Grand Duchy, these Directives have been transposed by the Law of 4 December 2007, as amended, on the reuse of public-sector information.
The Information and Press Service of the Luxembourg Government is responsible for coordinating the Grand Duchy's Open Data strategy. The strategy includes increase awareness among public stakeholders and accompanying them in making their data available to the public. It also aims to make the principle of Open Data better known, and to encourage individuals and businesses to reuse data. Events on various data-related topics are organised regularly, and appropriate communication platforms are used to promote contact and exchanges among everyone concerned.
National Open Data portal
To make it easier to access public-sector data, the Luxembourg Government has set up an official portal, at data.public.lu, which is open to individuals and businesses, centralising the data and presenting reuses. The portal is for use not only by public and private producers of data who want to make it public, but also by reusers, who can rely on it to share their work, and any individual, association or business curious to find out and access data and the reuses made of it, whether for articles, studies, analyses, or applications of any kind.
The portal at data.public.lu gathers data of widely varied types:
- geo-spatial data: address points, aerial images, land registry plans and topographical maps;
- environmental data: weather, water quality, energy consumption, emission levels;
- road data: timetables for all public transport, both national and regional, roadworks, traffic information;
- statistics: national statistics with the main demographic and economic indicators (gross domestic product, age, health, unemployment, income, training, etc.);
- public health data: sentinel surveillance of flu, pollen, morphological register of tumours, and reports on water quality.
This public-sector information published on the portal at data.public.lu is taken up on the European Data Portal, thereby reinforcing the visibility and accessibility of data relating to the Grand Duchy.
Data isn't open just because it can be readily accessed by all. Access, use, reuse and sharing of data must be specifically authorised by a licence. This makes licences a crucial element in Open Data.
Licences inform users clearly and specifically of the limits of their entitlement to use, process and share the data concerned. To prevent any confusion over the right to use the data, all sets of data must indicate the corresponding licence.
The Luxembourg Government's Open Data policy recommends using Creative Commons licences; more particularly, it encourages the circulation of data under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0 – public domain) open licence. By using this open licence, producers renounce their copyright entitlement in order to allow any natural or legal person to use, reuse, combine or share their data as they may see fit, even for commercial purposes, without any obligation to indicate the source.