State to make public data readable to machines15.05.2012, 14:50
The government decision to make public information machine-readable is good news for service developers, writes Äripäev.
The ministry of economic affairs announced this week that it had launched a project to turn data in public databases readable to machines.
In the meantime, the ministry of justice has drafted amendments to the public information act that provides for data being available for public in machine-readable form.
If adopted, the amendment would enter into force in 2013.
“The principle is that it must be possible to use this sort of data in computer applications. If we wish to create new solutions based on existing data, it is important that these solutins can acquire data in the form that they can understand,” said Andrus Aaslaid, adviser of the State Information Systems Agency.
Aaslaid said that, for instance, birdwatching data is at present available only in pdf format. “If one wanted to create a map solution indicating birdwatching towers and showing the birdwatching results, data in pdf format is definitely not suitable because it includes a lot of unnecessary information such as logos, printer settings, etc,” added Aaslaid.
Another possibility is to create a public transport planner to help people choose public transport means nationwide.
A third possibility is for students to create an application on how to move from one bar to another.
“The state has no resources and knowhow on how to create convenience services, and it is not its duty. The duty is to create an environment where developers and IT companies can create applications by using simple means,” said the adviser, adding that the state will not be selling data, but the principle is that costs must be covered.
Aaslaid says that the state will start by processing data in ten document databases.
“This process can take long and require investments. There are data that can be made available easily and other data that can take years to present it in machine-readable format,” said Aaslaid.
He adds that in the planned that the state will make available for developers databases of the national road administration, land registry and commercial registry because these are in high demand.
However, since the law does not oblige these agencies to make their databases machine-readable, there could be obstacles, admits Aaslaid