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The Next Phase of Transparency: 5-star Linked Open Council Decisions

By Raf Buyle on Jan 20, 2017


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Enabling citizens to improve their lives

Imagine an open and transparent society, where all council decisions and legislation would be publically accessible and linked to each other. This proactive approach will lead to better-informed citizens and could enable citizens to give feedback to their electees.

A solution to this challenge is being sought in the project "Local Decisions as Linked Open Data" (Agentschap Binnenlands Bestuur), which rewires the information flows in Flanders and unlocks the valuable data reserves related to municipal decision-making. This high-impact project is funded by the Flemish Agency for Domestic Governance and the Flanders Radically Digital Programme.

A smart city is an open city

Local councils are empowered by law, to make decisions on matters of importance to local communities. Decisions are made in formally constituted council meetings. These Council Decisions contain authentic and timely facts on e.g., tax, public spending, new facilities for citizens, resignation of a local counsellor or the installation of a new one, traffic situations and their road signs. Council decisions contain valuable information which can leverage on several Smart City domains:

• Sustainable Urban Mobility and Transport: “Restricting the speed of cars is a common-sense measure. Council decisions contain information on “30 zones”, which reduce the permitted speed to 30 km/h instead of the 50 km/h generally applied.”
• E-government: “For new businesses which relocate, it is complex to get an insight in the available public services and the local tax burden. Council decisions contain accurate and up-2-date information on public services, criteria and costs.”
• Government Spending: “The ability to see how local governments uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Council decisions create transparency in government spending which bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness and promotes fiscal responsibility.”

Getting the grips on Open Council Decisions

In the first part of this workshop we will give insights in the data, its potential and we will explain how we actually have built the proof-of-concept. In the second part we’ll give a demo including the end-to-end approach, based on the developed Linked Data method. The demonstrator facilitates the real-time publication of the decisions as 5-star linked Open Data on the website of the local government, in the codex and without additional efforts suitable for reuse by third parties. Finally we will gather ideas for the future roadmap through an ideation session.

This workshop on 5-star linked Open Council Decision data will take place from 3:30 pm to 5 pm in the Sylva Room at Open Belgium 2017.

Veronique Volders, Katrien De Smet, Raf Buyle, Mathias Van Compernolle, Peter Mechant, Pieter Colpaert

Flemish Agency for Domestic Governance, Belgium
Informatie Vlaanderen, Belgium.
IDLab, Ghent University - imec, Belgium.
MICT, Ghent University - imec, Belgium.

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written by Raf Buyle
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