Data for the Cities of Ukraine. It Is Only the Beginning
The Study for the State-of-the-Art With Open Data in the Oblast Centers of Ukraine
OPORA Civil Netwrok, June, 2016
Open data is a tool to make information owned by Ukrainian cities to be useful and interesting for citizens. Open data is a machine-readable format of data that allows to easily process big data, analyze it and use it to develop programs and applications useful for citizens, visitors to Ukrainian cities, businesses, and authorities.
Cities need open data to improve the quality of decision making to empower citizens to get engaged into the life of the city, communications with authorities, so that community could apply in practice data from cities with the help of special applications to attract investors to enhance IT business. Besides, the open data market amounts globally to USD 40-140 bln annually.
OPORA Civil Network and TechSoup launched the Apps4Cities initiative. Its objective is to activate local groups of activists, IT experts, business, and authorities to develop services for residents of cities on the basis of open data available at local authorities. We focus on open data from cities, on the products that improve citizens lives.
Apps4Cities is a synergy of activities from authorities (opening data in the machine-readable format), community (identifying priority data and the services required), ІТ-environment (creation of services needed in the city), businesses (use of data), and researchers (engagement to systemic work with open data, including also the use of scientific methods to analyze data and to use them in practice).
Within the initiative, it is planned to conduct a series of meetings with the stakeholders (people and organizations) and the hackathon competitions where anyone with an idea for the city (including also representatives of business) could apply to participate. In addition, an incubator is planned to include the best projects from the hackathons.
Objectives of the Apps4Cities Initiative:
- creation of the network for open data activists;
- manuals for authorities;
- manuals for activists;
- standardized catalogues with the data sets on the issues relevant for the city (education, health care, crime, transportation, budget, etc.);
- identifying a problem and defining data sets that could counteract the problem when opened;
- upscale publications of data sets required by the community;
- use of data and development of applications, also for commercial purposes;
- generation of ideas for services;
- technical implementation and creation of services.
To reach the objectives set, one needs to understand the state of affairs with open data in the cities in Ukraine. The study under discussion to research the data of cities aims to make an overview of the state of the arts with open data in Ukrainian cities (oblast centers). Are there any activists in open data (open data activists) in Ukrainian cities? What are their achievements? Is there any political will with local authorities to open data in a machine-readable format and to cooperate further on? The study is an attempt to offer answers to these questions.
Representatives of the Apps4Cities initiative studied the open data of cities (oblast centers) of Ukraine as of beginning of summer 2016.
In April, 2016, a Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine #835 was issued to oblige all data administrators to publish on the Internet data sets stipulated by the resolution. Moreover, recently, both on the regional level and on the central level, new interesting initiatives have been offered with intentions to use open data in their operations and to promote open data to develop technical solutions (1991 Incubator, EGAP challenge , etc.).
We studied open data of the 24 cities (oblast centers). In Donetsk oblast, we studied the situation in the city of Mariupol; in Luhansk oblast, we focused on Severodonetsk. We examined the official portals of City Councils in the oblast centers of Ukraine as to availability of specific sections or open data portals. Moreover, we analyzed information that oblast centers make public at the Unified Open Data Portal and sent information requests to City Councils.
The objects of the study are cities, oblast centers (in Donetsk oblast, it is the city of Mariupol, in Luhansk oblast, it is the city of Severodonetsk).
In order to determine the state of affairs, the following activities were performed:
1) official websites of cities studied;
2) Unified State Open Data Web Portal studied;
3) information requests submitted to each City Council.
1) Monitoring of official websites of City Councils revealed that:
- only three cities had their own open data portals, such as Lviv, Poltava and Kharkiv;
- there is a separate section for Open Data created on the official City Council website in Vinnytsia (but the section includes links to data sets uploaded on the Unified State Open Data Web Portal );
- the Lutsk city website includes a banner with the link to data sets uploaded on the Unified State Open Data Web Portal ;
- in Chernivtsi , the official City Council website has a separate section on open data but there is an explanation that the section is in test run mode, while the section itself refers to information resources which are mostly not open data formats.
2) Monitoring of the Unified State Open Data Web Portal revealed that personal accounts with data are registered in such oblast centers as (as of June, 20, 2016):
- Vinnytsia (several administrators - 97 data sets);
- Kyiv (several administrators - 22 data sets);
- Mariupol (City Council Department for Finance - 6 data sets);
- Lutsk (several administrators - 33 data sets);
- Odesa (7 data sets);
- Poltava (several administrators - 54 data sets),
- Kharkiv (several administrators - 350 data sets);
- the Dnipro city has a registered account but it has no data sets on it.
Two cities (Kharkiv, Poltava) upload open data sets both on their own portals and on the Unified State Portal.
In terms of activities on official City Council websites, advance in open data was started by 10 cities, such as: Vinnytsia, Mariupol, Kyiv, Lutsk, Lviv, Odesa, Poltava, Kharkiv, Chernivtsi and Dnipro, provisionally. No sign of performance thereto was recorded by us at visual examinations of the websites in the following 14 cities: Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kirovohrad, Severodonetsk, Mykolaiv, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Uzhgorod, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Cherkasy, Chernihiv.
3) Each City Council was submitted an information request (in some cases, requests were submitted repeatedly), to request for the following:
а) What steps were taken by the City Council and its structural divisions to implement the RESOLUTION OF THE CABINET OF MINISTERS OF UKRAINE #835 ‘On Adoption of Provisions on Data Sets to Be Published in the Form of Open Data’?
б) Information on which data sets had been made public, in what format, and what were the links to each publication of a data set.
Vinnytsia City Council replied to the request and informed therein that the city adopted a directive by the City Mayor to create a working group work for open data. Information in the open data format coming from Vinnytsia is published on the Unified State Open Data Web Portal. Currently, over 80 data sets are published there. In addition, the official City Council website created a special section for ‘Open Data’ with the link to all published data sets at data.gov.ua.
Dnipro City Council informed that open data sets are published and updated on a regular basis at the official webportal of Dnipro City Council. However, we failed to locate them there. The reply to the requests also states that Dnipro City Council had registered at the Unified State Open Data Web Portal data.gov.ua but the data sets are not found there, either. The City Council informed that due to the processes of restructuring and change in personnel of the City Council currently underway, heads and staff of the new executive body division of Dnipro City Council were yet to be appointed. Thereafter, the list of relevant open data would be compiled, while the work to make them public would resume.
Zhytomyr City Council first asked for a 20 day delay due to the large scope of information to be prepared in the reply for the request. Later, though, in their reply, they provided a list of links to data sets pursuant to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine #835. Nevertheless, all of them are located in different sections of the official website in the formats that are not open. The attitude to fulfil the requirements of the resolution might imply that Zhytomyr City Council misunderstood the request and confused open data with the notion of ‘openness and publication of information’.
Zaporizhia City Council informed in their reply that new City Council website was under development. A letter was sent to the working group for the development of a new website to take into account, among other things, while developing and adopting the concept for the website structure, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 21.10.2015 #835 ‘On Adopting the Provisions on Data Sets to Be Published in the Form of Open Data’. In addition, the reply states that information from the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is actually being published on the website but in different sections and in formats other than open data.
Ivano-Frankivsk City Council informed that the published data sets can be found at the link in the section on ‘Local News’. By the way, visual examination of the website failed to identify the publication. The indicated link sends us to the excel-format file available for download with the titles of ‘data sets’ followed by the links to them. The information is located in different sections of the website. For the most part, it is not in the open data format (image, scanned pdf).
As to Kyiv city, requests were sent both to the City Council and to Kyiv city state administration (KCSA). Kyiv City Council sent a reply to the request with a link leading to files in *.zip, *.pdf and *.doc formats with financial and economic data, including also the List of Concluded Contracts (the data set is among the mandatory data sets to be published pursuant to the Resolution of the CMU #835). The reply also stated that the remaining information on local self-governing bodies is owned by Kyiv City State Administration and its structural units (departments) and is available at the address https://kievcity.gov.ua. According to Kyiv City Council, it is not relevant to replicate the same data on the official website of Kyiv City Council and the KCSA website, in order to save the city budget funds. Kyiv CSA replied that the structural units of the executive body of Kyiv City Council (Kyiv City State Administration) administering the open data are currently engaged in the work to register at the Unified State Open Data Portal (data.gov.ua) and to prepare and upload the data sets. Since the volume of information is large enough, publication of the data sets is performed gradually. As of 07.06.2017, the Unified State Open Data Portal (data.gov.ua) had 8 registered information administrators of the executive body of Kyiv City Council (Kyiv City State Administration) and two dozens of data sets uploaded.
Kirovohrad City Council sent a reply on the placement of data sets pursuant to the Resolution of the CMU #835 under the units section. There is no separate website or section on open data in the city. Some information (financial part) is uploaded on the Unified Web Portal on the Use of Public Funds.
Lviv City Council in their reply to the request confirmed the creation of a separate portal for the open data of the city but they stated the website was operating in the test mode. The portal includes not all data sets required by the Resolution of the CMU #835. In addition, the reply states that the directive of the City Mayor is being prepared on the establishment of the working group to arrange for the open data work at the City Council. It must be noted that recently Lviv has organized a hackathon Open Data Challenge: Code for Lviv with the use of published data sets and in cooperation with the civil sector.
Lutsk City Council informed that the city of Lutsk had an issued directive of the City Mayor of 22.04.2016 #216 ‘On Publishing Data Sets’ (formats for the data sets are listed in the annex to this directive). Also, the reply to the request states that the list of open data of Lutsk City Council can be accessed via the banner of data.gov.ua from the official webpage of Lutsk City Council.
Mariupol City Council in their reply to the request informed that the city had an issued directive of the City Mayor ‘On Arrangements to Publish Open Data’ of 15.06.2016 #322. Pursuant to it, administrators of information (heads of executive bodies of the City Council with the status of a legal entity) were assigned to register at the Unified Open Data Portal to provide for further publication of open data sets no later than 01.07.2016. The reply also states that the official website of Mariupol City Council is regularly updated and provided with the information on organizational structure, reports on the use of budget funds, reports on replying to requests for public information, on annual procurement plans, on administrative services, on standards adopted in the City Council and other information stated in the Resolution. The reply implies Mariupol does not fully understand the meaning of the ‘open data’ concept, either.
Mykolaiv City Council informed that currently Mykolaiv City Council was doing work to compile the list of information administered by the City Council to be published in the open data form. In order to publish the determined and prepared data sets, Mykolaiv City Council started the registration procedure on the portal http://data.gov.ua . At the moment, the application was submitted to be registered as information administrator. Upon receipt of registration confirmation, Mykolaiv promised to publish data sets at http://data.gov.ua
Odesa City Council replied that open data sets are published at the official website of Odesa City Council and at the Unified State Open Data Web Portal data.gov.ua which presently has six data sets published. In addition, in order to provide for fulfilment of requirements of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Openness in the Use of Public Funds’, information of all structural units of Odesa City Council that administer budget funds is available in open access at the Official Portal of Public Funds of Ukraine spending.gov.ua. The work to collect, process, and compile the necessary registers and to publish data sets at official website of Odesa City Council and the Unified State Open Data Web Portal is still underway. The Department for Information and Public Relations of Odesa City Council is studying best practices of other authorities as to publishing information on the Unified State Open Data Web Portal to be able to apply them in their future activities.
Poltava City Council in the reply to the request confirmed there is a separate open data portal of Poltava City Council. Besides, they claimed the data sets had been also published at the Unified State Open Data Web Portal.
Ternopil City Council informed that they sent a request to sign in at the Unified State Open Data Web Portal and drafted a directive of the City Mayor on data sets to be published in the form of open data. No link to the published data sets was provided.
Uzhgorod City Council offered information on publishing data sets both on their website and at data.gov.ua (even though it was not possible to find the account so far). The official website publishes information in different sections. In other words, a separate section or portal for open data in the city are not available.
Khmelnytskyi City Council in the reply to the request informed that part of information to be published in the open data format pursuant to the resolution of the CMU №835 is published in different sections of the official website of the City Council. No separate section or open data portal was created in Khmelnytskyi. The reply also mentioned that Khmelnytskyi City Municipal Company ‘Khmelnytskinfortsentr’ drew the respective note addressing Khmelnytskyi City Mayor on structural units of Khmelnytskyi City Council submitting data to be further published in a specially dedicated section of the City Council website copied at the Unified State Open Data Web Portal data.gov.ua.
Kherson City Council in their reply offered a list of links to refer to 20 data sets. The rely implies that information is published in different sections at the council website, as well as on the Unified Web Portal on the Use of Public Funds. In other words, there is dedicated section or open data portal.
In their replies, Cherkasy City Counci l informed that the requested information was published in different sections of the official portal of Cherkasy City Council and also on the Unified Web-Portal on the Use of Public Funds. Therefore, Cherkasy City Council confirmed that they do not publish information in the open data format either on their official website (no unified section or a separate portal is created), or at the Unified State Web Portal data.gov.ua.
Chernivtsi City Council honestly replied that the city does not dispose of resources needed to design a top-quality portal or a section for open data. That is why, meanwhile, the website of Chernivtsi City Council has a separate section on Е-CITY where they publish data sets available to some extent in a digital format. However, the section has been created recently and information is not yet duly arranged there. The section includes information of executive bodies that used to be available in a digital form on the portal before but was published in different sections according to the fields of activities of each unit. Chernivtsi believe it is too early to be talking about due publication of open data sets unless they create a subunit within City Council authorized to develop, update, and statistically process databases in digital form.
Chernihiv City Council informed that the official web-portal of Chernihiv City Council has published information pursuant to the Resolution of the CMU #835 in different sections of the website. It implies there is no separate section or portal for open data in Chernihiv.
Kharkiv City Council first asked for 20 days delay referring to a large scope of information to be prepared in the reply for the request. Later, they charged a bill of UAH 300 for the 210 pages of the reply to the request.
Rivne City Council refused to provide information reclassifying it into a application. As of June, 23, 2016, the reply is still pending.
Sumy City Council refused to provide information classifying the request as ‘petition’ and explained that ‘the requested information was not available at the moment in the form of the ready product and is under development.’
The reply is still pending from Severodonetsk City Council.
Thus, as of July, 03, 2016, substantial replies to requests were offered by 20 cities (Vinnytsia, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Lutsk, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Ternopil, Uzhgorod, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Chernihiv); Kharkiv asked for 20 days delay due to large scope of information they had to prepare for the reply; later, they presented a bill for the information; two cities (Rivne and Sumy) reclassified the request into a petition, thus postponing the term for providing a reply; the city of Severodonetsk has not replied at all, as of July, 03.
Out of the cities that provided substantial replies (Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kirovohrad, Mariupol, Uzhgorod, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Chernihiv), 11 of them provided information that in compliance with the Resolution of the CMU # 835 they do publish data but do so in different sections on official websites, not in a separate section or open data portal in the formats that do not comply with open data. The attitude might imply that the cities do not fully understand what exactly is required by the Resolution of the CMU # 835 and for what purposes. In the same manner, local authorities mostly fail to understand why open data and the work with it is needed. Nevertheless, some cities in their official replies, expressed their openness to receive external advice on the topic. Two cities (Ternopil and Mykolaiv) informed that they had only started registering on data.gov.ua. Therefore, they promised to publish data sets there upon completing the registration.
Moreover, there is no control over fulfilment of the Resolution. It is not clear, either, in which way the publication of data is going to run further (after April, 21, 2016, when data administrators were supposed to have published data sets), who is going to control and who is going to be in charge for publication. Many issues are also raised in terms of quality of published data sets on the city council websites mostly in the formats of doc(x), pdf (scanned images), jpeg, html and other unstructured formats. The same problem is relevant for the Unified Open Data Web Portal.
At least five city councils, according to our study, administered open data in some way. Thus, on March, 10, 2016, the website of Vinnytsia City Council published the directive of the City Mayor ‘On Establishing Working Group and Adoption of Plan of Works to Publish Data Sets of the City Council in the Form of Open Data’. In Dnipro, City Mayor Borys Filatov initiated to launch in the city a project for ‘E-Democracy’ (however, we failed to find any links to the respective regulatory legislative acts). In Lutsk, on April, 22, 2016, they issued a Directive of the City Mayor ‘On Publishing Data Sets’. In Odesa, they appointed a person in charge to publish information at the Unified State Open Data Web Portal. In Mariupol, they issued a Directive by the City Mayor ‘On Arranging For Publication of Open Data’ of 15.06.2016 #322. Pursuant to the Directive, information administrators, such as heads of executive bodies of City Council with the legal entity status were assigned to register at the Unified Open Data Portal to provide for further publication of open data sets no later than 01.07.2016. In most cases, in the city councils under analysis that deal with open data, IT departments are in charge of the field.