Roadblocks Hindering the Reuse of Open Geodata in Colombia and Spain: A Data User’s Perspective
- Users’ reuse barriers in Colombia and Spain. While the literature has listed some challenges with respect to open data and open data portals (e.g., in [11,17]), asking users what actually hinders them has been less often undertaken. Some studies come close to what the current article tries to achieve, but differ substantially either in their method or scope. For example, Lourenço  did an analysis of open data portals from an ’ordinary citizens’ point of view’, but his analysis did not rely on inputs from actual citizens. Horrigan and Rainie  survey Americans’ views, Beno et al.  analyzed the Austrian context, and Schmidt et al.  aimed at being global (with participants from over 80 countries), but this article aims at being local and geographic focused—with a focus on Colombia and Spain—and gathers its empirical evidence through both surveys and workshops. This work took four cities within two countries as use cases.
2. Related Work
2.1. Open Government Data
2.2. Why is the Reuse of OGD Necessary?
2.3. Does Geographic Data Has a Role to Play in Open Data Times in Cities?
2.4. Barriers to Open Government Data Reuse
2.5. Geographic Data Reuse Barriers and the Importance of Data Users’ Perspective
3. Research Method
3.1. Literature Review
3.2. Online Survey
3.3. Participatory Workshops
4.1. Findings from Literature
- Seven relevant categories of barriers considering the data producer’s point of view were most mentioned in the literature:
- Legal and Policy
- Data quality
- Financial issues
- Use and Participation
- It seems that Use and Participation barriers are still not significant barriers; only two authors mentioned the user perception and active participation as an important issue to release or use open data.
- Regarding the previously mentioned barriers experienced by data users, the categories that were not included are as follows:
- Standardization: Included as another category where fragmentation of data, lack of interoperability, and many standards in how data is gathered are seen as issues from data re-users.
- Accessibility: It is seen as heterogeneity of formats and lack of access to re-users.
- Discoverability: Defined as how easy it is to find the data that is required. Related to other barriers such as standardization of data quality (metadata) but categorized as a remaining challenge by users.
- Categories such as legal, financial, and technical were also mentioned from a data user point of view, but were less cited.
- Data quality is still a significant burden from data producer and user perspectives.
4.2. Findings from the Online Survey
4.3. Findings from Participatory Workshops
4.4. Data Users’ Barriers Taxonomy
- Currency: The lack of updated data in the local open data initiatives was considered by data users as the major barrier to reusing the available data. Outdated data and services or broken links were mentioned in both online survey and workshops as most disappointing when analysts, entrepreneurs, geospatial developers, journalists, and other data users need to include data in their processes or external applications. Having updated data is a common requirement for all kind of open data, regarding geodata, data users mentioned currency also due to the difference among the available data by paid versus the available data accessible through geo-portals. Considering that there is much work to do to get full accessibility to updated data. A possible precedent associated to this issue if the way that some geographical authorities found having a mixed-open data model, releasing only a certain among of data but keeping the most updated as a premium service .
- Accessibility: Although all selected cities have their own data portal initiatives, with several available data sets, accessibility barriers were mentioned over and over again by the data user communities. The most mentioned obstacles were the nonexistent or difficult way to download data for users that need full access to make a local analysis Section 4.2. As well as the low relevance of the developers’ resources for re-users that need to link the published data in external applications. However, the URL access was not the only concern; in cases where the API resources were included, the lack of documentation and guidelines to use was also cited by re-users. Ultimately, there was a lack of datasets with specific geographic component (e.g., air quality, local mobility, education, and urbanization) that was not accessible through current cities open data portals.
- Data Quality: This category is a large topic and was mentioned by the literature review (see Section 4.1) and is included in the empirical analysis that this research carries out. However, the criteria of data quality from a data user point of view could be more specific. Based on the findings of this study, the lack of metadata (especially for geographic data) was one of the major barriers mentioned by re-users. Attribute-inconsistent or gaps in published data is also a relevant feature to improve. According to data users, the possibility of predicting published data that are not complete or data which has specific characteristics (e.g., local reference system) might help them to save time. Generalization of data was cited for many users when they found relevant data which was not appropriate for local analysis or development. As an example of this issue, users mentioned an environmental use case that could be considers as an accessibility issue—the air quality data found in most of the selected cities have a regional or national scale. As another example data users in Valencia mentioned that education rates were published only in a regional or national scale which not contribute at all to analyze the local issues. Once cities become involved in open data initiatives, they need to consider extracting, processing, and integrating the correct information for the city’s needs, not only integrating any open data from several national or local departments with any local propose.
- Usability: Further barriers—especially in the participatory workshops—were related to the lack of reuse examples. Many city portals limit their actions to publishing data, but there are no examples or use cases that users can use as a guideline to understand how the data is applied or how it could be integrated with other applications. Based on the data user’s opinions, many open data portals are a vast list of data, but there is no context to understand how data could be relevant to the city. Likewise, besides the data category, there is no relationship among the available services. This lack of context creates a misunderstanding of data and misuses about how data can be applied or reused.
- Discoverability: This research identified that although all selected cities have an ongoing open data project, when users need to find the required data they search in several websites but not in the local open data initiative. Using search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bing) or in the best case the open data national initiative websites, when users were asked to find specific data such as bike routes in their city, they encountered several issues in obtaining the required data. In some occasions, users went to the data authorities’ website to find the current open data initiative, but most of them did not have the expected emphasis on the initiative. It seems that the lack of open data centralization could be a relevant usability barrier from data users’ point of view. Another mentioned obstacle was the low integration between city departments regarding the data release process—especially in Cali and València. Data users claimed that the existence of several city department websites—sometimes all of them offering a different kind of data about the same topic—could confuse and reduce the reliability of the releasing process. This minor integration could result in a significant amount of time required to find relevant or useful data.
5.1. Summary of Barriers
5.2. The Role of Cities and Their Data User Communities
6. Limitations and Final Recommendations
Conflicts of Interest
|SDI||Spatial Data Infrastructure|
|OGD||Open Government Data|
|IDECA||Infraestructura de Datos Espaciales para el Distrito Capital|
|IDESC||Infraestructura de Datos Espaciales de Santiago de Cali|
|EDP||European Data Portal|
|API||Application Programming Interface|
|RSS||Really Simple Syndication|
|INSPIRE||Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe|
Appendix A. Online Survey Questions
- Personal information: Tell us a little about yourself. We will not share or publish this information.
- Which country are you currently working? Open Question.
- Which city/cities are you working or using geographical data? Open Question.
- How old are you? Open Question.
- Your work: In this section we are interested in aspects of your work and your experience level in the sector or industry to which you belong or have belonged to in the past. You can mention the elements that are the most relevant.
- What is your employment role? Multiple choice: Geographical apps developer, Geographical data analyst, Developer and analyst, Data Science analyst, Manager—Project leader, Researcher-Student-Teacher, Other.
- In which industry do you work? Multiple choice: Local Government, National Government, Education, Non- profit, Media, Startup—Entrepreneurship, Business, Other.
- How much experience do you have in the industry? Multiple choice: Less than 1 year, 2 to 6 years, 7 to 10 years, 11 to 20 years, More than 20 years.
- City Open Data: It is important for us to know your opinion about open data available in the cities. In particular geographic data. In this section we will ask you about your reasons for use this data and your knowledge of those current initiatives.
- Please indicate the level of importance for each option when using city open data? Multiple choice grid, with Very important, Neutral and Not important as choices: Geographic information accessibility, High-quality geographic information, Scalability and ease of project maintenance, City innovation improvement, Transparency and collaboration improvement, Economic benefits for the city, Academic and research improvement
- Do you know or use the cities’ open data portals? Multiple choice with yes or not as choices.
- Cities’ open data portals: Please provide specifics on data portals, adding a URL where possible. If your previous answer was Yes, please specify which city open data portals you know or have used.
- Barriers and features: We would like to know the barriers, errors, and problems that you have encountered while using cities’ open data portals. Also, we would like to know the features and aspects that you consider positive and that should be kept within these initiatives.
- Which functionalities do you think are not useful in city open data portals? Open Question.
- From your experience, which was the most common error/barrier you have faced (not have faced) when searching or using data from city open data portals? Open Question.
- City open data portals usability: We’d like to know about the level of use of city open data portals and the available geographic data. In this Section, we will ask your frequency of use and we want to determine the usability level of those portals.
- When you need to use city geographical information which portals do you normally use? Multiple choice grid with Often, Sometimes and Not used as choices: Government data portals. (National), Government data portals. (City-Local), Private repositories, Pay or collect data, International repositories, Other.
- Indicate your agreement level regarding these statements on current city open data portals: Multiple choice grid with Agree, Neither agree or disagree and Disagree as choices. I would like to use these portals frequently, I found the portals unnecessarily complex, These portals were easy to use, I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use the portals, I found the various functions in the portals were well integrated, There was too much inconsistency in the portals, I would imagine that most people would learn to use the portals very quickly, I found the portals very cumbersome to use, I felt very confident using the portals, I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with the portals.
- Searching for geographical data: We’d like to know which criteria and formats you use when searching and choosing geographical data.
- Tell us about your data quality criteria when choosing available data in city open data portals? Multiple choice grid with Desirable, Neutral and Undesirable as choices. Accuracy: data/metadata record correctly described, Completeness: the number of completed fields in a data/metadata record, Consistency: discrepancy between data published and entire data catalogs, Currency: data or metadata is up date, Technical accessibility, Openness.
- What of the following output formats do you consider most useful for your work? Multiple choice grid with Strong useful, Neutral and Not useful as choices. KML, OGC Standard (WMS, WFS, WMTS), REST, CSV, Shapefile, GeoJSON, JSON, RDF, XML, Download files (i.e., Zip).
- If you had the chance to improve city open data portals, which are the improvements/features or tools will you would add and why? Open Question.
- In your industry, how do you think we might increase the usage of geographical data on current city open data portals? Open Question.
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|Population||8.080.734 inhabitants (2017)||2.508.452 inhabitants (2017)||2.420.013 inhabitants (2017)||790.201 inhabitants (2016)|
|Context||The most populated and capital of Colombia||The second most populated city of Colombia||The third most populated city of Colombia||The third most populated city of Spain|
|Autority(ies) Contacted||SDI Bogotá (IDECA)||Medellín City Hall and Ruta N||Cali City Hall and SDI Cali (IDESC)||València City Hall and Las Naves|
|Main Open Data Theme of Interest||Urban Planning, Economic Development, and Infrastructure||Security, Environment and Urban Planning around a sustainable smart city strategy||Mobility, Security, and Health||Environment, Transport, Society, and Wellbeing are the themes more used and consulted of the Open Data catalogue|
|Open Data Portal or Official Portal||IDECA website||GeoMedellin Website||IDESC website||València Open data website|
|Current Engagement Activities||Strategies implementation to facilitate the discovery, use, and reuse of available open data||Engagement activities with the community and identified users. Creation of the platform of open data, dynamic visualizations, and analysis with the data of the different dependencies of the Mayor’s Office of Medellín||Create channels of communication with citizen initiatives related to open data in the city. Promote the publication of open data of utility by the agencies of the Mayor of Cali. Promotional events for the open data available in Cali||The position of the City Council in relation to Open Government is that the technologies serve for the citizens to have more knowledge of municipal action and to make possible participation and collaboration with the management of the city; actively listen to citizens in social networks or any other media. They also work on the creation and application of standards as well as the use of transmedia to bring important issues to citizens|
|Developer Companies Identified as Open Data Users||A few companies identified. Note that this identification is not done periodically||There was one company identified||There were three companies identified||The policy of the City Council in Open Government, does not see as relevant to collect data of entities or individuals who have used the datasets|
|Universities or Colleges Identified as Open Data Users||There were several universities identified||There are several universities identified||There were several universities identified||Public Valencian universities collaborate with the city council in organizing activities and events on open data|
|Internal and Official Authorities Identified as Open Data users||There are 73 local entities integrated and identified||City Hall, Metropolitan and regional authority||Utilities, Transportation, Urban planing and Environmental, and Economical authorities||Representatives of the regional government have collaborated in some of the events of the Open Government Chair with the Polytechnic University of València, and both policies—local and regional|
|Urban Observatories or Analysis Groups Identified as Open Data Users||Several urban observatories were identified||Only one Urban observatory was identified||Several urban observatories were identified||N/A|
|Others Identified Open Data Users||Several cities stakeholders considered relevant||Several cities stakeholders considered relevant||Several cities stakeholders considered relevant||N/A|
|Yang et al. ||Technological||Organizational||Legal and policy||New York State|
|Janssen et al. ||Institutional||Task complexity||Use and Participation||Legislation||Information quality||Technical||The Netherlands|
|Martin and Foulonneau ||Governance||Economic issues||Licenses and legal frameworks||Data characteristics||Metadata||Access||Skills||Rennes, France, Berlin, Germany, and UK|
|Barry and Bannister ||Economic||Technical||Cultural||Legal||Administrative||Risk related||Ireland|
|Conradie and Choenni ||Fear of false conclusions||Financial effects||Opaque ownership and unknown data locations||Priority (i.e., local government has more important things to do first)||Rotterdam|
|Wang and Lo ||Data findbility and collecttion||Data layout and format selection||Personal privacy||Data licensing||Data Description||Taiwan|
|Attard et al. ||Technical||Policy/Legal||Economic/Financial Budget||Cultural||N/A|
|Schmidt et al. ||Desire to publish results before releasing data||Legal constraints||Loss of credit or recognition||Misinterpretation or misuse||Loss of control over intellectual property||Organizational constraints||N/A|
|Carrara et al. ||Poor quality Open Data||A lack of standardization or heterogeneity||Difficulties in obtaining the data with the right information (metadata) for the purpose of its usability||European National level|
|Carrara et al. ||Political||Legal||Technical||Financial||Others||European National level|
|Carrara et al. ||Low quality of Open Data||Lack of standardization||Availablity of open data, poor discoverability||Incorrect metadata|
|Carrara et al. ||Little awareness||Low availability||Legal||Technical||Financial|
|Zuiderwijk et al. ||Fragmentation of data||Lack of access to data||Lack of interoperability||Difficulties in processing the data|
|Janev et al. ||Lack of standard procedures for querying government portals||The low quality of metadata||Low reliability and incompleteness of public datasets||The heterogeneity of formats used to publish open data|
|Schmidt et al. ||Paying for data||Varying degrees of data quality in different datasets||Varying standard in how data has been gathered||Varying data formats|
|Legal and policy||1|
|Category||Barriers Most Mentioned in Online Survey||Percentage||n|
|Entire survey||Lack of updates of published data||68%||195|
|Varying and low integration of data sources or data producers||53%|
|Nonexistence or low relevance of URL to access to data||48%|
|Published data is hard to access||47%|
|Time spent searching for data||43%|
|Bogotá||Lack of updates of published data||74%||46|
|Time spent searching for data||54%|
|Nonexistence or low relevance of URL to access to data||48%|
|Published data is hard to access||46%|
|Medellín||Varying and low integration of data sources or data producers||68%||25|
|Lack of updates of published data||64%|
|Nonexistence or low relevance of URL to access to data||60%|
|Time spent searching for data||44%|
|Misinterpretation and misuse of data||44%|
|Cali||Lack of updates of published data||71%||41|
|Misinterpretation and misuse of data||71%|
|Varying and low integration of data sources or data producers||54%|
|Published data is hard to access||54%|
|Lack of updates of published data||63%|
|Varying and low integration of data sources or data producers||53%|
|Misinterpretation and misuse of data||47%|
|Nonexistence or low relevance of URL to access to data||37%|
|Legal and Policy||5||3%|
|Category||Example of Barrier|
|Currency||Lack of updates of published data|
|Accessibility||Varying and low integration of data producers. Nonexistence or low relevance of URL to access to data.|
|Discoverability||Published data is hard to access. Time spent searching for data|
|Usability||Misinterpretation and misuse of data|
|Data Quality||Data catalogs with poor descriptions|
|Standardization||Many formats, difficulty in searching the data|
|Usability||Data difficult to understand||No suitable for reuse data format||Misunderstanding of available data||No relationship among published datasets|
|No applications to validate the reuse of data||No categories for available data||No apparent usability of available datasets|
|No relationship among the datasets available||No relationship among available datasets||There are no examples of reuse|
|Accessibility||No download option||Only one dataset for education||No downloaded option|
|Official data web sites have no data||No transportation data is available||No georeferenced data available||Available data in PDF format|
|Lack of data for transportation||Lack of important attributes||Lack of accessibility for some datasets|
|Lack of accessibility||Reduced discoverability, to find data it|
was necessary to spend a great deal of time
|Data in PDF format|
|More marketing of current initiatives|
|Information related to events, but no data related|
|Data only for visualization, not downloadable option|
|Data Quality||No metadata||Not enough metadata||No suitable format for open data||Duplication of data|
|Gaps in available data||Generalization of data, only for regional or|
national approach, Not local level
|No georeferenced data||Gaps in published data|
|No raw data, the available data is processed||No updated metadata|
|No metadata is related to the data source||Generalization of data, Nor for local reuse|
|Processed data||Published data not georeferenced|
|Technical||No API documentation or examples||No advanced search option||Some web sites based on Flash technology|
|Language issues among datasets||User authentication for some portals|
|No advanced searching options to find datasets|
|JSON file with issues|
|License not clear|
|Available data, but no open|
|The terms of reuse are not clear|
|Lot of available data, but not truly open|
|Currency||Not up to date data||Some datasets are not up to date||Not up to date data||Data not up to date|
|No up to date apps in official websites|
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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Benitez-Paez, F.; Degbelo, A.; Trilles, S.; Huerta, J. Roadblocks Hindering the Reuse of Open Geodata in Colombia and Spain: A Data User’s Perspective. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7, 6. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7010006
Benitez-Paez F, Degbelo A, Trilles S, Huerta J. Roadblocks Hindering the Reuse of Open Geodata in Colombia and Spain: A Data User’s Perspective. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 2018; 7(1):6. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7010006Chicago/Turabian Style
Benitez-Paez, Fernando, Auriol Degbelo, Sergio Trilles, and Joaquin Huerta. 2018. "Roadblocks Hindering the Reuse of Open Geodata in Colombia and Spain: A Data User’s Perspective" ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 7, no. 1: 6. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7010006