Open Data: What it is and who it concerns – The BoG initiatives

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It is not uncommon for scientists, professionals and citizens to search from multiple sources, not always easily accessible, various data that are useful to them either in the context of their work, in the context of investment and other decisions or simply in terms of information. One of the simplest examples is the information that a prospective borrower is looking for information on interest rates in order to budget, among other things, if he can repay the loan, but also to claim the best interest rate on the market. Another typical case is the information that a prospective home buyer is looking for regarding property price indices, what time phase they are in, if they are on the rise, etc.

This is where the Open Data comes in, in simple words data easily accessible on a range of topics that offer valuable information to anyone interested in a range of issues. Data including monetary economy, real estate market, public finances, balance of payments and external debt, exchange rates and gold prices, financial accounts, banking but also research, culture and social responsibility. Access to this data, such as interest rates, property price indices, exchange rates, the price of gold and dozens of other issues is easily done through digital platforms

The Importance of Open Data – Open Data in Europe and Greece

As pointed out in the recent report of the Bank of Greece in the era of digital transformation and Open Information, it is constantly established that “Open Data” is a lever of economic growth and provides great economic and social benefits. Through them, the interoperability of the systems is promoted, the transparency of the decisions is ensured, new innovative ideas are created and the efficiency in the use of resources is enhanced.

The availability of open data is a European priority in the context of digital transformation and many EU Member States are moving in this direction. According to the annual open data maturity study, European countries are classified into four categories depending on the degree of open data availability: model countries, advanced countries, follow-up countries and start-up countries.

According to the relevant report for 2021, most European countries are ranked in the part of the spectrum that corresponds to the highest scores. France, Ireland, Spain, Poland, Estonia and Ukraine belong to the “model countries” category. Nine European countries are included in the next category “advanced countries” and have very similar scores, as these scores account for 3% of all countries surveyed.

Greece for 2021 was rated with 82% in the maturity index for open data and belongs to the category of “following countries”. 85% of countries participating in the maturity survey state that open data is used in policy-making processes in their country and 89% of these countries state that open data is used in decision-making processes, e.g. from public services to their day-to-day operations. In 2021 it was found that many Member States are pursuing the implementation of the European Open Data Directive.

In conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic awareness campaign, the value of open data to society is constantly being highlighted. Many EU countries have national dashboards, which record the evolution of the pandemic and vaccinations, including Greece.

The Open Data Portal of the Bank of Greece – Accessible to all

The Bank of Greece created the Open Data portal (opendata.bankofgreece.gr) in 2018.

As a pioneering central bank, it realized early on that it was important to provide researchers and the general public with data in a format that allows, by international standards, to be read and processed directly by computers.

Through the digital portal, the provision of data in the form of “Open Data” helps their use and processing, allowing those interested to easily, quickly and efficiently access the information they are looking for. Since the launch of the portal in July 2018 until today, 51 data sets have been made available through the Portal and more than 3,000 files have been posted. At this stage, data sets are available which are curated by the Directorates of Statistics, Economic Analysis and Studies and Financial Activities and the Center of Culture, Research and Documentation of the Bank, certified with the Silver Certificate by the Open Data Institute.

As of July 2021, the portal received 40,000 visits, while more than 11,000 downloads were made. According to estimates made using special software, over 30% of visitors came from abroad. The portal allows users to access not only the most up-to-date information they are interested in, but also complete historical data, ie earlier dates.

How can they eventually become useful for the development of the economy?

Although access to open data is quite simple, even for the average citizen without special computer knowledge, as mentioned by the BoG in APE / BPE, it is estimated that they better meet the needs of data users from the financial sector and, perhaps, the academic community. The financial sector will have the certainty that it uses the latest available information on the economy, but also will have a complete picture of the revisions of the data. This direct access to information reduces uncertainty, supports investment initiatives and facilitates access to markets.

Because in the end they concern every citizen

Although, as mentioned above, open data is primarily of interest to professionals, the expansion and deepening of the market and the reduction of risk will ultimately enhance healthy competition (as everyone will have direct and equal access to information / data) and the liquidity of the economy. , with the final beneficiary the investor and the ordinary consumer.

In its next steps, the BoG plans to organize a competition (Datathon) for the collection and development of innovative ideas and solutions through the interconnection of the Bank’s Open Data with other open data and systems. Can we explain it in simple words? What will be the benefits of this move?

The organization of the Datathon competition planned by the Bank of Greece aims at the search for innovative solutions and ideas, as well as the creation of original applications that promote the use of open data. These innovative ideas and applications are expected to have a significant impact on the economy, society and the environment. The contribution of public and business executives, as well as universities, research institutes and civil society, will contribute to the creation of an “ecosystem” of innovation, strengthening the openness of the Bank’s data and promoting their interconnection with other systems, further enhancing transparency, both internally and externally.

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Source: Capital

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