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Open Data – Opportunities for NGOs and businesses in Macedonia

The Metamorphosis Foundation organized a panel on the opportunities offered by open data to NGOs and companies in Macedonia. The director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, Bardhyl Jashari said: “The concept of open data is unknown in Macedonia and this is where I see the role of the NGOs in raising the awareness about the potential that open data has for the NGO sector, for the companies, media and state institutions, and for organizing trainings on the use of open data and presenting open data in a way that is understandable to citizens. The processing of this data will create new knowledge that will increase their value and contribute to an increased efficiency in the work of non-governmental organizations.”

The concept of open data is based on the idea that certain data, especially data held by the state institutions should be free, accessible and made available to everyone who wants to use them, without any copyright restrictions, patents and other control mechanisms.

He further noted that “the access to this data will encourage the development of innovative solutions and the development of various applications for smartphones and for the web, thereby increasing the number of quality services that will be offered to citizens electronically, such as the Open City applications.

The Metamorphosis Foundation has been cooperating with the Open Knowledge Foundation for two years, and this cooperation will assist the NGOs in the building of their capacities for using open data and will support projects that aim to increase transparency and accountability of government institutions at the local and state level. The project is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Milena Marin from the Open Knowledge Foundation emphasized the importance of open data for the increase of transparency of the state institutions: “in a democratic society, citizens have a right to know about the work their government is doing. Therefore, they should have free access to the data and information obtained by the state institutions. Transparency does not only apply to enabling access to data, but to sharing and reusing it – in order to better understand information published by the government, it is often the case that they need to be analyzed and presented in a visual and understandable way, so it could be shared and freely re-used “.

During the event, the Minister of Information Society and Administration Ivo Ivanovski, presented the second OGP Action Plan for 2014-2016 and stated that the first cross-sectoral working groups for the development of the plan will be formed soon.

Eleanor Stewart from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shared the experience of the United Kingdom on how open data helps to improve the education and health system and the safety of the communities. On the other hand, Marco Fioretti, a researcher from Italy, spoke about the importance of learning about open data and their use.

Panelists from Macedonia, Adrian Besimi from the SEEU and Vlora Ademi from Microsoft, focused on the benefits of open data and business innovations.

The event was organized by the Center for Research and Policy Creation and the Network of the Institutes for Policy Analysis, within the framework of the project “Advocating for Open Government”, funded by the European Union, with support from the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Macedonia.