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Open data and its institutional ecosystems: A comparative cross-jurisdictional analysis of open data platforms.

Introduction

Several case studies that investigate open data in an empirical and comparative manner are well-cited in the academic literature (Hossain, Dwivedi, and Rana 2016). Conceptually, open data or, open government data, is defined as a combination of various formats and types of datasets publicly available in special government depositories. An equally important operational definition is an open data platform, defined as a special public digital repository that publishes various government datasets in machine readable formats, which could be used by independent developers for third-party mobile applications and online collaborative and participative startups. However, related research with some exceptions (Zuiderwijk, Janssen, and Davis 2014; Dawes, Vidiasova, and Parkhimovich 2016; Styrin, Luna-Reyes, and Harrison 2017) rarely studies surrounding institutional aspects of the phenomena in its systemic integrity. The hypothesis guiding this study was that the implementation of open data could be indirectly shaped by surrounding institutional contexts which, regardless of different socioeconomic nuances, could be classified and categorized accordingly, pointing to the existence of different ecosystems.

This research note is a tentative attempt to explore and demonstrate, in an illustrative manner by means of a comparative cross-jurisdictional analysis of open data platforms in more than 30 countries, consistent institutional aspects in their development. The research relied on an online content analysis of local, sub-national, national and supranational open data platforms, conducted in 2016-2017. This research heavily relies on analysis of rich empirical data derived from diverse administrative contexts that could be observed today in many countries. The findings suggest new agendas for further research.

Open data and institutions

This research is informed by institutional theory, accepted conceptual approach widely used by academic communities, especially when investigating various institutional interactions between various levels of government, whether horizontal (Lindquist 2004; O'Flynn, Blackman, and Halligan 2013), vertical or multi-level (Bache and Flinders 2004). The theory and its related conceptual variations have been utilized well in investigating open data, especially with the active propagation of its key public values and practical aspects such as new cost-effective solutions in various public sector reforms (Janssen, Charalabidis, and Zuiderwijk 2012; Kitchin 2014), e-participation, transparency of governance, e-democracy and trust in government (Zuiderwijk et al. 2012; O'Hara 2012).

The key proponents of institutional theory argue that it is important to study the phenomenon in its close relationship to surrounding multilevel contexts (Meyer and Hollerer 2014; Martin 2014). They indirectly affect how related technology-driven public reforms are adopted by various institutional stakeholders, especially within established organizational structures, models and traditions of decision-making and bureaucratic mechanisms (Najafabadi and Luna-Reyes 2017), hidden political, socioeconomic and institutional barriers. All of these also play roles in these processes equally at federal or central (Mergel 2014; Zhang and Chen 2015), local and even cross-national levels of governance.

Methodology

This cross-jurisdictional comparative study relies on institutional analysis of open data strategies adopted by various nations to understand political, socioeconomic and technological implications of surrounding institutional contexts which directly or indirectly affect decision-making. The research is based on the analysis of rich empirical data obtained from different administrative contexts and reflected in the observation of actual open data projects in different countries.

Thirty country cases were selected representing respectively 12 federal and semi-federal jurisdictions (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States) and 18 unitary jurisdictions (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Sweden). The uneven number of federal and unitary cases is because there are more nations with unitary rather than federal structures. Geographically, all these countries represent all continents and regions of the world, for example, North and South Americas, Western Europe, Far East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle East as well as various transitional regions in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. Economically, cases include both developed and developing countries, which embody a wide variety of socioeconomic platforms, ranging from social democracies, for example, in Europe and Canada, to classic capitalist and corporate economies, for example, in the United States, South Korea and Japan. The nations embrace a wide range of government structures and governance traditions, ranging from various constitutional and absolute monarchies (for example, the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates, respectively) to parliamentary and presidential republics such as in Germany and France, respectively. They encompass nations with different types of government institutions, economies and traditions of state-building and demonstrate, ideally in an illustrative manner, the consistently strong influence of similar surrounding institutional and territorial-administrative frameworks, regardless of different political, economic and cultural contexts.

Each country-case was then systematically surveyed with a content analysis of official open data platforms at different administrative levels (national, sub-national, local/urban) to locate autonomous projects promoted by sub-national or local authorities independently from central government. In general, all these nations provide interesting narratives of open data policies where the successive order of national, sub-national and local governments in implementing open data projects varies from crucial and decisive in one country to sporadic and insignificant in another. As expected, it took more time to search and locate such open data platforms in federal nations rather than in unitary ones due to, often, quite complex structure of administrative and territorial divisions, subdivisions and other federal regions with special status (for example, the United States, Russia, Brazil, Switzerland and Canada). Likewise, the review took longer in larger unitary nations rather than in smaller ones (for example, in such relatively large by territorial divisions nations as Kazakhstan, Sweden, Finland and France) since each has a quite complex top-down and horizontal multilevel institutional structure of government at different regions. All overseas territories of federal and unitary countries with special administrative status were excluded from analysis.

In general, all these nations provided an interesting playground to test assumptions about typical institutional frameworks of the open data movement and understand implications of heterogeneous political and regulatory contexts of the administrative-territorial division on its development. In addition, several open data platforms were analyzed also at supranational levels, namely, in the European Union and, to a lesser degree, in Latin America and sub-African continent to tentatively point to an emerging phenomenon of electronic confederalism. The data was collected between January 2016 and March 2017 through online content and crossjurisdictional analysis of hundreds of official open data portals at national, sub-national and local levels in more than 30 countries.

Open data ecosystems from cross-jurisdictional perspectives

Understanding decentralized ecosystems: focus on federal nations

The autonomous development of open data platforms at local levels is a widespread phenomenon in many nations, especially in federal ones. Due to strong traditions of self-government, regional and municipal authorities tend to develop their own open data platforms at, respectively, sub-national and local levels in addition to actively promoted national projects. This trend was easily traced at different institutional levels in such federations as the United States, Canada, Germany or Australia. Political discretion of local government from federal agencies is important in distinguishing different open data ecosystems and associated digital channels of communication that could exist there in interactions between authorities and citizens separately at federal, sub-national and local levels. For example, in the United States, the independent promotion of open data policies at these three institutional levels has resulted in three distinctive ecosystems: each state or big city in this federal nation seeks to advance its own implementation platforms and promote local projects independently from federal agencies (see Figure 1).

Likewise, public agencies at local levels in the vast majority of federal nations promote their own digital platforms and determine themselves the direction and pace of open data-driven public reforms. This could vary significantly from state to state, or from province to province. For example, in the United States, the promotion of such platforms is carried out at three distinctly different political levels such as federal one at national levels, the Minnesota state open data project at sub-national levels and the Minneapolis open data project at urban levels. The same institutional trend was observed in Canada, for example, in the promotion of the national open data project, the Ontario government and the City of Mississauga open data projects or the development of Germany's federal government, Bavarian state or the city of Munich open data platforms. Similar institutional trends could be consistently traced in many other federal or even some semi-federal nations that have historically been practicing certain models of semi-federalism like in the United Kingdom or Spain (see Table 1).

However, the author could not find a single digital platform that would integrate all such open data services at national, sub-national and local levels. Every state determines itself the scale of such reforms, leading to complex, labyrinthine ecosystems of open data and corresponding legal requirements. Furthermore, often many agencies even at the federal level develop their own service delivery systems since open data platforms are usually provided at different institutional echelons of power not only at national, sub-national or local dimensions but also at the levels of individual departments or ministries. This makes such digital integration in a nation-wide manner especially taxing, if not impossible, from political, administrative, economic and technological perspectives. For example, the diffusion of these unique institutional patterns could increasingly be seen when implementing such multi-dimensional US open data initiatives as data.gov at the federal level (ODPFG 2017) and open.commerce.gov and open.defense.gov, independently, at federal ministry levels respectively in the U.S. Department of Commerce (ODPDC 2017) and the U.S. Department of Defense (ODPDD 2017). The same trend could be seen in almost in all federal nations. These four-dimensional (institutional-federal-sub-national-local) levels of open data transactions are interesting to analyze in countries where the development of e-government projects at local levels play crucial role in the overall promotion of the concept.

Understanding centralized ecosystems: focus on unitary nations

The centralized approach--characterized by promotion of open data within a single nation-wide ecosystem--is another interesting institutional phenomenon. Many nations prefer to promote more unified open data platforms due to administrative, economic or even political traditions of governance, especially unitary countries. For example, Kazakhstan is a good example of the institutional phenomena such as digital centralism (Kassen 2016). Citizens, who live in such local towns as Arkalyk in Kostanay region, Zhezkazgan in Karaganda, Kulsary in the Atyrau regions, and in the capital city of Astana, all have the same single access to a highly centralized system of digital government--egov.kz, which also hosts a single open data depositary--data.egov.kz (see Figure 2).

The online content analysis of official open data projects in more than 30 federal and unitary nations has demonstrated that the centralized promotion of open data platforms seems more cost-effective if used in unitary government contexts (for example, in smaller ones such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kenya, Singapore or Bahrain, or in those states with vast but sparsely populated territories such as Iceland, Saudi Arabia or above-mentioned Kazakhstan). The same trend could be traced in other unitary nations. Some exceptions to this rule, even in digital centralism, includes examples of South Korea, Japan, Finland or Sweden, which are moving to more decentralized or even federated mechanisms of open data politics. However, even though these unitary countries are beginning to develop related projects at national and, sometimes, local levels, they never do it at sub-national levels, therefore, the centralization trend is still consistently strong there (see Table 2).
   Understanding emerging cross-border
   open data ecosystems: focus on
   supranational levels


The cross-border level of open data communication is as relatively new phenomena, since there are not many examples of political integration among countries resulting in developing supranational open data strategies, for example, in pan-European institutions. This phenomenon could be tentatively called e-confederalism in contrast to e-federalism and e-centralism (Kassen 2015). Such cross-institutional dimensions could be traced in transactions among the European Union's open data platforms situated in Brussels, that is, in its administrative capital and residents who live at local or sub-national levels, for example, in the urban areas of Toulouse (the department of Haute-Garonne in France); Rotterdam (the province of South Holland in the Netherlands), Graz (the province of Styria in Austria) or Dresden (the State of Saxony in Germany). The same confederated institutional trends could be observed almost everywhere in Europe at all levels of government, not only in federal countries such as Austria, Belgium or Germany but also even in some unitary nations, for example, in France, Italy and Netherlands (see Figure 3).

E-confederalism as an institutional ecosystem is not that popular internationally: the European Union is, probably, the only example of successful cross-border political and economic integration. However, the political idea to integrate national open data projects into a single supranational data platform seems promising, especially in regions with countries with close cultural, linguistic or historical linkages, for example, North America (e.g., between USA and Canada), Latin America (e.g., between all Spanish-speaking countries of the region), the Sinesian World (e.g., cross-institutionally between all Chinese-speaking nations), the Arab World (e.g., in North Africa and Middle East regions), the Turkic World (e.g., between all Turkic-speaking nations of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) or the post-soviet territory (e.g., in the Union State of Belarus and Russian Federation). There is potential to create new integrative dimensions to promote cross-border open data networks based on the model of the European supranational open government institutions.

Similar intergovernmental platforms are beginning to be actively promoted today in the African region, reflected in the emergence of such supranational projects as The Open Data for Africa platform (ODA 2017) from the African Development Bank or The Open AFRICA Project (OAP 2017), created by the independent group of ICT developers from such nongovernmental organization as The Code for Africa. Other similar cross-border trends could be observed today in Central and South Americas, for example, with the emergence of The Latin American Open Data Initiative (Iniciativa Latinoamericana de Datos Abiertos) or, for short, the ILDA project, which in coordination with local public and private sectors, as well as civil society institutions, tries to promote the use of cross-border open data platforms across the region for various development purposes (ILDA 2017). Moreover, the trend could also be promoted supranationally, not only at con-federal levels between regional institutions, but also in urban contexts, where it makes sense to develop single cross-border open data platforms. Examples include: the cities of Malmo (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark); Tallinn (Estonia) and Helsinki (Finland); Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada), etc. In this respect, the further advancement of supranational confederated cross-regional and cross-urban open data technologies in this direction in other parts of the world could truly transform the concept into extremely multidimensional phenomena both geographically and institutionally (see Figure 4).

Furthermore, global open data platform initiatives such the Open Government Partnership and Open Knowledge Foundation strive to promote the key fundamental values of open data-driven philosophy--collaboration, participation and transparency on a truly planetary level, encouraging all member-states to open their government dataseis in machine readable formats. Or consider the Humanitarian Data Exchange Platform, which promotes cross-border exchanges of datasets that relate to various global humanitarian activities (HDEP 2017) and creates really favorable conditions for the further development of various cross-border and supranational open data platforms in various sectors of economy. In addition, the active promotion of such global networking platforms as the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN 2017), which offers open source software-driven tools for open data developers and e-government practitioners helps to popularize more standardized instruments of dataset publication, resulting in the diffusion of more universal and, thus, more cost-effective digital solutions.

Discussion: open data ecosystems and implications for further development

The cross-jurisdictional analysis of open data platforms in more than 30 nations clearly demonstrates that the institutional context is crucial in understanding the differences in the character and intense of related power relationships and networking that are being created and established between central and local authorities, the presence of which provides a strong empirical basis to support the theoretical argument on the existence of two completely different ecosystems of open data, that is, e-federalism and e-centralism. In this respect, all these countries provided almost an ideal playground to test the assumption and understand fundamental features of unique federal and unitary models of implementation policies that could presumably be extrapolated into a wider global setting. Therefore, government practitioners and researchers could find this perspective useful in understanding the institutional nature of open data mechanism and use the proposed research framework in future investigations of this truly multidimensional phenomenon.

E-federalism: implications and key features

Political implications

The development of open data in such nations as the USA, Germany or Australia is an ideal example of e-federalism in one particular jurisdiction since implementation of almost all open data-driven reforms there perfectly fits the multilevel nature of power relationships in a typical federal union where high levels of discretion of local authorities and their political autonomy from central or even from sub-national authorities could be quite extensive. This explains the extreme diversity of existing open data policies in these countries, demonstrating a wide set of realization approaches and financial capabilities of local authorities which could vary not only from state to state but also from county to county even in one state. This decentralization policy could be especially noticeable in large populated regions such as California in the USA, North-Rhine Westphalia in Germany or New South Wales in Australia, for example, between various neighborhoods in major cities such as Los Angeles, Cologne or Sydney.

Economic implications

Federalism implies separate funding at all institutional levels and local authorities are usually responsible for financial support of related open data projects at their instances, which implies that they could potentially face issues with funding due to limited resources. This financial support from local budget may vary from one state to another due to a number of objective and even subjective reasons, for example, as a result of relatively small local taxpayer basis in less populated or prosperous counties and municipalities or because of debates that may exist between executive and legislative branches of power at local levels in regions which are politically polarized by bipartisanship competition, lack of incentives or desire of local leaders to participate in open data movement, etc. As a result, the financial capabilities of local and sub-national authorities to fund public open data platforms may vary extremely. Apparently, municipal authorities in major and middle-sized cities have much better financial conditions to fund such projects than in smaller towns or counties.

Technological implications

The most interesting feature of e-federalism is a lack of single digital platform, single authorization center and government agency that oversees and administers implementation policies at all institutional levels. Moreover, despite the fact that there are a huge number of single databases that are processed and accessed by various agencies at federal levels, many of them are created and used only at sub-national levels. In this respect, databases are divided into three main categories in accordance with the level of government activity: national, sub-national and local. Another feature is the promotion of more decentralized technological strategies in advancing related projects.

E-centralism: implications and key features

Political implications

The foremost implication of e-centralism is a highly concentrated implementation strategy pursued by government in regard to any open data-driven reforms at all institutional levels. Such mechanism of decision-making is especially strong in unitary contexts due to top-down character of relationships between central and local authorities, which is dominated by control and scrutiny, often leaving no discretion in decision-making at local levels, since almost all open data projects in provinces are connected directly to a nationwide platform. In this regard, it is necessary to note that, in general, e-centralism as a strategy in promoting open data may seem to be more cost and time effective but, politically, less democratic.

Economic implications

The most interesting feature of e-centralism is a key role of national government in promoting open data platforms at the expense of public funds, mostly, from central budget. As a result, e-centralism could be extremely beneficial in unitary institutional contexts due to single funding strategies. In fact, government is often the only financial supporter of all technology-driven public sector reforms in many unitary states, which itself urges local businesses to modernize their e-commerce platforms and resort to e-services created within the framework of various open data initiatives both at national and local levels. Another constant component in e-centralism is that the co-pay of local budgets in funding such projects is minute and insignificant due to a really limited number of local initiatives. Probably, this partly explains why independent local or urban open data platforms tend to advance in more economically developed unitary nations rather than in emerging and transitional ones due to availability of financial, human or technological resources. It could especially be seen in such developed unitary nations as Japan, South Korea, Finland and Sweden, where government authorities are promoting their own platforms at local levels, though never at sub-national levels, therefore, centralization trend is still consistently strong there.

Technological implications

The key feature of e-centralism as an ecosystem is the fact that there is always a single platform that incorporates all digital services which, in turn, is itself supervised by specialized nationwide agencies. Another characteristic is a strict top-down structure of related projects both at national and local levels, which, in fact, themselves are widely regarded by policymakers as institutional representations of a single national project. This approach perfectly fits the centralized structure of public administration in many unitary nations, which favors universalism in promoting single legislation, centralized budget planning, single public procurement system, etc. As a result, e-centralism leads to the creation of not only universal technological platforms but also single databases and nation-wide communication networks, which are easier to maintain from a technological point of view due to simplicity of management (see Figure 5).

In this respect, in order to better understand organizational and technological nature of federated and unitary ecosystems of open data policies in various jurisdictions, it seems logical to propose the following structure in the analysis of its key features: main slogans, key pillars, political, economic and technological implications as well as the analysis of advantages and disadvantages of e-federalism and e-centralism as an implementation policy (see Table 3).

Conclusion

This research note has shown that the scale of progression and tempo of stratification of the institution of open data ecosystems is multidimensional, whether it is at local, sub-national, national or supranational levels of governance. This cross-jurisdictional comparative view has demonstrated that open data platforms, which are promoted today all over the world, are affected by surrounding institutional contexts, especially in countries with different forms of government and traditions of administrative and territorial division. This has resulted in the evolution of three such distinctly separate institutional ecosystems of open data, which could tentatively be denominated as e-federalism, e-centralism and e-confederalism.

The analysis of more than 30 open data platforms promoted today at different institutional levels in various nations demonstrates that e-federalism as an ecosystem is more popular in countries that historically prefer to promote federated government institutions. On the other hand, e-centralism tends to be universally widespread phenomena in unitary contexts. Moreover, the emergence of such currently unique trend as e-confederalism at continental levels creates an interesting institutional precedence, the lessons on which could be useful for policymakers and practitioners in various parts of the world, especially for those who are interested in further development of various bilateral or multilateral cross-border integrated solutions, for example, between countries and even at sub-national and urban contexts, where it makes sense to develop such cross-border open data-driven ecosystems.

The ever-increasing trend of standardization, which could be observed in the development of open data solutions, could provide a promising stepping stone to promote universal realization mechanisms. Universalization may result in the creation of cost-effective instruments of public sector reforms at global levels, provided that practitioners would keep in mind that nations and their governments are organizationally and institutionally diverse. In this regard, universal tools of implementation in open data, which are often propagated regardless of different institutional contexts, should be updated and reclassified in accordance with established traditions of public administration at different institutional levels, especially in countries with different mechanisms of related decision-making and forms of governance. Such universal institutional solutions and related standardized digital platforms should be categorized in accordance with established open data ecosystems. National, intergovernmental and international nongovernmental agencies should take into account these institutional differences in promoting universal public values of open government philosophy, advancing related open data platforms or assessing the development of various digital solutions in countries with different traditions of public administration and governance, for example, in updating the methodology of such global indices as the biennial global e-government survey from the United Nations, The Global Open Data Index from the Open Knowledge Foundation, The Open Government Index from the World Justice Project and many other assessing methodologies.

The global institutional level of open data cooperation is a relatively new phenomenon since it appeared only after such international organizations as United Nations, World Bank Group, World Economic Forum, Open Knowledge Foundation and recently Open Government Partnership began to cooperate with national governments and non-governmental organizations all over the world in launching various global open data projects in an attempt to develop universal tools of technology-driven reforms, assessing socioeconomic readiness of individual nations to adopt various open government, e-participation and other e-democracy technologies, comparing their achievements and results at global levels, etc. In this respect, updated open data agendas could provide a promising platform for global cooperation of various countries at supranational levels. Participation in such global projects could be a matter of national prestige, a certain indication of its political commitment to advance digital democracy, providing good opportunities to exchange knowledge and expertise as well as share best practices, which, in turn, mean better options to choose the most appropriate models to follow. It is especially important for transitional societies. Standardization as a result of global cooperation between national governments could even help to generate generic open data implementations tools and universal technological platforms such as standardized open data portals, wiki-platforms, collaborative technologies, etc.

References

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--2016. E-government in Kazakhstan: A Case Study of Multidimensional Phenomena. London: Routledge.

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Maxat Kassen is a Professor of Political Science in Eurasian Humanities Institute in Astana, Kazakhstan. He is a former head of foreign information service in the Kazakh national information agency--Kazinform (2003-2004). His research focuses on studying e-government technologies, globalization of open data phenomena and digital diplomacy.

Caption: Figure 1. Three Levels of Open Data Ecosystems in the USA Open data ecosystems in the United States

Caption: Figure 2. The Fundamental Principles of Digital Centralism in Kazakhstan

Caption: Figure 3. The Observation of Confederated Patterns in the Development of Multi-Institutional Open Data Platforms in the European Union (Sample Data, as of March, 2017)

Caption: Figure 4. The Potential Development of Supranational Cross-Regional and Cross-Border Open Data Platforms

Caption: Figure 5. The Promotion of Single Open Data-Driven Communication Networks, Regulation, Funding and Databases in E-Centralism
Table 1. The Consistent Patterns in Institutional
Division Between National, Sub-National and Local Open
Data Platforms in Federal or Semi-Federal Countries
(Sample Data, as of July 2016)

                Open data platforms at different institutional
                     levels (their official web-addresses)

Nations        Federal levels           Sub-national levels

United         The Federal Government   The State of Washington
States         (data.gov)               (data.wa.gov)

Canada         The Federal Government   The Ontario Province
               (open.canada.ca)         (ontario.ca)

Germany        The Federal Government   The Free State of Bavaria
               (govdata.de)             (opendata.bayern.de)

Brazil         The Federal Government   The State of Pernambuco
               (dados.gov.br)           (dadosabertos.pe.gov.br)

Mexico         The Federal Government   The State of Coahuila
               (datos.gob.mx)           (coahuilatodotransparente.
                                        gob.mx)

Australia      The Federal Government   The New South Wales
               (data.gov.au)            (data.nsw.gov.au)

United         The Central Government   The Government of Scotland
Kingdom        (data.gov.uk)            (statistics.gov.scot)

Spain          The Central Government   The Government of Catalonia
               (datos.gob.es)           (dadesobertes.gencat.cat)

Russia         The Federal Government   The Government of Leningrad
               (data.gov.ru)            Region (lenobl.ru/opendata)

Switzerland    The Federal Government   The Canton of Thurgau
               (opendata.swiss/en)      (ogd.tg.ch)

United Arab    The Central Government   The Emirate of Dubai
Emirates       (bayanat.ae)             (khda.gov.ae/en/opendata)

Belgium        The Central Government   The Government of
               (data.gov.be)            East Flanders
                                        (overheid.vlaanderen.be/
                                        opendata)

               Open data platforms at different
               institutional levels (their
               official web-addresses)

Nations        Local levels

United         The City of Seattle
States         (data.seattle.gov)

Canada         The City of Mississauga
               (data.mississauga.ca)

Germany        The City of Munich
               (opengov-muenchen.de)

Brazil         The City of Recife
               (dados.recife.pe.gov.br)

Mexico         The City of Torreon
               (datostrc.gob.mx)

Australia      The City of Sydney
               (data.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au)

United         The City of Edinburgh
Kingdom        (edinburghopendata.info)

Spain          The City of Barcelona
               (opendata-ajuntament.barcelona.cat)

Russia         The City of Saint Petersburg
               (data.gov.spb.ru)

Switzerland    The City of Zurich
               (data.stadt-zuerich.ch)

United Arab    The City of Dubai
Emirates       (dm.gov.ae/wps/portal/opendata)

Belgium        The City of Ghent
               (data.stad.gent)

Source: own elaboration.

Table 2. The Consistent Patterns in the Institutional
Diffusion of Centralized Open Data Ecosystems in Unitary
States (Sample Data, as of February 2017)

               Open data project at different institutional
                   levels (their official we-addresses)

                                               Sub-national
Nations        National levels                    levels

Afghanistan    The Central Government              n/a
               (afghanistandataproject.org)

Belarus        The Central Government              n/a
               (opendata.by)

Estonia        The Central Government              n/a
               (opendata.riik.ee)

Georgia        The Central Government              n/a
               (opendata.ge)

Kazakhstan     The Central Government              n/a
               (data.egov.kz)

Saudi Arabia   The Central Government              n/a
               (data.gov.sa)

South Korea    The Central Government              n/a
               (data.go.kr)

Japan          The Central Government              n/a
               (data.go.jp)

Finland        The Central Government              n/a
               (opendata.fi)

Hungary        The Central Government              n/a
               (opendata.hu)

Sweden         The Central Government              n/a
               (oppnadata.se)

Iceland        The Central Government              n/a
               (statice.is)

                     Open data project at
                different institutional levels
                 (their official we-addresses)

Nations                  Local levels

Afghanistan                   n/a

Belarus                       n/a

Estonia                       n/a

Georgia                       n/a

Kazakhstan                    n/a

Saudi Arabia                  n/a

South Korea    The City of Seoul
               (data.seoul.go.kr)

Japan          The City of Tokyo
               (opendata-portal.metro.tokyo.jp)

Finland        The City of Turku
               (turku.fi/avoindata)

Hungary        The City of Debrecen
               (opendata.debrecen.hu)

Sweden         The City of Stockholm
               (dataportalen.stockholm.se)

Iceland        n/a

Source: own elaboration.

Table 3. The Key institutional Features of E-Federalism and
E-Centralism as an Ecosystem for the Implementation of
Open Data Platforms

Key features        E-federalism

Key slogans         Open data as a multidimensional collaborative
                    project

Key pillars of      1. Decentralization of open data policies;
ecosystems          2. Autonomy and self-governance is more
                       important than control;
                    3. Three levels of implementation: national,
                       sub-national and local.

Key political       1. Autonomy of the local open data projects
implications           from the central government;
                    2. Separation of federal and local open
                       data legislation.

Key economic        1. Separation of federal and local funding
implications           in the sphere;
                    2. Local funding depends on the size
                       of the region;
                    3. Large urban areas have better
                       financial options.

Key technological   1. Separation of federal, state and local
implications           infrastructure and networks;
                    2. No single national open data portal;
                    3. Three levels of government databases:
                       national, subnational and local ones.

Key advantages      1. More democratic nature of horizontal
of ecosystems          political relationships between central
                       government and local authorities in building
                       various open data projects;
                    2. Proactive stance of regions and local
                       neighborhoods in communication with higher
                       echelons of Power and general tendency to
                       value and defend local interests;
                    3. High level of discretion and freedom of
                       local authorities to improvise in the
                       open data sphere;
                    4. Competition between states, counties and
                       major cities in building local open data
                       platforms, the results of which could be
                       used by local leadership for PR purposes;
                    5. Activity of community leaders and local
                       NGOs at local levels in social media and
                       communication with local authorities;
                    6. Strong sense of neighborhoods and adherence
                       to one particular community which encourages
                       civic engagement, e.g. in launching various
                       independent open data-driven projects or
                       peer-to-peer initiatives;
                    7. Strong traditions of self-governance at local
                       levels, which is generally conducive for the
                       development of entrepreneurial sense and more
                       proactive political stance among citizenry,
                       which, in turn, is beneficial itself for the
                       advance of civil and information societies,
                       presumably the most important prerequisites
                       of digital democracy.

Key                 1. Directives of central government are
disadvantages          only related to federal agencies, which
of ecosystems          may not work at the level of states and
                       municipalities due to ideological and
                       partisanship opposition;
                    2. The incentives to develop open data platforms
                       at local levels may vary from state to state
                       depending on the intensity of political
                       signals coming from non-governmental
                       and business sectors;
                    3. Political traditions and public mindsets
                       that indirectly affect the open data
                       policies, too, may be extremely different
                       at sub-national and local levels even within
                       one particular region;
                    4. Financial capabilities of local governments
                       to fund open data-driven public reforms could
                       be very limited due to the small size of
                       local budgets;
                    5. The focal budget for open data related
                       programs depends on the size of local
                       taxation basis which vary extremely;
                    6. No universal open data portal and single
                       realization policy that would dramatically
                       simplify the project management and
                       administrative control;
                    7. The government databases are divided into
                       national, sub-national and local ones which
                       make the task of integration and public
                       control really challenging and cumbersome,
                       especially at local levels.

Key features        E-centralism

Key slogans         Centralization is a cost-effective solution
                    for all levels of government.

Key pillars of      1. Centralization of open data policies;
ecosystems          2. Hierarchy and administrative control
                       is crucial to ensure cost-efficiency;
                    3. Single national strategy in building open
                       data platforms at all levels of government.

Key political       1. Usual monopoly of central government in
implications           developing open data projects;
                    2. Universal open data legislation and top-down
                       structure of decision making.

Key economic        1. Single national funding is prevalent
implications           in the sphere;
                    2. Local funding is usually very limited;
                    3. Opportunities for public control of
                       spending and regional lobbying are limited.

Key technological   1. Universal open data portal, single
implications           telecommunication networks and databases;
                    2. Centralized technological administration
                       of all public 1CT projects;
                    3. The promotion of more centralized
                       government databases.

Key advantages      1. The single open data policy is easier
of ecosystems          to realize and implement at the
                       national level;
                    2. The executive directives of national
                       authorities are compulsory to implement
                       at all levels of government;
                    3. The provisions and deadlines of the
                       directives are usually not negotiable
                       at local levels;
                    4. Almost all open data projects are funded by
                       national budget, reducing to a minimum the
                       chances of implementation failures caused
                       by shortages in financing;
                    5. Local authorities usually receive all
                       necessary technological and financial support
                       from the center, which creates better chances
                       to develop more universal, standardized and,
                       thus, cost-effective solutions in the open
                       data sphere for all regions and
                       municipalities;
                    6. The universal open data portal simplifies
                       the task of the technological management,
                       organization and administration
                       by national authorities;
                    7. The existence of centralized government
                       databases allows to integrate various public
                       services into one universal platform with
                       single authorization procedures, single
                       computer applications and telecommunication
                       networks, which again simplifies dramatically
                       the management of such ecosystems at all
                       levels of government.

Key                 1. Less democratic authoritarian style of
disadvantages          political decision-making in the sphere with
of ecosystems          no room for discretion and criticism from the
                       lower administrative levels in the unitary
                       ecosystem of open data;
                    2. Incompetence and mismanagement in the
                       government leadership at national levels may
                       result in failures at local levels due to
                       wrong or misin-formed decision-making, which
                       could be automatically duplicated many times
                       at all institutional levels;
                    3. No competition between regions in the
                       development of local open data projects since
                       all of them use the same universal platforms,
                       share the same databases and use the same
                       telecommunication networks;
                    4. Weak traditions of self-government and
                       self-reliance which may impede the emergence
                       of civic engagement platforms at local levels;
                    5. There is no need for local authorities to
                       compete at sub-national levels for the budget
                       assignations from the center since they are
                       guaranteed anyway in the unitary system of
                       government, and therefore, no incentives to
                       resort to cost-effective strategies in
                       building more efficient open data
                       ecosystems.

Source: own elaboration.
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Author:Kassen, Maxat
Publication:Canadian Public Administration
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Date:Mar 1, 2018
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