The Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic (MoI) was a proud member of the COMSODE consortium for the duration of the project. The organizations represented in the consortium were coming from various backgrounds and each brought a unique contribution to the table. The software houses (EEA, Spinque) played a key role in designing and delivering the data publishing platform Open Data Node and the related search platform, ADDSEN played a key role in coordinating the project, the universities (UNIMIB, Charles University) made sure the project is in line with up-to-date research. This is of course greatly simplified. What was the contribution of the Ministry of Interior in Slovakia?
MoI (represented through the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Government for the Development of the Civil Society) doesn’t have software development capacities and its focus is entirely different — in the public policy area. The COMSODE activities therefore focused on preparing the ground for the adoption of Open Data Node and methodologies, especially in public institutions.
The first major contribution of MoI was the co-creation (together with other consortium partners) of the list of datasets that would later be published (Deliverable 3.1). A lot of discussions happened behind the scenes with civil society representatives and with public organizations which shaped the open data agenda. These were materialized in COMSODE deliverables (especially D5.3 and D5.5, “Contribution to international standards and best practices“) but also in areas that are much harder to measure: work on policy (Slovak Copyright Act, FOIA in Slovakia) as well as strategic documents which drive open data agenda forward (especially the current Open Government Partnership Action Plan of the Slovak Republic).
During the implementation of COMSODE, Slovak Republic embarked on redesign of data.gov.sk open data portal, which was a part of eDemokracia (e-Democracy and Open Government) project. MoI / Government Plenipotentiary’s Office was in close contact with the implementers and the project ended up reusing large parts of COMSODE outputs. The project is expected to go live in late 2015. MoI was also preparing groundwork for a number of other pilot projects. Even though decision making processes in public institutions are typically slow, several public institutions joined the pilots and the interest to use Open Data Node is ongoing even after the project COMSODE conclusion in September 2015.
MoI also actively promoted COMSODE’s outputs (software and methodologies), as well as a wider context of openness (especially in open data, open education and public participation) in workshops, conferences and other events in Slovakia, Europe and beyond. MoI actively participated in prestigious events such as 3rd International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, met with the representatives of the White House in Washington and talked about COMSODE at more than a dozen public occasions with many dozens of individuals and institutions. An Open Data Node talk is scheduled to be presented at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Mexico City in October 2015, which is a top-level event with open policy decision makers from over 60 OGP countries all over the world.
Each partner brought to the table what it could do best. And each also took something away. For MoI, it was inspiring to work on a real product and up-to-date methodologies. A number of people who got in touch with COMSODE at the Ministry came to understood the technology side a bit better and learned to appreciate it. Being inspired by “friendly rivals” in the international community was a healthy motivator to keep pushing the envelope, e.g. in terms of new commitments in the Slovak OGP Action Plan.
COMSODE has concluded its two years of activity in September 2015 but lessons learned remain, and so does the network of contacts built over the duration of the project. The main outputs remain live on the internet: Open Data Node is available on GitHub and can be still improved by community (because it is openly licensed), and the methodologies are also intended for further reuseare openly licensed as well. This is not something common in the government realm and is a great demonstration of the power of openness. COMSODE was a practical example of how to work collaboratively, openly and create results that outlive the project.
About the author:
Jan Gondol, PhD., graduated from the Comenius University (Slovakia) in Library and Information Science. He worked on the COMSODE project at the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic. More information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jangondol