Local Decisions as Linked Open Data

Why this project?

Local decisions contain a lot of information which is relevant for everyone’s daily lives.

  • As a citizen I want to know when my street will be inaccessible due to roadworks.
  • As an entrepreneur I want to know which obligations I must fulfil.
  • As an association I want to know whether I can receive grants and for what amount.
  • As a civil society organisation I want to know how local authorities shape their cultural policy.

We also want to gather information from local authorities at all levels of government in order to maintain insight into the policy fields for which we have competence. Today, data are often collected in a complex and inefficient manner.

Making the information from local decisions easily findable and searchable will offer a great many opportunities to each of these parties!

The project was initiated because of these needs and is intended to efficiently open up and reuse information from local decisions

What are the advantages?

Just imagine that local decisions and the information they contain would be immediately available to all.

For local authorities this would mean that:

  • local decisions are more easily findable and searchable and made available as such on their own websites for citizens, organisations and enterprises
  • the supervision obligations can be automatically met, which makes it no longer necessary to submit decisions
  • other databases can be automatically fed (e.g. mandate databases), which makes it no longer necessary to retype decisions
  • information can be better integrated with search engines like Google to orderly display information about parking rates and markets on a map, for instance.

For both Flemish and other public institutions this means that:

  • they have easy access to up-to-date and accurate (authentic) information which can be processed.

Research project

In the research project we examined whether the method of linked (open) data can be used to meet the information needs and whether this information can be directly opened up for reuse from the minutes management process of a local authority.

In early June 2016, a proof of concept was simulated on a small scale which showed how data from local decisions can be reused on the website of a fictitious municipality, which causes the data on that website to be automatically adjusted. We also tested how the methodology of linked (open) data can offer support in drawing up decisions, which is a big problem according to many local authorities.

We have learned that:

  • despite the fact that the process is very different among local authorities, they still have the same needs, viz. to be able to draw up and publish decisions in a more efficient manner
  • the technology of linked data offers a solution for reusing and exchanging information
  • a publication standard for local decisions is a prerequisite for being able to exchange decisions.

Our conclusion:

The project is feasible and generates benefits for all the parties!


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