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What was it?

The Open Data Challenge was Europe's biggest open data competition to date. There were 20,000 euros in prizes to win, and a total of 430 entries from 24 EU Member States. It was open for 60 days - from early April to early June 2011.

The winners were selected by an all star cast of open data gurus, and announced by Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes at the Digital Agenda Assembly in Brussels.

What did people say about it?

There were many more great applications than we could give prizes to!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web + W3C

I believe governments should embrace open data. This competition is a great opportunity to demonstrate why.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President

I would like to hereby express my support to the Open Data Challenge, and commend the Open Knowledge Foundation for organizing this groundbreaking pan-European initiative to stimulate innovation based on public sector information reuse.

Séverin Naudet, data.gouv.fr

As a judge in this competition, I have seen many great ideas from intelligent and innovative people, ideas that are mostly designed to help people to navigate through a jungle of information scattered all across the Internet.

Natasa Pirc Musar, Slovenian Information Commissioner

Open data makes governments transparent, accountable and efficient. It can create social and economic value. At a European level open data could be transformative and this competition will show how.

Nigel Shadboldt, UK Government Public Sector Transparency Board

Open data competitions are the innovation labs of open data, they are important not because they will foster new applications, but because they can expand our horizons and begin to reveal the depth of our imagination, and the potential of the open data opportunity.

David Eaves, Advisor to the Mayor of Vancouver

The Open Data Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to encourage creativity in an area which has enormous untapped potential. It had really impressive results in such a short period of time and will serve as example for the future.

Anke Domscheit-Berg, Government 2.0 Netzwerk Deutschland

The entries in the Open Data Challenge provide a glimpse into what is possible when open data is mashed with great ideas on how to make that data relevant and useful for citizens. Some of the entries are particularly inspiring because they show how the open source community can help tackle the big problems faced by many countries and cities, from environmental issues and health. These geeks are saving the world each line of code at a time. It was my honor to help the Open Data Challenge pick the winners.

Juliana Rotich, Ushahidi

I'm amazed by the vast amount of entries to this competition, it really exceeded my expectations!

Jacob Bøtter, We Mind

I was very happy to see the extremely long list of creative applications that were sent to participate to the Open Data Challenge. I think the list itself and the broad variety of ideas and innovation it represents really illustrate the opportunities offered by ICT for Europe, consumer, businesses and the public sector.

Kaisa Olkkonen, Nokia

Very inspiring entries.

Sascha Venohr, Zeit Online

It is great to see how open data enables creative people to build great applications. Many of the entries in the competition will contribute to increased understanding of how government works and some look like they already are successful commercial ventures.

Peter Krantz, Swedish Government

The ideas entered into the competition were very varied in scope and subject matter - from the very broad and ambitious ideas to more ready-to-produce type ideas, some even with early versions and examples. The collection of ideas show that many of the same issues and challenges exist across national borders, which makes it urgent for journalists, NGOs and government agencies to cooperate on "liberating" government data and developing tools to put data to use in innovative ways.

Olav A. Øvrebø, University of Bergen

The rich field of entries submitted to the OpenData Challenge highlights both the value of exposing public information as well as the incredible creativity that the public will bring to bear on repurposing that data for the benefit of all. A truly virtuous cycle that should be encouraged through efforts such as the Open Data Challenge.

Andy Updegrove, Open Forum Academy

Publishing useful raw data is more difficult for many organizations than we might expect - it requires not just political and budgetary muscles to be flexed, but also a leap of faith that someone, somewhere will do something useful with it. So when data is released publicly, it's imperative that the communities that care about that data build apps to turn that data into impact - to reward that leap of faith. The winning entries in this contest demonstrated impact to a degree deeper than I think any of us could have expected. They also showed the value of using open data in the context of truly interactive applications. This is not just about putting dots on a screen in a pretty way - this is about harnessing open data and open tools to reinvent the way we govern and the way we live.

Brian Behlendorf, World Economic Forum

With sufficient political leadership, open data platforms will deliver large collective benefits to society. Already, we are seeing the beginnings of an astonishingly rich and variegated global information commons that could revolutionize the way we battle public sector deficits and manage grand challenges such as improving public health and shifting to a new green energy paradigm.

Anthony Williams, Author of Wikinomics

Who were the winners?

1st Prize Idea: bePart - Mobile eParticipation for Urban Development (Germany)

In a sentence: A mobile application which facilitates citizens’ participation in urban development. See more.

bePart is my absolute favourite among the shortlisted applications - a novel idea with unquestionable public appeal. Participation in urban planning decisions using public information is currently very difficult, and making this easier could have an impact on the lives of many EU citizens.

Dániel Antal, Euractiv.hu

2nd Prize Idea: Nomen Est Omen (Finland)

In a sentence: What do European public databases say about your family name? See more.

Nomen est Omen sounds like a fascinating dataset, and one that could produce an affecting and interesting final product.

3rd Prize Idea: European Union Dashboard (Belgium)

In a sentence: How does your country contribute to and benefit from different European policies? See more.

The EU dashboard concept is proof that opening up public sector data can unleash powerful new public goods and enable citizens, politicians and social enterprises to build a more dynamic public sphere. The EU dashboard is precisely the kind of application we need to bolster public engagement and make EU institutions more accessible to ordinary citizens. It will take some courage on the part of the EU's leaders to implement the dashboard, but a commitment to invite greater scrutiny and public participation is essential if we are to move European democracy and governance into the 21st Century.

Anthony Williams, Author of Wikinomics

1st Prize App: ZNasichDani (Slovakia)

In a sentence: Uncovers influential people standing behind companies successful in securing contracts with the state. See more.

A pretty app, with no excess clutter, which promises and delivers simplicity. Very easy to use and understand. The suggestions for what to type (for people who are not familiar with the names of Slovakian politicians) was precisely the sort of aid that a new user would need in order to use the app. How to read the results is also very well designed, and very well explained. And it's a brilliant idea. Everybody needs tools like this to help route out undue influence and corruption in their own countries. I would like to help make this app make a big splash.

Laura Creighton, Investor

2nd Prize App: Live London Underground Tube Map (UK)

In a sentence: Plots the current positions of all London Underground trains on a map, and updates the map in real time. See more.

Great visualisation with great ideas for how to handle traffic-movements - and a nice piece to prove how important open traffic data is.

Sascha Venohr, Zeit Online

Amazing visualisation of public transportation. Everybody gets almost the same view as a traffic manager. It really helps to show the public what can be done with open data.

A very nicely designed application, making each subway train and their movements visible on a map of London. In Germany, the open data movement is trying hard to receive real time data from public transport agencies, so far in vain. Maybe seeing this cool application can help to convince their management, as well as that of other European public transport agencies to free their data to the benefit of all.

3rd Prize App: OpenCorporates (UK)

In a sentence: Exposes company data on the web in an open, easy to use form, allowing connections between companies to be crowdsourced. See more.

This is an incredibly powerful and useful app. It combines information collected by scraping the web with Open Data from government bodies, with a new feature for crowdsourcing. It makes accessing government information about companies trivial. This tool is invaluable for those who want to find out more about what it is that corporations are doing. It is a remarkable step forward for transparency and accountability. I could play with this thing for days.

Laura Creighton, Investor

It uses open data to tackle a very important issue: monitoring firms and business in the global market, and trying to make markets more transparent for the benefit of the market itself and the society as a whole.

Lorenzo Benussi, TOPIX

1st Prize Visualisation: Bike Share Map (UK)

In a sentence: Shows the current state of bike share systems in over 30 cities around the world - from London to Barcelona, from Bordeaux to Vienna from and Washington DC to Melbourne. See more.

This application will make the difference between arriving late and stressed or calm and composed after cycling into work by the river. Bike Share Map is a clean, simple and very useful application. Public transport users from the world's most active cities will be able to make informed decisions and will perhaps choose to make more use of bike share initiatives.

Victoria Anderica Caffarena, Access Info Europe

Joint 2nd Prize Visualisation: Mapping Europe’s Carbon Dioxide Emissions (UK)

In a sentence: Shows how much CO2 is emitted by factories and power stations across Europe, and where companies are buying offset credits from in order to comply with their pollution allowance in the European Emissions Trading Scheme. See more.

Joint 2nd Prize Visualisation: Evolution of European Union Legislation (Denmark)

In a sentence: Shows the legislative activity of the European Union in different policy areas over time. See more.

3rd Prize Visualisation: Politiek Inzicht (Netherlands)

In a sentence: Shows what politicians in Dutch parliament are saying by showing word clouds of the most important words said. See more.

We need better ways to understand our politicians, ways that go beyond catching a single quote to illuminate all of their commitments, interests and actions. That is why I really like this app.

My favorite data visualisation was the dutch entry called "Politiek Inzicht", which shows what members of parliament talk about, by visualising tag clouds for all individual speeches, reports and so on given by members of parliament. This is not only done in way which is very fun - it also provides valuable insight into the real political focus of each politician, allows for comparison between individuals within parties or across parties. When I explored this app, I immediately thought - "Thats what we need in Germany too!".

Better Data Award: eHarta Historical Maps (Romania)

In a sentence: A collection of thousands of old georeferenced maps, published and documented with the help of the community. See more.

Of the entries presented, my clear favourite is "eHarta historical maps" which successfully crowd-sourced georeferencing on three sets of historical maps covering all of Romania. It also showed how useful information could be mined from these maps, particularly when it came to discovering areas that have been flooded in the past, and showing the directions in which towns have developed.

Julian Todd, ScraperWiki

Open Data Award: Points of Interest for the Municipality of Örebro (Sweden)

In a sentence: Exposes data about points of interest in the Municipality of Örebro. See more.

This entry is an inspiring example of how datasets can be opened up by public servants acting on their own initiative, and how this needn't always be a time consuming, complex or laborious process. The entrant simply got permission from their boss, then exposed a dataset behind a map they were publishing, and applied an open license. If every public body had someone who did the same thing - a lot of data could be opened up very quickly!

Talis Award for Linked Data: Greater Manchester Bus Timetable Linked Data (UK)

In a sentence: A linked data version of bus timetable and bus stop data for Greater Manchester. See more.

This submission shows a clear understanding, and a demonstration, of the benefits of applying Linked Data principles to real world requirements. The core source data, about Manchester bus routes, has not just been published in isolation, it has been linked to other government published data which was then used to add value to it with geo-logation for instance. The transformation process applied web identifiers for each concept and item in the data set, enabling users and developers to follow the relationships in the data. By applying standard content negotiation they have made the resource easily available for both human eyes, and for application developers thus stimulating innovative uses of the data.

Richard Wallis, Talis

Shortlisted entries

We had hundreds more fantastic entries! You can see a further selection of the shortlisted entries on PublicData.eu. We are going to continue to add to this over the coming weeks.

Who were the judges?

Who is behind it?


Open Knowledge Foundation               Open Forum Academy               Share PSI

The Open Data Challenge was coordinated by Jonathan Gray from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Paul Meller from the Open Forum Academy under the auspices of the Share PSI initiative.

Headline sponsor:


Lead sponsors:

IBM               Microsoft               Talis

Associate sponsors:

Basque Government               LAPSI               Planet Data

VINNOVA               TOP IX               London Datastore

Media partners:

Guardian               La Stampa               Zeit Online



And with a Big Thank You to:

Numerous individuals and organisations who have helped with ideas, suggestions and feedback via Twitter and the euopendata and the open-government mailing lists - you know who you are!

Where can I find open data?

PublicData.eu contains numerous datasets from public bodies across Europe. It federates data from lots of different local, regional and national catalogues.

If you would like to suggest a dataset or a collection of datasets for people to use please register it on CKAN, making sure to add the tag 'opendatachallenge'.

If you run a local, regional or national data catalogue and you would like to have your open datasets included on PublicData.eu, please please drop us a line!