Open data in Ukraine: finding a balance between access renewal and security risks

Ukraine is the only country in the world that is developing the field of open data in conditions of full-scale war. Thanks to open data, citizens can qualitatively analyze the situation in the country and increase the transparency, accountability and efficiency of state bodies, even in conditions of martial law. Based on open data, more than 120 innovative products have been developed that make life easier for citizens.

This was emphasized by Valeriia Tkach, Deputy Director of the Department of Electronic Services Development of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, during the offline discussion “Open data: the path to transparency and accountability.” The event took place within the Open Government Week.

At the start of the full-scale invasion, access to the open data portal was completely shut down. It was renewed on August 1, 2022, but not to all valuable datasets. However, work on the gradual and safe return of access to open data is still underway. In particular, the Ministry of Digital Transformation is working on the development of the National Open Data Strategy of Ukraine for 2025-2027, which will take into account the conditions of martial law and ensure an effective approach to the development of this area.

Digital Transformation Activity is a project that will continue to develop the field of open data and initiatives implemented by the USAID / UK aid project “Transparency and Accountability in State Administration and Services / TAPAS” for eight years, said Nadiia Konashchuk, Head of the Open Data Sector of the Digital Transformation Activity. “Thanks to the support of international donors, significant results were achieved in the development of open data. Transparency of public administration, anti-corruption mechanisms, development of technological business and civil society initiatives — Ukraine demonstrates progress even during the war. Because transparency is the basis for international cooperation and economic interaction.”

People’s Deputy of Ukraine Yaroslav Yurchyshyn joined the event online and noted the importance of access to public information: “We are only building our democratic institutions, and very often still post-Soviet approaches in state structures begin to change only when, on the basis of available data and very clear requests, society formulates motivation and argumentation regarding the necessary directions of development of public services and their effectiveness”.

At the event, the concept of Data+ — a communication platform for joint work of stakeholders in the field of open data — was presented for the first time. Among them: representatives of the Secretariat of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ministry of Digital Transformation, information managers, data users, experts and other interested parties. The platform was created to support transparency and development of open data in Ukraine. Among the tasks of the platform:

  • systemic dialogue between information administrators and information users;
  • improvement of state policy and legislation;
  • analytical work;
  • coordination of open data advocacy efforts;
  • international cooperation.

Oleksii Dorogan, CEO of BRDO, commented on the task that the Data+ platform will help solve: “After a full-scale invasion, access to open data was significantly limited, which is quite expected. But it is also to be expected that the community that values ​​and works with open data is unhappy with this state of affairs. During these 2.5 years of full-scale war, the question crystallized: where is the moment when we should return from limiting open data, what exactly are we limiting, how and why. It seems that soon it will be possible to reach a consensus that this issue should be resolved now.”

According to Oleksii, society has a strong demand for justice, which is violated when, from the perspective of the community, sensitive data remains open, rather than non-sensitive, most popular data – closed.

“It is necessary to find a balance between how to restore access to open data that is necessary, in particular, for the transparent and accountable reconstruction of Ukraine, but at the same time not to create new security risks. If a certain consultative and advisory body appears on the Data+ platform, where there would be representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine, information administrators and the public, and joint decisions would be made in it regarding priority data sets, then this, in my opinion, could work,” emphasized Oleksii Dorogan.

A detailed concept of the Data+ platform is available here (in Ukrainian).

You can join the Data+ first meeting, which will take place on June 17-21, by registering here.

In addition, take the survey of open data users.

The event was implemented with the support of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, the Office of the Ombudsman of Ukraine and thanks to the project “Support of Digital Transformation” with the support of USAID and UK Dev. BRDO is the partner of the event.