This article originally appeared on "Економічна правда," (Ukrainian for Economic Truth), a Ukrainian news website, in Ukrainian. 

By Kateryna Onyiliogwu, open data team lead on the USAID and UK aid-funded Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services project. 

Ukraine rose 18 positions in the Open Data Barometer, leaving behind Italy, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Poland. And this is just the beginning.

The potential of open data is limitless and can be used to boost the state’s transparency, efficiency, and is used for economic development.

Government data has helped successfully implement social and commercial projects estimated at hundreds of millions of euro per year.  

Often, open data would be mixed up with information posted on public sites. Actually, open data is in an open source format that makes it possible to conveniently process it for either personal use or commercial gain.  

The open data sphere successfully began in 2015, but 2017 became a landmark year with six key achievements that made the government more transparent and boosted the national economy.  

Kateryna Onyiliogwu, open data team lead on the USAID and UK aid-funded Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services project.

Achievement 1: A Breakthrough in International Rankings 

International ratings are important, as they help impartially assess progress made against other countries and affect image and perception worldwide.  

In 2017, international open data experts described Ukraine’s open data achievements as “a breakthrough.” According to the Global Open Data Index compiled by Open Knowledge International, Ukraine ranked 31, having improved on its previous showing by 23 positions compared with the 2016 results.  

The World Wide Web Foundation’s Open Data Barometer placed Ukraine 44th, which is an improvement of 18 positions, leaving behind Italy, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Poland. Ukraine was most applauded for the openness of its central budget and expenditures, procurement, the uniform register of legal persons, [the register of] private business people, NGOs, and national legislation.  

What comes next? To continue improving performance in 2018, we have to focus on open data in ecology, land relations, and health sectors, as these are the priority data sets in which we have been lagging behind.  

Achievement 2: The Number of Opened Data Sets has Increased Twofold 

During the last two years, the demand for open data increased tremendously and the sphere itself demonstrated dynamic growth. The best international practices show that the government must open the data most in demand.  

Early in 2017 the State Agency for E-Governance conferred with businesses and NGOs to expand the number of data sets required to be exposed. Late in December 2017, the government renewed Resolution No. 835, which increases the number of data sets twofold, from 302 to 600, and streamlines the open data format publication norms.  

What is next? The key task for 2018 is to incentivize, control, assist, and monitor the implementation of No. 835, and improve the quality of the published data.  

Achievement 3: Opening Data about Company Beneficiaries

Company beneficiaries is one of the data sets that is most effective for anticorruption efforts and that drew international attention when Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice unveiled it.  

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative also acknowledged Ukraine’s progress and achievements in opening data about company beneficiaries, and the ministry of justice was recognized with an award at the first national Open Data Awards competition.  

In 2016, the International Open Ownership Anticorruption project set out to compile a global registry of company beneficiary owners. We are proud to assert that Ukraine will be the first to enter the register.  

What is next? Open data is just the raw material for investigation and analysis, which is paramount for activists, journalists, and experts to learn how to operate the data.  

Achievement 4: The 1st national competition OD Challenge 

Open data is most effective when used to develop a product and provide a service that contributes to generating income and boosting innovation. In 2017, State Agency for E-Governance supported the Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services project in its efforts to organize the First National Innovative IT Solutions Competition based on the Open Data Challenge, garnering 170 applications from 31 towns of Ukraine. The ten best teams received support to fine-tune their project ideas and during the Open Data Forum in September, the selection panel chose three winners who attracted investments totaling 1.5 million UAH.  

What is next? The new Open Data Challenge cycle kicks off in February 2018 with a prize of 2.5 million UAH, so we look for more startups.  

Achievement 5: Open Data Towns 

Open data is all the rage locally, which is focal for decentralization. Lviv opened 300 data sets, Dnipro—100, while Lviv, Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Vinnytsia, and Drohobych joined the International Open Data Charter.  

What's next? To benefit from open data, it is important to develop priority data set publication standards. Thus, we expect that at least another five towns will join the pioneering towns in 2018 and will audit their data and develop their own portals and analytical products for citizens.  

Achievement 6: Data-Driven Decision Making 

Last year saw a record number of tools and analysis that are key for decision making. For example, “Take Off Permitted” makes it possible to assess free frequencies on international air traffic routes; “Winter is Near” helps monitor whether power stations have stored enough coal; and “Women and Men as Leaders” looks at gender equality issues. 

Opendatabot published analytical material to help better understand Ukrainian business, starting from the number of new companies to the amount of tax debt. All these projects testify to the picturesqueness of how data is used and benefits citizens who use large datasets.  

What is next? The catchphrase for 2018 is “DO NOT STOP.”  

Expectations in 2018

In 2018, the open data boom will prosper, and the State Agency for E-Governance will introduce a re-designed website as the uniform entry point to search for more data sets.  

The disclosure of ecology and health datasets may become key wins in 2018 because data about the quality of water and air is of the greatest interest for citizens and is the most mistrusted.  

More towns will focus on local open data; Open Data Challenge Cycle II will help start businesses based on using open data.  

Argentina will host the key 2018 global event—the International Open Data Conference in September—and we hope Ukraine will have something in store to surprise the world.