10th April 2024

Where is Luxembourg Open Data going?

We’ve all heard about it, some of us have already used it... but can you define exactly what Open Data is? What is its purpose, its benefits? What is its reality in Luxembourg? And, finally, what are the short- and medium-term outlook? We spoke to Francis Kaell,Open Data manager within the government’s Information and Press Department, who provided insights, Mr Kaell works closely with Marie-Astrid Cauquy, from Spuerkeess’s Data Management department, to ensure the proper provision of data..

What does the term “Open Data” mean and what are the objectives?

Open Data is a vast field. The benefits go far beyond the simple economic potential. Access to public authorities’ data is central in a democracy.

Our Open Data portal exists since 2016.  This doesn’t mean that, until then, it was impossible for citizens to access information held by the authorities. However, it was more complicated since each entity had its own access rules. Some data was resold at high prices, but an individual or company wishing to access that public sector data first had to know that the data existed!

Today, an entire data ecosystem is populated by the public authorities, as well as by citizens, companies and associations. So, we have this new structure, and we are trying to develop it further.

There has been work to shed light on data which may not previously have been known about...

This is what we have been doing since we went online: simplifying access to data that the public wants to see, but also highlighting data which most people might not be aware of and, ultimately, contributing to raising awareness of the potential of this open data.

This is an improvement to the public service provided, since it reduces the time taken to access and process information made available by the authorities.

This is essential, both for citizens and for start-ups, who now have access to free of charge quality data and can incorporate it into commercial solutions. The data collected can therefore be used to train artificial intelligence, for example, and help position Luxembourg companies as leaders in their sector on the international stage.

In practical terms, give us some examples of Open Data currently available

The spectrum is very broad. From the quality of bathing water, to vehicle statistics telling you how many 1969 Mustangs are still in circulation in Luxembourg, via the various general development plans implemented by municipalities. The portal currently hosts 1,839 data sets, i.e. more than 24,000 resources.

One of the real benefits of the portal is its ability to allow various data, as well as different users, to communicate with each other, since the public authorities are not the only ones that can publish and update the data. Everyone can create an account to contribute to this ecosystem, because we are not in a one-way system. On the contrary, it is a circular form of exchange, which ultimately benefits all of Luxembourg society.

What can a citizen contribute to the Open Data portal?

In the same way as the public authorities, any user can make their data available to the community. You can, for example, publish weather data from a meteorological station set up in your garden , hence actively contributing to a new dataset.

You can also suggest a re-use, i.e. a practical use, of raw data already available. One example is the Héichwaasser API, which reads and makes available historical river level readings. Or the initiative by an American, living in Luxembourg, who uses data from the Register of Natural Persons to determine the number of people living in the United States who could have a Luxembourg ancestor.

Another example, again from civil society: a proposal to list potentially dangerous pedestrian crossings, based on data from the land registry.

It is a very broad field in terms of form as well as substance. Reuse can take the form of a dashboard, a blog article, an API, etc. To date, we have identified the modest figure of 132 re-uses.

Last, but not least, users can contribute to discussions about datasets or re-use. There are currently around 500 ongoing discussions, for 2,134 active users on the site.

Eight years after the portal went online, how is the Open Data ecosystem faring in Luxembourg?

A real dynamic has been created in recent years! The Open Data Act requires the public sector to publish all unprotected data for re-use, whether you are an individual, company, A.s.b.l or other entity. For data to be considered open, it must be made available without restriction of access, free of charge and with an “open” licence, similar to the “creative commons” licences.

Alongside the Open Data Act, there are other legal texts that address certain types of specialised data, for example, such as the INSPIRE directive which targets geographical data, or which concern access to information.

Not all public sector data can be “open” however, including personal or confidential data, data relating to national security or data subject to intellectual property rights.

Bringing open data to life remains an ongoing challenge. Some data may be less valuable because it has not been recently updated, while other data may be missing. Our mission is to support the authorities in this process and help them to become proactive.

What changes can we expect in the short and medium term?

Recently, the High Value Data Regulation joined the Open Data Act, setting out six priority themes for which data should be made available:

  • Geographical data
  • Environmental
  • Statistics
  • Transport
  • Weather
  • Companies and company properties

Data falling within the scope of this regulation must be made available in the form of mass download and APIs, i.e. it must be possible to download all archived data and connect to these sources via machine-to-machine communication. Finally, this data must be made available under a licence that is as open as possible (public domain or attribution). Organisations subject to this regulation are required to publish their data before June 2024.

This regulation is part of the open data strategy, adopted by Luxembourg at the end of 2022 and providing for a five-year roadmap for its implementation.

This strategy promotes an “open by default” approach within the public sector, i.e. proactive publication of open data. The strategy also recognises the benefits internal to the public sector, such as easier collaboration between authorities and cost reduction via the elimination of redundant data.

The central role of the data.public.lu platform is reinforced by syndication with other data portals such as the statistics portal and the geoportal. This makes it a central search engine for all public sector data.

Data quality is increasingly important: data must be provided in standardised machine-readable formats, accompanied by a complete and up-to-date description.

What if I can’t find the data I’m looking for on the Open Data portal?

You can contact us at info@data.public.lu stating that you want to submit a request to re-use public sector data and specifying the data you want to obtain.

We will then contact the body responsible, and, in the event of a positive response, we will support it to make the data available as Open Data on data.public.lu.

It remains to be said that the body responsible may give grounds for refusal, in which case the person who made the request has the right to appeal to the administrative court.

Tips for diving into the world of open data : 

  1. Create an account on data.public.lu to participate in the open data ecosystem.
  2. View data on topics of interest to you, such as transport, housing, environment, statistics, etc. Read our user guide and interact with the data producers via the discussions section of each dataset.
  3. Find out about open licences that allow data re-use, including “creative commons” licences.
  4. Post your first re-use of data or, if the data you need is not available, submit a re-use request.
  5. Stay up to date on Open Data news via social media or the newsletter at data.public.lu.
Innovation Sustainability