Random Number by Jer Thorp
blprnt_van BY

Society as a distributed network

The Open Data NEXT congress in The Hague was 'sold out' within days after its announcement. The annual congress, organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs does give us a good overview of the current position of Open data within the government. Stakeholders like CBS show us their progress and released extra datasets to mark the moment. And in panel discussions civil servants show their commitment.

At the start of the day Marleen Stikker noted a number of important issues, what evoked a spontaneous applause from the audience from time to time. She outlined the broad context of the current open data developments, being not an isolated phenomenon, but part of a broader call for more transparency and a networked autonomy.

Just like the internet, our society more and more resembles a distributed network. Every individual is a 'node' in the network, in which a citizen can become just as important as larger institutions. There is an increase of initiatives in which citizens are taking the lead: think of energy sourcing (solar panels) or trade exchanges (of e.g. second hand goods). 'Doing it together' is its most important asset, using each others knowledge and abilities. 

The example of the chip card for public transport raised a lot of public outcry: "It's an anti-soical design. The old paper tickets made it possible to pay for others, you no longer have that option". This illustrates the importance of open design processes. The introduction of the chip card failed in this respect. No attention was paid to the fact that this kind of innovation is influencing the way we interact with each other.

There are many other developments that support the idea of an active role for the open design process. Like the upcoming new identity card. It will be incredibly important to create an as wide as possible support for it in society. But also the opening the data on which the calculations of our planning office are based. We need insights and/or new policies that are not based on old models. The Open Planning office should be established soon, society and citizens would really benefit from it.