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ERIC Number: ED504042
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Mar-30
Pages: 83
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Digital Broadband Content: Public Sector Information. OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 112
OECD Publishing (NJ1)
Public bodies hold a range of information and content ranging from demographic, economic and meteorological data to art works, historical documents and books. Given the availability of information and communication technologies (ICTs) public sector information can play an important role in producing innovative value-added services and goods. Furthermore, these technologies also provide a wider population better access to educational and cultural knowledge. Both commercial opportunities and the wider spread of information have positive economic and social benefits. Knowledge is a source of competitive advantage in the "information economy", for this reason it is economically important that there is wide diffusion of public information. Governments also have a basic commitment that citizens have to access national cultural heritage such as paintings, monuments and books; and this is also important for social inclusion. To contribute to better conditions for learning, the digitisation of cultural and educational resources is fundamental. New communication tools, such as interactive Web sites and games, often also reach groups of people with no previous interest, notably if they allow personal participation. OECD countries have recently initiated many programmes which use these tools for cultural and educational content. The main emphasis of policies has shifted to improving access to available resources, and preservation of content created digitally ("digitally-born") receives increasing attention. Public Sector information (PSI) constitutes the "raw material" for a variety of products and services in applications across a wide range of industries, and analysis has concluded that it is an important economic asset. This study gives an overview of the main areas of PSI and their commercial applications. Currently geographic and meteorological information have the greatest economic potential; and so far their use has had positive impacts on employment and growth. Specifically combining various types of PSI has led to the development of innovative products such as location-based services. Technological innovation including the development of mobile networks open up further markets for PSI-based services, and better data quality and e.g. increased interoperability open up cross-border services. Industry structure has also been affected by ICTs; often higher value added producers have taken the place of previous intermediary distributors in the production value chain. Further, the roles of public and private firms are changing and the growth of mobile services markets stimulates the development of PSI business re-use further. To develop competitive PSI markets, most OECD countries have attempted to ensure private service providers face the same conditions as public institutions, enabled private sector access to public data and clarified conditions under which these data can be used. For example portals have been developed that provide an overview of available PSI and conditions for use. Important questions are: which access regimes and re-use arrangements maximise the positive economic and other benefits of PSI, and which may for example develop commercial activities based on government-created content/data. In some OECD countries access regimes allow commercial re-users have cheap and readily available access to PSI. They then add value to the public data and re-sell it to firms and consumers. Some studies argue that such open access regimes improve competitive market conditions for PSI re-use, stimulate economic growth and create jobs. However there are also arguments that commercial re-users may have low-cost access to data which was costly to create for the government, and that taxpayers may pay twice for the PSI content (once for creation of government content, and the second time when purchasing the content from a commercial re-user, although provided re-use is non-exclusive, users can also go to the original source for the original information, presumably at lower cost, but without value-added services). On the other hand, in other OECD countries, there are access regimes where the public sector holds public sector information for its own use or employs cost-recovery strategies that allow only limited and potentially expensive access. In this scenario there are arguments that potential consumers of this data may have only restricted access to it, and that this approach is more costly to the consumer and for the taxpayer. Moreover, the potential economic gains from development of new commercial activities based on PSI reuse may be foregone. The economic and equity arguments surrounding commercial re-use of public sector information and content are complex and deserve considerably more analysis and policy attention. If public sector content is to be more widely available through ICTs, it is crucial that cultural institutions have adequate in-house capacities and sustainable financial resources for digitisation. In many countries the cultural sector has faced cuts in public funding, and efficient digitisation has been a challenge for small and regional institutions. While public resources will remain important, private-public partnerships and the development of e-learning markets provide alternatives to finance content digitisation. Public sector information can also be sold and monetized to develop self-sustaining revenue streams helping data creation and digitisation efforts. Networks and interactive communities are also important because they allow cost reductions along the lines of open software development. With respect to copyright many challenges for content preservation and diffusion arise. This study addresses challenges and related policy issues with respect to both PSI and public sector content. It is a first review of the area of public sector information and content and it is proposed that follow-up work be carried out in this area, particularly on the economic and distributional aspects of different access, cost, pricing and distribution models for public sector information and content. (A bibliography is included. Selected examples of digital education institutions/projects, recommendations for online cultural content, and related abbreviations are annexed. Contains 7 figures, 17 boxes and 6 tables.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
Identifiers - Location: Australia; Austria; Belgium; France; Japan; Netherlands; South Korea; United Kingdom; United States