Interview with Jonathan Gray: OpenData in the EU

A short while  ago I sent some questions about the recent Eurostat Hackday to Jonathan Gray (@jwyg). He ist the Community Manager of the Open Knowledge Foundation. „Please provide some short answers“, I wrote, „maybe 2 or 3 sentences“. That didn’t work out so well – Jonathan wrote back:“ As the saying goes, ‚if I had more time I would have written a shorter letter‘.“ Nevertheless he’s painting a thoughtful picture about OpenData in the EU and its economical impact in his answers. So it would have been a waste to publish just a translated shorter version in the German OpenData Blog over at

„Useful and interesting things”  could be done with statistical data of the EU – that’s been said at the Eurostat Hackday website. What kind of things?

Jonathan Gray: The Eurostat datasets contain an enormous amount of information about EU member states – from tonnes of fish produced to total length of railway lines. A lot of work has gone into harmonising and publishing the data, which is gathered from statistics departments all over Europe. However for the ordinary citizen it may not be fantastically easy to get stuck into the data to start to understand what it means. Luckily the data is basically ‚open‘ in that anyone can reuse it for any purpose as long as they attribute the source. This enables other people to do interesting things with it.

The Eurostat Hackday is all about making things which give people interesting and meaningful ‚hooks‘ into the Eurostat data, whether this is a simple website with information presented in ordinary language, graphics for print, or all singing all dancing interactive web services which visually represent the data or allow people to ask questions of it.

Much of the data contained in Eurostat is absolutely fundamental to understanding current EU policy-making. For example, one of the things some of us put the 2020 energy reduction targets into the context of past demand and supply. We want to make it easier for citizens, decision makers, NGOs, researchers and others to understand what these targets mean, how difficult they will be to achieve, and how whether we are currently on track. There were also people focusing on migration data, and lots of other things.

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