How to open data?

1. Choose the data to open

If the same Excel-table is the object of continuous information requests, it is sensible to publish it as open data. In the best case, you will save your own time and ease the work of others.

The first thing to do when opening extensive city data is publishing a statutory data system index. The index offers a quick view into what data is available and how it can be opened. To those who utilise the data, the index provides an opportunity to make data opening requests.

Picture: Marker Wizards.

2. Get the rights right

To be able to utilise the data as easy as possible, the utiliser needs legal and clear-cut rights for it. Rights that are as extensive as possible encourage utilisation of the data.

A major part of the public administration data is public, based on the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. However, before the publication, it is better to ensure that the copyrights do not restrict the release of the material and that the data does not result in a breach of anyone’s privacy.

A user permit must be defined for the data opened, which includes instructions on how the data may be used. The Public Administration Recommendation (JHS 189, in Finnish) the license for using open data is the international Creative Commons BY 4.0. A clear and standardised user permit reduces the work load of both the publisher and the utilisers of the data.

3. Publish in HRI

Be brave right from the start, when you publish data. First, publish your data on your own network server. If possible, change the index structure of the organisation’s website to make a separate page for the open data; depending on the index structure, for example, “” or “”.

The files to be opened should be named in an informative way from the beginning, thus eliminating the need to change it later. The URL for the files or API should not be changed later either. So plan ahead for a good address structure and stick to it.

Open data guides

Open Knowledge International´s Open Data Handbook´s guide (in Finnish) julkisen tiedon avaajalle

Aalto University’s and Open Knowledge Finland’s course (in Finnish) Datan avaajan kurssi

The experiences of the six biggest cities concerning the construction of interfaces has been compiled as a series of brochures

Data protection and secure opening up of data guide made by City of Espoo

If your data has been produced by the public sector and has to do with the Helsinki region, it can be added to the HRI service. Before submitting a download link and metadata for the dataset, check out HRI’s publishing criteria (in Finnish).

4. Publicise, collect feedback

Open data has a value only when it is being used. Publicise your openings of data both to the public and the active users of open data and collect feedback, for example at the Helsinki Loves Developers developer meetings.

HRI promotes the use of open data and forwards the feedback concerning the data to the data owners. HRI also provides information on hackathons and other events that further the use and utilisation of open data.

For example, Helsinki Regional Transport HSL organised a contest to improve the opening of data for the public transport route planner, where the objective was to find mobile solutions that best utilise data. It was very popular. A total of 60 mobile applications participated in the contest.