Mikhail Sisin Co-founder of cloud-based web scraping and data extraction platform Diggernaut. Over 10 years of experience in data extraction, ETL, AI, and ML.

Using Open Data in Russia

3 min read

Using Open Data in Russia

In this article, I would like to briefly disclose the concept of open data, as well as the relevance of such information to commercial and government entities in the Russian Federation. The current state of affairs and options for the development of this direction will be considered.

First, we need to find out what is meant by open data. In its essence, this is a collection of all publicly available databases and information in the public domain, which can be used for various purposes. The use of open data in the Russian Federation is regulated in accordance with Federal Law No. 149-FL “About Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” of July 27, 2006, and document No. 6 dated September 19, 2016, approved by the Governmental Commission for Coordination of the activities of the open government, entitled “Typical conditions for the use of publicly available information placed in the information and telecommunications network Internet”. Open data are controlled by government agencies and the Open Data Council.

How currently open data are used in Russia

Commercial entities and individuals actively use open data. Their primary purpose is to improve products, services and create new useful products for personal and public use.

The most popular areas currently are the state purchases databases, an exchange rates summary provided by the Central Bank and commercial banks public information, the federal database of addresses in Russia, information from GLONASS and many others.

Now about three dozen services are monitoring the same state and municipal orders and purchases database (for example, Bikotender or Zakupki 360), checking counterparties (Kontur.Focus, Spark.interfax, Kommersant.Kartoteka) that uses the open data directly. By gathering data together and adding commercial ingredients, they create unique commercial products that are used by many people for personal and commercial purposes. There are also some highly specialized projects that are not so well known and are used by a limited number of people who do not want to disclose themselves.

The state still attempted to open its data, but you have to decide whether it turned out or not. Here are a few government projects that claim to be open data:

  • OBD Memorial – a portal with digitized data about the WWII
  • The official website of the Russian Federation for posting information on the conduct of bidding
  • Takzdorovo – portal about a healthy way of life for Russians
  • Trudvsem – information portal about jobs in Russia

Unfortunately, the data on some portals are presented in such a way that it is often tough to analyze and use. The state has yet to work on this task.

What other open data services are available in the Russian Federation

  • Service “Russian Schools”, which accumulates all information about school institutions throughout Russia.
  • Service “Open Police” for monitoring and controlling police work. Citizens’ appeals and collection of ideas are also available there.
  • The service Plandex contains a database of all new buildings in Moscow and the Moscow region and allows you to check the developer for all necessary parameters.
  • Service Smooth – useful service for building routes for people with disabilities.
  • Information portal about housing and communal services “Rukvartal”.
  • Portal GosZatraty has data on state orders and expenditure of public funds.

Why is so little the open data used?

There are several reasons for this:

  1. The unwillingness of commercial companies to participate in this, talk about their incomes, disclose their business model for competitors and spend a significant amount of time on processing and laying out. Their fears can be fully understood.

  2. Useful databases are very few. We already listed the most popular ones: the data of the Central Bank, FIAS bases, and information on state and municipal purchases. Most other open data are meaningless sets of letters that are difficult to use somehow.

  3. Authorities misunderstand the value of information and the need for its disclosure. Even with amendments to the law, many officials are skeptical about disclosing data and do not understand at all who and why all this is needed, as it can be used for good.

  4. Low interest in open data from consumers. So far, consumers do not always see the opportunities that open data give. The primary users worldwide are civil society, journalists, educational institutions and commercial structures. Civil society in Russia already practically does not exist, the number of independent non-profit organizations tends to zero. Journalists are under pressure and can not always afford an objective assessment, besides, they do not particularly want to enter into a dialogue with the state and lobby for the interests of open data. Commercial organizations regarding using open information can be divided into two types: the first does not want to contact any state authorities because of fear and distrust, and the following collect data only to increase own profits and obtain profitable government orders. The last consumers are mainly universities. Throughout the world for research and study opportunities for students, access to the latest and up-to-date data in the studied field is assumed, while in Russia such a database is not available. Although the availability of such a database could contribute to severe scientific discoveries and successful new research in various fields.

Conclusion

Of course, concerning using open data to solve problems at the state and commercial level, Russia lags far behind other leading world countries. However, recently there has been a clear trend towards increasing the importance of open data and its massive use for various purposes. An example is the initiative of Ivan Begtin to create a non-profit organization promoting the idea of openness of these state institutions and enhance the information culture in the country as a whole. The potential of using open data is enormous, and the directions of use are much larger than what is currently involved. Also, despite total state control to this topic, the development of open data in Russia does not stop, although the pace leaves much to be desired. Data on the criminal situation, local statistics and geodata are still inaccessible. However, in practice, demand for data on the climate and transport environment, which gives hope for the future use of open data in Russia.

Mikhail Sisin Co-founder of cloud-based web scraping and data extraction platform Diggernaut. Over 10 years of experience in data extraction, ETL, AI, and ML.

One Reply to “Using Open Data in Russia”

  1. But, Russia still has some way to go. The country is facing a growing demand from its population for transparent and reliable information about government decision-making. To this end, the World Bank is assisting Russia in the establishment of efficient open government practices , based on the best international experiences and adaptation of global practices specific to Russia’s needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.