Granollers: A Transparent and Participatory Municipality
In presenting the new opendata.granollers.cat portal, the City's mayor, Josep Mayoral, said: "We want a transparent and participatory municipality where the citizenship can follow the daily life of municipal action directly, clearly and in a crisp manner. The idea is that citizens can give their opinion in a constant and permanent way."
In this spirit of openness and participation, the Granollers' web of open data was unveiled in February 2015.
Open data comes at a key moment in Spain, a year and a half after the "transparency of information law" was passed. In Catalonia, the “Llei de Transparència, Accés a la Informació Pública i Bon Govern,” adopted in December 2014, has also meant an important step. The previous journey is a degree of expertise within the administration that citizens appreciate.
Granollers is a mid-sized city of nearly 60,000 people, close to the ocean, Montseny Massif, and Barcelona. It is located in the middle of a dense communications network, making it an accessible city and a meeting point for many people in the region of Vallès Oriental.
This location has resulted in an impressive growth potential, with a diversified industry, commercial offerings, and quality cuisine, plus cultural, educational, sports, and entertainment programs.
Being located near the Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya (Montmelo) — venue of the world renouned Spain Grand Prix F1 and the Catalonia Grand Prix MotoGP — Granollers offers more than 1,300 hotel rooms to meet the high demand recorded each time the circuit is filled over capacity.
In December 2014, the website of the City of Granollers was recognized by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) with the seal of transparency due to the information it makes available to the public.
The implementation of the open data portal is a step forward.
Data is made digitally available to the citizens so it can be consulted, processed and reused to create new services that provide social or economical value.
Now that opendata.granollers.cat is a reality, Sergi Morera Vizcaino, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) coordinator of the Granollers City Council, explains the inspiration and decision to undertake this path came came from other Catalonian portals who had previously paved the way.
"There are several municipalities of more than 50,000 people in Catalonia who have worked with open data. Within the initiative Cloud Barcelona, datasets and common taxonomies were defined. We were especially interested in the graph and mapping capabilities of the Gava and Ruby municipalities. That was the reason for choosing Socrata.
"The Granollers team responsible for making the decision was convinced by the opportunity to work with a world leader like Socrata. "Socrata’s business focus is not only open data, but also management or control tables. We had portal indicators and observed the tendency was towards reusing public data. The question was raised of whether we should or should not search for a new application. We were in contact with specialists of the Catalunya Dades group and the Cloud Barcelona group. We did an inventory of what could be open data, we seeked funding and alternatives on the market. We finally chose Socrata," Sergi Morera Vizcaino explains.
So far, the public data of this town was shown from the Granollers Strategic Plan through indicators. "But, there was a demand for transparency, and at this time, citizens are interested in open data," explains the municipality's ICT coordinator. Morera believes the characteristics that differentiate their portal from the others is the appeal of the web and the quality of the data offered. "Datasets have to be emphasized: those that allow you to search works done according to the supplier, the initial or final budget; the consumption and cost of supplies and equipment on public streets, the invoicing of subsidies from several years ago,” Morera explains.
He adds, "The potential of open data remains to be seen. Open data could be very useful in educational projects, promote a very specific cultural cycle according to the taste of the citizenship, et cetera."
As far as reuse - although not one of its primary objectives - they have already opened databases from the buses as did the City of Bilbao. "It was useful even for the City of Granollers."
The Next Steps
What issues are there in social services to see if the associative fabric of the city can be increased or how opening the data could be applied to the primary and secondary school faculty to create joint projects? These are some questions that the open data team of the Granollers portal leaves open for a second phase.
"The path we want to follow has just begun. We have already put in motion monthly workshops to inform the public about the use of the portal so that they might understand all the possibilities. Socrata is the most attractive platform on the market right now to do mapping, insert data, provide different analysis, and more,” says Morera.
Granollers proposed opening of public data will be completed periodically with information based on criteria of social utility, availability and cost as recommended by the European Commission.