Open data Netherlands less than we thought

Compared to the United Kingdom and the United States, the Netherlands lags far behind on open data. The government open data portal which was launched two years ago has only a couple of hundred open data sets. At it seems that in the past years almost 5,800 datasets have become available, but research by Open State Foundation shows that the number of real open data sets is far less.

Some 90% of the 5,800 datasets consists of sets from the national georegister. This amount of geo-datasets is the result of the entering in force of the INSPIRE directive in May 2007, establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe.With this directive the Netherlands was forced to make spatial data sets available and provide descriptions in the form of metadata for those sets.

What remains at are only 300 other datasets. From the available data at we found dat 20% came from DUO, an government education agency, 41% from various municipalities and only 9% from ministries.

Datasets from the most spending ministries were missing. From the Ministry of Health (76.7 billion euro) only two datasets are visible and the Minstry of Social Affairs (73.4 billion euro) has none.

By way of comparison the United Kingdom ( has 37,500 open data sets available. Most datasets are about government spending, economy and demography, followed by health, social affairs and employment. The number of open datasets on health in the United States ( are 897 and in the UK 630 open data sets are available.

The Netherlands is internationally far behind with unlocking government data. It is time now momentum is created. In a time of economic crisis, high unemployment, necessary cuts, falling confidence of citizens and further need for citizen participation it is important that the government opens up. Unlocking data already paid with public funds is not only necessary for a healthy democracy but also provides economic and social returns.

The Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is due to its share in spatial datasets the frontrunner. Far behind are the ministries of General Affairs and Economic Affairs with each only 7 datasets. The Ministry of Interior, responsible for open data in the Netherlands and, has only a single dataset available.

From the 8 municipalities visible at the majority of datasets are from Nijmegen (35), Amsterdam (21), Enschede (18) and Arnhem (15). The Province of North Holland is with 6 datasets the only province on the list.

The data we used for this research has been derived from the API and turned into a csv-file. This is part of a larger research done by Open State Foundation on open data in the Netherlands that will be finalised in September 2013.