In October 2012, the Local Government Denmark (KL) and the Danish government signed an agreement aiming to improve and link public registers of basic data and make them available for free public re-use.
This way, the public authorities say no to the costly parallel registers and yes to growth, innovation and employment. Once the public authorities have cleaned up and merged data, the parallel registers will end. This is expected to save from public sector spending the amount of DKK 260 million (approx. €34 million) annually by 2020. Welcoming this initiative, Bjarne Corydon, the Danish Minister for Finance said: “As the Minister for Finance, this is of course a great day. This project provides us with a more modern public sector and enables us to work more intelligently so that our money in municipalities or at the treasury can be spent as wisely as possible.”
The basic data which will be made available includes private addresses, companies' business registration numbers and the cadastral numbers of real properties. This is data, which is used again and again, across the entire public sector, to collect land tax, pay social benefits, or prevent flooding.
Furthermore, businesses will no longer have to buy their basic data from the public authorities. This gives new opportunities for innovation and growth, for example in the real estate, insurance and telecommunications sectors. Smaller companies will also be able to test new ideas without first having to invest huge sums in the data required to create their product. Ole Sohn, the Danish Minister for Business and Growth said: “When the data has been released, it can be used to develop completely new types of digital products, solutions and services, which will benefit our companies as well as society at large. It is a vital part of Denmark's digital raw material that we are now releasing, which will create growth and jobs in the country.”
The project also ensures that individuals will no longer have to re-enter data (i.e. their address) every time they use a public online self-service solution. On the other hand, the public sector employees can work more efficiently. Jacob Bundsgaard, Chairman of Local Government Denmark’s committee on labour market and industry said in this regard: “This project holds great benefits for both individuals and companies. In future, they will not have to enter the same information again and again when contacting the public authorities. At the same time, public employees will have fewer routine tasks so that they can concentrate on tasks that provide added value and, ultimately, lead to more welfare.”
The European Commission has been closely monitoring the work on basic data in Denmark. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission has much praise for the lead taken by Denmark: “Denmark is setting the pace by unlocking a treasure trove of information. The release of so much of its core datasets used on a regular basis by both public administrations and private business is fantastic,” she noted.