Citadel Announces Global ‘Local Open Data’ Findings

Citadel on the Move today released the results from an intensive 3-year global outreach effort that has helped over 120 local government organisations around the world open and use government data. Citadel on the Move is a 4M Euro EU-funded Smart City project which has developed a range of new open source tools that make it easier for all governments, especially the small ones that often get left behind, to open data and unlock smart city innovation.

‘’Over the past 3 years, Citadel on the Move has embarked on an extensive global outreach campaign to engage local authorities everywhere,’ said Dr. Julia Glidden, President & Founder of 21c Consultancy and key strategic advisor to the project. ‘During the course of this work, we realised that we were not only helping to unlock local government data on a unprecedented scale, but were also uncovering a treasure trove of new findings about the local open data landscape. From level of experience through to the most popular data formats, Citadel on the Move has revealed a unique snapshot about global open data trends at the local level.’

The first key finding regards the level of ‘Open Data Maturity’ of cities:

  • 17% had no previous contact with Open Data (no data was public available)
  • 24% had little experience of Open Data (some data but no city portal or systematic release)
  • 47% had some experience of Open Data (a city portal or systematic release but no clear policy on Open Data publication & updates)
  • 12% had advanced experience of Open Data (a portal or systematic release and a policy of Open Data publication & updates)

The second key finding regards the use of Open Data portals or websites where data was made available to the public. 10% of cities had no publicly-accessible Open Data portal. Of the remaining, 17% used a National Open Data portal, 44% used a Local Open Data portal and 29% used both Local and National portals:


The final key finding regards the formats or file structures used to publish Open Data. The survey identified 77 distinct formats for publishing, ranging from commonly accepted formats through to highly specialised ones used to express specific information types like geographic files. The most common format was CSV (Comma Separated Values), which was used by 62% to publish at least one of their Open Data files, followed by XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and XLS (Microsoft Excel) at 47% and 40% respectively. Most cities published in 2-3 different formats, reflecting the range of information they have to make available. The following figure shows the percentage using the 10 most popular formats:


Citadel’s findings on data formats hold important consequences for Smart City data standards bodies everywhere,’ noted Ben Cave, 21c Director of Research. ‘Whilst conventional wisdom has suggested that standards should focus on technically advanced formats such as RDF and LOD, our findings show that this approach ignores the reality on the ground. The trend toward flat datasets like CSV suggests that the less provenance or ‘baggage’ a dataset carries the more useful it is for all users regardless of technical ability. Data Standards bodies would do well to take their lead from this bottom up finding rather than try to impose a technical ideal from above.’

To date, Citadel has worked with local authorities in a total 46 European Countries including Andorra, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland as well as all 28 EU Member States. Citadel has also reached out beyond Europe to 54 Countries globally, across all 6 continents. Strong uptake has been observed in North and South America as well as Australasia with weaker coverage in Africa and Asia attributed to a combination of barriers including the challenges of non-Latin language characters, lack of availability in emerging economies and difficulties in communication. The following map represents Citadel’s global coverage:

P2 For more information and to view the full report, visit the Citadel website at


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