Belgrade, 6th March 2020. - Open Data Day 2020 is celebrated on 7th March and in the expectation of this day, the Prime Minister Ana Brnabić opened the conference “Data and eGovernance: the spark for the future”, which was organized by the Office for IT and eGovernment and the United Nations Development Programme in Serbia (UNDP), with the support of the United Kingdom Good Governance Fund. Along with the Prime Minister, opening speakers were Asst. Prof. Mihailo Jovanović, the Director of the Office for IT and eGovernment, H.E. Sian Macleod, British Ambassador to Serbia, and Francine Pickup, Resident Representative for UNDP in Serbia.

On this occasion, the Prime Minister awarded six open data champions who have contributed to the open data initiative in Serbia during the past year. The National open data champion award went to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, while the City of Kragujevac was awarded as the Local open data champion. The Spark for open data future award went to the City of Belgrade as the city who will be able to unlock the future potential of open data in Serbia. The Open data citizen initiative award went to the Belgrade Open School, All things talk and the Internet Society of Serbia for a citizen science and air quality monitoring project supported by UNDP. The National open data project award went to the company Enetel Solutions, which developed the Serbian Municipalities Through Open Data website. In the category of Open Data for the Environment, the award went to the Forest and Climate portal developed CRNOG, One Degree Serbia and the Serbian Case for Space. This portal has already received European and global awards, and it was deservingly recognized in Serbia.

In the context of the open data initiative in Serbia, one of the first significant steps was the development of the new national Open Data Portal in 2017. That year, the portal had only around 20 open datasets by a few government institutions. Two and a half years later, the Portal has been used by more than 50 institutions and organizations to open almost 2000 datasets. The Portal now includes data about public transportation, medications, air pollution, cultural institutions, pollen concentrations, local budgets, traffic accidents, as well as other geospatial data.

“In the past period, we organized a competition for government institutions to open their data and published seven open data challenges in order to motivate the private and civil sector to use the available open datasets and create useful and interesting projects. Today you have the opportunity to see 10 selected open data reuse cases in the Palace of Serbia, featuring mobile and web applications, portals and initiatives that wouldn’t exist without open data” stated Asst. Prof. Mihailo Jovanović, the Director of the Office for IT and eGovernment

He explained that the efforts put into not only opening data, but also motivating citizens, organizations and companies to actively utilize them points to an important conclusion - in order for the open data initiative to reach its full potential in Serbia, it’s crucial that we collectively work together to influence new open data release. “The Office for IT and eGovernment remains open for everyone who has suggestions or initiatives because the existing open data ecosystem can grow only if we work together” added Asst. Prof. Jovanović.

“As never before, new technologies have provided citizens with higher transparency, access to information and accountability of their governments. Benefits of using open data are significant even in everyday life. The project “Open Data - Open Opportunities” has allowed open data release in the context of public transportation in six cities across Serbia - Niš, Kragujevac, Užice, Subotica, Belgrade and Pančevo. I am proud that the United Kingdom is the largest bilateral donor in this area in Serbia and that our cooperation has resulted in these concrete benefits” stated H.E. Sian Macleod, British Ambassador to Serbia.

Digital tools can help us respond to the greatest challenges of our current times - from health crises such as the COVID-19 coronavirus to climate change and air pollution. In order to succeed in responding to these challenges, we need quality open data to help citizens, researchers and the private sector to use them for creating new solutions, explained Francine Pickup, Resident Representative for UNDP in Serbia.

“We at the UNDP see new technologies and the digital transformation as important catalysers for achieving all sustainable development goals. At the same time, there is the risk that these technologies might increase the level of inequality. Given that our mission is to leave no one behind, UNDP uses technologies and innovation to bridge the digital divide.”

This conference was organized in the scope of the open data and digital transformation projects implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Office for IT and eGovernment of the Republic of Serbia, and supported by the UK Good Governance Fund.

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