The Vienna City Administration’s Open Government Initiative
Vienna City Administration

The Problem

The Vienna City Administration’s Open Government Initiative.
In the chapter “Information and Communication Technologies” under sub-headings “Open Data” and “Open Government”, the Government Agreement concluded between the Vienna SPÖ and the Vienna Greens in November 2010 reads as follows:
In line with exemplary international models on city administration modernization, a symposium is to be organized and subsequently a concept prepared by an expert group to discuss and analyze the opportunities and potential risks involved in “Open Data" and "Open Government" – i.e. free access to certain specific public (non-person-related) data in a format that is readable by both individuals and machines.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The goal of Open Government (OG) is to contribute towards increasing transparency, fostering participation and intensifying cooperation between administration and citizens. This is achieved through promotion of innovation and by strengthening common interests.
Another important and intensively discussed target in this context is the stimulating effect open data is presumed and/or expected to have on the economy and the associated generation of added value from “free of charge” services.
As access to services is much easier than with traditional service delivery models, the group of data and service users continues to grow. This leads to increased awareness of the data and services offered and stimulates the value added chain.
The level of transparency in public administration is raised. Citizens are recognized as informed and active partners who are able to interpret and further process the data material made available by administration.
Administrative effort is reduced as any facilitation of access reduces the scope of administrative support and service efforts. This in turn enables administration to increasingly shift its focus towards “special cases”. The bulk of “standard transactions” is handled automatically.
Administrative processes and decisions are simplified: The number of user groups requiring special administrative efforts (like science, teaching, media, emergency services organizations, administrations) is minimized. This removes the need for differentiated treatment involving different user rights and pricing models.
Since its launch, more than 100 data records relating to 13 different areas, including inter alia citizens, health and the economy, have been made available online on the Open Government Portal operated by the Vienna City Administration with the catalogue of data being expanded on an ongoing basis.

In summer 2011, an online survey was conducted to identify the OG community’s demand for data. The survey asked users to specify their concrete data requirements in order to enable the Vienna City Administration to set the appropriate priorities and meet user demands when further expanding the data catalogue. A total of 376 users participated in the survey, 96 participants (26 per cent) stated that they could also envisage preparing machine-readable data for others, in the form of apps for instance. The evaluation of the questionnaire and the raw feedback data were published on the Open Government portal.
Regular log file evaluations on the use of services are performed and use evaluations published on the OG portal.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
In its Government Agreement, the Vienna City Government committed itself to introducing Open Government Data (OGD) for the Vienna City Administration. Within the Vienna City Administration the responsible Open Government Officer, Johann Mittheisz (Chief Executive Office – Executive Group for Organization, Safety and Security, ICT Group) coordinates the implementation of the project to which a number of municipal department offices contribute. Together with citizens and institutions related to the Vienna City Administration requirements with regard to open data were determined and offers provided.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Democratic policy principles and use of public funds when providing services oblige politics and administration to ensure the efficiency of all administrative procedures and activities.

Open Government implies a comprehensive reorganization of political and administrative procedures and activities in order to meet modern public management and public governance requirements.

Provision of Open Government Data is the basis for Open Government and hence a central field of action for public administrations over the next few years.

Under this strategy, provision of Open Government Data is the first of four stages. The two most important steps during this stage are identification of existing data of high potential value and/or potential impact as well as increasing and safeguarding data quality.

The strategy’s four stages:

Stage 1 – Increasing data transparency: opens access to data held by public administration
Stage 2 – Improving open participation: opens public administration to citizens’ ideas and knowledge
Stage 3 – Enabling open cooperation: improves open cooperation between public administrations, citizens and the private sector. Open participation enables use of social media in interlinking and connecting individuals and their ideas. Open cooperation also enables achievement of specific outputs
Stage 4 – Putting the concept of comprehensive involvement into practice: enables citizens’ involvement based on transparency, participation and cooperation

The basic principles pursued by the Open Government Initiative launched by the Vienna City Administration:

Transparency: strengthens commitment and sense of duty and provides citizens with information on what their government and administration are currently working on. Free data availability is an essential prerequisite for transparency.

Participation: strengthens the effectiveness of government and administration and enhances the quality of their decisions by including the widely disseminated knowledge of society in their decision-making processes.

Collaboration: offers innovative tools, methods and systems to promote cooperation across all levels of administration and with the private sector.

The principles that guide the Vienna City Administration’s Open Government Strategy:
Making available public data and services provided by the City Administration that are not subject to data protection.
Publicly accessible means that
• data and services can be retrieved online
• terms of use are clearly and unambiguously regulated
• options for use are maximized
• use is - ideally - free of charge
Data and services are to be provided through standard interfaces that facilitate best possible use.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
November 2010: The Vienna SPÖ and the Vienna Greens sign the Government Agreement that includes a reference to the Vienna City Administration’s Open Government Initiative.
3 December 2010: Active exchange between OG community and City Administration at the Gov 2.0 Barcamp.
9 March 2011: Municipal Councilor for Women’s Affairs Frauenberger issues a press statement confirming Vienna’s political commitment to open government: the Vienna City Administration wants to make its data publicly accessible for further use in an open and transparent manner.
17 May 2011: Launch of the OGD portal with more than 30 open data records relating to statistics and budget matters as well as contents of the city map. Data is provided through standardized, open formats like csv or WMS/WFS for geo-related data. Data is machine readable for further processing. Clarification of legal issues relating to the further use of data is ensured by the provision of all data under a Creative Commons License, "cc-by". Immediately after the portal’s launch the first apps were developed and made available. Since 26 May 2011, monthly platforms provide an opportunity for exchange between OG community and public administration with a view to coordinating further approaches.
15 June 2011: Stage 2 of the OGD initiative is launched and the OGD catalogue including geo-referenced data is published.
19 October 2011: Stage 3 of the OGD initiative is launched; additional new web services are made available as well as new geo-referenced and statistical data records.
December 2011: Launch of Stage 4.
On 13 July 2011, the Federal Chancellery, the cities of Vienna, Linz, Salzburg and Graz set up the "Cooperation Open Government Data Österreich", or "Cooperation OGD Österreich" initiative. In cooperation with the OG communities, science, culture and business, the federal government, federal provinces, cities and municipalities seek to prepare the groundwork for future Open Government Data in Austria. By agreeing on joint standards effective framework conditions are defined that will benefit all stakeholders.
In order to identify the concrete data requirements of the OG community and enable setting the relevant priorities in the course of the data catalogue’s expansion, an online survey was conducted on the Vienna City Administration’s Open Data Portal from 27 June to 31 August 2011. In this survey the topic of transport was mentioned most frequently. 90 per cent of potential app designers state that they could imagine using transport data, followed by data on public institutions and leisure time activities, education and demographic data.
The Toilet Map Vienna app was awarded the prize for the best app at a ceremony held on 24 November 2011.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main challenge consists in convincing municipal departments and offices of the need to make data available to the public. A lot of convincing and awareness-raising is and has been necessary. Particularly when preparing the transport data it was necessary to stress the need for making such data available.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
In implementing the OGD portal we used the Vienna City Administration’s existing IT infrastructure, including the “Stadt Wien Stadtplan” (Vienna city map), the GIS server (the City’s Geographic Information Service) and the “Stadt Wien Content Management System”. The following activities required major efforts:
* coordination of the around 15 departments and offices that make data records available and clarification of legal aspects
* consolidation of data
* generation of OGD descriptions for the data records
* testing of interfaces
* communication with the OG community (regular exchange of information between administration and interested citizens, for instance via twitter, questionnaires, etc.)
Open Government means more transparency, more participation and more intensive cooperation between administration and citizens.
OG stimulates the economy and generates added value free of charge.
As access is much easier compared with earlier models, the group of clients using such data and services is growing. The data and services made available become more widely known which in turn stimulates the added value chain.
OG increases transparency in public administration. Citizens are recognized as informed and responsible partners able to interpret and further process data material made available by public administration.
OG reduces administrative efforts since every facilitation of access leads to a reduction in administrative and service efforts. This allows administration to focus more intensively on “special cases”. Standard transactions are handled automatically.
Open Government simplifies administrative processes and decision-making: the number of user groups with different management requirements (like science, teaching, media, emergency services organizations, administrations) is minimized. Specific management efforts involving a range of different user rights and pricing models are no longer required.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
On 28 June 2011, the Vienna City Administration was presented with a special award for its Open Government Data Catalogue by the PSI Alliance, a European alliance that encourages the further use of public sector information. At the “11th eGovernment competition - Germany, Austria, Switzerland”, Vienna won the first prize in the category “most innovative eGovernment project” in a tie with the German Federal Employment Agency.
Economic and democratic sustainability are the hallmarks of the Open Government Initiative. Vienna’s position as a business location is promoted by making data publicly available that is then used by entrepreneurs to generate apps. The opportunity to process open data also fosters democracy. Participation is a key element of the Open Government Initiative.
The Open Government Initiative launched by the Vienna City Administration may also be transferred to other administrative authorities and institutions.
One of the goals specified by the "Cooperation Open Government Data Österreich" is supporting other public administrations in their open government initiatives.
The Vienna City Administration is therefore in close contact with other national and international administrative authorities. The Berlin City Administration, for instance, expressed particular interest in adapting the Vienna model to their needs.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The Vienna City Administration is one the first public administrations in the German-speaking area to launch an Open Government initiative. The initiative was welcomed by citizens, the media and the Open Government community and has received very positive feedback. It even received TV coverage in Germany (on 20 September 2011, the German national TV station ZDF broadcast a report on its ZDF-Morgenjournal). For further press coverage please go to (in German).

The demand for this initiative is also illustrated by the fact that an app was written the very night after the first data was made publicly accessible on the Internet. In the meantime the number of apps has substantially increased and 19 new apps are currently available at

A prerequisite for the success of such an initiative is that it receives full and political backing at the highest level. The Vienna City Administration installed the Open Government Officer at its top management level.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Vienna City Administration
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Johann Mittheisz
Title:   Expert  
Telephone/ Fax:   +43 1 4000 75011 / +43 1 40009975011
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Rathausstraße 8
Postal Code:   1010
City:   Vienna
Country:   Austria

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