The project clarified through 7 questions.

Citizen friendly data communication logo

1. What is citizen-friendly data communication?

  • optimal balance
  • access and understand
  • no information overload

The research project Citizen-friendly datacommunication is about the way public bodies provide information to citizens. By their own initiative or on request, in connection to legal proceedings or not, in the form of ‘raw’ data or processed information. The key question of the project is how public bodies can unlock relevant data to citizens in a different and better way. We define citizen-friendly data communication as supplying data in a way that citizens can access and understand it, and subsequently use it to hold public officials accountable and/or participate in public decision-making.

2. Why is access to government information important?

  • many reasons
  • democratic control
  • innovative applications

There are various reasons why citizens or companies would want access to government information. When the government makes a decision that has negative consequences for citizens, they will want to know which evidence that decision was based on. In the context of democratic decision making it is important that citizens can control their governments, based on accessible information. Another, relatively new, development is the economic potential of government data, where the data can be used to develop innovative applications.

3. How is the access to government information regulated?

  • Freedom of Information (FOI)
  • Re-use Directive
  • General Administrative Law

The regulation of government information is not simple. There are multiple relevant laws that relate to the access to and (re)use of government information. Well-known examples are Freedom of Information laws, the European directive on the re-use of public sector information, and the general administrative law acts. How access to government information is regulated, also depends on motive.

4. Who has which responsibilities?

  • information intermediaries

Citizen-friendly data communication firstly looks at the ability and responsibility of public bodies and citizens to take care of an optimal balance in providing government information. Besides this, there is an important role for what we call ‘information intermediaries’. Think about the media or ngo’s, but also companies who develop tools (such as apps or services) that are useful for citizens based on government information.

5. Who is involved in this research?

  • legal scholars
  • public administration researchers
  • philosophers
  • sociologists
  • information scientists

The research team consists of a diverse combination of disciplines such as legal scholars, public administration researchers, philosophers, sociologists and information scientists. Government communication and information disclosure by public bodies is after all not a topic that can be approached unilaterally by one discipline. At the same time, this topic has so many practical consequences that we work together intensively with public bodies, citizens and ‘intermediaries’ to investigate which solutions work in practice.

6. What kind of research do we do?

  • judicial analyses
  • surveys
  • field labs

Citizen-friendly datacommunication requires research that has an eye for the needs of public bodies, as well as the needs of citizens. That is why we use a diverse set of research methods such as meticulate judicial analyses of legislation and case law, to large-scale surveys of 2000 citizens. Moreover, we conduct so-called ‘Field Labs’ to experiment with improving data communication in specific cases in collaboration with public bodies.

7. Why is this research important?

  • transparency
  • open government
  • legal frameworks

Transparency and open government are becoming increasingly important in our data-driven society. There is a wide consensus that governments should be (more) open and transpareny. But, in practice that is not always easy to accomplish. One explanation could be that governments only do what is legally required. If that is the case, legal frameworks would be able to act as drivers for more citizen-friendly data communication, by formulating stricter yet still manageable demands for public bodies.



We would like to know your thoughts. Please answer the question below:

Should governments share more data

Loading ... Loading ...