Common obstacles related to service development based on open data

Studies carried out by Viktoria Swedish ICT, on behalf of the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) shows that service development based on open data are consistent with various obstacles. To better understand problems related to the use of open data when developing services, a project was initiated 2014 to explore how owners and providers of open data could create better value for service developers. The premise for the project was to view open data as a service and study what created  value for third-party developers. The reason for the focuses on third-party developer is that they portray a heterogeneous user group with a wide array of incentives for using open data.


Third-party developers are someone that uses a predefined infrastructure to offer products or services. Example of such infrastructure are App Store/iOS, PlayStation, Nintendo and others. Open data can also be viewed as an infrastructure or resource that can be exploited by third-party developers. The difference is that open data is provided by different organisations and authorities, which lead to that the infrastructure is not uniform and are provided through varies portals that uses different format and standards. The lack of uniform standards and that open data are provided through varies portals, leads to that third-party developers need to navigate different obstacles related to different owner and provider of open data.

The current project has collated interviews and questionnaires from previous studies concerning obstacles related to third-party development based on open data from Trafikverket. The project also include studies that investigate obstacles that arise during hackathons and the prospect to create viable services on open data (Hjalmarsson, Johannesson, Jüll-Skielse,, 2014). The result yielded seven recurring obstacles which are presented below with description. Other obstacles that was identified where not significant enough or not representative for third-party developers as a whole. The open data used by developers in the studies came from traffic and transport data sources. The obstacles presented are most likely to be valid in other domain areas where open data are common (this need to be confirmed by complementary studies).

O1Difficulties or unclear how third-party developers can communicate problems and needs to the open data provider or owner
O2Insufficient or incomplete documentation addressing common problems or real-world examples
O3Complex license rules and/or what applies to further processing and storage of data
O4Lack or short notice concerning modification of the data source, both technical and content wise
O5Insufficient or lack of use of international standards and syntax
O6Insufficient quality or flawed data
O7Insufficient reliability of data access and delivery

The obstacles represent one dimension of tree included in model which has been developed with in the frame of the project to gather and categorise problems concerning third-party development in a more structured way.

Forthcoming articles will address the two other dimension of the model. As well as presenting suggestions for how data providers and owners can facilitate better preconditions for third-party developers when using open data to build more viable services. Obstacles related to third-party development are an article within the focus area of open data.

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