Posted by Parul Bhandari
Government Industry Solutions Lead, Worldwide Public Sector

Long recognized as an epicenter for business, technology, and cultural treasures, the Lombardia region in northern Italy has more recently earned a reputation as a leader in Europe’s open data movement.

Lombardia launched its open data site, dati.lombardia.it, powered by the Socrata Open Data Portal running on Windows Azure, to host datasets on a range of topics, from museum locations for visitors to government spending information. To date, there are more than 430 datasets and visualizations on the site.

“We want to make information on government activities and decisions more open, comprehensive, timely, and freely available to the public,” said Oscar Sovani, Regione Lombardia’s Leader of Digital Agenda. “This is one step toward an open government model where we are more accountable and responsive to citizens.”

The team at Lombardia focuses on publishing the datasets that are most useful to citizens, empowering them with information and increasing engagement. They recently hosted the OpenApp Lombardia competition, encouraging residents to create web and mobile applications using open data. More than 111 apps were submitted, vying for €60,000 in prize money. The submissions covered everything from environmental health to regional architecture.

The top prize went to ReadIt, a search engine for books inventories within Lombardia libraries, giving users the ability to search by various fields and verify availability. Dì de Mercaa, pictured below, was the runner up. The interactive site, hosted on Windows Azure, uses public markets data to better connect sellers with buyers, helping shoppers find the nearest markets and hours of operation, and share reviews of their favorite vendors.

“There were so many creative uses of public data,” said Pierluigi Mazzuca, Openness Lead for Microsoft Italy. “The OpenApp contest illustrated how inspired citizens and governments can work together through open government initiatives to truly enhance services and strengthen community.”

The region is using open data as an integral part of its strategy to modernize government and build for the future. As the region expands its open data initiative, it has uncovered great value in driving innovation, simplifying government processes, and providing better information to citizens.

For more on how Lombardia is using open data solutions to improve transparency and public services, please see the Socrata site.