The Opendata initiative started with simple goals: demystify the concept and understand the underlying advantage of exposing our data freely. Because we identified that data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. We want to enable that Elia and all companies in the energy sector can optimize their processes and improve the quality of services for the end consumer. Stimulating economic growth and spurring innovation to address societal challenges with the development of innovative solutions based on the data we expose.
Based on the Design thinking methodology, we conducted tons of interviews of internal and external stakeholders and we discovered a surprising fact. The problem was not lying in the data quality but in its accessibility. Most of the results of the interviews showed that it was difficult to navigate through our datasets and more importantly, that the consistency between our charts, the data download and our application program interface (API) was suboptimal and needed to be improved.
By choosing Opendata as default model for our data, we get a virtuous circle. Our customers perceive our services with more transparency and can create new services based on the data made available. Furthermore, this easy access to data has the same positive effects internally than externally. We get data faster and the creation of new services is easier. From a strategic point of view, Opendata allows for healthier competition in the sector making our grid and infrastructure more secure and resilient.
Today, the Opendata portal is handling descriptions, tables, charts, download and even the API that are created automagically. That allows us to bring consistency in the navigation but also in the way the data is consumed. If someone learns how to use one dataset, he will be able to use them all. We believe that such a portal will be an enabler for more data driven decisions and services.