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The current Mayor of Seoul City, Won-Soon Park, is passionately practicing Open Government. (You may have heard of his name, he spoke at 2013 CC Asia-Pacific Conference in Korea before he entered the Office.) Seoul City presented the Declaration of Sharing Seoul, and the following article is a part of the efforts for more opened City. Opening official documents in process is the first-ever attempt on the planet. We hope this becomes a good inspiration to other cities around the world!

“…Modern society is made of bureaucracies and modern bureaucracies run on paper: memos, reports, forms, filings. 
Sharing these internal documents with the public seems obviously good, and indeed, much good has come out of 
publishing these documents, whether it’s the National Security Archive (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/), whose Freedom 
of Information Act (FOIA) requests have revealed decades of government wrongdoing around the globe, or the indefatigable 
Carl Malamud and his scanning (http://public.resource.org/), which has put terabytes of useful government documents, 
from laws to movies, online for everyone to access freely….”

Aaron Swartz, <When Is Transparency Useful?> Open Government, O'reilly Media 

opengov seol

Since October 28, Seoul city government has launched a public web-service ‘the Information Communication Agora’, providing all official documents corresponded within every administrative process to citizens. And this is the very first case for opening every administrative working sheets to public.

In the United States, the legal base for this public sharing of governmental internal documents, FOIA and the Privacy Act (PA) providing fairly clear guidelines for how to ensure disclosure while protecting people’s privacy.

Among the data on this web-service data base, only the closed elements appointed by the laws are exceptional from open policy. From the inauguration of Mayor Wonsoon Park, Seoul city government initiated open data policy according to mayor election pledge, ‘Promises for Hopeful Seoul’ and launched the practice website; Mayor Park said, “It will open the way toward the era of city government 2.0,” and “Seoul city government will enhance the publicness and transparency by opening and sharing every governmental information.”

This policy implementation has taken long and deliberate preparation process about two years since the city government set up the advisory board for installation of the website at 2011. On 2012, a website ‘the information communication portal’, a prototype for information communication agora opened with administrative information, meeting minutes, and other official documents were released. And then the government now opened the official open data portal with every approval documents assigned by directors and higher supervisors.

There was negative voice on this reform of this new policy on public relation. Because too trivial document like ‘day-off approval’ and somehow reluctant documents such as ‘validity evaluation result report’ are included in the list of to be opened-for this reason, an diversity of opinion on this issue about the boundaries of documents archive for open, inside Seoul city government.

An official in the department of open data & information says, “We had approached the conclusion that if it were not full-scale open policy, we cannot avoid the danger of potential arbitrary alteration of the boundaries for future cases. Then we decided to open all documents approved by directors and higher supervisors at all,” and he also says, “Only the exceptional cases are appointed by laws-furthermore, the boundary of openness will be expanded to all documents approved by section chief level by the next year.”
From above, Seoul city government opened officially approved documents issued after 2011, March. The approved documents processed from the director’s level are annually up to over 70,000, and the documents issued from the section chief’s level is up to over 4 million.

The official in the department in charge says, “Most documents are charge of section chief-on the upcoming next March, every practical level from the section chief’s level archived on the task management system installed at March of 2012.”

Every enclosed internal document archived and posted on ‘the Information Communication Agora’ are applied by Creative Commons License, then citizens can make use of the internal documents of city government without any special permission just when they follow the terms of use of the license. Also, the city government issued permanent unique resource location (URL) for each document then citizens can share and spread the metadata of the administrative documents via various SNS channel.

Seoul city government also opened ‘the Seoul Open Data Agora’ providing the public data held by the primary local office (gu, in Korean local administration body) in Seoul city area from November 1. As the model cases, Seodaemun-gu and Guro-gu will open their data dealing with food and public sanitation business among the ‘public sanitation’ department.

This another data archive and portal, ‘the Seoul Open Data Agora’ is for sharing the original format of open data of Seoul city government-from 2013 May, this website has opened 95 systems, 1098 categories of data from 10 fields of administration-transportation, environment, and city management.

“Most city government’s informative data on welfare, security, job, housing, transportation, environment, culture and education are naturally to be open to citizen by the right to know and share for.”

This is the very initial statement of the open policy of Seoul city government on these agoras’ launching. 

As Aaron Swartz, the unforgettable talented developer and evangelist of open data and open movement said above, the most useful moment for governmental data and internal documents made from the local or national government operated and funded by public’s tax and  driven by public participation is that every available but almost every data are open and shared with public.

Original article written by Ji Young Lee (@izziene) from Bloter.net
Translated and comments added by Hayoung Shin (@stella0593)

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