Yes, Open Data will also destroy (certain) jobs. If we are lucky, that is /img/opendata_posti_lavoro.png

While I am writing this post, the third meeting of the Open Government Partnership is taking place in Rome, Italy. As you can see in the snapshot, one of the participants just tweeted: inside this building we’re talking of participation, outside people are protesting to defend their job.

My answer, also in the snapshot, was “and think what they would do if they knew that Open Data would also (finally, if you ask me) destroy some useless jobs inside Public Administrations”.

Yes, Open Data will also destroy (certain) jobs. If we are lucky, that is /img/opendata_job_losses.png

Why? Well, this other snapshot shows that I found myself in basically the same situation two and a half years ago at another Open Government meeting in Madrid: experts “Realising the Value of (Open) Public Sector Information” inside, general strike of public sector workers against job cuts outside.

The reasons why I answered in that way are explained in more detail in the complete slides of that talk of mine, and in its companion blog post. Here is the super-short, 3 bullet version:

  • Europe, or at least several European countries, will lose hundreds of thousands of Public Sector jobs anyway in the next years, simply because there is no more money. Try me wrong, if you can
  • Today, there still are lots of Public Sector jobs that could be completely automated, if not eliminated altogether, without any effective loss of “service levels” for citizens. Again, try me wrong if you can
  • Open Data can greatly help to find out what those public jobs are. Yes, of course it is just one of many factors and it is a really complicated task anyway, but Open Data can greatly help

In other words, if we’re going to lose lots of Public Sector jobs anyway, being lucky means “let this happen only to the less necessary jobs”. Let at least all citizens be as sure as possible that the ones lost are exactly, only the jobs that will cause the smallest possible problems to welfare, and society as a whole. Public Sector unions will scream like hell for sure, but if the experts (have the courage to) clearly acknowledge and explain that this is how things actually stand, not only the majority of people won’t oppose Open Data: eventually they may even, you know, like, demand them. What have they left to lose? Their current job “security”?