10. Discontinuing data sharing

This step can be implemented as follows

The person promoting data sharing in the organisation together with the IT department

  • stop updating the shared data, if necessary and,
  • make the data unavailable, if necessary.

The person responsible for data sharing in the organisation together with the communications unit

  • inform users about the discontinuation of the sharing of the data well in advance.

Discontinuing data sharing

This section describes how ending the life cycle of an opened dataset and its possible removal should be implemented.

The basic premise of open data is that datasets published as open data remain publicly accessible for as long as possible – even if they are no longer updated, they should not be removed unless there is a specific reason for doing so.

Historical datasets and long time-series are of high intrinsic value. For example, it is important for some applications to have access to historical data and long time-series. If you wanted to use open data to study Finnish companies at the beginning of the 1990s or produce an application showing how the number of companies has developed in the past 30 years, it is important that the data is available. A visualisation displaying photos of Helsinki dating back to the past 100 years would not be possible if the data were not available or had been removed.

When should data be removed from distribution?

  • If an error is found that requires the data to be removed.
  • If the data is outdated and no longer has any historical value.
  • If a new version of the data has been published, the old version can be removed from distribution.
    • However, it is a good idea to keep any outdated data available for as long as it is in use.

Discontinuing updates of open datasets

If the organisation intends to stop or has already stopped updating an opened dataset, it should include an explanation in the dataset’s metadata on why and when it discontinued its updates. If possible, the dataset should still remain openly available to users.

Some of the open datasets in the Helsinki Region Infoshare service are no longer updated. Users should be informed about this in the same way as the organisation communicates about significant updates. In addition, the organisation should prepare to justify the discontinuation of updates so that it can respond to potential user queries. The Lifecycle management model for open data document (in Finnish) describes the division of responsibilities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area when opened data is about to reach the end of its life cycle.

Example dataset on the HRI’s website that is no longer updated.

Things to consider when removing data

It is important for the data administrator to note that even if the sharing of the dataset were discontinued and the data were removed from the public network, the parties that have downloaded the dataset have the right to continue using it in accordance with its licence. Most public administration datasets have been published under a CC BY 4.0 (CC Attribution 4.0) or CC0 licence.

Things to consider when discontinuing an API

It is important to carefully consider the process and necessity of discontinuing an API. For example, the API may be utilised in other services, in which case their functionality depends on the functioning of the API. The data shared through the interface may also be historically significant, in which case it is worth considering sharing the data in some other way if the interface is to be discontinued.

The discontinuation of the API must be communicated well in advance before its technical implementation. Your communications must provide detailed information on the date and time of the shutdown, and you should attempt to reach everyone who uses the API. In addition, the API’s users should be informed when the shutdown is complete.