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OpenCorporates is thrilled to announce the launch of a new project: OpenGazettes – which will open up government gazettes, aggregating them across multiple countries and enabling  powerful searches into the unstructured and rich seam of corporate events information contained in them.

With a 300 year-old legacy Gazettes are generally recognized as the public record for company-related legal notices. Gazettes are particularly useful when researching or assessing private companies, particularly critical corporate events such as liquidation, dissolution, winding-up orders, annual general meetings or director actions. In short, Gazettes are an untapped gold mine, but in their native form are notoriously challenging to work with. They are unstructured, inconsistent and designed for a pre-digital age. OpenGazettes will be a significant step towards changing that.

This work is possible due to the support of ODINE, an open data incubator by the European Union, who have helped fund & accelerate this. OpenGazettes.com will go live by April 2016.

Why is this important?

  • It will make gazette notices perform their true public purpose, by making them discoverable, searchable, browseable across multiple countries
  • The matching of this data to companies and also indexing the text of them will allow users to search gazette notices across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Many jurisdictions don’t have freely available business registers, but do publish gazettes. This allows us to engineer partial business registers.
  • Enables researchers to identify new facets of company data by making a relatively unknown data source available.
  • Improve integrity and trust in EU businesses, breaking down the information disconnects that pervade EU company data
  • Create opportunities around sector-specific notices – for example around the pollution permits in UK Gazette Notices.

This will be incredibly useful for investigators, law-enforcement, and the underlying data will be of interest to business information providers, and to companies of all sizes who are doing business in Europe.

What’s next?

For the next six months, we will be focusing on Europe, but plan to expand to other jurisdictions later.

This is an exciting project and every month, you’ll be able to read an update from us on how the project is progressing and what we have learnt from doing this.

We are delighted to have James McKinney join us for this project. He has been a powerful force behind many civil society initiatives relating to government, legislative and corporate transparency. He has most recently been working on Popolo (a set of legislative data specifications, used by parliamentary monitoring organizations and members of Poplus.org) and on Influence Mapping (a group of organizations that draw the networks of relations between politically exposed people and organizations). James is especially interested in how data standards can facilitate cooperation between organizations and individuals.

Later this month, we will be publishing the first version of a schema for gazette data. Early next year, there will also be online and offline data dives to explore this data and its different use cases. Watch this space!

Picture by Jon S.

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