Gli IAR sono registri appositamente istituiti per immagazzinare e organizzare meta-dati sull’enorme quantità di informazioni detenute da amministrazioni ed enti pubblici. Uno IAR completo include set di dati, vecchi insiemi di file, file elettronici recenti, raccolte di statistiche, ricerche e così via.
La Direttiva Europea sulla PSI riconosce l’importanza dei registri ai fini del potenziale riuso delle informazioni pubbliche. Richiede che gli Stati membri forniscano liste, portali, o qualcosa di analogo. Tale direttiva dichiara:
Tools that help potential re-users to find documents available for re-use and the conditions for re-use can facilitate considerably the cross-border use of public sector documents. Member States should therefore ensure that practical arrangements are in place that help re-users in their search for documents available for reuse. Assets lists, accessible preferably online, of main documents (documents that are extensively re-used or that have the potential to be extensively re-used), and portal sites that are linked to decentralised assets lists are examples of such practical arrangements.
IARs can be developed in different ways. Government departments can develop their own IARs and these can be linked to national IARs. IARs can include information which is held by public bodies but which has not yet been – and maybe will not be – proactively published. Hence they allow members of the public to identify information which exists and which can be requested.
For the public to make use of these IARs, it is important that any registers of information held be as complete as possible in order to be able to have confidence that documents can be found. The incompleteness of some registers is a significant problem as it creates a degree of unreliability which may discourage some from using the registers to search for information.
It is essential that the metadata in the IARs be comprehensive so that search engines can function effectively. In the spirit of open government data, public bodies should make their IARs available to the general public as raw data under an open licence so that civic hackers can make use of the data, for example by building search engines and user interfaces.