Some available initiatives in English are the US data.gov and the UK “show us a better way”.
The initiatives around the world are a bit different in focus areas and on which data to be released depending on the administrative traditions and local privacy policies.
As an organisation you may integrate with such public reference data either directly or through services from private vendors who add value by reformatting, merging, enriching and bundling with other services. One add on service on the international scene will be supplying consistency – as far as possible – between the datasets from each country.
One way or the other public reference data will become a part of the data architecture in most organisations. Applications in the cloud will probably be (actually are) first movers in this field.
Public reference data will bring operational databases and data warehouses closer to that “one version of the truth” that we talk so much about but have so much trouble achieving and even define. Now some of the trouble can be solved by: Government says so.