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westhill consulting reviews: In Jakarta, Open Environmental Data Meets Freedom of Information Law
 

westhill consulting reviews: In Jakarta, Open Environmental Data Meets Freedom of Information Law

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Recently something interesting happened in Jakarta. We got a glimpse of what the future of the open data movement could, and hopefully will, look like.

Recently something interesting happened in Jakarta. We got a glimpse of what the future of the open data movement could, and hopefully will, look like.

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    westhill consulting reviews: In Jakarta, Open Environmental Data Meets Freedom of Information Law westhill consulting reviews: In Jakarta, Open Environmental Data Meets Freedom of Information Law Presentation Transcript

    • Westhill Consulting ReviewsIn Jakarta, Open Environmental DataMeetsFreedom of Information Law
    • Recently something interesting happened in Jakarta. Wegot aglimpseofwhat thefutureof theopen datamovement could, and hopefully will, looklike.So what happened?On thesurface, nothing that would ordinarily send anyone’sheartsracing.Therewasaregional meeting of STRIPE, agroup dedicated toStrengthening theRight to Information for Peopleand theEnvironment.Theattendees, who hailed from China, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, thePhilippines, and Thailand included representativesfrom civil societyorganizations, academia, governments, and international organizations.So hereisthefirst interesting piece. At theconclusion of theconferencethegroup issued adocument they referred to astheJakartaDeclaration inwhich they cited not just freedom of information laws, but also open data,ascritical to tackling theregionsenvironmental challenges.
    • Consider the first three clauses of the declaration (italicsmine):1.FOI laws assist in ensuring access to environmentalinformation by people and communities.However,information on air and water quality and pollutantsreleased into the environment needs to be releasedproactively, in formats that are easily understandableby the public, without a request.2.Government needs to adopt legal requirements for thecollection and production of environmental information.3.Laws that guarantee a specific right of access toenvironmental information without a requestneed to beoperationalized to ensure quick and timely access toenvironmental information.
    • Thisfor meisawindow into afuturewherecallsfor open datano longercomestrictly from traditional advocates. In many waysthiswill beasignof success. Thefact that environmentalistsbelieveopen datacan helpadvancetheir causeisavalidation of theideasof open dataadvocates. Atthesametime, I’m under no illusionsthat every new stakeholder will beasbenign or operating in thepublic interest as, say, environmentalists, butthisisnonethelessasign of maturity. Theopen datamovement wasonlyever going to get so far if it wasabout anarrow group of technologistsortransparency advocatesthat frequent thesameconferences. To succeed itneedsto find supportersacrossmany groupsand bodiesand theJakartaDeclaration isaperfect exampleof abridgebeing built to theenvironmental movement. It will beinteresting to what other bridgeswillemergein thecoming months.
    • The biggerstoryThereisabigger story however in theJakartaDeclaration, oneI’vetried to talk about before. It isabout thedueling naturesofFOI and Open Dataand asecond way in which theopen datamovement will haveto mature.Takealook at clausetwo again:2. Government needsto adopt legal requirementsfor thecollection and production of environmental information.Thisisessentially asking for alegal structurefor openenvironmental data. Thisisasignificant shift since, in manyplaces, open dataenjoysno legal protection. In almost everyjurisdiction, at any time, agovernment can removeand stopsharing adataset at which point it would only becomeavailableviaaFOI request. In other words, barring afew legislatedexamples, weenjoy easy accessto open dataat thepleasureofthegovernment.
    • Thisisoneof thecentral differencesbetween FOI and open data. FOIprovidescitizenswith rightsto access. Open data, for themost part, hassimply afforded aprivilege. Our colleaguesin Jakartahaverightly pointed outtheir discomfort with thisand aregiving theopen datacommunity — which,asabroad tent, hasalwaysincluded thoseinterested in not just transparency,but non-profit, commercial uses, scientific uses— apush to demand more.I suspect that such aguaranteeto theright to accessdatawill requireanewapproach to legislation — wewill not simply beableto extend FOI.Thisisbecausethereisacentral thedifferencebetween aFOI and open data.FOI isa“document centric” process. It requiresoneto audit documents(forprivacy and secrecy) that havealready been produced. It is, by definition,backwardslooking and non-scalable. Open data, in contrast, isa“systemcentric” process. With aguaranteeto datayou arenot asking for aspecificdocument or dataat aspecific moment in time, you areasking for accessto allproductsof asystem including thosein thepresent and future, and possiblyeven thosefrom thepast.
    • Thisisasignificant shift. Thereisawonderful analogy in whathappened to theaccounting industry in the1990s. Previouslyauditorswould audit “thebooks.” In other wordsthey wouldreview and sign off on specific documentsmuch likean FOIofficer reviewsaspecific document for privacy or secrecyconcerns. Thearrival of computersand theexplosion of theamount of datacorporationscreated changed everything.Auditorscould no longer review every document. Instead theystarted to audit “systems” assessing if all thedocumentsitproduced werevalid. In other wordsthey aredetermining if allpast, current and futureproductsof thesystem would bevalid.Thisrequired theentirefield to reskill itself. Someolderpartnerschoseto retire, younger accountantssaw it asanopportunity to develop anew skill and grow their business. Ineither case, it required new skillsand anew perspective.
    • And thisistheend gameof what JakartaDeclaration means. TheSTRIPEdelegateswant entiresystems— not individual documents— to becleared asopen and accessible: accountability that all past, present andfuturedatawill beopen (and accurate).To beclear, I’m not applying ahierarchy here. I’m not saying asystemsapproach isbetter than adocument approach. Thereislittledoubt thatboth will berequired.But theentireaccountability infrastructurewithin governmentswill needto think of transparency and accountability with awholenew paradigm,oneof systemsnot just documents. And thisreskilling and newperspectivewill affect not just thepeoplewho haveto implement thesenew rules, but also thesolicitors, civil society organizationsand accesstoinformation commissionerswho overseethegovernment.
    • Thiswill undoubtedly makesomepoliticiansand publicservantsstill moreuncomfortablethan they already are, forothersit will represent an opportunity to advancetheir careers.Regardless, it will bedisruptive. But it will also help foster abetter window for thepublic into government, and thedatathatinformsitspolicies, regulatorsand other outputs. And thatwould beagood outcome.Perso nalDemo cracy Media is gratefulto the Omidyar Netwo rkfo r its genero us suppo rt o f techPresidents WeGo v sectio n.
    • Thiswill undoubtedly makesomepoliticiansand publicservantsstill moreuncomfortablethan they already are, forothersit will represent an opportunity to advancetheir careers.Regardless, it will bedisruptive. But it will also help foster abetter window for thepublic into government, and thedatathatinformsitspolicies, regulatorsand other outputs. And thatwould beagood outcome.Perso nalDemo cracy Media is gratefulto the Omidyar Netwo rkfo r its genero us suppo rt o f techPresidents WeGo v sectio n.