Open Data in Developing Countries

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Open Data in Developing Countries towards locally sustainable ecosystems

José M. Alonso, Program Manager, Open Data
World Wide Web Foundation

REEEP Open Data Workshop, Abu Dhabi, UAE
18 Jan 2011

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  • Photo: Three girls in a computer lab in Brazil.
  • Better Government and Public Services Transparency and accountability are today critical dimensions for foreign aid and investments that are essential for social and economic development. The potential of ICT to provide basic services (health, education, business, government...) to rural communities and under-privileged populations in developing countries is huge and has been highlighted for more than a decade with e.g. the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) series of international events. Citizen inclusion and participation in public and government matters has been historically low in developing countries, partly due to lack of information and infrastructure. Increasing such citizen participation is essential for the establishment of stable democratic processes.New Commercial Opportunities Providing access to raw data allows private companies and entrepreneurs to leverage new ideas and material for implementing innovative services, creating employment and having a general positive impact in their territory's economy. For example, Open Data is leading already to the creation of whole mobile applications ecosystems in the more developed countries; this is even more critical for the not so developed ones.
  • Open Data in Developing Countries

    1. 1. Advance the Web toEmpower PeopleOpen Data in Developing Countriestowards locally sustainable ecosystemsJosé M. Alonso, Program Manager, Open DataWorld Wide Web Foundation<josema@webfoundation.org>REEEP, Abu Dhabi, UAE18 Jan 2011
    2. 2. World Wide Web Foundationo Mission: Advance the Web to Empower Peopleo Founder: Tim Berners-Leeo Seed funding: Knight Foundationo Launched: Nov 2009o Initial Projects o Agriculture, Open Data, Entrepreneurship, Web Index o Mobile and voice Web o Starting in Africa 2
    3. 3. Some concerns heard/challenges o Loss of control o Authenticity, provenance, corruption, falsification of data o Quality o Legal challenges Bottom line o Data hugging o Unwelcomed exposure • It’s tough, expensive, I o Procedural changes don’t see the ROI and o Complexity I’m not required to do o Investment, ROI this o Loss of licensing revenue o Capacity building required o Customer service o Infrastructure o Digital literacy o Privacy o National security 3
    4. 4. So Why Do It? - Open Data Benefitso Increased transparency of governmentso Increased internal government efficiency and effectivenesso Increased citizen participation and inclusion through extended offers of services closer to people’s needso Increased number of services to people due to an increased base of potential service providerso New business opportunities and jobs for application and service developerso New synergies between government, public administration and civil society organizationso New innovative uses of OGD that can help spur innovation and development in the IT sector 4
    5. 5. One Example http://www.intheair.es/ 5
    6. 6. Additional Considerations for LMICs (I)o Web tech developed by, mainly, wealthy country folkso Affordability (e.g., tools, assistive technologies)o Exaggerated effects of other barriers (e.g. age, literacy, language, experience)o Integration with known communications (business and social groups, radio, TV, SMS ..) 6
    7. 7. Additional Considerations for LMICs (II)o Transparency and accountability are critical dimensions for foreign aid and investmentso The potential of ICT to provide basic services (health, education, business, government...) to rural communities and under-privileged populations in developing countries is hugeo Citizen inclusion and participation in public and government matters has been historically lowo New Commercial Opportunities: private companies and entrepreneurs can leverage new ideas and innovative services 7
    8. 8. Open Data Initiative – Visiono Promote the growth of the Open Data movement as a means of advancing our mission to empower all people through the Web.o The long-term vision is that any country in the world would be able to: o observe the impact of Open Data initiatives, o understand the costs and benefits of such initiatives, o understand the processes required for the implementation, o and find support for engaging and completing this implementation. 8
    9. 9. A starting point: mid2010- early 2011o Hypothesis: what if we use all of our knowledge in Western world Open Data projects and apply it to low and middle income countries?o Feasibility studies: o Chile and Ghana http://www.webfoundation.org/projects/ogd 9
    10. 10. Findings of Ghana Study (1/3)Executive level o Culture of secrecy inherited from the stages previous to democracy, but political will to make information transparently available to citizens. o First democratically elected government that has RTI Act in its manifesto. o Remove barriers related to exceptions provided by law and make the system of information sharing transparent. o Government’s willingness to adopt an Open Data initiative at the agency level is present. o The President of Ghana as prime mover behind enacting RTI.
    11. 11. Findings of Ghana Study (2/3)Public Administration level o Government departments and agencies are interested in creating Open Data initiatives extending to the middle layer of public administration. o National IT Agency (NITA) and Ministry of Communications understand the potential of such initiatives. o Budgetary and leadership support to key institutions. o Develop a common methodology for Open Data. o Select and adopt open standard formats for data to facilitate re-use. o Improve the capacity of public servants so that they themselves become active consumers of information, thus enabling intra agency sharing of data.
    12. 12. Findings of Ghana Study (3/3)Civil Society level o Media and the civil society has played a prominent role in ensuring that RTI Act enshrines free availability of information. o There is already a movement towards re-use of information driven by organisations like “Population Council” as well as universities. o Need to increase awareness of re-use initiatives promoted by civil society. o Leverage existing related initiatives o Improve technical awareness and provide training. o Assist civil society in providing technical training.
    13. 13. Open Data – StrategyCountry level actions o Political o Legal o Organizational o Technical o Economic o SocialGlobal actions o Directory o Research o Sustainability models o Monitoring and Evaluation o… 13
    14. 14. Some Lessons Learned: Non-Technicalo Quick OGD portal vs. sustainable long-term OGD initiative o Portal should be just a consequence not end o Start simple but with long term goal in mindo Technical approach vs. OGD ecosystem o Actors: Political, Public Administration, Civil Society o Dimensions: Political, legal, organizational, technical, economic, socialo The issue with Open o Most not really Open, it’s mostly about the licenseo The issue with machine-readable, standard formats o PDFs, Excel, documents not data o Web Architecture and not Web as file server 14
    15. 15. Some Lessons Learned: Technical Raw data now… and better data afterwards o i.e. start with the low hanging fruit o improve over time (steps) Do not try to enforce an specific architecture o Chances are you could not deploy it o Try to adapt to existing systems and build on top of them as a start More standardization is needed o e.g. on vocabularies (see W3C new groups) o What’s a dataset? What’s a catalogue? o Counting datasets is bad
    16. 16. Some Lessons Learned: 5-star scaleLinked Data is a good tactic but it’s tough, needsimprovemento It just doesn’t work (out of the box)o Better tooling is neededo Capacity buildingo But benefits are great Publishing Reuse OGD Publishing Reuse LGD 16
    17. 17. Just One Example 17
    18. 18. Summaryo Open Data: Cost‐effective tool for governments to improve service to citizens, civil society and businesseso Start now. Start simply.o Start at 3 levels o “it has to happen at the top, it has to happen at the middle and it has to happen at the bottom.” Tim Berners‐Lee 18
    19. 19. Thanks! 19
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