This post continues coverage of breakout sessions held at the 7th Annual Aid Management program Good Practices Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal.
While we’ve covered the demand side of data, it’s important to remember that a broader open data ecosystem exists – including civil society organizations, academia, media, and others. Representing this perspective, YoungInnovations (YI), a privately-owned technology enterprise and co-founder of Open Nepal, talked about what makes “good” open data, why openness matters, and why data suppliers should care.
What kind of data?
For YI, free, available, and accessible information is key – but not necessarily in the same ways that data suppliers are accustomed.
Like many others in the data ecosystem, YI defines “open data” as information that is digital, machine-readable (XML or CSV format vs. PDFs), and free from copyright, patents, or other restraints. But interestingly, YI also discussed the problematic tendency to publish information in English – thereby limiting access to non-English speakers – and encouraged participants to find ways to publish data in local languages.
Behind the push for supplying data to government officials is the assumption that more information can lead to better decision making. But why are civil society organizations pushing for access? Because benefits of open data are well worth the fight, and include:
- Opportunities for business and innovation – opening up information can allow new markets to develop around data analysis and visualization
- Higher citizen engagement – better tools for interpreting data can make complex datasets easier for the everyday citizen to understand and react to
- Increased accountability – analytical and visual platforms, along with citizen participation, can lead to more public scrutiny and calls for better results
- Improved project efficiency – ultimately, better tools for decision making and more pressure on decision makers can, one hopes, drive more cost-effective and impactful programming
Why should you care?
The extra effort required to put data into the right format, and to make it open, is needed to ensure that data is meaningful. From the perspective of YI, splitting the Open Data Ecosystem into two spheres is too simplistic; rather, between data suppliers (government, private companies) and data demanders (media, citizens) there are intermediaries (civil society, academics) that serve as facilitators between producers and consumers.
From their role as intermediaries, YI urges suppliers to hold up their end of the bargain: when suppliers provide high-quality information, intermediaries can better facilitate demand, and the Open Data Ecosystem can flourish.
Representatives from Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG) will be attending the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) from September 5-9 in Kigali, Rwanda to highlight two projects: the Visualizing Insights on African Agriculture (VIFAA) project and the Farmer-Centric Data Governance Models project.
In Episode 2 of "Data…for What?!," a podcast series from Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG) which explores our new strategic plan, Josh Powell met with experts from DG and IREX to discuss DG’s expansion into the education, media and disinformation, and youth sectors. The conversations explore the most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities for data and technology to positively impact these sectors and discuss how these trends are likely to play out in the years ahead. Based on these trends, the experts explain the unique fit for DG’s skills and specific opportunities for collaboration that align with the vision of DG’s partnership with IREX, which has a long and successful history working in each sector.
To help contextualize the new Strategic Plan, we are launching a podcast series called Data… for What?! This series consists of 5 episodes in Josh Powell and Vanessa Goas talk to DGers throughout the organization – as well as collaborators within our strategic partner, IREX - about how and why we prioritized the various elements of the new strategy. In this first episode, we talk to Kristin Lord, President and CEO of IREX about how our partnership fits into the Strategic Plan; and to Aleks Dardelli, Executive Vice President of IREX and Chair of DG’s Board of Directors, about the process of putting the Plan together at this opportune, yet precarious, global moment.