What About ‘Creating’ Open Data?

I spent a good part of my afternoon yesterday following the proceedings at the Connected Kenya Summit which is aims to establish a platform for collaboration, capacity building and priority sharing between government and the IT sector with a view of linking and hastening implementation of government IT projects to world class standards.

One of the sessions, “Knowledge Diffusion & Open Data” focused heavily on the Kenya Open Data Initiative – its challenges and opportunities. The panel for this session was made up of the following people:

  • Cam Cadwell, National Account Manager, Socrata
  • Dr Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication
  • Dr Katherine Getao, ICT Secretary, Directorate of eGovernment
  • Marisella Ouma, CEO, Copyright Board
  • Chris Finch, World Bank
  • Paul Kukubo – CEO, Kenya ICT Board

Almost every one of these guys called out techies to make use of the open data portal by creating apps etc.

Techies reacted naturally: update the data.

Simple argument: Techies thrive in an environment that’s constantly moving fast with new technologies, new knowledge and new skills. So data that’s dated 2009 is very unappealing to this group.

That’s the boring stuff. Here’s the exciting part.

Rather than focus our efforts on asking the Government & other open data stakeholders like the World Bank to update their datasets, why don’t we participate in the open data movement by ‘creating’ open data? Here’s an example: setting up sensors on a public road to monitor and gather traffic data.

Chris Finch from the World Bank spoke about personal data and its value towards improving people’s lives if strategically mined to do so.

Why not?

Why not build an open data portal and apps that aggregate citizen generated data?

The major value add here is that the data is real time and in that sense timely. This is critical because data made available as quickly as necessary preserves the value of the data – a core principle according to the Open Government Data Principles.

This also addresses the frustration of ‘old’ data on the existing data platforms.

Build on this?

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04. April 2012 by mtoto wa jirani
Categories: Idea, Innovation | 7 comments

Comments (7)

  1. Here is a thought how about building applications that make collecting data easier? How about the devs. Stop talking about crowd sourced data and actually start collecting it? By government launching the Open Data Portal and getting international attention in the process, the devs. are failing to leverage this opportunity. Open Data does not mean Governement Data. Open Data does not mean it is Governments responsibility to collect data. Government acted as a catalyst with the limited funding that they had. They have just received more to take the initiative forward.

    As you said ” Why not build an open data portal and apps that aggregate citizen data platforms”…. Well what are you waiting for…. Get to it

  2. This is spot on. The very same technological changes that mean government no longer has a monopoly on analysing data, means government no longer needs to have a monopoly on gathering and curating data.

    Individual citizens, community groups and other institutions can all use open data technologies to pool information and create new open data resources.

    Some of the way ‘Government Data Portals’ have been framed, as only hosting data from governments, rather than hosting data that is relevant to processes of government (which could come from multiple sources) needs to shift to help create more space and incentive for different actors, from developers to charities and community groups, to be creators as well as consumers of data, and feeding all this data back into government, recognising many datasets are shared resources to be drawn on by communities and governments, requires a culture change – but it’s a culture change challenege we should be engaging with.

  3. I agree,

    There are areas where this is happening and there are examples of where communities have recorded and shared data to use as a counter to government data. Pachube is a a good example of this and it did have an impact with regard to the radiation leaks of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. I was told that there was a group who were trying to halt the expansion of Amsterdam Schipol airport who used their own sensors to record noise impact – although I haven’t found any details of this project.
    So yes getting communities to create their own data can have many positive effects. It can aslo encourage organisations to release better and more timely data

  4. Hi.

    I see things the same way. Recently I put up a post on our blog on private enterprise publishing data and how potent the combination of public (read government) and private data could be. Like Jay says, what are we waiting for? :) Our plan is start by publishing all our self funded research later this year and putting the data up. Now if only someone would have a nice portal….

  5. Hi, I’m very interested in this idea. Crowd-sourced open data has potential benefits for everyone.

  6. Great post. Two things:
    – Could a first step toward building own data be to comment/react to existing data? Some platforms have comment/discussion options that enable creation of data right now.

    – Would love to know more about “asking the Government & other open data stakeholders like the World Bank to update their datasets”. I think it’s still worth asking for it, while simultaneously building your own. On World Bank financial data, some datasets (on https://finances.worldbank.org) are updated monthly. Would love to know where the demand is for additional/more up to date data.

    And yes, as Jay said “Well what are you waiting for…. Get to it.” Rock on, data and techie rockstars!