Internet Governance of Open Government Data and for Sustainable Development
Internet Governance Forum
7th November 2012
The workshop gathered 31 participants in Baku and one remote hub from Australia. Two of the panellists were remote panellists.
The link between open government data & big data for development & internet governance/ICT policy
Keisha Taylor, Independent Researcher, Policy Fellow, Access (Remote Panellist)
Ms. Taylor spoke about how big data and open government data links to internet governance and ICT policy issues and made the distinction that open data can be part of big data but big data is not always open data. There is a big disparity in the generation and storage of data between regions. For example there is a lot more in the United States and Europe compared with Africa and Latin America.
Some open government data initiatives discussed/mentioned included:
Uganda Open Data initiative (Opendatauganda.com) hopes to launch in 2013.
Somalia (http://opendata.gov.so) hopes to make all data about Somalia held by
international development organisations available.
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) launched an Open Data for Africa platform opendataforafrica.org in the hope that it would increase access to the quality data needed to manage and monitor the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in African countries.
Discussions were held recently in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the Dominican
Republic to promote the potential of Open Government Data, Open Innovation and Open Source for sustainable development in the region.
Open Data for Public Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean project – led by the
W3C Brazil and ECLAC
Brazil Open Gov Data Portal - aggregates 82 public datasets formerly scattered across the Internet. dados.gov.br
Also discussed were privacy implications; how the quantified self movement is taking off and the possibility for predictive analysis based on big data to lead to the inventing of the future
She explained through examples how such data is transforming, industry, government, development and policy and described why the multistakeholder process, which has helped support the successful growth of the internet should also be applied to the use of big data and open government data for development.
Each of us is at the centre of the big data universe and this should never be forgotten in any attempts at harnessing the use of big data for social benefit. Skills and human insight is also needed. The way that various Internet Governance issues such as privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property rights, infrastructure and access are linked to the generation and use of big data was also explained.
She also noted the way in which civil society organisations (CSOs) are usually left out of the equation and the importance of including the poor in data collection and analysis efforts to improve dialogue with government, collect better much data than professionals in a cost effective way in local languages, by eliminating cultural barriers and building trust.
Open Government Data - Kenya
Bitange Ndemo (Kenya) Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications
Kenya launched open data because they wanted to enable the youth to access government data and create applications. They have seen more than 50 new applications, especially on the mobile platform, that have come out as a result of that. However, most of them need real time data not traditional data and this has become a challenge. He said that government normally take an angle that's favourable to itself but citizens can look at its data in new ways and come up with new innovations
He explained the in the next few years we should be able to understand how we can provide data on food security so that citizens can have it on their mobile phones. He spoke of how mobile money is helping to bring in new applications which increase agricultural productivity in Kenya. This enables farmers to know what type of crops they need to grow, determine price and know their market. It can help citizens know where to find clean water. He also described the development of mobile money in Kenya.
The use of big data for disaster relief is helping to drive more confidence in the use of data for predictive analysis. He described how Kenya must begin to look at and change its culture so much so that farmers can also begin to estimate and predict with it. Government can make policy interventions, but citizens must also begin to identify issues that they want data to solve. They must begin to trust the data with their lives.
He also discussed how open data and big data could reduce the cost of health care and improve education and help consumers to find out if the food they buy is organic. Having open data would mean that even farmers will begin to understand the relationship with the markets that they work in. For example Africa and Europe, are intertwined, because a lot of Kenya’s food is exported to Europe for example. It therefore becomes a global issue for a European consumer.
Towards an Open Government an overview from Sri Lanka and South Asia
Priyanthi Daluwatte, Tutor, Diplo Foundation (Remote Panellist)
The presentation discussed the overview of Open Government initiatives in South Asian region with special emphasis on Sri Lanka. In the introduction, she noted the publication by Michael Gurstein on the topic, Open data: Empowering the empowered or effective data use for everyone? in which the author has described a model for effective data use. Seven factors have been noted as drivers of effective data use. Viz: Internet, Computers and software, Computer/software skills, Content and formatting, Interpretation/Sense making, Advocacy, and Governance. (Gurstein, 2011) The presenter stressed that penetration of internet is a critical factor in the provision of open government services to the masses. World Map of Open Government Data Initiatives provided by Google shows the distribution of Open Government Data Initiatives around the globe and it is evident that these initiatives are concentrated in the US and European region.
She then focused the discussion on the overview of Sri Lanka with regard to Open Government initiatives. Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian ocean with an area 65,610 sq km and a population 20.8 million. It is a middle level income country. (HDI 97th) Literacy rate 92.5% whereas the IT literacy is 40%. Ranks 71 on the Network Readiness Index. Telephones per 100 persons (including cellular phones) 105.1 Internet penetration (as a percentage of total population) 4%.
Initiatives by Sri Lankan Government in the provision of IT to the masses were noted. The key player in this initiative is the ICT Agency in Sri Lanka which is under the Presidential Secretariat. Sri Lanka does not have an Open Government Data portal yet, but the country is laying the ground work by providing e-services, knowledge and formulation and adoption of a national ICT policy, ICT action plan and necessary legal framework in order for the effective use of Open Government Data initiatives when it is taken off ground.
The e-Sri Lanka initiative started in 2004 uses ICT to develop the economy of Sri Lanka, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of the people.
Establish rural telecentres (Nenasalas) 687 established throughout the country which provides affordable telecom services to the rural communities, e-citizen services, e-learning, IT literacy
Lanka Government Network – the information infrastructure backbone that connects all the government organizations.
Initiatives are made to make the government content made available in all 3 national languages (English + 2 local languages)
Lanka Gate (Lanka Interoperability Exchange) and Lanka Government Cloud have been developed to facilitate Open Government and Open data implementations
Lanka Gate initiative for eServices (Online Payment Services, Mobile Payment Services, SMS Services)
Open Government and Open Data are featuring in a significant manner in the e-government policy.
Human Resource Capacity Building – government employees to administer e-government services, basic ICT education through the telecentres, trained pool of professionals
The situation in India with regard to Open Government Data
Departmental websites for the government with contact details for officers, project-specific information, including annual reports providing information on activities and finances
National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy has been recently notified by the Government through a gazette notification. According to this policy, all government departments shall soon release their datasets in open formats.
The Open Government Data Portal is a joint initiative between India and US
Countries like Singapore and Indonesia also have Open Government portals. Literature survey shows that other South Asian countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan) have government web portals which connects Ministries.
Ms. Daluwatte lastly highlighted some factors for consideration with regard to provision of open government initiatives in developing countries.
Privacy of data
Reluctance to share data at departmental levels
Fear for technology
Issues related to infrastructure
Poor record keeping practices
Inconsistent data available
The available data is in English
No sufficient demand for the kind of sophisticated analysis encouraged by initiatives like the US and UK open data schemes.
Open Government Data - Caribbean
Bevil Wooding (Trinidad and Tobago) Chief Knowledge Officer of Congress WBN
Mr. Wooding spoke broadly about the need to develop the open data ecosystem and build applications based on government data since they own some of the largest data repositories. Access to data was also noted to be tied to infrastructure and innovation linked to open data. While it is important to make data available in in open formats if emphasis is not placed on how people access it, then the work, or the effort, is in vain. An increasing number of countries are interested in and motivated to move into open data. Models are emerging in developing and developed countries.
However, transparency is not actually always desired, and while the benefits of open data should be obvious, sometimes the benefits of being closed should also be taken into consideration when trying to develop ways of overcoming resistance and obstacles.
He described the Caribbean’s first open data initiative in 2012. However, he noted that governments by themselves can’t encourage people to open their data.
In Trinidad and Tobago for example there is a Freedom of Information Act, which requires citizens to make an appeal to government for information, but open data gives citizens the information before they ask for it, and it is always there for you when you need it. When citizens get a sense of these possibilities they start to demand data in all other kinds of areas.
Entrepreneurs need to be enthusiastic about open data and start slowly creating public awareness by creating applications intended to reach the people. Having a friendly friend in government is important and so is celebrating success openly.
Questions and subsequent discussions circulated around issues of liability, and structure and validity of data. For example: does "Open", means creating licence, or does "Open", means truly open. The creative commons license was sited as one used and so was the Open Knowledge Foundation's definition of open knowledge. Regarding questions about data standards or formats, it was explained that a lot of this is still in the early stages of development in developing countries. Challenges also lay ahead in the use of real-time data, in terms of data quality and validity, but also getting such data e.g. from mobile phone companies used not just for competitiveness, but for the common good, and to solve problem.
Mr. Ndemo made the point that a focus on privacy does not enable innovation, however Javier Ruiz, of the Open Rights Group, who chaired the session, disagreed saying that from the get go there is a need to also legislate for privacy or there will be a backlash from the public.
Mr. Ndemo explained that they do have a data protection group, but for health issues like cancer we need to understand who gets it when do they get it. We must balance privacy issues with the sharing of public data to help solve such issues and provide more innovation services. There needs to be more transparent technology and algorithms so they can apply open peer review to generate trust. Data can also be anonymised.
He said that in Kenya the question is not who is on Facebook, but who is not on Facebook. Individuals give private information openly and service providers use it. Does this make the user of free services the user or the provider? Facebook is using this metrics to generate revenue. There is also the issue of regulation to consider from a Kenyan perspective
Mr. Ndemo explained that it took many years before MPESA for to be regulated by the central bank. If they had initially waited on regulation MPESA may have failed to exist. In addition, if Kenya did not have a forward thinking government they would not have the open government data platform needed to help them be more pragmatic.