(No.78) Internet Governance of Open Government Data and for Sustainable Development

Go to Report
Workshop Theme: 
Security, Openness and Privacy
Concise Description of Workshop: 

The number of open government / public sector information policy initiatives are increasing not only in the USA and Europe but developing countries as well. A European Union (EU) platform for open government data is being created and countries within its fold have been asked by the EU to make open government data available via this European wide platform. In Africa, Kenya has launched an open government data website (https://opendata.go.ke) as has Uganda (Opendatauganda.com). Somalia (http://opendata.gov.so) hopes to make all data about Somalia held by international development organisations available. The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) also 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. The Caribbean is also focusing on open government data and 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. Opening up government data online holds broad benefits in that it enables society to use it for all manner of purposes such as democratic engagement, provision of public services, and for profit making through the building of applications and private services from its use. A 2006 study revealed that the mean value of public sector information in the EU is around EUR 27 billion, 0.25% of the total aggregated GDP for the EU http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/psi/what_is_psi/index_en.htm. The huge hopes that underpin government data can only be realised if the data is accessible to all for reuse. Open Government Data is a complex area in that it has many dimensions, many of which apply to the physical layer of the Internet and its governance and is important for sustainable human, economic and social development. The need for open government data is even more prominent in the developing world where Internet access is problematic. According to Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications in Kenya, "There's no continent that needs Open Data more than Africa" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UCIRF2wS_ec). The ability for open government data to improve the economic prospects of developing countries, including those emerging from crisis will be examined in the workshop along with the type of Internet governance framework that is needed to help ensure that this becomes reality. The workshop will consider and examine the following questions issues and concerns: 1. Can the process of developing this open government data content layer help encourage an enabling ICT environment and relevant investment for the development and economic prosperity of countries that have yet to start to build an online open government data environment? 2. Whether the linking of open government data portals at the national, regional and international level would help address some of the issues the worlds population faces related to shortages in water, food, as well as issues like disasters and the economic crisis and what role international institutions can play in addressing these if any. 3. As more government data is made open questions have arisen about the ability to anonymise data. The number of countries introducing data privacy laws continues to increase. These are not homogeneous and whether this may potentially hinder the innovative use of open government data will be discussed. 4. As the developing world wakes up to the possibility of open government data it will also focus on what can be learnt from other countries that are facing similar or/and new issues as a result of opening up government data and what internet governance measures can be explored to address them. A remote hub for individuals interested in open government data that want to participate will connect to the workshop via remote participation. This workshop is a follow up from the IGF5 and IGF6 workshops on Public Sector Information online: towards a Global policy framework.

Backgroung Paper: 
Organiser(s) Name: 

Keisha Taylor, Trinidad and Tobago, Independent researcher/NGO, Javier Ruiz, United Kingdom (Open Rights Group), Christopher Corbin, United Kingdom, An independent researcher on Information Society policy 

Previous Workshop(s): 

IGF 6: Workshop 212 - Privacy and Security in an Open Real time Linked data world http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/component/chronocontact/?chronoformname=W... IGF6: Workshop 123. Public Sector Information online: towards a Global policy framework http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/component/chronocontact/?chronoformname=W... IGF5: Workshop 120. Public sector information online: democratic, social and economic potentials http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/component/chronocontact/?chronoformname=W... IGF3: OECD Best practice Forum on the "Enhanced Internet-enabled access and use of public sector information" http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/2008-igf-hyderabad/event-reports/78-best-...

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 
  •      Keisha Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago) independent researcher/Policy fellow, Access
  •     Bitange Ndemo (Kenya) Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications
  •     Priyanthi Daluwatter (Sri Lanka) (Tutor, DiploFoundation)
  •     Javier Ruiz (United Kingdom) Campaigner, Open Rights Group
  •     Bevil Wooding (Trinidad and Tobago) Chief Knowledge Officer of Congress WBN
  •     Anne Fitzgerald, Australia, Queensland University of Technology, The Australian auPSI information platform – (Confirmed remote participant - Organiser of Australian remote hub) 
Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Bevil Wooding, Chief Knowledge Officer of Congress WBN, Trinidad and Tobago
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
There were very few women participants
Please include any comments or recommendations you have on how to improve the inclusion of issues related to gender equality and: 

This can be done by trying to make it more explicit in the workshop proposal stage.

Reported by: 
Keisha Taylor
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

Internet Governance of Open Government Data and for Sustainable Development
Workshop #78
Internet Governance Forum
Baku, Azerbaijan
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:

  • Kenya -https://opendata.go.ke
  • 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.

Conclusions and further comments: 

The panel focused on discussions related to open government data portals and initiatives in developing countries.
Discussions pointed out that it is very important to develop an open government data content layer but also pointed to a variety of factors that are also vital for developing countries to help create the enabling environment needed for such platforms to be introduced, developed, maintained and used.
Because of the nascent nature of such portals in developing countries the extent to which the linking of open government data portals at the national, regional and international level could help with sustainable development was not yet addressed, but hope that this could be achieved was high.
There were varying views on how much focus should be on privacy in the early stages of developing an open government data structure. Representatives from developing countries, notably Kenya argued that a focus on regulation and privacy in the local environment would hinder use of the data and innovation.
The developing world is indeed examining the possibility of open government data and learning from developments in Europe and the USA. As more portals and initiatives unfold and develop it will be useful to have a follow up workshop which examine how successful some of these new initiatives have been and some of the lessons that have been learnt with a view to working together within common standards to help possibly introduce a global framework.

Additional documents: