Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For December 12, 2014
No need to renew your passport, suspend mail delivery, or even pack a toothbrush. Although Civic Awesome is globetrotting this week, as we take you on an open data world tour with stops in the Middle East, India, Nigeria, the UK, and Canada.
This week, Qatar released a new policy requiring all data legally able to be opened (barring privacy, security and other restrictions) be made accessible in “modifiable and convenient formats that can be searched, downloaded, and indexed…retrievable and reusable.” The Ministry of information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR) which will institute the policy is putting together an implementation plan now, which will include workshops for all government agencies. The Ministry expects its open data policy will facilitate “great social, economic and governance impacts including citizen and communities’ engagement and empowerment through providing new knowledge from combined data sources, boosting economic growth across all sectors, enhancing transparency and efficiency and improving public services through collaboration.”
The Open Knowledge Foundation’s “Global Open Data Index” has found the Canadians wanting. Once again, the country received and openness score of approximately 59%, the same as under last year’s survey. However, because many more nations have been added to ranks, Canada has fallen ten slots from 12th to the 22nd position. Ottawa remains confident that with its new federal plan to release data and move ever closer to “open by default,” it will climb up the rankings.
The Open Data Institute (ODI) has released a report calling for Whitehall to develop a comprehensive data strategy, including coalescing “all aspects of data policy in one place in the Cabinet Office.” Further, the report calls for the creation of a chief data officer who would “report to the executive director of digital in the Cabinet Office, explicitly aligning data as part of the government’s ‘digital by default strategy.’” ODI also reminded the UK of its commitment under the G8 Open Data Charter to ensure public procurement contracts adhere to open data policy.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister for communications and information technology, is calling for greater access to open data as it is “an integral part of good governance…and help in further strengthening participative democracy.” He also cited open data’s ability to spur economic activity. His department would like to have more academics, entrepreneurs, and IT industry leaders involved in helping the country expand its open data program.
Despite launching an open data initiative in January 2014, not enough Nigerians are aware of the program, citizens are claiming. While the usefulness of opening up high value data is obvious to many, some like Emmanuel Federicks of Bank PLC, still say “There is a need to inform the public on how the initiative works and the importance of shared information.” Federicks is calling on other citizens and organizations to become more aware of the value shared data has for their businesses and government.