Nigeria must get serious and follow what Kenya did by launching an Open Data Initiative. We have the FOI and now is the time to get the technology to make it more open. Instead of asking for it, we have to be ready to give it. This is very imperative as democracy demands openness and we have to lead in that domain.
Some highlight of the Kenya Open Data Initiative include:
The makes public government data accessible to the people of Kenya. High quality national census data, government expenditure, parliamentary proceedings and public service locations are just a taste of what’s to come.
Background on Open Government Data
Governments collect, curate and store public sector information (PSI) that’s typically used for their own purposes. When this data is released, in a digital form that can be freely found and used by anyone else for their own purposes, it becomes Open Government Data or ODG.
What kind of data are we talking about?
In Kenya, data includes: various dimensions of population data; local and national government authority expenditure; public health indicator data and statistics including hospital locations; education data such as enrollment rates and school locations; parliamentary proceedings (digital Hansard); weather information and detailed census statistics on topics such as access to electricity, water and sanitation.
Why is open government data important?
This data already exists, it’s already been paid for, it’s about the public and it belongs to the public. Government data is a valuable resource for users outside government. Making it open means more people can benefit from it, in more ways than the government alone can think of or support. OGD can foster a better relationship between citizens and government and between citizens and citizens – it can create economic and social value for a country, and help people make better decisions in their own lives.
Who uses open government data?
Users include: different departments and ministries within government; members of the public; journalist and the media; academics and researchers; policy makers; technology developers; companies and private sector service providers; international institutions and even other governments.
How is this different to freedom of information (FOI) or right to information (RTI)?
FOI and RTI is about citizens “pulling data” out of government on-demand. Open Government Data is about governments “pushing data” out proactively: with good ODG, you don’t have to ask, you can just use the information that’s already accessible. If the data you want is not there, you can ask the government to publish it as OGD so that everyone can benefit from it.