We're only in the early days of national-scale open data across a broad spectrum of data sources. Data.gov launched in May 2009. (Historical sidebar: I created the Data.gov Wikipedia page in April 2009.) Data.gov.uk had its big launch in January 2010. So we're about two and a half years in.
Amazing things have happened.
Municipalities across Canada and around the world have open data sites. The EC has announced a strategy for open data from the European Commission. The World Bank has not only released open data at data.worldbank.org but is also providing support to emerging countries to help them in their open government and open data initiatives.
Communities are being formed. The World Bank has launched an initiative called the Open Development Technology Alliance (OpenDTA) and organised an event "How Can Countries Start and Run Open Data Ecosystems?"
The three-hour event had a lot of great information, but I found one presentation in particular provided a great summary of the challenges of national open data. Al Kags, the chair of the Kenya Open Data Taskforce, presented "6 [Building] Blocks of Open Data" (PowerPoint).
His list is
- Policy & Legal Framework
- Technology & Apps
- Capacity Building
- Citizen Engagement
- Innovation & Financing
In his deck, he has colour-coded these to ideas in his first slide, which is a mind map of the connections between the many pieces needed for a successful, sustainable open data initiative.
If I look at Canada, we are well positioned for the first two at a national level, but there is much work to be done on the other four building blocks.
One step would be developer and citizen outreach. Data.gov has a /developers page which leads to discussion forums. Data.gov.uk has a top-level item that links to their forum. data.gouv.fr links to the Etalab group that created the site, where there is extensive explanatory information in the form of audio, video, documents, blog posts and presentations. Data.worldbank.org has a /developers page and a pointer to their Google Groups discussion. Kenya's open data site has a /developers page. These all provide connection points that help build the ecosystem.
I also found it notable that not just this presentation but other speakers mentioned the value of different *Camps and Hackathons as ways of innovating and engaging with developers, citizens and civil society.
I encourage you to review Mr. Kags' presentation and think about how his lessons can apply to your municipal / provincial / national initiative. This kind of thinking can also help when working on national Action Plans as part of the Open Government Partnership. This kind of sharing also illustrates the tremendous opportunity we all have to learn from one another worldwide. It was wonderful to see the energy, enthusiasm and insights from countries on different stages of this path towards more open and transparent government.
UPDATE 2011-12-16: I neglected to mention that the meeting was ably chaired by Neil Fantom, and I have added his Twitter ID below. ENDUPDATE
Many World Bank Links
Two things launched today:
- Open Development Technology Alliance (OpenDTA.org)
- Five discussion papers on Scribd, with commenting enabled
The speakers also pointed to the existing Open Data Innovations Group on LinkedIn (ODIN, Twitter hashtag #odin) as another place for discussion of these issues.
The video and liveblog coverage (which is available for replay using CoverItLive) are both up at live.worldbank.org
The video is in Windows Media format, it will play on a Mac using the free Flip4Mac components.
@WorldBankICT says the video will be up soon on the event webcast archives page (which is different from the live page): http://go.worldbank.org/77KTMO8B90
UPDATE 2011-12-15: Thanks to @livbarton in the comments and on Twitter for letting me know that the video is now up on the live page. I have updated the text above accordingly. ENDUPDATE
The event webpage itself, with some of the presentations, is http://go.worldbank.org/Y2PF8NAYM0 (I believe they will try to get more presentations up)
(I'm glad I have Twitter links otherwise I would probably never have found any of the above pages.)
I made an Archivist file of the #opendta tweets, in the archive I put together there are 611 tweets from the December 14, 2011 event and an additional 189 tweets related to the December 8, 2011 $35 Tablets event. The archive is available in XML and Excel XLSX formats.
The World Bank has many organisation and individual Twitter accounts, some to follow related to this event are
- @worldbankICT - the Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) sector at the World Bank
- @eDevelopment - the role of ICT in development
- @worldbankDM - World Bank Development Marketplace
- @worldbanklive and hashtag #wblive
- @tkb - Tariq Khokhar - Open Data Evangelist at the World Bank
- @alwalji - Aleem Walji - Practice Manager for Innovation and Technology at the World Bank Institute
- @neilfantom - Neil Fantom - Manager, Development Data Group, World Bank
And here are a couple of my tweets (@scilib, the QR Code), up on the World Bank's video stream for a moment (I was running it in a window in the corner of my screen, so it's a small grab that's not actually readable):