In this week's data digest the state of Open Data worldwide is assessed and open data support centre launch globally. The economic potential for open data is also reviewed along with its importance for development processes
The Open Data Barometer a joint project of the Open Data Institute and World Wide Web Foundation was launched at the Open Government Partnership meeting in London last week. It provides a multidimensional view of Open Government Data (OGD) policy and practice through combining peer-reviewed expert survey data and secondary data sources. It also explores countries readiness to secure benefits from open data, their publication of key datasets, and evidence of impact. The UK, USA, Sweden, New Zealand, a tied Denmark and Norway were ranked the highest and Kenya the most advanced developing country, was ahead of Ireland, Italy and Belgium. 55 per cent of countries were found to have formal open data policies, however among the countries surveyed many government datasets were made available are in inaccessible formats.
The Open Knowledge Foundation published its 2013 Open Data Index, following the use of community-based surveys in 70 countries. The UK and US top the 2013 Index followed by Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. Of the countries assessed, Cyprus, St Kitts & Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, Kenya and Burkina Faso ranked lowest. Many countries where government are less open were not assessed because of lack of openness or little engaged civil society.
The Open Data Institute has announced the creation of 13 "Nodes" which are hubs that enable companies, universities and NGOs around the world, to support open data projects and communities. There are eight city or regional Nodes in Dubai, Chicago, North Carolina, Paris, Trento, Brighton, Manchester and Leeds. They will deliver projects and provide training, research and development. Three "communications Nodes" in Moscow, Buenos Aires and Gothenburg will also aid understanding of open data through sharing information and case studies.
The McKinsey Global Institute has published a report on open data (which also controversially includes private-sector data that can be licensed). Their research suggests that just seven sectors (education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care, and consumer finance) could generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value as a result of open data. Private industry and public agencies however must encourage and support an open-data ecosystem and implement policies to protect stakeholders for this be realised. A podcast on the open-data opportunity has also been made available.
In this Guardian post Nathaniel Manning of Ushahidi emphasises the importance of moving from the pdf status quo in development reporting to sharing data, financial and human capital in the international development sector with those in the developing world. He says that opening up the data in this way can encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, and reduce poverty. In addition, since the tech community and those in the local development sector know their problems better than anyone else he asks that in addition to giving them the raw materials, development institutions not only invest in data enterprise systems and tools but work with rather than for developing countries.