June 11, 2013

Announcing the Global Open Data Initiative


The Open Institute is excited to announce the Global Open Data Initiative, which it is spearheading together with the Sunlight Foundation, Worldwide Web Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation and Fundar.

The Open Data Movement globally has grown exponentially over the past four years. In the last two years, it has gained significant momentum in Africa – starting in Morrocco, South Africa and Kenya and more recently we have seen significant activity in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leonne, Uganda, South Sudan and Zambia. In fact, at the Open Government Africa Regional Meeting organised in Kenya by the Open Institute, the Kenya ICT Board  and several African civil society organisations, we were joyful to see representatives from Tunisia.

There is some concern in the Open Data circles among practitioners that governments in Africa and globally could do more to increase transparency and encourage  participation by their citizens.

The Global Open Data Initiative is aimed at developing, finding and sharing tools, guidelines and lessons relating to policy, institutions and activities that governments can use to build successful Open Data initiatives. We aim to do this through several key work buckets:

  1. Serve as a global guiding voice on Open Data matters by connecting the many organisations initiatives and activities, cataloging their activities and learning from their experiences.
  2. Increase interest and provide a vision for governments on how to approach Open Data in a sustainable way by supporting both governments and civil society organisations to find ways that work for them that are sustainable.
  3. Increase awareness and appetite for Open Data especially among citizens and infomediary organisations like the media, the academia and civil society organisations. We have already been working on such initiatives as the Code4Kenya in partnership with the World Bank and the African Media Initiatives and we are keep to strengthen this focus.
  4. Amplify the evidence base for Open Data by studying  to identify areas for further study and development and will help build evidence-based policies and resources. We will also examine how open data can inform and strengthen decision-making processes within government.

If we do our work well, GODI will serve as a platform to catalog successes and lessons for Open Data initiatives, create new ideas and help amplify the voices of other Open Data advocates from around the world.

We are keen to carry on conversations – and especially in Africa – that will drive the global Open Data movement to greater heights of relevance and usefulness.

Open Data cannot be owned by any one organisation (or any five, as in this case) and our announcement is an invitation to Civil Society Organisations, Government agencies and Open Government and Open Data advocates to come and work with us as we do this important work.

As the Open Institute, we look forward to providing practical support and ideas, working in collaboration with other willing partners to grow Open Data, in Africa and globally.

For more on GODI, go to http://www.globalopendatainitiative.org

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