Johannes Kast on open data and big data… and the data revolution.
Big Data is shaping the way we look at the world and offers an alternative way of predicting what is going to happen next. And the amount of data is exponentially increasing. While in 2012, 2.8 Billion Terrabyte of data were saved, the IDC predicts that this number will increase to 40 Billion in the year 2020. Data is changing how we make sense of the the world, it changes classic business models drastically and it has the potential to revolutionise social sciences and the development sector.
There is an obvious benefit for companies to use their collected user data to analyse their markets and consumers, a practice that social media has monetized for a while now. And the tendency to collect massive amounts of data by government agencies has been demonstrated by the scope of the recent NSA scandal. However the Open Data and Open Government trend, which is essentially unstructured data being made publicly available to everyone, is growing as well and can potentially open up new possibilities how non-profits (or other third parties) can play a more active and creative role in shaping our world.
While it can be argued that the current form of data being released is supply driven, while it should be demand driven there are already several access points made available. With more than 150,000 data sets and tools to use them, the US Open Data initiative is a step into the right direction, offering raw information on over twenty topics, such as agriculture, climate and education.
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An interesting example of open data application – contribution by Catarina Nilsson.
Kenya launched an online portal with government data in 2011, claiming it to be the first one in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It says on the website: “The goal of opendata.go.ke is to make core government development, demographic, statistical and expenditure data available in a useful digital format for researchers, policymakers, ICT developers and the general public.”
As we see throughout this blog and elsewhere, more and more organisations make their data available openly, which opens a world of possibilities.
But how do we, as users without deeper insight into the data collection methods, assess the data quality?
What happens when open data gets connected and is used? Please watch this interesting video introduced by Catarina Nilsson.
In this short TED-talk from 2010 Tim Berners-Lee, the physicist who is known for laying the ground for the Word Wide Web, shows a few examples of how it looks when open data gets connected and used.
Also don’t miss his related reading list!
Open development initiatives – examples by Catarina Nilsson.
The use of open data in development seems to increase more and more. The other day we published a piece about Sweden launching a new version of Open Aid, an open source site visualising aid data. Today we were reached by the news that a new open data hub is launched today at the Open Development Camp held in Amsterdam.
The new hub will focus on various perspectives on development and – this is interesting! – make sure to use research results from low income countries.
Working as a platform for sharing data the hub wants to improve access to content that “supports evidence-informed policy making and practice by development actors”. Hopefully policymakers in relevant contexts will get to know about and use the hub to stay informed about research that relates to their area.
For now, the Institute of Development Studies are pulling data from three of their services to the project, these are ELDIS, BRIDGE and the British Library for Development Studies.
The Oriel Open Knowledge Hub is available here: www.okhub.org
How open is Sweden to open data? Charlotta Duse investigates.
A daily routine at the local newspaper where I work, and at many others, is that the news chief goes to the town hall to fetch the daily public documents. In these documents one finds correspondence between institutions, decisions made in the municipality, prosecutions, judges, new guidelines, construction permits etc; basically anything that goes on nearby.
Anyone can get these documents, the data is public and protected by the principle of public access (http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/24/55/92/61c8bc18.pdf): a principle to make sure that the democratic system can be looked into, as well as to promote civic participation. Just as we saw in Abigails post Open Data, transparency is, and should be, one part of ”the good” of open data.
After getting the daily documents, the editorial sorts out what is of interest for its readers. (It should be pointed out that this is no objective process – here lies a big risk of misinterpretation, focus on some things while ignoring others, judging what is public interest and what is not etc.) After choosing the happenings of interest the reporter write his or her article based on the document, a document often written in a complicated language, in a manner that anyone can understand the information given in it.
But some time ago, colleagues in Kalmar had troubles getting access to these public papers. The reason?
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