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From Data to Development: new research explores open data beyond technical issues

Web Foundation · July 27, 2015

Open Data Research Lead Savita Bailur shares an overview of our second phase of research on Open Data in Developing Countries. These projects show the social, political and legal sides of open data that are too often overshadowed by the technical aspects in the debate.

At the Web Foundation, the goal of our open data research programme is clear. We want to equip policymakers and shapers with actionable insights to ensure that open data becomes a powerful tool for development, particularly in the Global South. In line with this mission, regular readers will recall that in 2014 we completed the first phase of our Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) (2013-2014). Drawing on our research spanning seventeen original case studies around the world, we highlighted fifteen key insights, including: mixed evidence on impact, frequent mismatches between supply and demand, government resistance and lack of clear legislation.

This phase – ODDC1 – was an important first step, but we knew we had to go further. So, we embarked on ODDC2 – further synthesis research around common themes which arose across many of the projects. We deliberately chose not to focus on the technical aspects of open data, but rather on the social, political and legal aspects required to build a thriving open data community – one which is capable of using open data as a tool to improve the day to day lives of citizens.

ODDC 2 is now complete, and over the following weeks, we’ll be releasing detailed reports and blog posts on each of our areas of study. These are:

We hope that by sharing the insights from these four projects, we can build on the body of knowledge on how open data impacts developing countries and how we can make sure we see the biggest impact from it. This is a tall order, so we are excited to share that we will be continuing our work with a third phase that builds on our academic research to carry out testing and innovation.

Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as we detail the findings from ODDC2, and keep a lookout for more upcoming news on our next phase of open data research coming soon. Also, please do come to meet us if you are at the Africa Open Data Conference. You can get in touch with our Open Data Research lead on Twitter @savitabailur.

Note: This project is part of the ‘Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries’  (ODDC) research funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (through grant 107075). The Web Foundation is a partner of the Open Data for Development network.

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