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Harnessing Open Data to Achieve Development Results in Asia and Africa

February 2, 2016

2015 was the year of the data revolution for development. And to fulfil and track the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we think that revolution must be an open data revolution. As part of our commitment to that belief, we’ve launched our latest research projects on open data in developing countries.

What we hope to learn:

  • Where can open data have the greatest impact? Are there particular sectors, levels of government, or types of communities where we see the greatest returns?
  • What works, and what doesn’t? How can we replicate or scale what works?
  • What skills do people need to make good use of open data, and who needs these skills?
  • Are standards helping governments implement open data? What are the benefits and shortcomings?

Our focus is on action research: weaving innovation throughout the entire the research process by testing processes and tools. This learning-by-innovating approach means we go beyond theory to find out how open data is used to create real change in communities.

In February 2015, through the Open Data Labs, we held the Regional Open Data Agenda-Setting Workshop with participants from over 11 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. The results of the workshop include Open Data Asia 2020 – the open data strategy for Southeast Asia which defines the ideal state of open data in the region by 2020, how it could be achieved, and the roles various stakeholders from governments to civil societies and citizens hold. Similarly, in March we held the Open Data Agenda-Setting for Africa as part of the Data Revolution conference.

Building on the findings of these regional workshops, we’re undertaking 11 projects across 21 countries, detailed below.

Competency-based open data training for local governments, CSOs and journalistsJesuit Hakimani Centre (Kenya)
De La Salle University (Philippines)
The researchers will develop and test a replicable competency-based training program for local governments in the Philippines and for civil society organisations and journalists in Kenya.
PhilippinesLinking follow the money initiatives for better transparencyCenter for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG)CLRG will research how open data can link different follow-the-money communities together to achieve increased financial transparency at the sub-national level.
Exploring political interest and asset ownershipSinar ProjectUsing international data standards, the Sinar Project will build a sophisticated public visualisation tool to explore political networks, conflicts of interests, and voting behaviour of public servants. They will build capacity of civil society organisations in using this to strengthen advocacy for more accountable governance.RESEARCH PAPER
NepalBridging information gap among ministries, parliamentarians, and citizensYoung InnovationsYoung Innovations will design a data and information sharing model that allows parliamentarians to know how ministries are implementing projects and enable them to report back to citizens. Also, the platform should allow citizens to also communicate to parliamentarians their concerns and influence policy or the allocation of public funds.
IndonesiaMaking Smart City Initiatives Open and InclusiveCenter for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG)CIPG will conduct research on smart city initiatives in Jakarta and assess how these involves and benefits citizens. The results of the research will generate learnings on how smart city initiatives can be made more open and inclusive. RESEARCH PAPER
Sierra Leone
Disrupting illicit financial flows in the extractives industryAfrican Network of Centre for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) ANCIR will brief and support journalists across Africa to investigate corruption in their respective countries. The project is interested in finding out how open data contributes to the work of investigative journalists in compiling the evidence that supports their stories. LESSONS LEARNED PAPER
Democratic Republic of Congo
Using open data to create transparent value chainsAfrican MindsAfrican Minds will bring together stakeholders in a coffee value chain to discuss what data they own, what data they would like to have, and what data they are prepared to make open. The project is interested in finding out whether open data can create a more transparent value chain that is beneficial to all stakeholders in the chain. RESEARCH NOTE
South AfricaUnlocking the value of open data through problem-focused sub-national networks Palmer Development Group (PDG) with Open Data DurbanPDG working with Open Data Durban will engage the city of Durban and convene a range of stakeholders to resolve how open data may be used in managing the city’s water resources. The project is interested in discovering how a networked, problem-focused approach can unlock the value of open data at the local level.
GhanaExtending the impact of open data beyond the webAlex Andrason, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

David Opoku, School of Data & adooreLABS, Ghana
This research paper will explore how open data intermediaries are able to connect with and provide usable information to farmers in Ghana.RESEARCH PAPER
NigeriaSustainable open data business models Ome Mejabi, Ilorin University, Nigeria

Johanna Walker, University of Southampton, UK
The objective of this research paper is to surface approaches to using open data in order to create sustainable businesses in Nigeria.RESEARCH PAPER
TanzaniaCSOs as sources of open health dataMahadia Tunga, University of Dar es Salaam, TanzaniaThe objective of this research paper is to determine the factors that are inhibiting CSOs in the health sector in Tanzania from sharing and reusing datasets as active participants in the Tanzanian open data ecosystem.RESEARCH PAPER

These projects build on our previous work through the first and second phases of our open data in developing countries research, and will get us closer to maximising the benefits of open data for development.

You can stay up to date with the project by following us on Twitter @webfoundation or subscribing to our newsletter. Our Jakarta Lab will also regularly post updates on projects in Asia @ODLabJkt.