'Open data' emerges as a global movement
In some of these nations, the centralized effort to open government knowledge silos is not coming from the top, but from the people. INFOCULTURE is a not-for-profit group in Russia operating a catalog of local, regional, and national datasets. The group also sponsors an annual application development contest for application developers using open data from Russian agencies.
According to INFOCULTURE’s director, Ivan Begtin, one of the organization’s goals is to promote “new modes of interaction between the government authorities and other public institutions in which the bodies that compose the state government provide a broad disclosure of its activities, provide feedback mechanisms for citizens and public institutions, and an operational set of tools for citizens and public institutions to influence the decision-making process.”
As an open data advocate, it’s been thrilling to see the boom in government data sites the past few years. The trend shows no sign of abating, with smaller cities launching open data catalogs. Whether or not open data portals eventually lead to open, transparent, and accountable democratic governments is still up for debate, but they remain indispensable to the citizens, researchers, and journalists using data from these sites.
We’ve seen the important role that open data can play in transparent Western democracies, but even countries not traditionally viewed as “open” are publishing data. The Kingdom of Bahrain recently launched an open data portal as part of an initiative to promote “eParticipation” in the nation’s government. The United Arab Emirates has a data portal as well, which claims “the UAE government believes that besides enriching public participation, Open Data will also increase government transparency.” Walid al-Saqaf of Yemen recently wrote an article in the Guardian explicitly calling for a new Yemeni open data portal as the first of many steps leading toward a more open and transparent government.
This article originally appeared on Shareable.net.