Strengthening the hand of citizens when faced with open data.By Open Government Partnership
Open government is in vogue but still remains vague. Our research threw up more than 40 projects across the world which fall squarely in this category: the weight of their collective potential is here represented by the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
By opening up its data, government should enable citizens and public service users, aided by civil society organisations and business, to get better services. Open data combined with open government should arm citizens to hold government to account more effectively.
Yet none of that will happen on its own. Releasing floods of government data will just engulf people. Pressing for more open government without the hard data to see what government is doing could be a dead end. Making real the promise of open government requires new skills on the part of civil society organisations, public service suppliers and civil servants, to show how the raw data can be put to use for citizens.
The OGP is hoping to do just that by creating a global community of policymakers, government officials, civic activists and open data specialists who are developing the skills needed to make open data and government work. The community is drawn from the 26 countries around the world which have created open data portals and the 55 governments who have signed up to the partnership’s principles. Together they are learning how to govern effectively in a more open way.
The OGP is especially important in helping countries in the developing world set new standards for public services. In Kenya, for example, citizens can now compare school performance on a site called EduWeb based on the release of government schools data. Code for Kenya, an NGO, is working with media organisations to enable them to make better use of the data. Kenya’s hospitals are using open data to help create a low-cost e-health system.
The OGP is setting standards for open government that strengthen the hand of civil society groups facing authoritarian regimes, for example in the Ukraine, where the government is dragging its feet on meeting its commitments to the partnership’s principles.
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Last updated: 09th of May, 2014