Technology Ministry to Spearhead Open Data Policy

Photo: Dave Reid Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining State Minister, Hon. Julian Robinson (right), in discussion with Director of Graduate Studies, University of Technology’s Computer Centre, Dr. Sean Thompson (2nd right), at a seminar hosted by training and development firm, EduCentres Information Services Limited, on June 25, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. The seminar, being held from June 24 to July 1, is focusing on Business Intelligence, Big Data, and Analytics. Others (from left) are: EduCentres Director, Richard Shaw; and guest lecturer from United States-based training and development agency, the Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI), Dr. Deanne Larson. A total of 23 representatives from public and private sector entities are participating.

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining will spearhead development of the proposed Open Data Policy, slated to commence shortly.
  • This policy will guide the operations of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in facilitating greater and more convenient public access to Government data.
  • When fully implemented, this will be consistent with the Government’s Job Creation and Economic Growth Strategy.

The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining will spearhead development of the proposed Open Data Policy, slated to commence shortly.

This policy will guide the operations of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in facilitating greater and more convenient public access to Government data, particularly for utilization in entrepreneurial ventures, deemed potentially capable of generating billions of dollars for the economy.

When fully implemented, this will be consistent with the Government’s Job Creation and Economic Growth Strategy, focusing on the development and growth of key productive industries, such as the micro, small and medium-size enterprise (MSME) sector.

State Minister, Hon. Julian Robinson, advises that on completion, the policy will be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

He adds that the necessary technical inputs will be provided to support the various Government entities in this undertaking, “because it is going to be a process of transformation for many of the agencies.”

Speaking at a business data, intelligence, and analytics seminar, hosted by training and development firm, EduCentres Information Services Limited, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on June 25, Mr. Robinson informed that the policy development forms part of the Government’s overall undertaking to leverage the economic value which data identified within these entities are deemed to contain, to enable interested entrepreneurs to take advantage of, and capitalize on the income generating potential.

This potential, he said, has been identified in an Open Data Readiness Assessment conducted last December, and is contained in the subsequent Report drafted in April.

He added that reputable institutions, such as the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), which support this finding, have indicated that “there are billions of dollars that could be added to the economy.”

Mr. Robinson said the administration recognizes the “tremendous value that Open Data possesses and provides for us, as a country.”

These, he noted, include: facilitating transparency and accountability; enabling citizens’ access to data in a manner that “allows them to question, query and analyze what government is doing”; and more importantly, how Open Data can be used to create “economic value.”

Mr. Robinson said during the Open Data Readiness Assessment, conducted with the support of the World Bank, several “critical” Ministries, Departments and Agencies were examined.

He noted that “very specific focus” was placed on the Ministry of Finance and Planning, because “we want to ensure that Budget information is available to the public, not just for understanding what your Government spends and how it spends, but to allow analysis, which can inform decisions on the economy, and on purchasing habits,” he added.

The Assessment’s main findings, Mr. Robinson said, indicate that State entities have a significant amount of data, which can be made available to the public.

Further, that there is a “very active” entrepreneurial group, or persons, who are interested in taking advantage of open data to develop applications and “create economic value.”

Mr. Robinson advised that a portal is to be developed that will display all government-related open data. He said the supporting legal due diligence has commenced, “just to ensure that we are not going to be in contravention of any laws.”

The State Minister indicated that 50 persons have already received open street map training, which will be pivotal in facilitating the process.

“It’s an open source format of what you might see on Google Maps. But the advantage of it is that anybody can update it…and you can use it to build and support other applications,” the State Minister outlined, adding that “there are persons who are already doing this.”

The State Minister said the issue of agencies charging for data will also need to be addressed.

He noted that while this is understandable, particularly in the case of Executive Agencies (EAs), “because they were given a mandate…to recoup and recover their costs, (this) is inconsistent with open data practices.”

“We view our responsibility, as Government, to be the enablers, to provide the platform, to make the data easily available, to allow you (entrepreneurs) a framework to go out there and build applications on this data. This is an area that we, as a Government, are committed to provide the support,” Mr. Robinson added.

Congratulating the participants for engaging in a “process of learning,” Mr. Robinson expressed the hope that they will pass on the knowledge acquired.

EduCentres Director, Richard Shaw, said the seminar’s focus is consistent with the organization’s objectives in relation to productivity and efficiency at the corporate and individual levels.

“To recognize and realize productivity, it starts with the people having a deep understanding of the various topics and subject natters around business intelligence, big data, and analytics,” he added.

Over 20 representatives of private and public sector entities are participating in EduCentre’s one-week training seminar, which runs from June 24 to July 1, at the Knutsford Court Hotel.

Guest lecturer is from the United States-based training and development agency, the Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI), Dr. Deanne Larson.

JIS Social