JIS News

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  • Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says Government data is being made available to citizens in order to enable them to have an input in decisions impacting the country.
  • “We believe in data-driven decisions and as such, we want to ensure that we engage our citizens in such a way that they can assist the Government in making informed decisions,” he said.
  • Dr. Wheatley stressed that the Government wants to ensure that citizens move beyond just being consumers of technology, to become innovators by using the wealth of data the Government possesses “because data, I believe, is critical for development of our country.”

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says Government data is being made available to citizens in order to enable them to have an input in decisions impacting the country.

“We believe in data-driven decisions and as such, we want to ensure that we engage our citizens in such a way that they can assist the Government in making informed decisions,” he said.

He was addressing the closing ceremony for a three-day Open Data Literacy Boot Camp at the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM), University of the West Indies on Wednesday (May 30).

Dr. Wheatley stressed that the Government wants to ensure that citizens move beyond just being consumers of technology, to become innovators by using the wealth of data the Government possesses “because data, I believe, is critical for development of our country.”

He noted that this is the reason an open data portal was launched in 2016, which enables free and easy access to Government information online. Jamaica is the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to have such an innovation.

The portal has a full suite of cataloguing, publishing and visualisation features that allows government entities, non-profit organisations and universities to easily publish data to the public.

Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republished as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

In the meantime, Dr. Wheatley noted that the literacy workshop provided an ideal opportunity for the Government to not only raise the level of awareness, but also inculcate in the minds of citizens, an appreciation for data.

Hosted by the Science, Energy and Technology Ministry with support from the World Bank, Code for Africa and the SlashRoots Foundation, the Open Data Literacy Boot Camp aimed to equip participants with basic data literacy.

This would enable them to understand and interpret data, so that it can be used for data-driven storytelling in the case of journalists, and for other civic data projects.

The boot camp was hands-on, and involved exercises with real data from Jamaica’s open data portal at http://data.gov.jm/ and other local sources.

Participants learnt how to find data, how to acquire data by web scraping, how to analyse data (looking for patterns, stories or clues) and how to present data in an informative and engaging way.

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