Central and local governments around the world are increasingly ‘opening' a range of data, for free, including as part of continuing global efforts to strengthen ‘open government.’ While this has resulted in excitement from development practitioners, government sponsors, and technologists, much of the public has been left behind. As a result, the level of informed public debate across regions on data-driven issues – from budgets to service delivery to the practical effectiveness of donor aid – in 'opened’ sectors is low.
So, now that this data has been ‘opened’, how can it capture the attention and imaginations of the full spectrum of users? How can we focus on the other side - the demand side - of the open data phenomenon? How can we grow communities of data users, and encourage data 'ownership' by the media, civic hackers, community groups, NGOs, labor unions, professional associations, universities, and more?
To help developing countries address the demand-side of open data, the World Bank offers a ‘menu’ of services to promote and support 'Open Data Literacy', the goal of which is to catalyze, engage, and inspire strategic multi-stakeholder groups to see the value and potential of open data, and what it means for local, national, and regional development in a practical, hands-on way.
STEP 1: Early Engagement
Catalyzing Supply/Demand Side Actors to Support Opened Data; Surfacing Data
‘Open Data Sensitization’ Roundtable – an overview of open data processes crystallized from World Bank and partner experiences. Examples include sessions at the first and second International Open Government Data Conferences, Open Government Conference in Moscow, and at the Regional Conference on Open Data for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The ‘Business Case for Open Data’ Roundtable – a high-level roundtable to encourage use, analysis, and ownership of Open Data, and to catalyze leadership on both supply/demand sides. This information resonate with particular audiences and twinned with support opportunities from the Bank and close partners, including the ‘Data Literacy Bootcamp’ detailed below. Examples include Media Leaders Roundtables on ‘Open Data and the Future of News’ in Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania, and South Africa.
Data Liberation Scrape-a-thon – an ‘early engagement’ 2-day program which convenes international coders (and sources local civic coders) to scrape as much existing (unstructured) government data off current websites, structuring it (CSV format); and using it populate a nascent or temporary open data platform. The goal is to start to gain traction on early open data process by capitalizing on what's already available, and leveraging it to build momentum toward further opening by individual ministries. Examples include support for the Hacks/Hackers Open News Scrape-a-thon in Chile, where ‘scraped’ data is hosted for free on civically owned and communally managed repositories, such as OpenAfricaData.org and OpenDataLatinoAmerica.org.
STEP 2: Capacity Development
Capacity Development on 'Opened' Data Literacy & Aftercare, to Ensure Continued, Strategic Engagement
Open Data Literacy Bootcamps – a 3-day intensive, 'learning-by-doing' workshop focused on core skills development for journalists, civil society, and civic coders. Each participant will be assigned a desktop computer in a large classroom for hands-on, guided practicals. Sessions include: Demos of Open Data portals; Training on Excel/spreadsheet & creating pivot tables; Scraping local county / national data from local Open Data portals; Cleaning this data; Creating visualizations; Intro to GIS Mapping; and ultimately crafting narratives around data, into to building apps, and action plans using these skills and the data. Example engagements include Data Literacy Bootcamps in Bolivia, Ghana (National Budget Data), Ghana (Extractive Industries Data), Jordan, Nepal, Malawi, Moldova, South Africa, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
Open Data Master Classes – a longer (5-day) Bootcamp-style training for mid-career demand-side practitioners, which dives even deeper into 'Data Literacy’ experiential learning and skills building with data analysis.
E-Learning on ‘Open Data Literacy’ – currently under collaborative development, for launch in 2013. This ‘Open Data Literacy’ e-learning course will be a weeks-long virtual course which demos an even broader array of the above ‘Data Literacy’ tools. It will be offered as both a facilitated and self-guided course, to maximize utility for a broad audience. The courses will be free, open source and made available on multiple e-learning platforms.
Sustained Aftercare – above engagements are followed by capacity development with the same cohort over months, in collaboration with local and regional partners for high impact and cost-effective sustainability, and iterative skills building to ensure utility. For example, participants are organized into (or invited to join) local HacksHackers chapters, to bring together journalists (hacks) with technologists (hackers) for monthly meet-ups to collaborate on digital experiments to integrate data-driven journalism into the news.
STEP 3: Use + Ownership + Reuse
Data Use + Ownership + Data Reuse by the Public
'Utility' Hackathons – ‘utility hackathons’ are organized around particular development challenges, where data has already been surfaced (including through ‘data liberation scrape-a-thons’). Hackers use existing data to develop and build utility apps to solve development problems, with an emphasis on public service delivery. Winners receive seed grants to build out and deploy resultant ‘utility apps’, and are offered post-hackathon mentoring and advice to accelerate development/deployment, and - importantly - seek to repurpose the resultant ‘utility apps’ in other country/regions to meet analogous needs. Example ‘utility hackathons’ have cut across key development areas, such as domestic violence, water quality and access, and sanitation.
Prototype Funds – a partnership-driven process to connect well-developed ‘utility app’ and data usage projects (i.e. post-redesign/re-development stage, through prior mentorship and feedback) to ‘Angel List’-type funding to build out and deploy scalable models. An example partnership-driven engagement is the $1 million Africa News Innovation Challenge.
STEP 4: Further Development
Further ‘Open Data Ecosystem’ Development
- Code for [Your Country]. This is a partnership-driven, 6-month ‘Code Fellowship’ program which collaboratively integrates top civic coders into government ministries, to deploy coding skills for improved public service delivery, and into media and civil society organizations to strengthen the creation of data-driven content, products, and services for mass public consumption, analysis, and use. This initiative also aims to improve transparent, accountable governance by supporting the surfacing and opening of demand-driven, actionable data and strengthening both data-driven analysis and decision-making at all levels. An example partnership-driven engagement is Code4Kenya.
- Harvard Business Review: ‘Open Data Has Little Value If People Can't Use It’
- How to Guide: Open Data Hackathon
- How-To Notes: Towards Open Government Data for Enhanced Social Accountability
- World Bank Water Hackathon