Importance of Open Data to Developing Countries

UNA recent post in Civil Service World, a UK publication, analyzes the importance of open data to  the development of the forthcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It’s already becoming clear that open data holds particular resonance for international development. By 2013, 12 of the 41 available national platforms for accessing open data had been created by developing countries. And with the African Development Bank becoming the first pan-African entity to provide regional information through a central platform, it is increasingly likely that open data will form a central part of the plans for the SDG framework.

The timing is certainly significant. Driven by a push for greater aid effectiveness and accountability from development programmes, there has been an increasing need to measure results using reliable, transparent data as evidence. But its potential is not just limited to tracking aid effectiveness.

Open data can also be used to inform evidence-based policy-making and the design of government services by providing a source of information to identify wasteful spending, better target resources and design more responsive services. By opening up data sets typically on a central portal, government departments can share information easily and prevent silos from emerging. Evidence suggests that where governments have introduced open data portals, a large proportion of the views or downloads are from civil servants in other departments.