Sun | Oct 22, 2017

CAPRI bats for open data

Published:Friday | October 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Co-executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, Dr. Christopher Tufton. File

Daraine Luton, Gleaner Writer

IMAGINE A system that allows persons to go to a dedicated government website and access data to influence decisions such as investment.

Take, for example, players in the tourism sector being able to use this platform as a means of accessing farm-produce data uploaded from the moment of planting.

That is an illustration of how open data works. Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI), which is to unveil a paper on the new concept shortly, said it could be an important aspect of public- sector transformation.

ACCESS TO DATA

"The concept relates to making government data readily available and understandable for the general public and also for important stakeholders, including government, to use that data in a way that drives greater levels of transparency and efficiency in the use of government resources," Dr Christopher Tufton, co-executive director of CAPRI, told The Gleaner.

The use of technology is key to public-sector reform to which the Government has committed under its agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The technological revolution includes the creation of an e-census database to capture all data on all public sector workers and the roll-out of a human resources software system.

In addition to showing the benefit of open data, Tufton said it would also shed light on, "how it can be used to save significantly in the Government bureaucracy in critical areas, and in this case we have looked at tourism, agriculture and education".

"It is something that we think the Government can benefit a lot from, as part of the reform of the public sector going forward, and, hopefully, the CAPRI paper will stimulate some discussions around it," Tufton said.

Although still an emerging concept, economically advanced cities have embraced its potential. Cape Town, in South Africa, for example, recently approved the open data portal and policy, saying it was "ensuring transparent, accountable and accessible government".

"In having done so, the city of Cape Town is embracing the use of open data to promote economic growth, development and inclusion."

Phillip Paulwell, Jamaica's technology minister, told The Gleaner open data represents a low-hanging fruit for which e-government Jamaica Limited, a state-owned entity, has been mandated to fashion a policy.

"We see the economic value of data, especially data that is owned by the state and data that can be used by the private sector to undertake serious business," Paulwell said.

"We see tremendous value in enabling people to have access to data that is owned by the government," Paulwell said, adding that development of an open-data policy is part of a broader move to use information-communication technology to make government more efficient.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com