Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Open data offers $30-billion potential

Published:Thursday | November 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Julian Robinson

A PAPER presented by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) has suggested that the Jamaican Government can significantly boost business prospects and economic activity on the island by employing an open-data policy.

"By scaling the expected GDP contributions derived from a meta-analysis of the existing literature, the results of this analysis show that open-data implementation has the potential to contribute between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion to Jamaica's economy through the education sector and $10 billion through the agricultural sector," stated the report, presented at the University of the West Indies recently.

Improvement in Productivity

CAPRI has also estimated that the policy, if implemented for the tourism sector, would see an improvement in productivity between one and 10 per cent, realising a potential economic impact of between $2.4 and $23.7 billion.

Open Government Data refers to government data and information that has been created or commissioned by a public entity which is made accessible for public use and re-use. Among other things, the data is made available and not subjected to privacy. It is made available as quickly as possible, to preserve the value of the data, to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes.

"A one per cent improvement in productivity in the tourism sector as a result of open data implementation will increase overall productivity in this sector by approximately $ 2.37 billion," the study said.

"Similarly, a five per cent increase in productivity would improve the sector's contribution by as much as $11 billion, while a 10 per cent improvement in the tourism sector can add over $23.71 billion to the sector," the study highlighted.

It further claimed that the figures show the potential improvements that open data implementation can have on the Jamaican tourism sector.

"Following implementation, it is reasonable to expect that the levers highlighted above will improve tourism earnings between one to 10 per cent, which is between $2.37 and $23.71 billion," it added.

Policy Development

Arguing that open data has the potential to contribute $30 billion to the economy through initiatives in education, tourism and agriculture, the think tank has proposed that the Government should seek to develop a policy for its facilitation.

Dr Christopher Tufton, co-executive director of CAPRI, said given the potential, the Government should incorporate it as part of public-sector reform efforts under the Extended Fund Facility agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Meanwhile, Julian Robinson, the state minister in the technology ministry, said the Government is well on its way to embracing open data. He said that a pilot is being done through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority using open data to influence the fight against praedial larceny, and that work to put in place a policy will begin by year end.