Sun | May 28, 2017

Science and technology ministry to develop open data policy

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Julian Robinson

The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining will spearhead development of the proposed open data policy, slated to commence shortly. This policy will guide the operations of government ministries, departments and agencies in facilitating greater and more convenient public access to government data, particularly for utilisation in entrepreneurial ventures deemed potentially capable of generating billions of dollars for the economy.

When fully implemented, this will be consistent with the Government's Job Creation and Economic Growth Strategy, focusing on the development and growth of key productive industries such as the micro, small and medium-size enterprise (MSME) sector.

State Minister Julian Robinson advised that on completion, the policy would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

He added that the necessary technical inputs would be provided to support the various government entities in this undertaking "because it is going to be a process of transformation for many of the agencies".

Speaking at a business data, intelligence, and analytics seminar, hosted by training and development firm EduCentres Information Services Limited at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Thursday, June 25, Robinson indicated that the policy development forms part of the Government's overall undertaking to leverage the economic value which data identified within these entities are deemed to contain to enable interested entrepreneurs to take advantage of and capitalise on the income-generating potential.

financial gains for nation

This potential, he said, has been identified in an Open Data Readiness Assessment conducted last December and is contained in the subsequent report drafted in April.

He added that reputable institutions such as the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, which support this finding, have indicated that "there are billions of dollars that could be added to the economy".

Robinson said the administration recognises the "tremendous value that open data possesses and provides for us as a country."

These, he noted, include facilitating transparency and accountability; enabling citizens' access to data in a manner that "allows them to question, query and analyse what Government is doing"; and, more important, how open data can be used to create "economic value".

Robinson said that during the Open Data Readiness Assessment, conducted with the support of the World Bank, several critical ministries, departments and agencies were examined.

He noted that "very specific focus" was placed on the Ministry of Finance and Planning because "we want to ensure that budget information is available to the public, not just for understanding what your government spends and how it spends, but to allow analysis that can inform decisions on the economy and on purchasing habits," he said.

The assessment's main findings, Robinson said, indicate that state entities have a significant amount of data that can be made available to the public. He said further that there was a "very active" entrepreneurial group that is interested in taking advantage of open data to develop applications and "create economic value".