Tue | Oct 23, 2018

CaPRI pushes for development of open data model in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 6:01 PM

The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) is advocating for policy to be implemented to support an open data model in Jamaica.



Open data is a system of sharing government data in a presentable and easy to use digital form.



In a study recently completed by the University of the West Indies-based organisation, CaPRI says open data will not only support transparency and ultimately governance, but can contribute greatly to the economy.



The study which focused on three sectors, education, agriculture and tourism, gave a conservative estimation of what each sector could benefit from having meaningful open data model. The study notes that the education sector could gain between US$2.2 billion and US$2.7 billion and J$10 billion in the agricultural sector; while open data could increase productivity in the tourism sector between one and 10 per cent, contributing between US$2.4 billion and US$23.4 billion to its development.



Co-executive director of the Institute, Dr Christopher Tufton, says open data is important to start-ups and the agro-processing sector, for instance, and can contribute between 0.12 per cent and 0.14 per cent of gross domestic product to the economy.



He explains how data already collected by the Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA) and the tourism ministry, for example, could be used by agro-processors to their advantage.



However, lead researcher in the study from the Mona School of Business, Dr Maurice McNaughton, cautions that publishing data alone will not lead to benefits for the economy.



State minister in the Ministry of Science Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson revealed that a pilot project is underway in the agricultural sector using open data to tackle praedial larceny. He says a web application was developed that instantly shares data, such as agricultural receipts and RADA's farm registry database, with the police via text messaging. He says that is in addition to another open data application which allows for the sharing of general agricultural sector information.



Robinson says other ministries are being assessed with the view of developing a policy, which he says, is important to the development of tech-entrepreneurship in the country.



He says the country already has the necessary legislation, through the Access to Information Act, to support the implementation of a policy. He adds that a team from the World Bank will be in the island next month, in conjunction with a local team, to assess the country's preparedness for open data.



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