Readiness, awareness and stimulation
Different countries have different levels of readiness to be able to implement an open data infrastructure. The World Bank provides a tool to make an Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA) considering the aspects below:
- Key datasets for agriculture are distributed across different government bodies e.g. the meteorological agency, mapping agency, chambers of commerce, statistical agency, environmental agency, etc. Therefore, strong leadership and internal collaboration is needed among these bodies in order to implement a successful data infrastructure. In addition, actors outside the agricultural domain may need to be convinced of the need to publish and maintain open data for the benefit of agriculture.
- Difficulty publishing and updating datasets in a machine-readable, open data format. Ease of publication depends on the source and the way the source is organized. Some data may be collected automatically (e.g. data from meteorological stations), or generally used in a digital format (e.g. geographical maps or finance data). Other data is available only as hard-copy text or collected in handwritten form. Once digitally available, internal government processes are likely to run much more smoothly, adding to their potential impact.
- The level of IT infrastructure is limited in many places of the world, especially in rural areas where much impact could be created. By the end of 2015 only 10% of the world population had a fixed broadband internet connection. Mobile internet is increasing fast (47% coverage in 2015) but most people in remote regions are still connected only by relatively slow 2G telephone coverage (95% of the existing coverage). This means in most areas the agricultural data revolution and data sharing takes place via cellphones using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Short Message Services (SMS). Continuous improvement of the national ICT infrastructure will greatly enhance the potential impact of open data releases.
- ICT, literacy and data skills may be limited among some of the intended user groups. To make effective use of open data, customized applications need to be developed and training provided in a range of local languages. To develop such applications one needs not only good ICT skills, but also a thorough understanding of agricultural practice, local culture and the data sources in question. Governments should support development of a range of appropriate expertise across disciplines in order to realize the necessary impact.
- The financial sustainability of a data service is a major challenge, especially in an agricultural and rural context. Most e-agriculture projects have a strong donor component which may present challenges for long-term sustainability. To circumvent these challenges alternative, market-driven business models need to be discovered and implemented. Governments can support this search with their networks or dedicated programmes.
Currently the Open Data Charter is also developing its own resources in the resource centre.