Working with a diverse set of partners on a broad range of sector-specific challenges and applying appropriate support and mentoring strategies allowed for targeted exploration of demand-driven and ecosystem approach to open data in developing countries. Taken together, the findings from the various projects each contribute to our understanding of how open data ecosystems operate and thrive. Design and scaling open data solutions and interventions that are mindful of these insights will allow open data to impact positively on the lives of ordinary citizens in developing countries.
The goal of the Web Foundation’s open data research programme is clear. We want to equip policymakers and shapers with actionable insights to ensure that open data becomes a powerful tool for development, particularly in the Global South. In line with this mission, in 2014 we completed the first phase of our Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC). This phase – ODDC1 – was an important first step, but we knew we had to go further. So, we embarked on ODDC2 – further synthesis research around common themes which arose across many of the projects. We deliberately chose not to focus on the technical aspects of open data, but rather on the social, political and legal aspects required to build a thriving open data community – one which is capable of using open data as a tool to improve the day to day lives of citizens. The results of these projects are available here.
Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) is a multi-country, multi-year study to understand the use and impact of open data in developing countries across the world.
The project explores how open data can foster improved governance, support citizens’ rights, and promote more inclusive development through looking at the emerging impacts of existing open data projects in developing countries. This work is designed to inform the development of planned and on-going open data initiatives in the South. The project worked through a series of open data case studies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. These case studies examine initiatives, the governance challenges they propose to address, and emerging outcomes and impacts from the application of open data in these contexts. The project also developed cross-cutting data collection instruments and analysis approaches to help explain if and how open data is bringing change to developing countries. Finally, it engaged with global and local policymaking and practice in order to improve developmental outcomes of these initiatives.
Over a hundred researchers from the global South have been involved in developing 17 qualitative case studies with findings that span 13 countries, from Indonesia to Brazil. These studies describe a wide range of open data efforts, including top-down initiated projects, led by governments and donors; bottom-up efforts, led by technology communities or civil society organisations; and sector-specific initiatives focussed on very specific datasets.
The projects and publications that emerged from Phase One are available here.
The overall objective of the Report is to provide a comprehensive review of data ecosystem in the perspective of emerging data revolution. Based on this review, the Report also aims to identify common problems challenging countries and propose action plans applicable in the regional context, hence ultimately to support data stakeholders in Africa in meeting new data demand from SDG and Agenda 2063.
Specifically, the Report seeks to:
- Capture the current situation of data ecosystem […] in Africa based on the in-depth country assessments. This review will serve as baseline against which progress of data revolution could be monitored in subsequent publications;
- Identify data communities in the selected countries for country assessment and areas for existing/potential cooperation; deliberate on the ways how to gear the data ecosystem components to create a more conducive environment for the partnership;
- Analyze the new SDG data needs and new data sources to identify the data gaps;
- Share good practices of data revolution and take stock of innovations, and
- Promote the coordination role of National Statistical Offices in the data ecosystem
With its focus on developing country contexts, the research of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries, combined with the research proposed by this study, offers the opportunity to contribute to our theoretical understanding of change processes in institutions. In particular, insight can be gained as to the socio-technical conditions under which open data initiatives in public agencies are more or less likely to succeed in the institutional domains under examination.