Friday, 4 June 2010

Hogging the limelight

Becky Hogge has completed an impressive study of how open data initiatives can be encouraged in middle income and developing countries.

The study starts with an interesting section on the unfolding story of how 'free our data' campaigns in the US and UK gained traction. It goes on to examine the factors that might facilitate or obstruct similar developments in other countries.

There are several unexpected findings - such as that the 'middle layer' of engaged and skilled bureaucrats was crucial to government data being opened up.

Becky also draws attention to the important differences between the political economies of developed and developing countries, such as the presence of a 'fourth tier' of donors. She quotes Ory Okolloh, a Kenyan activist:

“I think in many cases NGOs hold just as much data as the Government. And so I’ve always argued that similar efforts [should be directed at NGOs], especially in Africa where NGOs are so involved in health or water, or disease. You’ve seen the World Bank starting to release its data sets now, but they’re sometimes just as bad as Government in terms of holding onto information.”

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