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​New discussion paper: How Open Data can drive sustainable development

Joel Gurin's picture
Open Data  data that is freely available online for anyone to use and republish for any purpose is becoming increasingly important in today’s development agenda driven by the Data Revolution, which has been recognized worldwide as the key engine for achieving the post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

​Data is probably one of the most valuable and least-utilized assets of modern governments. In that context, Open Data is being widely recognized as a resource with high economic and social value and as an effective approach for smarter data management. 

The primary purpose of Open Data initiatives worldwide is to help governments, businesses and civil society organizations utilize the already available digital data more effectively to drive sustainable development. Many Open Data initiatives involve taking data that is already publicly available and putting it into more usable formats, making it a powerful resource for private sector development, jobs creation, economic growth, and more effective governance and citizen engagement. 

In recent years, several studies — including those led by the World Bank have shown a growing number of Open Data applications around the world, from water management social enterprises in India to agro-businesses in Ghana. The Open Data Impact Map, developed as part of the OD4D (Open Data for Development) network, has more than 1,000 examples of such use cases from over 75 countries, and the list is growing.
 
The World Bank has now published a new discussion paper, “Open Data for Sustainable Development,” that highlights the ways Open Data can be utilized to achieve development goals through a range of applications such as improved medical care, financial access and management, urban planning, agriculture, and many other areas. The World Bank has identified four broad types of benefits of Open Data, which are illustrated throughout the paper with specific examples, some of which are highlighted below:
  1. Fostering economic growth and job creation: Open Data helps fuel new companies and helps existing companies operate more efficiently and profitably. New lending organizations in several countries use Open Data to make loans to borrowers with no credit history. In addition, Open Data about available jobs and workers’ skill sets, job-matching platforms are helping employers staff up and individuals find employment. And Open Data can improve the foreign investment climate, creating new growth opportunities.
  2. Improving efficiency and effectiveness of public services: Social service agencies are using Open Data to help prospective patients find medical clinics or emergency care; to improve access to high-quality education;; and improve agricultural programs and food security.
  3. Increasing government transparency, accountability, and citizen participation: Open Data plays a critical role in improving governance by exposing and preventing corruption. Several national governments are considering open contracting standards, which would bring new transparency to government contracts a move that could increase trust in those governments both among citizens and for foreign investors.
  4. Facilitating better information sharing within government: Municipal governments are using Open Data to coordinate efforts that improve transportation and other aspects of city infrastructure, and also to manage recovery efforts when hurricanes or other natural disasters damage that infrastructure.
These applications of Open Data and others are relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be adopted by the U.N. General Assembly next month. The SDGs cover a wide range of issues, including economic, health, education, and environmental factors. Open Data can play a critical role in helping to achieve the SDGs, and can also support the U.N. Data Revolution initiatives now under way.
 
As the world is becoming more data-driven, governments are uniquely positioned to provide some of the most valuable types of data to businesses, civil society and the general public. To make their Open Data programs successful, governments will need to do more than simply open the gates and make data public. They need to engage with the current and potential users of their data, provide legal and policy structures for data use, and focus on the quality of important datasets.

But we now have more evidence than ever that these Open Data programs will be worth the effort. With the right focus, approach and implementation, Open Data can have a high economic and social return on investment for countries in all regions and at all stages of development.

Comments

Submitted by Danish George on

It's a great initiative to take suggestions from individuals also. ICCD Pakistan appreciate your efforts in SDG around the globe.

Submitted by ramiro chavez cespedes on

excelente lo que hacen...ya van a poder apreciar las repercusiones positivas de abrir los datos...una medida totalmente acertada

Submitted by rommel bhengra on

Open data programe for sustainable developement ,programe to achive goal which every citizen of country need to know target the goal which get information from goverment,n.g.o ect.It also boost underdevelop country which need suport from intelectual,economice growth, bussiness opportunity to increase export-import.A global utlity increase in commodity, information and communication share to understand environment each other.

Submitted by Molla Deribie Negash on

''... by the Data Revolution, which has been recognized worldwide as the key engine for achieving the post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals. ... one of the most valuable and least-utilized assets of modern governments. In that context, Open Data is being widely recognized as a resource with high economic and social value and as an effective approach for smarter data management.'' you said.But my issue of concern is the data quality; which is the big issue today.I am a researcher on economic evaluation so what matter is the data quality problem that i have observed.what ever concentration you did non what so ever can get income data of households,even individual income level;not only this even household consumption trend. Simply intellectual guesses/ estimation or proxy indicators. This kind of data will give biased estimate and poor policy implication.So this should be stopped. In one or another am sure your open data access will solve such a kind of problems.

Submitted by Carla on

Would equally help if only one data source could be certified as the data bank of all databases in order that there would be accurate reporting.

Submitted by Karlene Francis on

Thanks to Anat Lewin, ICT Policy Specialist, for spearheading the Open Data Project in the Caribbean which is showcasing many of the benefits identified in the article.

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