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Making open data real to people’s concerns

The questions of how to measure the impact of making data open continues to dominate debates at the 2013 Open Government Partnership summit. From the civil societies to private sector to public sector, the social, economic and political value of “the open” appears to be the fulcrum on which arguments hinge.
In a session focusing on how to harness open data to drive citizen engagement, issues of how organisations need to connect open data with concrete social, political and economic problems and need riveted the discussions. Specifically, perspectives pushing for open data in private sector seemed to gain traction during parallel sessions. At one point presenters hypothesized that if public and private sectors make their processes open, they will become more effective and also encourage sharing of responsibilities in service delivery.

Cases from across the world favour the global agenda for open data. Open data has helped to map out and connect rather complex webs of crime globally, tracing illegal trade. Actors in both state and non-state organisations were urged to collaborate in identifying important data sets looked for by the citizens, learn from each other how to make this data meet the real people's concerns and build communities that can make open data effective.

However, as open data proponents continue to push for more openness, concerns of privacy and threats to civil liberties have been raised. More and more civil spaces seem to be encroached on by massive state surveillance in cohorts with private entities. There seems to be a lot of private deals between government and commercial firms that infringe on civil space. As numerous applications are created by innovators to mash-up massive data made available to them, the transparency of the logarithm is also being questioned. There are calls for audits of the logarithm used by big corporations in the apps, which could be used to deny some people services, such as in health sector.