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ICTD Open Session: Assessing The Impacts Of Open Data on Governance and Development

Members of the ODDC project will be in Cape Town next week for the Sixth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) - and on the morning of 10th December we're hosting an Open Session at the conference on the emerging impacts of open data.


Join us for a participatory session - sparked by emerging findings from ODDC research - but also digging into dialogue with everyone present about the ways in which opening data can have a positive impact on development and governance - and the challenges of research and measurement to establish and understand the impacts it is having. 


Anyone registered for ICTD is welcome to attend the session. Details of the venue will be in the ICTD conference programme. 




The open data movement is promising opportunities for development and holds out the promise of improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and economic opportunity in and across developing countries. Citizens in Brazil, Nepal, and Nigeria can use publicly available data on government budgets to track and fight corruption, or to critique public spending policies. Developers and entrepreneurs across Latin America, Africa, and Asia can create web and mobile applications using government data on education, health, and crime, with the potential to promote smarter and more efficient local public services. Donors and advocacy organizations are investing in open data, opening their own datasets, or pushing for open data as part of open government reforms.



Nevertheless, it is not yet clear if open data initiatives are truly delivering on their promises. Worldwide, it is estimated that governments have already posted more than one million datasets on the Internet. Although just a small fraction of these current datasets are from developing countries, this is rapidly changing. Yet, reliable evidence on the outcomes and impact of open data initiatives particularly on governance and development remains scarce. Little is understood about how these technical platforms and the dynamics of data use through ICTs affect the outcomes that can be realized from wider sharing of data. It is even possible that well intended initiatives may result in adverse effects by exacerbating inequalities, and negatively impacting existing governance structures.



As open data initiatives spread across the globe, research is needed that can deepen our shared understanding of the potential and use of open data in ICT to impact development. Those involved in new programs and initiatives in developing countries need to understand the full value and impact of open data in strikingly different social, economic, and cultural settings.  The Open Data Research network (www.opendataresearch.org) has been established as part of a two-year IDRC funded study titled “Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries” (ODDC) to support such research, and promote an inclusive, diverse dialogue on open data in development. The ODDC project (www.opendataresearch.org/emergingimpacts/) is working with 17 qualitative case studies of open data in use in governance settings across the global south. The Africa cluster of the ODDC project have led the preparation of this workshop proposal.


The goal of this session is to present key early findings in open data and development research, and support a critical dialogue about future research in this emerging area.


Emerging impacts of open data: (90 minutes)

Firstly, we propose a panel to present early findings from the qualitative ODDC open data case studies with a particular focus on the Africa studies: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The case studies explore how open data is affecting governance and inclusive development within situated contexts, drawing attention to both technical and social aspects of open data.  We are open to the opportunity to include other papers and case studies on open data from ICTD participants in this part of the session, and can use our developing networks to promote a call for additional contributions.


The panel will be followed by discussions. This will provide an opportunity to exchange ideas and feedback on our research, as well as our evidence of open data impacts in Africa, & the role of ICTs in determining outcomes from open data programmes. Depending on audience the panel may be preceded by a short introduction to key open data concepts and ideas.


Methods: (90 minutes)

Following the panel and discussion, we will then present the crosscutting data collection instruments and analysis approaches that have been adopted in the ODDC project to help explain if and how open data is bringing change to developing countries, including a presentation of the multi-country Open Data Barometer study.


The Open Data Barometer (ODB), to be launched in November 2013 is an instrument that will measure readiness, implementation and impacts of open data in 81 countries worldwide. The ODB is designed to support policy makers and practitioners to identify appropriate strategies for supporting development through open data in different country contexts. It builds on methods from open data readiness assessments conducted by the World Wide Web Foundation (Alonso, 2013; Grewal, 2011), and on the Web Index methodology (Farhan, 2012), and is conducted as a companion study to the 2013 World Wide Web Index.


This  discussion session will also provide the first opportunity to critically assess the 2013 Open Data Barometer, exploring how the data it has generated may be used, and identifying areas for further development of the Barometer in 2014. This discussion will explore the tensions between qualitative and quantitative, and macro and micro, approaches in ICT4D research, and the approach taken in the ODDC project to fit together these components of research.




Alonso, J. M., Boyera, S., Grewal, A., Iglesias, C., & Pawelke, A. (2013). Open Government Data Readiness Assessment Indonesia (pp. 1–47).

Braunschweig, K., Eberius, J., Thiele, M., & Lehner, W. (2012). The State of Open Data Limits of Current Open Data Platforms. WWW2012.

Craveiro, G. da S., Santana, M. T. De, & Alburquerque, J. P. de. (2013). Assessing Open Government Budgetary Data in Brazil. ICDS 2013.

Farhan, H., D’Agostino, D., & Worthington, H. (2012). Web Index 2012.

Grewal, A., Iglesias, C., Alonso, J. M., Boyera, S., & Bratt, S. (2011). Open Government Data - Feasability Study in Ghana.

Murillo, M. J. (2012). Including all audiences in the government loop: From transparency to empowerment through open government data.

OKF - Open Knowledge Foundation. (2012).

Census - Open Government Data Dashboard. Open Government Data Dashboard. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://dashboard.opengovernmentdata.org/census/

Ubaldi, B. (2013). Open Government Data: Towards an Empirical Analysis of Open Government Data Initiatives. Paris.