Yu and Robinson (2012) describe open data as being either “adaptable” or “inert”. Manyika and colleagues, in their recent work on quantifying the economic value of opening up data, alight on the notion of open data being “liquid” (Manyika et al. 2013). That is, open data unlocks value as it flows from governments, between firms, researchers and entrepreneurs, and to citizens, and is adapted in the process.
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Research project: The use of open data in the governance of South African higher education
The Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET) has developed an online, open data platform providing institutional-level data on South African higher education. However, other than anecdotal feedback, little is known about how the data is being used. Using CHET as a case study, this project has studied the value of this emerging open data initiative to university planners as well as higher education studies researchers; the degree of uptake among selected South African universities; the limitations of the open data initiative in its current form; and some of the unintended consequences of opening access to the underlying dataset. The project has also undertaken a situational analysis of the use of open data in the South African higher education and research context.
To examine the use and possible impact of open data in South African higher education governance, the project is currently conducting interviews with university planners, higher education studies researchers, the Department of Higher Education and Training, and other stakeholders.
Principle investigator, Francois van Schalkwyk, attended the pre-conference symposium of the ICT for Development 2013 conference in Cape Town, South Africa, from 2 to 6 December. The symposium focussed on the usefulness of the ecosystems approach in analysing and understanding ICTs for development.
From 22-25 October, principle investigator of the OpenUCT ODDC project, Francois van Schalkwyk, attended the 2013 ICEGOV conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea, to present a research-in-progress paper titled "Supply-side variants in the supply of open data in university governance".
Sibongile Musundwa has joined the OpenUCT ODDC team as a research assistant. Her position is part-time as she is currently completing her masters in media studies at the University of Cape Town.
To examine the use and possible impact of open data in South African higher education, the project is currently conducting interviews with university planners, higher education studies researchers, the Department of Higher Education and Training, and other stakeholders.
One of this research project's primary objectives is to establish whether open data is in fact impacting on the governance of public universities in any way. In other words, are university councils (which the South African Higher Education Act of 1997 asserts as the supreme authority in the governance of universities) using open data in their decision-making and strategic planning?
The project was invited to present to a meeting of Carnegie Corporation grantees in Nairobi, Kenya, on 15 May 2013. The invitation was timely as we could draw from the rich discussions and presentations on open data at the first ODDC network meeting in London late in April. The presentation provided an opportunity to introduce the audience of African university vice-chancelors, heads of commissions and think-tanks to: