(This is the press release that has been circulated among the Indian Media)
India, by launching the data.gov.in data portal, is heading towards transparency and aims to bring openness in all the participating 32 government departments. So far the portal has 2548 datasets and it had launched an event “In Pursuit of an Idea” and is garnering all the new ideas to address the problems through the open data. In the recently concluded preview results from the global Open Data Census, released today, India is placed on the 9th spot. Norway tops the list followed by USA, UK, Australia, Denmark, France, Japan and Netherlands. India has scored better than countries like Germany, Canada, Israel, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Brazil. India scored well in the open data for Election Results and Emission of Pollutants.
The Open Data Census is run by the Open Knowledge Foundation, with the help of a network of local data experts around the globe. It measures the openness of data in ten key areas including those essential for transparency and accountability (such as election results and government spending data), and those vital for providing critical services to citizens (such as maps and transport timetables). Full results for the 2013 Open Data Census will be released later this year. Open Data and transparency will be one of the three main topics at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next week. The preview results show that while both the UK and the US (who top the table of G8 countries) have made significant progress towards opening up key datasets, both countries still have work to do. Except for the company register data (as like all other countries) and in Pincodes, India has scored well in all aspects of opening up of data. It should take care that the data which is now open should be in machine readable format.
Open Knowledge expert and Ambassador, Sridhar Gutam said, “The Indian Council of Agricultural Research is making efforts for the development of an National Policy on Opening up of Access to Agriculture Information and Data.In the recently held G8 Open Data in Agriculture, participants from India had spoken on the need and importance of opening up of publicly funded agriculture data for increasing global food security. ” The need for greater efforts on the part of the government and citizens in opening up data and bringing transparency is also stressed by Open Knowledge Foundation Ambassador for India, Subhajit Ganguly, “Much is left to be done. A greater involvement of the masses will definitely go a long way in bringing about rapid positive change.”
The United Kingdom and the United States both say that open data is a priority issue for their countries and for the world. US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have both made strong, explicit commitments to opening up official data. In May 2013 Obama released an Executive Order “making open and machine readable the new default for government information”, which was widely heralded as a major step. Over the past few years, the UK has released some of the most detailed spending information released by any government. Andrew Stott, former UK government Director for Transparency and Digital Engagement, who currently sits on the UK’s Public Sector Transparency Board, said: “This is excellent work by the Open Knowledge Foundation’s community on measuring the reality of open data for the most important datasets. It shows that good progress has been made in recent years. However it also shows that there is more for all countries to do in order to deliver the open data vision and it gives each country a clear agenda for further improvement.” Chris Taggart of OpenCorporates, the largest openly licensed database of companies in the world, said, “Company registers are the fundamental public record of the creation and existence of companies. Today we live in a world where large corporations can consist of opaque networks of thousands of interlinked companies, avoiding scrutiny and competition.Criminals, money launderers, corrupt officials and fraudsters routinely use networks of front companies to hide and move money. In this context it is essential that access to the statutory information is not just freely available, but available under an open licence and as machine-readable data. Todays’ results from the Open Data Census show that this message hasn’t yet got through to many of the world’s largest nations.”