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Open Data

26 Sep
Down

(Image above stolen from rudebaguette.com, France’s startup blog and quite an interesting site to visit.)

Rather crazy day today – from a 7 am meeting at CHED (helping work out some issues regarding accreditation for HAU) to a 6 pm group midterm exam that I think we overprepared for, with a finance committee meeting in between. I feel heavy. There was a lot of emotion to process today.

Midterms for class involved putting together a paper and a presentation about a technology trend. We chose open data. I’d heard of it a few months previously, but I didn’t really think much of it at the time. I was severely disappointed at the quality of the infographics on data.gov.ph, the government’s open data commons site. (Somewhere in this CMS is a half-written draft ranting about precisely that.)

Somewhere in the process of researching the topic and writing about it, I fell in love with Open Data.

The gist: take government data, the kind they generate naturally, through censuses and traffic monitoring and license applications and the like. Anonymize it. Make it available to the public. Watch what happens.

Our government literally signed up for it – we became founders of the Open Government Partnership thanks to our buddy in the US, Barry Obama. Our government is required to submit two-year action plans and commit to having them independently monitored. We are on our second two-year action plan now!

Open data movements in the UK and Scandinavia have achieved amazing things. Private businesses have earned big time from their use of public data. In New York, citizens are encouraged to report problems online (crimes, disturbances, etc.) and the government will report the status of their response in real time. Open data in the UK has led to a reduction in the mortality rate for heart surgery patients.

I dare to hope that open data will make a difference here.

In my first foray into open data, I’ve already spotted what looks like an anomalous transaction – procurement processes with only one bidder, and said bidder always came under the budget allocation. I won’t name the agency or the time frame, but the winning bidder walked away with tens of millions of pesos.

One thing I keep harping on is poverty statistics. Poverty statistics are downloadable (although I wish I were clearer on what the government defined as poor), and I’m horrified at the numbers I see when I look at the data. The Philippine social pyramid is very much like an iceberg. There’s a lot more below the waterline than we think.

My friend Pia, of Kickstart, keeps challenging startup founders to envision the sharing economy as something that can benefit the bottom of the pyramid. No founder has yet taken her up on her challenge.

I’m tempted to throw the challenge to my sister, who organizes scrapbooking workshops with her friends as Life Documented Manila. I think memory keeping is something families of all stripes will want to do.

Or take it up myself.

Become a fan, too. Watch this video and think about what open data can do for you and the organization you work for.

(On a side note, my INFOTE group is amazing and I should say they’re wonderful people. Karen Angeles, Miselle Bergonia, Angela Garcia, and Kat Penaojas, take a bow.)

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general school

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