[open-development] Kenya Open Data Portal

Tim Davies tim at practicalparticipation.co.uk
Fri Jul 8 13:53:14 UTC 2011

Hey Steve,

Welcome to the mailing list. Really good to have your involvement here :)

It will certainly be interesting to see the learning that comes out of the
process getting this project off the group - it is a great achievement for
all involved - no question about that.

I think my concern is that sites very often portray data releases as if the
only way data can be made useful to citizens is through the mediation of
developers and though 'applications': yet data transparency is about a lot
more than that. In looking at many different uses of UK government data last
year I found a lot were from citizens directly accessing facts and figures:
there is as much to be done to support the actors who can benefit from
this, and to foster diverse communities of data users, as there is to be
done to support the developer community.

So, it's definitely a case of agreeing "open data" is not enough, and
absolutely agreeing that developers have a big role to play in making some
data accessible, but also a case of trying to make sure we don't narrow the
way public data is perceived to see it only as a raw material for building
applications - but to recognise that data is used in many diverse ways and
is relevant for many more actors to access directly, from grassroots
citizens activists, to officials inside government who are quite happy to
sift through 100s of lines of spreadsheets to find the fact they need, even
if, in an ideal world, there would be an application that made that easier.

So we should be framing open data as for everyone, celebrating the
developers who make it extra-accessible - but making sure non-developers
don't have to wait around for apps and tools before they feel they can dig
in and work with the fantastic resources being made available...


On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 2:40 PM, Stephen Davenport <
sdavenport at developmentgateway.org> wrote:

> Hi. Steve Davenport. Development Gateway.
> FYI. This was the first launch for the Open Data work in Kenya and took
> quite a bit of political/wrangling pushing to achieve. The developer focus
> is due in part to the people and teams that build it.
> There is also the fact that in Kenya you have a strong developer
> community/civil society that wants to build apps and lacks data (Ushahidi,
> SODNET, Huduma Poject, etc.) and this site is reflecting that need (rightly
> so). Too often we build portals and transparency data tools for the "North
> to watch the South" etc.
> I am new to this mailing list so forgive me but "open data" is not enough.
> Accessibility, packaging, and contextual info is critical. The people we
> really need to use it can't if its a big data file.
> Word is that 7-8 more countries will go in this direction in the next 12
> months.
> Steve
> 2011/7/8 Tim Davies <tim at practicalparticipation.co.uk>
>> Hello all,
>> I suspect many of you may have already seen this, but Keyna today launched
>> it's own Open Data Portal at http://opendata.go.ke/ joining countries
>> like UK and US, and institutions like the World Bank in running an open data
>> programme.
>> The site is running the US-based commercial 'Socrata.com' platform and has
>> some interesting visualisations and mapping set-up by default. Personally
>> I'm frustrated to see the 'data is for developers' framing all over it -
>> with big '+Developers click here' buttons, and nothing inviting or
>> encouraging other forms of use of data, but if a wider eco-system of data
>> use can develop, aware that using data requires not just the data, but
>> capacity building too - then this could be a really interesting and positive
>> development.
>> Lots of discussion and other analysis on twitter #opendatake and the
>> blogosphere.
>> Tim
>> --
>> http://www.timdavies.org.uk
>> 07834 856 303.
>> @timdavies
>> Co-director of Practical Participation:
>> http://www.practicalparticipation.co.uk
>> --------------------------
>> Practical Participation Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales -
>> #5381958.
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07834 856 303.

Co-director of Practical Participation:
Practical Participation Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales -
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