Experience elsewhere has shown that making data publicly available reduces costs, makes government more efficient and inspires productive collaborations with the private sector. In Kenya, we are starting to see the beginning of this as ICT developers policy makers and development partners in civil society use the KODI data to create useful applications, policies and programs for the community.
Also, Making government information available in this way promotes the development of useful “apps” based on the data, encourages researchers and watchdog groups to use the data to make suggestions for improving government and life of Kenyans, and makes state agencies more efficient by allowing access to information.
As the portal celebrates its fourth year, there is already substantial data that is available and the public can use it to:
- Be able to track and locate the health facilities closest to them. Additionally, they can find the hospitals that are appropriate to their needs as well as the category they fall under. Data on distribution of health services creates the opportunity for more targeted investment in public health infrastructure – such as prioritizing new hospital construction in under-served areas.
- Find the nature, type and effects of natural disasters that strike their local community thanks to a data sets that has more than 10 years of this kind of data.
- Find the location of donor and government funded projects in their community as well as the stage of execution. This can be useful to ascertain the level of focus and investments that occur in their community.
- Deduce the functional status of water resources in their county, which is useful to prepare well for periods without sufficient rainfall as well as make informed decisions on land purchases.
- Explore trends in immigration in Kenya from the Reported Visitor Arrivals and Departures data between 1991 – 2014. This can be useful in planning for souvenir trade activities as well as promotion of the local tourist sites. It can also help investors make informed investment decisions.
- Ascertain the distribution of government revenue made possible through National Revenues generated from tax and non-tax income streams covering 2005/06 To 2013/14. This is useful in capturing the trend of revenue collection as well as tracking one’s personal contribution to the government’s revenue.
- Understand the HIV prevalence rate in their counties and the fraction of new infections who are children. This can be useful for planning and has been used by National Aids Control Council in allocation of anti-retroviral therapies (ARTs).
Open data portal is in response to the right to public information under article 35, (1) Every citizen has the right of access to -(a) Information held by the State; and(b) Information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.(2) Every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person.(3) The State shall publish and publicize any important information affecting the nation.
Access to information held by the state is a crucial component of democracy It allows the public to be aware of governmental decisions that can impact the environment and individual lives. Access to information also allows the public to participate in critiquing and thereby improving governmental decision-making.
New features for www.opendata.go.ke
In Kenya, the government is looking to make Open data even more efficient for citizens by including user friendly features like;
Open about analytics.
This involves openly displaying site performance analytics, showing the total number of public datasets, charts, maps, views loaded as well as the no of datasets per main category.
Open about data and the reality of data release cycle.
Data release calendar to inform when new datasets become available.
World-class visualizations made by the public (by users who can register for free on the Open Data portal). Show case interesting visualizations made by users who use the portal on a daily basis.
Integrating the Open data Blog with the portal.
A blog that moves beyond data to information and helps citizens make sense of data, by presenting it in a narrative format that combines text and visualizations. Experts, Journalists, analysts can help tell the story about open data its use, and its impact.
New Interactive Visualizations with Data Lens Pages
Includes a number of multiple lens viewable on a single page that are interactive and dynamically linked to any user and can simply interact with and look at the parts of data they are interested in. For Example, a lens can contain a map, a few bar charts, timelines, and search bar in one single view.