On the 4th of July 2011, I opened my facebook page and saw a wall post of a friend. It says “Kenya leads by launching Africa’s 1st OpenData portal opening gov to hackivists & social entrepreneurs”, and today I found out that they officially released the site for the public. This is what I was talking about in my previous post, code for Ethiopia. Honestly, I am glad for the Kenyans for making it, thumbs up!
Yesterday I was watching ETV and they were showing this documentary, ‘Endegena’ meaning ‘Again’, how strong Ethiopia was years back. I think this is the information era and we should also be competitive in it too. The more we distribute the information the more power it gains. There still is the potential in technology in Ethiopia to create innovative applications which can transform the lives of millions of people as long as the platform is ready. IMHO, the platform is the national data we collect and make available for the public and developers to use it.
This is just to play my role to initiate the project and you readers, if you are a developer to participate, if not to support it to become a reality. My courage, the one we all habesha’s have in our blood, of becoming at least the second in Africa to release an open government data is pushing me to see how to make it happen. I looked at all the possible sources and luckily I found out in my laptop there was this open source project that I already downloaded to see long time ago. The project is called Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI v2.0). According to the project source, the demand of Open data from government agencies is growing globally. The project is aimed at providing a starting point for developers to build on it and customize to own needs. It is developed using C# and is based on Windows Azure platform, Microsoft’s Cloud platform.
The project has three components, interactive SDK, data service and data loader. The live instance of the project is hosted here for all interested to see and navigate through the test data available. Two years back, on PDC (Professional Developers Conference), the leader of Microsoft’s data services program has revealed the idea of Open data protocol.It was a way of making applications to interact with each other and exchange data. Since then, there comes lots of Odata producer and consumer applications. OData producers are applications or sites which expose data in OData and consumers are applications/services consuming the data to do analysis. The idea grew to a bigger scale and the idea of Open Government came to life.
I think we are not that much behind technology to make this happen. The technical challenges are not significant as compared to the problem of collecting data. If ministry offices and agencies take the lead in creating the initial data set and invite the community in building up on it the data set will be rich. Once again, please let’s make the move in making open government data project a reality to bring about transparency and enhance the public service.