Beyond RTI: Openness in government data

OGD (Open Government Data) Platform is a good example for CIOs and CDOs to implement open data initiative

The OGD (data.gov.in) initiative under National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) provides collated access to information published by various government entities in open format. Its roots can be traced back to RTI Act (Section 2f) with the major objective of providing access to electronically stored government data.

The website (data.gov.in) is built upon open source technology with complete source code open for anyone to download. It’s a good example for CIOs and CDOs to efficiently implement open data initiative for enabling transparency and improved decision making. Additionally, anyone can take the initiative to fix bugs without waiting for the next release.

OGD is based on the premise that the government collects and generates a large amount of data in its day-to-day functioning. But a major quantum of this non-sensitive data remains inaccessible to citizens which can be used by public for socio-economic and developmental purposes. Thereby opening up of this data would enhance accountability while encouraging public engagement.

Further, the platform has a robust backend data management system to publish datasets by multiple government departments through a predefined workflow.

The principal agencies executing the project are National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), while the Department of Science & Technology is responsible for policy related issues.

Types of Datasets

Different types of datasets generated in geospatial and non-spatial form by various ministries will be classified as shareable (Open List) and non-shareable data (Negative List). The Negative List would comprise of information/datasets which are confidential in nature under National Security. On the other hand, Open List datasets would be prioritized into high and non-high value datasets.

Each government department will set up a NDSAP Cell. The cell would be chiefly responsible for preparing list (Open/Negative List) of datasets and communicating it to the Department of Science and Technology within six months. It will extend technical support for preparation of datasets and conversion of formats. Moreover, specialist from data analytics, visualization and programming domain would be brought in to augment the system.

To implement this architecture, a Data Controller (Joint Secretary and above) would be nominated by each ministry to head open data initiative of their respective departments. He/she would be responsible for compilation, collation and publishing of catalogs/resource on the platform. Further, they would nominate the Data Contributors.

Data Contributors will share datasets along with their metadata based on the Dublin Core Standards. But the onus of relevance and quality of these datasets would lie with Data Controller only. As of now, the DMS (Data Management System) is being used for data contribution.

Data Format

Datasets contributed to the OGD Platform will be in a particular format. NDSAP specifies information to be published in machine readable layout. Some of the recommended formats are:

RDF (Resources Description Framework)XLS (Spread Sheet- Excel)ODS (Open Document Formats for Spreadsheet)XML (Extensive Markup Language)

The policy has recommended introduction of two training modules (offsite/onsite), each of 2-3 day’s duration. First training programme is for Data Controller & other senior officers focusing on basic awareness about open data. The second module will prepare Data Contributors to share information on the OGD platform.

Public can also send their queries and feedbacks about the published datasets. This feedback would be available on the dash board of the Data Controller to take further necessary action.

The entire document of OGD platform and “Implementation Guidelines for National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), 2014” can be accessed at http://data.gov.in/sites/default/files/NDSAP_Implementation_Guidelines_2.2.pdf.


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