(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Open Data refers to data that is freely available online for anyone to use and republish for any purpose – without any restriction from copyrights, patents and other mechanisms of control. Data is one of the most valuable and least-utilized assets of modern governments. In that context, Open Data is a resource with high socio-economic value, which has been recognized globally as a key engine for achieving the post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A number of studies in recent years have shown the growth of Open Data applications worldwide, from water management social enterprises in India to agro-businesses in Ghana. More than 1,000 examples of such use cases from over 75 counties are included in the Open Data Impact Map, developed as part of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) network.
The World Bank has now published a new policy paper, “Open Data for Sustainable Development,” that highlights the ways Open Data can be utilized to achieve development goals through a range of applications. These include medical care, agriculture, urban planning, financial access and management, and several other areas. The World Bank report highlights four primary benefits of Open Data:
Fostering economic growth and job creation
Open Data helps both new and existing companies operate more efficiently and profitably. New lending organizations in several countries use Open Data to make loans to borrowers with no credit history. Furthermore, Open Data about available jobs and workers’ skill sets, job-matching platforms are helping employers staff up and individuals find employment.
Improving efficiency and effectiveness of public services
Social service agencies are using Open Data to help prospective patients find medical clinics or emergency care; to improve access to high-quality education; and improve agricultural programs and food security.
Increasing government transparency, accountability, and citizen participation
Several national governments are considering open contracting standards, which would bring new transparency to government contracts – a move that could increase trust in those governments both among citizens as well as foreign investors.
Facilitating better information sharing within government
Municipal governments are using Open Data to coordinate efforts that improve transportation and other aspects of city infrastructure, and also to manage recovery efforts when hurricanes or other natural disasters damage that infrastructure.
Open Data can play a vital role in helping to achieve the SDGs, and can also support the U.N. Data Revolution initiatives currently under way.
Source: World Bank
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