While attending Geeks on a Beach last month, we also spent some time in Manila to visit a few labs and agencies, and had several discussions on the state of open-data in the Philippines. Quick reminder: open-data is a recent trend for government, companies and institutions to release their datasets freely, so that users, developers,…
Our event in the NCR (National Capital Region) would have never been possible without the support of Satyaakam Goswami. In the last 20 years, Satya has been working actively in the fields of Open Source, Open Hardware, and what we are most interested about, Open Data. As freelance consultant, he has worked with many different organisations and individuals and is the right person when it comes to bring people together. Satya has been involved in a lot of interesting projects recently. The last summer, he has mentored a big group of students as part of the programme “In Pursuit of an Idea”. Co-organised by the National Informatics Centre together with the University of Delhi, this initiative consisted in developing civic apps based on its available datasets. The resulting applications are very impressive considering that these students didn’t have advanced programming skills at the beginning. As Satya expressed, the most important positive output of this experience was the generated know-how among the participants.
Talking with Satya, we get a better overview on the actual status of Open Data in India. Connected through the datameet group initiated three years ago, activists are sharing thoughts, organising regularly meet-ups and supporting Open Culture in all regions of the country. Looking at the different threads, one can notice how dynamic the indian scene is. We had also the opportunity to meet Subhransu Sekhar, one of the developers of data.gov.in. He shared with us a lot of relevant information about the platform which is going to be improved in the new upcoming weeks with new features: regional datasets, SAAS model for cloud storing, API for accessing data and new on-site visualisations. They are not only releasing the code as open source, they also help building similar platforms in Ghana and Rwanda.
Hosted in the new office of Kayako Support Systems Pvt. Ltd. situated in the 16th floor of one of the business buildings in Gurgaon, our workshop gathered developers from the company as well as interested people from various backgrounds. After the usual theoretical and practical part, the open debate contained this time the presentations of a couple of interesting Open Data related projects. First, Isha Parihar introduced us two products the dutch non-profit foundation Akvo has developed: Akvo Flow, a tool for conducting geo-referenced field surveys for international development teams and Akvo Openaid, a web platform for publishing development aid data in a human-friendly format. These and other products have been released as Open Source.
Secondly, again Subhransu Sekhar showed us the Data Visualizer WordPress plugin which can be easily used to generate and integrate data visualisations (graphs, maps, pie charts, …) within the widely used blogging platform. The same technology has been embedded in http://datavisualizer.in/ where the results of the upcoming elections in India will be graphically represented.
Thanks to the co-organisers and the attendees we get a more detailed insight about the commitment of the indian public administration and the engagement of passionate fellows from the civil society. As national capital, there are a lot of things and projects going on in Delhi, and one day was unfortunately not enough to cover them all. The next workshop is waiting for us on the 26th more than 2000 kilometres down south!