On January 23, 2015, the IDRC and the World Bank signed an agreement merging the Partnership for Open Data (POD) funded by the World Bank Development Grant Facility and the Open Data for Development (OD4D) program funded by IDRC and the Department for International Development in the UK (DFID). The joint initiative will continue to operate under the OD4Dumbrella and will expand the global reach, impact and coordination of Open Data for Development initiatives around the world. The overall goal of the new OD4D program is to scale innovative approaches that have been proven to work, and strengthen coordination amongst open data initiatives to ensure they benefit citizens in developing countries.
The new program starts with more than US$6 million dollars to projects that are helping citizens from developing countries to improve their standard of living and wellbeing using open data. The vision is that open data empower citizens around the world to achieve their own development goals; and participate actively in decisions affecting their lives.
The five objectives of the program for the next two years are:
- To help developing country governments, entrepreneurs, and civil society create a global action plan to harness open data for development;
- To support developing country governments to plan, execute, and manage national open data initiatives;
- Â To increase re-use of open data in developing countries by supporting appropriate data standards, guidelines, solution-driven applications, and demand-side capacity, helping to bring about social and economic innovation;
- To better understand the relationship between open data initiatives and socioeconomic development, informing the quality and reach of future open data initiatives; and
- Â Â To build the institutional capacity and long-term sustainability of the OD4D network.
The new Open Data for Development (OD4D) program brings together a leading network of implementing partners who have gained a wealth of experience in developing countries, including the Web Foundation, the Open Data Institute, Open Knowledge, the Caribbean Open Institute, the Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA), and others. OD4D will continue to provide grants and sub-grants to partners in more than 25 developing countries.
Whether open data is owned by a public or private entity, when collected, managed, shared and used effectively, Â it has the potential to transform societies â contributing to more transparent and accountable governance systems, more innovative economies, and more informed and engaged citizens.
Open data is being used to foster greater civic engagement and more transparency and accountability from governments. In Brazil, Nepal, and Nigeria, for example, people are using publicly available government budget data to track and fight corruption. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia, data miners and IT developers are helping to usher in better public services by transforming newly-available government data on education, health, and crime into Web or mobile applications that put democracy more easily into the hands of every citizen.
But open data is not just about more transparency and accountability. Open data also unleashed unexpected economic benefits, including new business opportunities made possible through the insights and innovations resulting from putting data to work. In the European Union alone, the reuse of public data was estimated to generate EUR $32 billion in 2010. Â In the UK, an estimated GBP $6 billion is generated per year by making better use of public and corporate data sets in education, transportation, energy production and consumption, health care, and Â consumer finance. But, while the open data revolution is spreading, many of the benefits are disproportionately felt in the developed world.
Open data has also become an essential ingredient in evidence-based policy-making processes, transparency and accountability discourses, and social and economic innovation. The high-level panel of development experts designated by the UN Secretary General has advised that delivering on the new Sustainable Development Goals will require a âdata revolutionâ â to ensure public and private sector decisions are based on evidence, and to empower people to hold governments accountable for their promises.
Impact in this new and quickly growing field of open data for development is best achieved with an effective, collaborative and sustainable global approach. Global coordination and learning needs to be embedded into new data-driven activities across various levels of government, civil society and business. Open data can impact a variety of themes, sectors and regions: from health care to the environment to government accountability. Coordination helps to ensure benefit for citizens in developing countries by better allocating resources, ending duplications of effort, and by sharing and scaling innovative approaches that have been proven to work.
Whatâs Next in Open Data for Development
IDRC and the World Bank hope that this merger and new partnership will help to strengthen and expand the OD4D program over the next two years, establishing the OD4D as a global network of stakeholders for scaling collaborative and sustainable open data for development efforts.
In the immediate future, the new Open Data for Development (OD4D) program has several exciting new developments underway that will continue to build the field. OD4D partners are committed to the 3rd International Open Data Conference, which will help to chart the future of open data and broaden the dialogue.
Many new projects are also on the horizon â weâll be sharing more about these projects in the forthcoming weeks.