Share Share 12 Views no discussions Share Tweet Photo credit: siliconcaribe.comPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — A Caribbean open data initiative, backed by the University of the West Indies and the International Development Research Centre of Canada, could improve the region’s access to public information of national significance.A slate of local and regional experts will be gathering for the first regional event of its kind on open data. The conference, titled “Developing the Caribbean”, will be hosted simultaneously across Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago from January 26 to 27. ‘Open data’ is a term used to describe the idea that certain information should always be readily available to everyone. Such access to data should be without copyright, without patent, or without any such restriction that would prevent the end user from determining how the data is used.One of the featured speakers at the event is Trinidad-born technology expert Bevil Wooding, an international advocate for the open data movement in developing countries. He described open data as “potentially one of the most significant advances in how public access to public information is leveraged for the common good”.Wooding, founder of the non-profit BrightPath Foundation, explained that under the Trinidad and Tobago Freedom of Information Act established in 1999, if a member of the public desires access to public information, he or she has to make a formal request for that information to be released. However, with open data, access public information and public datasets is in commonly accessible formats via the Internet for public consumption. “Typically, a substantial amount of important public information, ranging from official crime statistics and national census data to government land allocations and taxation revenues from the energy sector, is locked away in government data repositories. Though it is supposed to be public information, held in trust by the government, it is inaccessible to the public. With open data, governments can take the initiative, in the interest of transparence and accountability in governance and provide access to these public datasets,” he said.He went on to share that such a move to open data brings benefits to both the government and the general public.“Governments can effectively ‘crowd-source’ the work of interpreting and analysing data to the public. Such crowd-sourcing can transform static data into valuable public information services at a pace and in a manner that simply would not be possible given government’s constraints. This opens the door to all kinds of new innovative applications and services,” Wooding said.“Of course, a new level of transparency and accountability can be facilitated when data is made publicly available. This is one reason why, across the world, governments in both developed and developing countries are moving to make more public data available,” he added.Many governments including the US, UK, Canada, India, Brazil and Kenya have opened up their data on sites such as data.gov, data.gov.uk, data.gc.ca, opendatsata.go.ke, with other countries joining the movement at a strong pace.The open data philosophy is straightforward, Wooding said. “The responsibility for making information available to the public falls squarely on those who have the information, as opposed to those who demand it.”Organisers of the upcoming conference are hoping to significantly raise the awareness of how public information can help to solve problems and provide new services to citizens. Web developers will collaborate through live video streaming of all presentations, and groups from other territories will be encouraged to participate virtually. The conference will be recorded and the live stream opened up to the public.Caribbean News Now NewsRegional Caribbean open data movement set to open a world of possibilities by: – January 20, 2012 Sharing is caring!