Open Data in the Caribbean

IDRC published the following press release about their conference: “Towards a Caribbean Open Institute”, and encouraged participants to share this with our communities.   Many thanks to Federico Burone and Fernando Perini from IDRC; to my co-discussion-leaders Kaia Ambrose and Bruce Girard; and especially to the engaged and experienced participants for making this an interesting and potentially important event. See also my previous post on this conference, as well as my presentation slides.  The Web Foundation has committed to support open data initiatives around the world.  We will talk with IDRC and Caribbean partners in the coming weeks, and will announce another open government data initiative in the coming days.   More soon …

Press Release: A Caribbean Initiative will Promote Open Data for Policy Research
(re-produced with permission from IDRC Web site)

(photo by F. Perini)

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) brought together international experts and stakeholders in the Caribbean to explore opportunities for strengthening policy-oriented research in the region. The meeting, titled “Towards a Caribbean Open Institute: Data, Communications and Impact” took place June 30 – July 1, 2010 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. The meeting was attended by 40 high-level stakeholders in the area of public policy research from across the region. Participants examined international experiences and explored the possibilities of collaborating to drive the process of making more data available online in order to strengthen the collaboration between governments, researchers and the civil society.

The meeting established guidelines for a region-wide initiative that will explore how open institutional data approaches, Web 2.0 communications, and monitoring and evaluation methods can become forces that increase regional collaboration on key issues for the region such as agriculture, fishing, trade, tourism, immigration, ICTs, entrepreneurship, and others. IDRC’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Federico Burone noted that “the intention of this meeting was to explore the importance of making data available for knowledge production, and the need to strengthening the effective communication of this data by civil society groups and ordinary citizens. We think the effort was a successful one which proved enlightening for the participants about the many opportunities for collaboration”.

(photo by F. Perini)

Among the international experts, Steve Bratt, CEO of the Web Foundation, presented how governments around the world are increasingly making government data available online as a strategy to increase the provision of information services to the population. According to Steve, “I hope a Caribbean open government data policy will be one vision from this workshop, and that the Web Foundation can continue to support this vision through raising awareness, capacity building and coordinating collaborative fora in this region and around the world”. Founded by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, the Web Foundation has pioneered the concept of open data with a focus on its developmental potential.

According to one participant, Dr. Hopeton Dunn, Director of the Telecommunications Policy and Management Programme, Mona School of Business, UWI, the two-day event “exposed regional participants to the values of open access to public and policy related data as part of a regional strategy for more evidence-based policy making. But further, it raised the matter of the paradigm shift that is required to making more data available and accessible to the public, which will no doubt improve public and business processes toward regional growth.”

Several of the participants expressed commitment to promoting the concept of open data in their ongoing work. Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Bernadette Lewis, who also participated in the meeting, commented that her organization “will begin immediately to endorse the implementation of Open Data systems among our 20 member governments as we see the value that more open government systems will bring to our region”.

The event concluded that collaboration will continue in the form of a joint initiative to promote open data for policy-related research, driven by a regional group of researchers and organizations and supported by the IDRC. Among the institutions represented were UWI, Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, CARICOM and United Nations – Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Federico BuroneFederico Burone

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