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Open Data Makes Lives Better

Data is the foundation of information and knowledge. Making data openly accessible and free to use can support governments, businesses and individuals to create new value that can benefit the society, economy, and environment.

Better Data for Better Policies and Better Lives

This view comes from Open Date Watch (ODW), an international non-profit organization founded in 2013. ODW advocates data as essential in formulating polices that can fight poverty, inequality, and lead to sustainable growth. Through providing policy advice, data support, and monitoring, ODW strives to strengthen statistical systems around the world “to produce better data for better policies and better lives.”

ODW disseminates updates and publications concerning open data via its website. The publications include various reports on data funding, data use, measurements, and data access. The recently published report Census Data Drives Decision Making contains examples and resources related to the use of census data such as fighting against COVID-19. Users interested in gender issues may look at the State of Gender Data Financing 2019 report, which gives very detailed estimates for the cost of establishing a core gender data system to measure and monitor gender equality.

Open Data Inventory (ODIN)

Promoting completeness and openness of data is one of the major goals of ODW. To achieve this, ODW seeks to engage organizations and agencies that produce and manage official statistical data, which are collectively named as national statistical office (NSO). On top of this, ODW created its flagship product Open Data Inventory (ODIN) to appraise the coverage and openness of official statistics from NSOs, at the same time help to identify gaps that can lead to improvements.

ODIN started the annual assessment in 2015 with 125 countries, and the number went up to 178 in 2018/19, more countries also agreed to participate in the assessment process.

Assessment and Findings 2018/19

ODIN reviewed published statistics in three areas: social, economic, and environmental; altogether 21 categories. They are considered as frequently needed indicators for public policies and private initiatives.

The latest findings reveal that performance in both coverage and openness has improved in general. Furthermore, instead of publishing new datasets, many governments have focused on opening existing datasets.

Access to the assessment results

The quickest way is to click on the map or use the filters on the front page to view the scores of a country or an area.

Detailed country profiles and reports are available via the menu bar on the top of the page, where users can also find other options including “Regional Comparison” and “Country Comparison.” The “Data Download” feature is worth mentioning. It allows users to select multiple years in combination with multiple regions and countries for data downloading in different output formats.

Global Ranking Results

Among the 178 countries, Singapore got the highest score, followed by Denmark and the Netherlands. Singapore’s success is related to a few changes they made, including a completely redesigned website that supports bulk download and ease of navigation, as well as conforming to open data standards.

How about Hong Kong? We occupy the 14th place in the global ranking and 3rd in “Twenty most improved since 2016.” Not bad, but still has much room to develop. ODIN recommends publishing more recent and historical environmental statistics with additional metadata to enhance their usefulness, and offering download options for users to customize data exports.

Inadequate data coverage, lack of metadata, and insufficient data export support are gaps identified by both ODIN and the Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter, which was outlined in my last post.

More ratings and information can be found in the ODIN 2018/19 Annual Report.


— By Poon Sau Ping, Research Support Services, Library

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published November 11, 2020

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