Open data offers prospects for wealth creation — Robinson

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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MINISTER of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, says open data is a tremendous resource that offers prospects for wealth creation.

Robinson noted that Government data, in particular, can be accessed and utilised by technology innovators and entrepreneurs to develop applications (apps) for various sectors.

"There is a lot of information that various Government ministries and departments have that they can place on open street map, which is non-proprietary and which would be available to the public free of cost, and can also be used for developers and others who might be interested in building applications out of it," he pointed out.

The state minister was speaking following a workshop on open map and open data held at the Mona School of Business, University of the West Indies, St Andrew.

Open data refers to content that can be freely used, reused and distributed, without restriction from copyright, patents or other legal, technological or social constraint.

Robinson said open data offers opportunities in the area of disaster management.

"If you have hurricanes, from which we suffer, it can assist first responders in knowing specific places to go, so there are a number of benefits that we believe can be derived from it, and we want to build a community of persons who participate in using the open street map application," he said.

He noted that open Government data also serves to enhance public sector transparency and accountability.

The workshop was held to provide training for public and private sector personnel, as Government works to create a framework for open data development to boost job creation and entrepreneurship.

The World Bank is providing assistance in the effort, and the institution conducted an Open Data Readiness assessment in Jamaica in December 2014.

Robinson said that based on the interest being shown, another workshop will be staged at a later date. "The awareness of open street map is relatively low here in Jamaica, which is why it is not well populated, so this workshop is part of building the awareness," he said.

He noted that Jamaica received a favourable report from the World Bank from the assessment conducted.

The report (which considers the supply and the reuse of data, skills development, targeted innovation and financing for the Government's open data agenda) shows there is visible leadership within the Government, as well as broad public and private sector support, for open data in Jamaica.

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