What We Do
The Vision of the Caribbean Open Institute (COI) is to facilitate and work towards the emergence of a Caribbean Knowledge Economy that embraces open development approaches to inclusion, participation and innovation, where:
- Regional Governments embrace Open Data programs as an essential component of their information dissemination strategies and development goals.
- Caribbean researchers are actively collaborating and engaging in dialogue and sharing information; and policy makers are using this evidence-based information for decisions.
- Key regional stakeholders (including Public Sector, NGOs, Academia, Business Community & Media) participate in a regional network where members collectively and proactively identify and tackle the key development issues, taking advantage of Open Data-enabled initiatives.
- ICT entrepreneurs are actively building creative, content based applications for external and internal markets.
- Research institutes, government entities and civil society are spearheading a range of education, capacity building and sensitization initiatives at the national and regional level to communicate and demonstrate the potential, power and possibilities of Open Data for transforming society and improving the quality of life for Caribbean societies.
In support of this Vision, the COI's Mission is anchored on three core pillars: Advocacy | Evidence | Capacity
The COI advocates and promotes Open Data as a catalyst and a platform for inclusion, participation and innovation in tackling some of the Caribbean's biggest developmental challenges. Our advocacy and engagement activities cut across Governments, Technologists, Civil Society, Academia and the Business Community.
We engage national governments and regional agencies through increased awareness, providing technical assistance (consultancies) and developing local capacity to implement open data and open government projects - eg. The COI and its members, have been partners in several Open Data Readiness Assessments conducted across the Caribbean, including Antigua, Jamaica, T&T, Dominican Republic & Haiti. We have also actively participated in, and researched the Open Data Policy discourse.
We engage developers and technologists to explore with them, the adoption of open data technologies and tools to foster implementation of sector-specific initiatives in Agriculture, Tourism and Official Statistics, through open innovation partnerships with local, regional and multilateral collaborations - eg. the annual DevCA event staged annually through key partnerships across the Caribbean, has become the signature open data event in the region and a platform for engagement between civic tech enthusiasts and diverse public sector interests.
We engage Academia through applied research employing innovative M&E methodologies such as Outcome Mapping, adapted to measure and communicate emerging theories of change about open data and its impact on Caribbean development. (See Research activities).
We encourage the Business community to become an active participant in the Open Data ecosystem through events such as the Open Data for Business Roundtable.
Releasing open data is not an end in and of itself, but becomes the cornerstone of an ecosystem of actors, institutions and information flows that has the potential to create value. As Noveck (2012) argues: “Creating a participatory innovation ecosystem is about a lot more than just publishing data sets. It requires doing the hosting, convening, persuading, and demonstrating involved in inviting diverse people to participate. The institutional players have to be prepared to collaborate with the innovators; those outside government have to know how to collaborate; civil society activists have to ensure that innovators know the problems that need solving; and research is needed to figure out what works. Noveck (2012)."
The COI conducts applied research and experimentation that seek to demonstrate and make visible, the potential benefits of open development approaches in the Caribbean context. These efforts are geared towards identifying the high value impact opportunities arising from Open data; and to inform Government policies & approaches that allow for targeted interventions and optimal allocation of resources to the most impactful open data initiatives. We utilize a variety of mechanisms including:
- Engagement and Experimentation through CodeSprints & Fellowship Models
- Capacity Building (data suppliers, intermediaries and consumers)
- Economic Value Analysis in targeted domains
- Sector Studies & Action Research
The Caribbean region is generally regarded as “data poor” not just because of limited access to high quality, locally relevant data, but also cultural and institutional habits and capacity limitations (both in the public and private sectors) often forego the use of data, and other forms of evidence, for policy and decision making. Building sustainable open data infrastructures and enabling the effective use of Open Data in the Caribbean, requires organizations from all sectors (public, private, media, civil society) to invest in staff and community capacity across the whole open data value-chain, including skills for: supplying open data; using open data; and understanding, analyzing, and mobilizing data to create change. Similar and complementary skill-sets are required across the rapidly expanding data ecosystem, including Big data, private data, and crowd-sourced data.
The COI is committed to working with regional and international partners to contribute to the implementation of comprehensive and sustainable "data literacy" program will seek to develop greater awareness, attitudes, competencies and capacity to build a stronger and more sustainable data culture across the Caribbean. Examples of previous COI-enabled capacity-building initiatives include:
- Caribbean Impact 2.0
- Caribbean Data Journalism fellowship
- Interactive Community Mapping / OpenStreetmaps workshop
- Design Thinking Workshop
- 5-days workshop on CKAN and Openspending Data Management platforms
Our current strategic focus for capacity-building is on the establishment of the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD), a distinctive "Caribbean hybrid" affiliated model of the International School of Data that seeks to combine an innovative virtual delivery mechanism with local presence through partners in Universities, NGOs and schools across the Caribbean.