Open Data for Business in Jamaica: Initial Findings and Recommendations
In June 2016, the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) will launch its first Open Data Portal and progressively release a variety of Public Sector datasets. Much of the success and impact of GoJ’s Open Data Initiative will be determined by the level of awareness and engagement with various stakeholders including the private sector, academia, entrepreneurs and the local IT industry.
As the GoJ prepares for the launch of its portal, the Caribbean Open Institute (COI) teamed up with the Center for Open Data Enterprise (OD Enterprise) and the Mona School of Business & Management in May 2016 to conduct an Open Data for Business (OD4B) assessment.
The OD4B methodology helps to inform governments’ data strategies by providing a better understanding of the private sector demand for open data. The OD4B assessment included interviews, questionnaires, and a roundtable discussion. All of the information collected was been aggregated and analyzed across four assessment areas – high value data, barriers, capabilities, and engagement.
The Open Data for Business (OD4B) assessment was developed by the World Bank’s Open Data team with support from the Center for Open Data Enterprise. The OD4B assessment is an addition to the World Bank’s “Open Government Data Toolkit” and is made freely available for others to adapt and use. The full assessment can be found here: http://opendatatoolkit.worldbank.org/en/odra.html
Caribbean governments have been relatively slow to embrace the open data movement. As of May 2016, there is still only one official open government data portal in the Caribbean for the Dominican Republic (http://datos.gob.do/). In a region predominantly made up of small-island developing economies, open data competes with a range of socio-economic policy demands for scarce resources and political attention. However, targeted open data research initiatives in key sectors such as Tourism and Agriculture, which are being conducted by the Caribbean Open Institute under the global Open Data for Development (OD4D) program, are helping to build the case for the potential social and economic impact of open data. These interventions provide timely demand-side impetus to the current Open Data program, jointly funded by the World Bank and UK-DFID, under which, countries such as Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Antigua have completed Open Data Readiness Assessments (ODRAs) and are now actively engaged in the development of government open data portals and policy frameworks.
Overall, the OD4B Assessment in Jamaica shows a high level of demand for government data from established businesses. The business register, demographics data, and economic statistics were the most highly requested types of government data by participants. Critical barriers to the private sector use of government data included inability to find relevant data, lack of disaggregated data, and lack of timeliness of data.
The OD4B assessment provides valuable insight and perspective from the business community to help inform the GOJ’s open data strategy and priorities. Beyond the demand for specific datasets, several of the organizations interviewed have suggested innovative ways in which new data-driven services can facilitate the ease of doing business, thus creating entrepreneurial opportunities for enterprising intermediaries.
Among the key recommendations arising from the forum, was the establishment of a private sector data advisory group that could provide a channel for active dialogue and feedback about how the GOJ’s Open Data program can provide value to the private sector.
The OD4B assessment in Jamaica was sponsored by the Open Data Charter (ODC) and is one of the early practical applications of this new toolkit that is expected to become a part of the ODC Resource Centre.