Embedding open data practice: Developing indicators on the institutionalisation of open data practice in two African governments

2015-08-29T06:38:23Z (GMT) by Francois Van Schalkwyk
<p>The research formed part of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries Phase 2 project, and was titled “Embedding open data practice: Developing indicators on the institutionalisation of open data practice in two African governments”. The motivation for conducting the research was that insufficient attention has been paid to the constellation of institutional dynamics within governments and how these may be impeding the embedding of open data practice.</p> <p>In order to address the principle question of whether open data practice is being embedded, the project undertook a comparison of government open data in South Africa and Kenya.</p> <p>In developing open data indicators to measure embeddedness, the research team chose to focus on open licensing because they considered it to be a key indicator of openness: the act of assigning an open licence not only indicates an understanding of what constitutes open data (that is, authentically open or ‘libre’ data provision), but it also indicates that organisational actors have cognitively come to terms with and accepted the consequences of data being reused without restriction. The research did not restrict its investigation to high-level commitments or policies but examined aspects of licensing at multiple levels of government. This approach echoes Tim Berners-Lee’s assertion that change ‘has to start at the top, it has to start in the middle and it has to start at the bottom’.</p> <p>Project findings suggest that there is a complex interplay (and, at times, conflict) between the various organisational levels of government. There are clearly still some tensions to resolve in terms of reconciling the values and practices of organisational levels that make up governments.</p>