Uncovering the possibilities of Open Data – A work in progress

So I began working on collating and making a caselet on the possibilities of Open Data in India a week ago. On Tuesday 18th Feb 2014 Nasscom and National Informatics Centre (NIC) held the #OpenDataApps Challenge. The primary objective of the competition was to explore the opportunities Open Data provides. The business idea/concept proposed had to show how the solution will improve the delivery of government services, promote government transparency, accountability, public participation and citizen engagement.

The problem I am facing is the lack of information on these apps. What an irony! Open Data Apps and very little information on them. The other is that many do not seem to be Open Data apps but just app using Big Data. The best resource I came across until now was this PDF http://data.gov.in/sites/default/files/Opendataapps_challenge_finalist.pdf. If contains all the finalists of the event and a little background on them.

A majority of the apps seem to be leaning on agriculture. One personal concern is how will the farmers access these apps and use it to the full extent? GramSeva Kisan is another app very similar to Market Watch.

Namit Arora has suggested that Open Data could be used to assist in garbage disposal and waste management and he does not seem to be the only one who thought of it. Chennai Municipal Administration (CMA) held the CMA Hackathon on 14-15th December 2013 and invited participants to design mobile and web applications to improve the lives of citizens in Tamil Nadu. The winner was TrashIt, an Android app that uses crowdsourcing and gamification mechanisms report on garbage around the city.

Next I decided to jump overseas and see what is happening in Europe around Open Data. Two that caught my eye were ZNasichDani from Slovakia which attempts to uncover influential individuals behind large corporations attempting to secure government contracts. The other was Politiek Inzicht from Netherlands which is collating and displaying what politicians in the Dutch parliament are saying my curating and creating word crowds around these words.

Jumping back into India and the #OpenDataApps Challenege, a few interesting proposals that were being circulated were MyDermatoligist, a mobile application that can picture the wound and suggest next level care and MyOpthalmalogist, another mobile application that can view eye for basic defects and advise what to do next.

Some issues:

-Most of the apps are using open.gov.in data sets to function. So the apps will work efficiently only if the open.gov.in databases are updated regularly and are well maintained.

-Access, acess, access. Since most of them are targeted to farmers how are farmers going to use it?

-Many of the apps seem to be nowhere near the objective.

There are loads of interesting facts coming up and ideas are brewing constantly. Will be updating this post soon. Till then, what are your ideas on uses of Open Data?

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