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Open data helps drive service delivery

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Tomorrow (4 March 2017) is Open Data Day, an worldwide celebration of open data as well as an opportunity to encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business and civil society.
Recent technological advances in connectivity, cloud storage, computing, analytic techniques such as machine learning, and the Internet of Things, are enabling a dramatic expansion in all types of data gathered and especially in the ways to disseminate and use this data.
Governments at every level and around the world are embracing the opportunity to share and open up their data to broader use by individuals, businesses and community organisations. Open government data can increase the quality and understanding of people’s interaction with their governments.
According to Riedwaan Bassadien, Azure open source sales and marketing lead at Microsoft South Africa, doing so enables governments to focus on the business of public service delivery while enabling companies to partner with government to solve national, provincial or local problems.
He cites the example of Where is My Transport (WIMT), a company that collects and connects public transport data in order to centralise information about a city’s movement network on its open platform. Besides making the most of open data to help solve local issues and establish a new business, WIMT is also tapping into the power of open innovation.
“By opening up their platform and engaging with other local companies through hackathon events, WIMT is helping to foster local software development,” says Bassadien. “At the same time, the company is increasing the pace of development and innovation of its platform, without much added costs. Additionally, it is obtaining additional access to resources to deliver on its mandate to provide safe and easy transport information to anyone in Cape Town.”
He adds that business which utilise non-competitive data can open up that data to other innovators and entrepreneurs to disrupt the status-quo and possibly obtain a competitive advantage. This can happen through other companies or innovators discovering novel uses or services for their data, which they are able to monetise or built upon.