With the growing of the internet and its already huge content, information about everything and everyone is one search word away from us. Some may think of the negative aspect of this availability, however concepts like Open Data offer transparency of governments and the chance to truly participate in the shaping of a country.
So, what is Open Data anyway? Simply, it’s the availability of certain data for everyone to use republish and participate in without the fear of stepping into copyright, patents or trademarks restrictions. Open Data can include not only governmental information, but other kinds of data that can be available to the masses, like general researches, statistics, information on the environment and culture, among other topics.
When all of these data are available online, it will raise the efficiency of finishing projects and reports that need information from more than one sector. It can also help smooth the consolidation of overlapping sources and ease the collaboration process between different entities. The availability of these data increase government transparency and accountability as anyone will be able to access all the non-personal data and this lead to public engagement. People will learn more about their own government and will participate in the shaping of their nation though voicing their opinion about the policies and the strategies of the country that are available online.
Many governments across the world have embraced the idea of Open Data and have established this window of transparency. In November 2014, ictQatar issued the Open Data Policy that makes government data and information available online. The policy invites individuals and organizations to transform data and information into tools and applications that help individuals, institutions and communities to create innovative solutions to the opportunities and challenges that may be faced by the people of Qatar in realizing Qatar National Vision 2030.
A list of over 200 local, regional and national open data catalogues is available on the open source datacatalogs.org project.