This week in open data and open government: Creating tools that are sexy and successful

New ICT tools for development are exciting, and allow you to use words like ‘innovative’ and ‘sexy’. Hopefully though, they are doing more than that. The Transparency & Accountability Initiative produced a report on the impact of ICTs on transparency and accountability. The suggestions produced in the report should be of no surprise, but can surprisingly be forgotten with all the excitement of producing a new, innovative technology. Important for successful ICT implementation is being aware of the context; what information will the tool be supporting, who is providing it, and who will be using it? 

Another key suggestion is to work closely with NGO or government processes and players instead of working solo and then saying, “Here you go!” The latter tactic can often end with the tool being unused and easily forgotten. I’m sure Tulane University hopes that their new tool for accessing country ICT policy and strategy plans will be one of the prior, and perhaps a tool for those interesting also interested in creating such resources. 

Patrick Meier discussed the possibilities and hopes of using big data to create resilience from disasters. What I found to be most interesting in his post was the idea that social capital is one of the most important resources for disaster resilience and that social media can influence social capital through “providing norms, information, and trust…” It occurs to me that creating trust and norms tends to take time. The 20 million tweets posted during Hurricane Sandy did not come from 20 million people who started using Twitter that same day. These tools need to fit into or improve people’s current processes for them to be accepted as norms and to gain their trust and use. This should be an important consideration for the World Bank’s open agenda for the year, which includes creating vibrant citizen feedback loops and tapping into big data.

For organizations and countries considering increasing their transparency in 2013, check out the DFID blog for tips on working towards your transparency resolution. Then read the study by Creative Commons on “Accessing and Licensing Government Data under Open Access Conditions.”

Weekly updates are written by Taryn Davis of Development Gateway; email her your tips for next week's update to get a shout-out in the post.

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