A group of advocates met outside San Francisco in 2007 to pen eight principles of open government data with the intent of initiating a new era of democratic innovation and economic opportunity. In the decade since, governments are slowly opening up their data sets as a public resource, and even adopting other open data as their official data. More than 15 national governments (and 25 local governments) have now adopted the principles of open data and its potential to foster greater transparency, empower citizens, combat corruption, and generally enhance governance. Despite the gradual movement towards open government data, very little is actually known about its impact – what, where, how and under what conditions does open data work?
To address this aperture, the Development Informatics (DevInfo) team of USAID’s Global Development Lab and FHI 360’s Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) project, in collaboration with a research consortium from The GovLab and New York University, embarked on a research project to clarify the value of existing open data initiatives in developing countries. In this blog post, I will use examples from our team’s recent research to highlight what people have done with open government data in developing countries.