Public Outreach

Lunchtime Lecture at the ODI: Using data to support citizen-centric sustainable urban development in Tanzania

On January 25, 2019 I had an excellent opportunity to present my PhD research project. More specifically, I spoke about the findings emerging from my research interviews in Dar es Salaam with various stakeholders of the Tanzanian data ecosystem: government, donor institutions, local community organisers, start-ups, international experts and academia. This study aimed to understand what processes take place on the ground when people try to take advantage of data and technology to transform Dar es Salaam into a ‘smarter city’, and what the challenges are.

This was a public event as part of the ODI Fridaysfree lunchtime lectures for everyone.

National Open Data Symposium in Oman

On October 1-3, 2018, I had the pleasure to participate in the first National Open Data Symposium in Oman as a speaker on principles and benefits of Open Data. The presentation covered various definitions of open data, including examples in some key sectors such as health, education, transport, etc.

I was pleased to see representatives from five different sectors across government and private sector together, having a discussion, raising challenging questions. There are many agencies within the government, which have started publishing open data, and these efforts are a bit uneven. I think the most important thing about the symposium was that these agencies came together to start moving towards a collaborative approach to open data. This event sent a powerful message to the public, government and even international open data community that Oman strives to advance their open data agenda and has desire to bring best international practices in this process.

Being one of the international speakers in the event and having worked with the World Bank on open data in many countries, it means to me that Oman is really keen to learn from other international experiences and adopt best global practices in their approach to do open data and moving towards smarter future. We need to remember that we’re increasingly living in cities, and Open Data is key to creating a platform for smart cities. Citizen-focused smart cities increasingly use data analytics to improve service delivery to its citizens making them more accessible, engage with the communities, find joint solutions to most pressing urban issues, making our cities more livable and sustainable. As my own area of academic research lies in looking how open data can support smart cities, I want to see Oman open data use it for open urban innovations and delivering better services to its people.

Conversations evolved around how to make data more usable for the data users. Engagement with the consumers of the data was one of the key points that was raised throughout the symposium. I echo one of the participants comments that value of releasing open data comes from data use. One of the key elements to open data is adopting open license that explicitly gives permission to use and re-use data for any purpose, including commercial purposes. If the license does not exist on the portal and does not articulate those rights for data re-use, the users cannot be sure that they can use the data. This is one of the challenges Oman will need to address to enable the open data benefits, especially for economic growth that were extensively discussed at the Symposium.

The videos of the presentation and Q&A session are below.


What Smart Campuses Can Teach Us about Smart Cities: User Experiences and Open Data

Universities, like cities, have embraced novel technologies and data-based solutions to improve their campuses with ‘smart’ becoming a welcomed concept. Campuses in many ways are small-scale cities. They increasingly seek to address similar challenges and to deliver improved experiences to their users. How can data be used in making this vision a reality? What can we learn from smart campuses that can be scaled up to smart cities? A short research study was conducted over a three-month period at a public university in the United Kingdom, employing stakeholder interviews and user surveys, which aimed to gain insight into these questions. Based on the study, the authors suggest that making data publicly available could bring many benefits to different groups of stakeholders and campus users. These benefits come with risks and challenges, such as data privacy and protection and infrastructure hurdles. However, if these challenges can be overcome, then open data could contribute significantly to improving campuses and user experiences, and potentially set an example for smart cities.

Full text is available here: https://www.mdpi.com/2078-2489/9/10/251/htm


How Open Data can fight poverty and boost prosperity in Kyrgyzstan

All around the world, governments are recognizing the value and potential of Open Data. This is clear from the G8’s adoption of an Open Data Charter in June 2013 (with the G20 likely to follow suit), the growing number of countries adopting Open Data initiatives, and the 64 countries that have committed to Open Government Partnership action plans (most of which focus on Open Data). Kyrgyzstan has taken the first steps down this path.

Read more here: http://blogs.worldbank.org/ic4d/node/655