The client is a government agency tasked with improving public sector operations. By deploying Fusionex-led Open Data solutions, the client was able to manage large amounts of government data and provide citizens with easy access to information, in a bid to increase transparent governance.
The client has been tasked with modernizing public service delivery systems by marshaling the knowledge, expertise, and resources of various entities, both public and private, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). To achieve the goal of an Open Data policy, the client required the use of a robust IT solution in order to consolidate data from a multitude of government agencies and ministries. It then had to make the information gathered easily accessible to the general public so that the government’s agenda of increased transparency could be fulfilled.
To carry out the Open Data policy of making government data available for public consumption, the client had to gather and consolidate all relevant government data from over 20 ministries and more than 700 different government agencies that were stored in disparate silos, scattered around with little to no connection between them.
In addition, these various government entities used different data storing methods and formats such as CSVs, text, PDFs, images, and even data embedded in their websites. While it is possible for humans to consume information from images and PDF documents, it is more complicated for computers and servers to do so. A widely-compatible method was required to extract all relevant information from these different sources.
The complexities in publishing the data was also compounded by the fact that each piece needed to be cleared by the authorities first before they could be released to the public. Data that is sensitive, likely to cause security concerns, needed to be protected for reasons of economic competition or could not be released for any other reason had to be filtered from being included in the Open Data policy. An automated, quick way was needed to carry out the filtration process to get all permissible data released in the shortest time frame.
Fusionex played a key role in rolling out an Open Data product known as the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) — which had been widely deployed in other highly-ranked Open Data countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom — for the client.
In order to sort the disparate data across ministries and government departments, the CKAN was able to support high-level categorization of information. The information gathered was sorted by clusters, such as education, agriculture, environment, health, tourism, and economy. Other methods of sorting which promoted easy-browsing included sorting the information by ministry.
A process of validating the accuracy and relevancy of data was also put in place to assist the government agency in deciding what information they wanted to make public. The workflow would consist inputting data into the network by an agency personnel, after approval was acquired by an agency official. Extra sensitive data, which require higher-level approval by ministries, could also be flagged as such and only released after being green lit.
The Open Data platform also included a powerful search tool which allowed users to simply enter their queries in a search bar, bringing to the fore specific results instantaneously. Another solution that was made possible was a logging system which would monitor amendments being made to the data at hand, or at its various sources. If the existing data on the platform was amended, certain tracking systems would log the person who did the editing and apply a timestamp.
To promote transparency and a greater sense of responsibility, the Open Data platform also included a request feature which allowed the general public to make demands for particular information they wanted. The platform would then convey the requests to the relevant government departments or ministries for a quick resolution to the matter.
By applying CKAN, the client could very quickly produce an Open Data platform for mass consumption. Subsequently, forming efficient systems of monitoring, feedback, and quality control allowed the client to maintain the veracity and relevancy of its data to the public.
A marked increase of datasets has been incorporated into the Open Data platform giving users a greater selection of information:
The number of datasets contained within the client’s Open Data platform since its establishment about six months ago has increased by more than 400%. A greater volume of data provides a more accurate view of the nation.
Exposure of the API behind the Open Data system would result in increased innovation:
Corporations, NGOs, and social enterprises could leverage on the system to create opportunities for business or social welfare endeavors. For example, developers creating a mobile application to inform tourists on the availability of public transport around the country.
Two-way communication for a more open and responsive administration:
Instead of the government deciding on what they wanted to reveal and when they want to reveal it, which is a passive form of administration, they could instead decide to be proactive by allowing the public to request for information. Should users not find what they needed, they can access feedback or data request forms on the Open Data platform, which would be handled by automated workflow systems that would send their data requests to all relevant departments for approval before being cleared for release.
By putting in place an Open Data platform, the client could very quickly gather datasets located in hundreds of different sources to one central repository, no matter what format the data was in. Subsequently, the platform’s user-friendliness and accessibility meant that the client was fulfilling its mission of modernizing and improving public service operations to better serve the citizens via the implementation of state-of-the-art IT solutions.