The Mauritian government through its operations produces a lot of data on a daily basis. Ministries and departments process these raw data sets to produce information for public services, citizens and businesses. Opening up these government data sets could generate a significant boost to the country’s economy.
In this regard, the Ministry of ICT, in collaboration with the World Bank, organized a
Two-day workshop on setting up an Open Data portal. The purpose of the workshop was to assist ministries and departments in formulating appropriate guidelines and processes in the publication of these data. The World Bank has been working with the Mauritian Ministry since 2015 on developing an Open Data policy in the small island.
What is Open Data
Open Data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone. There are several characteristics for data to be characterized as Open Data:
- Availability, access and free of charge: the data must be available in their entirety and at a reasonable cost of reproduction, preferably downloadable from the Internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and editable format.
- Reuse and redistribution: these data, available in large quantities, must be available under a license that allows reuse and redistribution, including cross-referencing with other data sets.
The National Open Data Policy initiated by the government
The Ministry of ICT has prepared a National Open Data Policy which was approved by the government in April 2016. The policy sets out the appropriate guidelines and processes for ministries and departments to publish and manage government data sets as Open Data.
In accordance with this policy, the objectives of the National Open Data Policy are
- Foster government commitment to an Open Data Initiative,
- Identify new markets and strengthen existing and new products and services,
- Create more jobs in Big Data analytics requiring specific skills.
How Open Data will be implemented by the government
As recommended in the Government of Mauritius’ Open Data Readiness Assessment Report, a Central Open Data Team (CODT) will be set up and led by the CTO of the Ministry of ICT. The CODT team will be mixed and composed of various departments and companies as you can see:
- Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT, overseeing the Open Data Initiative
- Director, Central Informatics Office
- Program Managers, Central Informatics Office
- Director, Central Information Systems Division
- Synthesizers, Central Information Systems Division
- Data Protection Commissioner
- Data Protection Officers, Data Protection Office
- Director, Statistics Mauritius
- Statisticians, Statistics Mauritius
- Sector Management Support Team, Ministry of Finance, Economy and Development.
This team will be in charge of leading the Open Data initiative in the different ministries and departments. This will include the establishment and review of standards for Open Data, and the development and administration of the National Open Data Portal. In addition, the CODT team will establish standards for data compliance assessment at the ministry/department level prior to the release of data as open data.
The long awaited Open data Portal
The National Open Data Portal adhering to ICT security standards will be set up on the SharePoint platform of the government portal to act as a single point of contact for data published as Open Data. In a progressive manner and in line with the Open Data Readiness Assessment Report, an Open Data portal based on Open Source will be considered. The open source solution will provide the flexibility needed for the Open Data Portal. Finally, application program interfaces (APIs) will be developed for open data sets. Facilities for downloading these bulk data sets will also be developed.
Today, more than 46 countries in the world have an Open Data policy and Mauritius wishes to join the movement. WorldBank concluded its presentation by reminding that Open Data is a marathon and not a sprint, the national Open Data policy will probably still take a long time to be operational in the country. But the intention of the government is again affirmed to launch itself towards this Open Data policy. As the Minister of ICT, Yogida Sawminaden said “Open Data is driving the digital revolution”, so the small island intends to continue its journey towards Open Data.