5 Facts: Open Data


The subject of open data has been prominent on our agenda this week, including our presentation “diGJamaica.com: The Gleaner Makes Information Accessible” on day one of the Developing the Caribbean Open Data Conference. Access to information is such an important pillar of today’s society, so the more you know, the more aware you will be as a citizen of Jamaica and the world.

Here are some quick ‘bytes’ we have pulled together for you this Five Facts Friday:

  1. Open data is a job creator. Developers in many countries around the world, including Jamaica, have been able to create a niche in the technology industry by using open data to create apps and programmes that have been useful in various areas. Locally, the Caribbean Open Institute has been working with RADA to utilise agriculture apps created at last year’s conference. The World Bank has estimated that open data could add $35 million to the Jamaican economy. 
  2. Open data enhances journalism. In fact, it has led to a focus on what is now called data journalism or data-driven journalism, in which reporters crunch data (facts and figures) to present more substantial stories and analyses to the public. The term ‘data journalism’ is fairly new, but the practice has been around for decades, previously known as computer assisted reporting (CAR).
  3. Kenya is one of the world leaders in open data usage. The  Kenya ICT Board was established in 2007 and the country became the first African nation to launch a government data portal in 2011. Major achievements include digitising every single government Gazette in Kenya’s history. The government also actively supports entrepreneurs with business ideas that utilise open data.
  4. Commonwealth Caribbean countries with active access to information or freedom of information laws are Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad & Tobago and Antigua & Barbuda.
  5. Locally, The Edward Seaga Database Collection is a vital collection, providing access to more than 37,000 pieces of data on the economy, education, environment, finance, population, tourism, labour force and health. These data have been collected from government agencies, including the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the Bank of Jamaica, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education.

Need to find out more? Check out our presentation, read our live blog of day one of the conference, or look at some of the data we have presented on diGJamaica.com.