Open Data offers an important opportunity to support development goals and spur new social innovation. Recognizing the need for open data work that enhances global cooperation, reduces duplication, and supports the scaling of development solutions that work, a group of Donors have joined together to support a program that funds innovative open data initiatives around the developing world.
The initial donors comprise of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank (WB), and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). The Fund, managed by IDRC, has firm commitments for a total value of $6.8M (CDN) for the next 2 years.
The Fund builds on the OD4D program coordinated by IDRC, which is a platform for funding a diverse array of open data research and action. The OD4D program objectives for 2015-2016 are:
- To help developing country governments, entrepreneurs, and civil society create and implement national and global action plans to harness open data for development;
- To support developing country governments to plan, execute, and manage national open data initiatives;
- To increase re-use of open data in developing countries by supporting appropriate data standards, guidelines, solution-driven applications, and demand-side capacity, helping to bring about social and economic innovation;
- To better understand the relationship between open data initiatives and socioeconomic development, informing the quality and reach of future open data initiatives; and
In addition, four main principles guide the network and its members:
- Research and learning,
- Empowerment of leadership from developing countries
- Efficient coordination and,
- Creation, access and reuse of global public goods and assets.
The Open Data for Development network is already global network which includes important players in the open data community such as The Open Data Institute, Open Knowledge, and the World Wide Web Foundation, the Latin American Open Data Initiative and Caribbean Open Institute, as well as collaboration with the Open Data Working Group of the Open Government Partnership.
Other funders are welcome and encouraged to participate in the OD4D programme, either by adding resources to the Fund or to engage and align their efforts by joining the Donors’ committee, established to coordinate efforts and create a space of exchange.
Building on the results of the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa, the expectation is that the greater engagement and coordination of donors in this new mechanism will help to close knowledge gaps on the use of open data for development and accelerating cross fertilization amongst the research community, technical experts and governments in developing countries.