29 November 2012
IGF Baku - Workshop 189 outcomes 'Open Government Data for citizens, by citizens, about citizens?'
Open Institute Kenya, Open Rights Group, Affilias, the UK Taxpayers Alliance and IFLA addressed the issue of “Big Data” and how the increasing trend of governments around the world developing open government data policies bring a new era of government transparency, economic development and the creation of new economic opportunities. In this context IFLA Projects Manager of Policy and Advocacy presented the unique perspective of libraries and their potential in being a key actor in the development of open data plans. IFLA stressed how in the open data ecosystems Governments need intermediaries to get data to their citizens. Usually identified in the media sector the intermediaries have a key role in ensuring that the demand side of open data matches the offer. In this ecosystem libraries are perfectly suited for providing with the necessary skills and facilities to access open data programs.
According to the most recent survey there are around 230.000 libraries worldwide and 73 per cent of these are in developing and transition countries. Libraries are publicly funded institutions with an amazing potential role in facilitating the access to open data, provide basic training and information literacy, ensuring that key government services and data are provided through an established network of information hubs.
Open Data is often linked to egovernment services and programs for transparency and accountability, in this field parliamentary libraries are an essential partner as they keep the records of bills and legislation and be a partner in programs promoting transparency and public participation in democratic processes. The panel while looking to whether governments have the right to create "value" out of citizens’ data, how should this be governed, whether citizens should be expected to provide data in exchange for public services, recognized the role of libraries as an important actor that can fill many of the gaps in the open data ecosystem. Libraries can bring trust, literacy and reliability to programs offering new services to citizens through the access of new data, ensuring that universality of the service is guaranteed by publicly funded institutions.