Open Data Kenya : Case Study of the Underlying Drivers, Principal Objectives and Evolution of one of the first Open Data Initiatives in Africa (Long Version)

Title: Open Data Kenya : Case Study of the Underlying Drivers, Principal Objectives and Evolution of one of the first Open Data Initiatives in Africa (Long Version)
Authors: Hanif Rahemtulla, Jeff Kaplan, Björn-Sören Gigler, Samantha Cluster, Johannes Kiess, Charles Brigham
Pages: 45 pp.
Source: Open Development Technology Alliance
Publisher: The World Bank
Date (published): 13/12/2011
Date (accessed): 15/12/2011
Type of information: Draft
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"In July 2011, Kenya become one of the first African countries and 22nd internationally to launch an Open Data initiative, making over 160 government datasets freely available through a publicly accessible online portal. The initiative is expected to support greater public transparency and accountability, fundamentally changing the nature of citizen-government interaction. The release of public data online creates a platform supporting the development of third-party applications, enabling a vehicle for expanded public outreach and engagement leading to “a more responsive and citizen-focused government” (Madera, 2009).

This paper outlines underlying drivers, principal objectives and the evolution of the Kenya Open Data Initiative from inception to realisation. A comparative study of Kenya Open Data and related US and UK initiatives is included, highlighting implications for the applicability of a ‘default model’ in developing countries. This paper also provides preliminary insights into the platform’s access and usage patterns since the launch, as well as perceived present and future impact of this initiative in Kenya. Finally, it outlines the vision moving forward describing the principal barriers and supportive factors that must be addressed for the effective use of public sector information in Kenya.  Adopting a mixed-mode research design, the study draws upon surveys, observational data and interviews conducted with key actors."

The Indian web and mobile markets by the numbers

Title: The Indian web and mobile markets by the numbers
Author: Katie Fehrenbacher
Source: GigaOM
Date (published): 14/12/2011
Date (accessed): 15/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Sometimes it’s just easier to get a high-level picture of a market if you look directly at the numbers. Google India Managing Director Rajan Anandan gave a fascinating talk to our Geeks on a Plane India group this week, giving us a snap shot of the data that is driving the consumers, entrepreneurs, trends and investors in the rapidly growing Indian web and mobile markets.

Anandan says: “We’re probably in 1996 in the U.S. in terms of the Internet market in India.” Here’s the stats from Anandan’s deck. India has:
..."

Realizing the Vision of Open Government Data : Opportunities, Challenges and Pitfalls (Long Version)

Title: Realizing the Vision of Open Government Data : Opportunities, Challenges and Pitfalls (Long Version)
Authors: Björn-Sören Gigler, Samantha Custer, Hanif Rahemtulla
Pages: 16 pp.
Publisher: The World Bank
Date (published): 13/12/2011
Date (accessed): 15/12/2011
Type of information: Draft
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"Actively promoted by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the Open Government Data movement is gaining considerable traction, illustrated by the rapid proliferation of initiatives worldwide. While the preponderance of early experiments emerged in advanced economies, developing countries are increasingly optimistic about proactively releasing public sector information to achieve a multitude of policy goals. However, to what extent is Open Government Data replicable in developing countries, and what factors must be addressed if it is to be a catalytic change agent rather than mere development fad? Structured in four sections, this paper provides a literature review of the Open Government Data movement to date, critically assessing its transferability to developing countries and identifying challenges and limitations that will determine its relative social impact. The first section examines the philosophy, drivers and history of Open Government Data. The second section analyzes the modes of public sector information release featured in developed countries, assessing the validity of underlying assumptions regarding supply and demand when applied to developing countries. The third and fourth sections illuminate factors contributing to the success or failure of public sector information initiatives, drawing upon the cumulative experience of e-government, ICT penetration, institutional reform as well as Open Government Data initiatives to inform future efforts."

Digital technology driving global social change (infographic)

Title: Digital technology driving global social change (infographic)
Source: TechJournal South
Date (published): 13/12/2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML with infographic)
Abstract:
"Global events in 2011 demonstrated the impact that technology plays in driving social change movements. A new Walden University survey of 11 countries shows that most adults in countries around the world (89%, on average) agree that technology can turn a cause into a movement faster than anything else can. These views were particularly prevalent in Spain (93%), Canada(91%), Brazil (91%), Great Britain (91%) and China (91%).

The Social Change Impact Report: Global Survey was commissioned by Walden University and conducted online by Harris Interactive in September 2011. A continuation from the American survey released in the fall, the Global Survey includes the perspectives of more than 12,000 adults in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Mexico, Spainand the United States and describes their perceptions on the importance of social change, the top issues in their country and the future of social change.

According to the global survey, in many countries, men are more likely than women to use mobile devices to text messages related to a positive social change issue, specifically in Mexico (23% vs. 16% of women), the United States (7% vs. 4%), France(7% vs. 1%), Japan (5% vs. 2%) and Germany (4% vs. 1%).

Young adults globally leverage social networking
The survey also reveals that when it comes to positive social change, young adults across the globe are leveraging social networking to get involved; an average of 29% of young adults[1] have used social networking sites in the past six months to engage in social change.

“Social technology has opened the door to global change, making information pass from person to person, regardless of location, at lightning speed. It’s never been easier to connect with others and take action.

.Individuals now have remarkable power,” said Andy Smith, author of The Dragonfly Effect. “But it’s those who harness digital technology and social media for pro-social ends who will create the greatest positive social change in the future.”

Additionally, social networking is more common than using blogs or texting to engage in social change among young adults in nearly all of the countries. Of the young adults who have used social networking in the past six months to engage in social change, the highest reported use is in Mexico (40%), India (39%) and Great Britain (37%). In China (50%) and Japan (12%), blogging is the top digital way of engaging in social change among young adults. Texting to engage in social change is particularly common in India (38% of 18–25-year-olds)…"

SMS for Violence Prevention: PeaceTXT International Launches in Kenya

Title: SMS for Violence Prevention: PeaceTXT International Launches in Kenya
Author: Patrick Meier
Source: iRevolution blog
Date (published): 12/12/2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"One of the main reasons I’m in Nairobi this month is to launch PeaceTXT International with PopTech, Praekelt Foundation, Sisi ni Amani and several other key partners. PeaceTXT International is a spin-off from the original PeaceTXT project that several of us began working on with CeaseFire Chicago last year.

The purpose of PeaceTXT is to leverage mobile messaging to catalyze behavior change around peace and conflict issues. In the context of Chicago, the joint project with CeaseFire aims to leverage SMS reminders to interrupt gun violence in marginalized neighborhoods. Several studies in other fields of public health have already shown the massive impact that SMS reminders can have on behavior change, e.g., improving drug adherence behavior among AIDS and TB patients in Africa, Asia and South America.

Our mobile messaging campaign in Chicago builds on another very successful one in the US: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Drive.” Inspired by this approach, the PeaceTXT Team is looking to launch a friends-don’t-let-friends-get-killed campaign.

Note that CeaseFire has been directly credited for significantly reducing the number of gun-related killings in Chicago over the past 10 years. In other words, they have a successful and proven methodology; one being applied to several other cities and countries worldwide. PeaceTXT simply seeks to scale this success by introducing SMS.

In the meantime, PeaceTXT is partnering with Sisi ni Amani (We are Peace) to launch its first international pilot project. Rachel Brown, who spearheads the initiative, first got in touch with me back in the Fall of 2009 whilst finishing her undergraduate studies at Tufts. Rachel was interested in crowdsourcing a peace map of Kenya, which I blogged about here shortly after our first conversation. Since then, Rachel and her team have set up the Kenyan NGO Sisi ni Amani Kenya (SnA-K) to leverage mobile technology for awareness raising and civic engagement with the aim of preventing possible violence during next year’s Presidential Elections..."

Palawan tribes go cyber to keep out nickel miner

Title: Palawan tribes go cyber to keep out nickel miner
Author: Melody Kemp
Source: Asia Times Online
Date (published): 09/12/2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"PALAWAN - When big global mining companies set their sights on the Philippine island of Palawan, one of the world's remaining ecological hotspots and home to many traditional tribes, little did they suspect their China-backed, billion-dollar extraction plans would be met by social media-fueled resistance.

Indigenous people in Palawan have organized globally to raise awareness about their plight and to save their ancestral lands from planned large-scale mining. One activist group, the Ancestral Land and Domain Watch (ALDAW), has made use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to transform what was originally a local movement into a vibrant global environmental campaign.

Other technological tools have been used to challenge MacroAsia's claims to environmental consciousness during its exploration phase. For instance, hi-tech geo-tagging has appeared to show that mining area claims have pushed deep into ancestral domain lands and legally protected eco-zones.

Maps of the intrusions have been loaded onto a Facebook page and linked to Google maps alongside an online petition calling for a halt to mining activities in the area."

Kenyans use social media to mobilize support for drought victims

Title: Kenyans use social media to mobilize support for drought victims
Author: Kingsley Ighobor
Source: Bulawayo24
Date (published): 13/11/2011
Date (accessed): 14/11/2011
Type of information:
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"...In July, as thousands of starving people walked across the border from Somalia into the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya, there were also thousands of Kenyans dying of drought in that region, as well as in Turkana, Pokot and Baringo. Ms. Gichuru and other journalists covered that reality. "I went to the camp and saw children just screaming. It was deafening. Some had just died. Some were about to die, and I saw parents standing helplessly, just preparing to dig another infant grave," she told Africa Renewal.

The interventions of Ms. Gichuru and others have been acclaimed for both the sheer effort — more than $67 million donated so far by ordinary Kenyans and some companies — and the tools with which the mobilization has been carried out: Facebook, Twitter, mobile phones, television, radio and newspapers.

Reactions to the various media reports were swift and spontaneous. The Media Owners Association, Safaricom (one of the country's leading mobile phone companies) and the Kenya Red Cross continue to rally donations and other relief materials under the aegis of Kenyans for Kenya, an association officially launched in late July.

"The response by Kenyans was overwhelming and humbling, hitting KSh19 million through M-Pesa [mobile banking] contributions on the second day," reports The Standard, a leading Kenyan newspaper. Ms. Gichuru says that they collected the equivalent of about $10 million within two weeks.

How does it work? Safaricom assigned a dedicated account number that people with mobile phones can easily remember (111 111). Subscribers pay into their M-Pesa accounts, much as they do when adding to their phone calling credits. To make a donation they simply enter the amount and send it to the dedicated account number. Both the sender and the recipient promptly get SMS messages confirming the transaction. The ease of transactions has contributed to the project's success.

The credibility of the main implementing partner, the Kenya Red Cross, further encourages people to donate. "Once people knew who was going to spend the money, they felt more comfortable to contribute," says Ms. Gichuru."

Rapid response system : An SMS service delivers quick answers to farmers’ climate questions

Title: Rapid response system : An SMS service delivers quick answers to farmers’ climate questions
Author: Darlington Kahilu
Source: ICT Update
Publisher: CTA Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (ACP-EU)
Date (published): December 2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Farmers in Zambia with climate change questions can now receive quick answers via SMS from a new system developed by the country’s National Agricultural Information Services.

In recent years, the Zambia National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) has been receiving an increasing number of questions from farmers concerned about unpredictable weather patterns. Farmers are pointing out that sometimes the rains come earlier than usual, and when they do come, they are so heavy that they ruin the work the farmer has done to prepare the land. Sometimes the opposite is the problem and there is too little rain to water the crops.

‘The standard advice we gave in past is no longer relevant,’ says Darlington Kahilu, an agricultural information officer with NAIS. ‘For example, we used to tell farmers to plant their maize seeds as soon as the first rains came. The rains would usually continue for a few weeks and germinate the seeds. But now there could be a dry spell lasting a month or more, killing the new seedlings. The farmers then have to spend precious time and money replanting.’

NAIS uses a mixture of print and electronic media to provide agricultural information. Radio is especially useful, and many farmers listen to programmes in groups, often with an extension worker, and then discuss the issues raised in the broadcast. If they still have questions, they can fill in an evaluation form and send it to the nearest NAIS district office. The district office passes the form to the provincial office, where it is finally sent to the main country office. There, a NAIS radio producer assesses the questions, and contacts relevant specialists in agricultural research institutes and government ministries. Based on their feedback, the producer prepares a response for broadcast in a subsequent radio programme.

Together with the International Institute for Communication and Development, and a local software developer, NAIS developed a system, called SMSize to which farmers can send a question via an SMS from a cell phone. The question arrives directly at a server computer at the central office, where the producer researches the answer and sends back the information to the phone of the querying farmer, in the same language as the original request."

Increasing the flow of data: GIS improves rainfall data collection and information services in West Africa

Title: Increasing the flow of data: GIS improves rainfall data collection and information services in West Africa
Authors: Aondover Tarhule, Zakari Saley-Bana, Peter J. Lamb
Source: ICT Update
Publisher: CTA Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (ACP-EU)
Date (published): December 2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Climate researchers have developed a system that uses GIS, computers, and the internet to improve rainfall data management and information delivery to farmers in West Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is highly dependent on rainfall. More than 90% of the land is used for farming, very little of which is irrigated. Despite this reliance on rainfall, there are relatively few monitoring stations in the region that gather the data that farmers need to plan their seasonal cultivation processes. Even in areas where rainfall data are collected, several weeks can pass before the information is processed and made available in a form that is useful to farmers.

To speed up and simplify the data collection and management procedures, a team of researchers from the University of Oklahoma has developed a geographic information system (GIS) that monitors rainfall and its seasonal patterns. Known as Rainwatch, the system can also automatically generate visual representations of the data that can be easily interpreted by interested parties, including farmers.

The current version of the system is mainly suited for use by national meteorological services, and organisations such as the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) based in Niamey, Niger. These centres could rapidly process and share their analyses with the media, researchers, educational institutions and agricultural extension services.
There are already plans to expand the use of Rainwatch beyond Niger. Starting in 2010, the long-term plan is to develop it into a web-based application that would be available to anyone with internet access. It could then be used alongside other climate information initiatives, using radio or cell phones, for example, to deliver weather details to people in rural communities.
The researchers believe that Rainwatch can especially benefit national meteorological services by improving the automation of rainfall data collection and database management. The ability to produce easily interpreted charts and graphics increases the likelihood that the information is distributed to more people. These are critical features in reducing the time lag between collecting the data and delivering it to farmers, and providing it in a format to help them adapt to a changing climate."

Intelligence, trusted networks and double standards

Title: Intelligence, trusted networks and double standards
Author: Anahi Ayala Iacucci
Source: Diary of a Crisis Mapper blog
Date (published): 05/12/2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"One of thing that I found very useful when working on information systems in emergency situations, is to create privileged communication channels with the different actors by relying on trusted networks already present in the country or in between the humanitarian community.

For example in the case of Libya, we created 2 platforms that had 2 different types of information and therefore two different goals and targets. The private platform was to mainly inform the humanitarians about the situation on the ground, and had details and sources to make sure they could verify and do an evaluation of the reliability of the source (ultimately this evaluation was left to them, even if we did a preliminary verification of the information collected). The second platform, the public one, was for the general public to know what was going on in the country, and had no sources and no detailed information in it.

This is, I think, a very good example of the creation of different communication channels and different targets. The idea here is to understand the difference and to make decision based on the risks assessment and the possible outcomes."

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