Cape Town embraces open data - TechCentral

Cape Town embraces open data

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Image: Julien Carnot (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

In line with moves by other cities internationally, Cape Town has invited comments on a draft proposal in which it has set out plans to provide access to the public to the city’s data on an open basis.

The move could prove a treasure trove for developers wanting to build smartphone applications and services using the data.

The proposal says Cape Town wants to establish and populate a single online and open portal for data it’s generated and wants to make this free and accessible to everyone.

The purpose of open data policies such as the one proposed by Cape Town is to provide easy access to data that will give entrepreneurs, property developers and social organisations the ability to tap into the information to build applications and websites.

This can be used with great effect to increase the usefulness of public sector data and, by making it available, people can use the data in ways that support economic and social development, the city says in its draft proposal.

Cities and even national governments around the world have built websites that distribute some of the vast volumes of data they collect.

Cape Town’s public participation page notes that the city generates a significant amount of data that could be useful to residents. However, this information is often located in archives and other sites that are not easily accessible to the public, it says. “The city would like to create a portal that is user friendly and accessible, with information that is machine-readable to enable public access and use of this data.”

The draft proposal says that enhancing transparency will allow residents to hold the city to account. Cape Town hopes the move will create an environment that attracts investment and generates economic growth and creates jobs.

Open data policies have been implemented with great success in cities such as New York, San Francisco and Helsinki. The UK government has also launched a portal to provide open data access to British citizens.

Those interested in commenting on the city’s draft proposals will have to do so quickly. The deadline for submissions is 30 June. The city has not indicated if it will extend this deadline. A spokesman was not available immediately available for comment.  — © 2014 NewsCentral Media

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