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All too often companies have only the vaguest idea about what kind of data they’re holding; because such data is very often hidden deeply away in a variety of databases and fragmented across different departments. We identify this data and bring it to light, making it visible, cohesive, comparable and easy to understand so that it really does support YOU in making the right decisions. And if need be, we can also identify any lacking data and define a concept to fill in the gap.

Over the last few years JSM has been closely following the open data movement. Thus far we’ve never played an active role in it, we’ve only used open data sources when clients of ours needed them for deciding on certain issues. However, the impact that open data was and is creating has always intrigued and excited us.

The first time we really got involved in open data was when we were working with the National Informatics Center (NIC) in India on the www.data.gov.in initiative. That intervention helped us gain a much better and clearer understanding of the value and challenges of open data. You can read some of our take-aways in the two articles below on iGovernment

iGovernment
and DNA, penned by our colleague Shyamanuja.

The four big observations that prompted JSM to start out on a long-term open data project are as follows:

  • Most open data projects have more or less remained in the realm of making data open, meaning making it available. The really tricky and difficult tasks like visualization, data packaging in ready-to-use formats and sorting out complex legal issues haven’t really figured on the agenda.
  • Apart from various governmental open data projects, most open data projects have primarily remained the individual efforts of enthusiasts and data science practitioners. At best they’ve been  a few good friends working together on an interesting and sometimes important problem and have yet to grab ‘mainstream’ attention, at least in India.
  • Open data projects are barely sustainable. Many individuals invest a lot of time and effort but at the end of the day they can lack the resources needed for the long haul. Very often it happens that one individual lacks all the required skills so it’s no wonder that projects frequently fold.
  • Open data is too often seen as a playground for big companies and not as a serious business proposition.

Our moment of revelation came  when we participated in the MIT Kumbhathon

MIT Kumbhathon
at Nashik in June 2015.  For the first time we got a glimpse of what the entire concept and ecosystem of “open” is all about. What one of our consultants, Ulrike Reinhard, calls open sandbox projects. Our particular sandbox was the Kumbha Mela. Together with a team of people we first met at the Kumbhathon, we all signed up to one common goal – to show the change in environmental data that occurs when suddenly the city of Nashik pops-up to 10x times its usual population. To this end we assembled an open source hardware box with various sensors make real-time measurement of the environmental status (including such factors as dust SPM2.5, gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, methane, and butane etc., UV, noise, temperature, pressure and humidity). We made it available in ready-to download, easy-to-use open data packages. Seamlessly. The same concept is now getting ready for roll-out in Delhi.

So now we are getting serious about it  we decided to go one step further and set up a legal framework,  the

India Open Data Association (IODA, pronounced as YODA).

 

KM_india_open_logo_grey_fin

 

The Indian Open Data Association is a cross-sectoral platform for promoting and supporting open data initiatives. It’s an association of various Indian companies, enthusiasts, research institutes and academic departments, all with a keen interest in putting open data in the mainstream. All members agree on the need for:

  • effective networking,
  • mobilising funds and manpower for projects,
  • improving capacities
  • and developing best practices.

IODA will function as an aggregator of past open data projects and as a marketplace for future ones. It will facilitate various stakeholders to find suitable partners and host the data (along with documentation) produced by such projects in return. IODA is being set up to actively seek, encourage, and support open data projects by connecting collectors of data with potential users and funders, and vice versa. Additionally, it aims to provide management support whenever  needed.

IODO is open for everyone. Any data published on our platform needs to fulfill the following requirements:

  •  all personally identifiable information is removed so data is anonymised,
  • all appropriate documentation, along with that of the collection process, is shared, and
  • open standards and open licenses are used.

The founding partners of IODA, which is a not-for-profit company, include many individual open data champions and people associated with the Centre for Internet and Society, the Centre for Culture, Media and Governance (CCMG) at Jamia Millia Islamia University, the Center for Marketing in Emerging Economies (CMEE) at IIM Lucknow and JSM. We are now at the final stage of putting the finishing touches to the legal paperwork and bringing the larger community on board as members. The platform will go live with a few showcase exhibits in the first quarter of 2016.

Mrutyunjay Mishra

I like to give a shout on Indian consumer behavior and I am a firm believer in data driven decision-making. I am the co-founder of JSM and responsible for new business and new ideas. I am blessed to have a lovely wife, three kids and two energetic dogs. I love to travel, read, watch movies and cook. I collect postal stamps and matchboxes.

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4 Comments

  1. Vishal Ramprasad
    April 15, 2016

    Hi Mrutyunjay,

    A really good initiative. My name is Vishal Ramprasad and I work with the World Resources Institute – a think tank focused towards emerging economies. We work on a piece to work with state transit agencies to open up their data to improve transport efficiency and as a consequence trigger innovation and therefore increase ridership.

    Is there a procedure to join the platform? I would be happy to register with the India Open Data Association and exchange ideas on the capabilites of Open Data.

    I am based out of Mumbai and would be happy to chat more on this topic.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Best,
    Vishal Ramprasad

    Reply
    • Mrutyunjay Mishra
      May 10, 2016

      Hi Vishal,

      Thanks for your interest.

      Please check the http://www.indiaopendata.com website

      Apologies for the delayed reply, for some funny reason the comments were landing in spam :)

      I am likely to be in Mumbai on 29th May or 6th June, if your calendar permits we can always catch up. I am writing you an email today.

      Thanks,
      Mrutyunjay

      Reply
  2. Arka Bhattacharya
    May 23, 2016

    Hi Mrutyunjay,

    Since you’re fighting for open data et all, can you tell me what the government’s stance on open data is?

    Also, I am from Bengaluru and I was surprised to find out that Karnataka, easily the most progressive state in terms of technology in India does not have an open data policy. I am also aware that states like Sikkim, Delhi have had calls for an open data policy and that in some of these states, an open data policy is followed. Can you shed some light on this?

    Regards
    Arka

    Reply
  3. Vishal Ramprasad
    June 6, 2016

    Hi Mrutyunjay,

    Apologies for the delay in response. I did not see your reply. I would be more than happy to meet you if you are here. I know it is a little last minute so alternatively we can speak on the phone at a convenient time. If you are in Mumbai for a few more days, I would be happy to meet you.

    Best,
    Vishal

    Reply

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