Kerala dilly-dallying on open data sharing policy

8 years have passed after Centre passed the national data sharing policy; state government has the draft ready but hasn’t notified it
Kerala dilly-dallying on open data sharing policy

KOCHI: Eight years after the Central government introduced the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) and nearly two years after it finalised the draft, Kerala is yet to notify the open data policy.The Kerala Data Sharing and Access Policy (KDSAP), which will be applied to all data created, generated, collected and maintained by the state government entities and other institutions/agencies using public funds, is delayed apparently for no reason, it is learnt. The policy is expected to define specific levels or conditions of access, ranging from fully open access to limited access with permission, sources said.

Even as Kerala is dilly-dallying on the implementation of the KDSAP, at least 10 other states, including Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, have gone ahead and implemented the policy.

A senior officer of Kerala State IT Mission said: “We have finalised everything. We will notify the policy soon, may be as early as January-February 2021.” He said the delay was caused by other pressing issues including the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s just that our officers were busy with other more important problems.”The open data policy has several advantages including improving accountability through transparent sharing of data, avoiding duplication of government data sets through its reuse and increased confidence in data quality and increased usage. 

Right now, a large quantum of data generated using public funds by various organisations and institutions in the country remain inaccessible to the public, although most of such data may be non-sensitive in nature and could be used by the public for scientific, economic and developmental purposes, said the draft KDSAP. 

“It’s really perplexing and worrying that the Kerala government is delaying the final notification of the open data policy which will go a long way in bringing transparency and better policy making in future,” said Naveen Francis, networking engineer and open data volunteer. There has been an increasing demand by the community that data collected using public funds should be made more readily available to all for enabling rational debate, better decision making and use in meeting civil society needs.

“This may be seen as a welcome move as the governments are pro-actively disclosing the mandatory data sets to the public which, in turn, point to efficient sharing of data among data owners and inter- and intra-government agencies and with public calls for data standards and inter-operable systems and all will lead to call for a policy to leverage these data assets,” said the draft policy.The data policy facilitates coordination of guidance, generation, gathering, maintenance, and sharing of data among the users. It will also ensure the completeness and accuracy of information, besides encouraging adherence to data standards. 

Benefits of the policy
Improve governance by increasing transparency, tackling corruption, building trust and confidence in government
Empower citizens so that they can participate in government decisions in a better manner
Create new opportunities for citizens and organisations by encouraging innovation and promoting economic growth and job creation
Solve public problems by giving citizens and policymakers access to 
data-driven evidence
Power government digital services

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