Opening Government Data through Mediation:
Exploring Roles, Practices and Strategies of (Potential) Data Intermediary Organisations in India

A study by Sumandro Chattapadhyay
Part of the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries research network
Supported by World Wide Web Foundation and International Development Research Centre, Canada

Introducing the Project

In early 2012, Government of India approved the first policy in the country governing proactive disclosure of government data, and especially of born-digital and digitised data. This National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) extends the mandate of the Right to Information (RTI) Act to establish policy and administrative support to enable informed citizenship, better decision-making and heightened transparency and accountability.

The open government data agenda and its implementation in India, however, remains still too young to make possible a study of its outcomes and impacts. This study, hence, explores not the outcomes of the NDSAP or the Open Government Data Platform of India as such, but the existing practices of accessing and using government data in India to understand what challenges this Policy and its implementations should respond to, and what available opportunities can be mobilised towards an effective open data agenda.

The study explores the actual practices around government data by various (non-governmental) “data intermediary organisations” on one hand, and implementation challenges faced by managers of the Open Government Data Platform of India on the other, so as to identify possible areas of policy modification, capacity building, community organisation, and alignment of efforts.

The proposed study aims to achieve the following goals:

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Papers

Two academic papers have been written as part of this study. The first was presented at the Seventh International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV) held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in October 2013. It has been published as part of the Conference Proceedings by ACM Digital Library. The second paper has been presented at the Eighth ICEGOV held in Lisbon, Portugal, in October 2014.

A third academic paper is in the process of writing.

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About the Study

The study was undertaken by Sumandro Chattapadhyay. It was mentored by Michael Gurstein; and was initially conceptualised by Sumandro and Zainab Bawa of HasGeek Media LLP.

It was funded by the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) research network managed by the World Wide Web Foundation and supported by grant 107075 from the International Development Research Centre, Canada.

Amitangshu Acharya, Anant Maringanti, Avni Rastogi, Chakshu Roy, Debjani Ghosh, Gautam John, Isha Parihar, K. Srinivasulu, Kiran Pandey, P.K. Bhattacharya, Prabhu Raja, Pranesh Prakash, R. Prabhakar, Satyarupa Shekhar, Sona Mitra, Suman Bhattacharjea, Sushmita Samaddar, Vinaya Padmanabhan, and Yamini Aiyar generously shared experiences and insights that formed the very basis of this study.

Neeta Verma, Alka Mishra, Durga Prasad Misra, and Nisha Thompson provided a rare opportunity to understand the open government data practices in India from great proximity, and continued to enrich the work through their suggestions. Tim Davies offered insighful comments and enormous patience, without which this study could not have been possible. The author is grateful to Shreya Ghosh for critical support.