Open Government Data for Inclusive Development

Chapter by F. van Schalkwyk and M,  Cañares in  “Making Open Development Inclusive”, MIT Press by Matthew L. Smith and Ruhiya Kris Seward (Eds):  “This chapter examines the relationship between open government data and social inclusion. Twenty-eight open data initiatives from the Global South are analyzed to find out how and in what contexts the publication of open government data tend to result in the inclusion of habitually marginalized communities in governance processes such that they may lead better lives.

The relationship between open government data and social inclusion is examined by presenting an analysis of the outcomes of open data projects. This analysis is based on a constellation of factors that were identified as having a bearing on open data initiatives with respect to inclusion. The findings indicate that open data can contribute to an increase in access and participation— both components of inclusion. In these cases, this particular finding indicates that a more open, participatory approach to governance practice is taking root. However, the findings also show that access and participation approaches to open government data have, in the cases studied here, not successfully disrupted the concentration of power in political and other networks, and this has placed limits on open data’s contribution to a more inclusive society.

The chapter starts by presenting a theoretical framework for the analysis of the relationship between open data and inclusion. The framework sets out the complex relationship between social actors, information and power in the network society. This is critical, we suggest, in developing a realistic analysis of the contexts in which open data activates its potential for
transformation. The chapter then articulates the research question and presents the methodology used to operationalize those questions. The findings and discussion section that follows examines the factors affecting the relationship between open data and inclusion, and how these factors
are observed to play out across several open data initiatives in different contexts. The chapter ends with concluding remarks and an attempt to synthesize the insights that emerged in the preceding sections….(More)”.