Cooking up an open data storm in Indonesia

A group of developers want to establish an open aid data hub in Indonesia to better track and hold its government accountable for the inflow and outflow of aid resources. Photo by: Jakub Krechowicz

What happens when you combine a huge community of developers and a developing country increasingly recognized as an emerging donor?

As Indonesia’s potential role as donor in the international development arena increases, the need to better track and hold the government accountable for the inflow and outflow of aid resources has never been so crucial.

This is one of the reasons why a group of developers want to establish an open data hub in a country — the world’s fourth most populated — where this movement is relatively new, Charles Brigham, founder of the Asia Knowledge and Innovation Lab and an advocate of social accountability in Indonesia, told Devex.

The initiative is still in the planning stage, but the people behind it are aiming for it to be a hub where government bodies, development actors and the IT community can interact, exchange ideas and collaborate in driving the idea of open government at home to tackle different development challenges in health, education, public finances and so on.

The goal is for it to be a technology hub, innovation incubator and research lab where different stakeholders (for instance, civil society groups, journalists and entrepreneurs) can receive training and advise on open data-related activities. There will be programs created to specifically build their capacities to effectively use gathered data in their reporting, research or business.

The hub also plans to provide small grants to social innovators and small CSOs for work in this area, as well as host various events such as hackathons or conferences on a range of topics. Examples of which are discussions on the technical and legal aspects of open data, or business opportunities in open government data.

“We think this initiative is an essential component in advancing open data culture in Indonesia, by balancing supply-driven initiatives with demand-side capacity building,” said Brigham.

“As Indonesia increases its foreign assistance to other countries, development partners that provide aid to Indonesia will need to change the way they operate [and the country] will likely receive less publicly funded foreign assistance from traditional donors. Yet the targeted provision of small amounts of resources and focused interventions — such as the Open Data Hub, triangular cooperation, etc. — can have a huge impact.”

The Web Foundation is now conducting a feasibility study on the lab — funded in part by the Ford Foundation — and it is expected to be up and running by the first half of 2014.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.