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India Launches Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 13 2013

On Thursday August 8 the Indian government launched an open data portal with more than 3,500 data sets from 49 different government offices. The website, Data Portal India (data.gov.in), has been compared to similar websites launched by the US in 2009 and the UK in 2010.

The information is free for anyone to access and use, and to encourage engagement the Planning Commission (the part of government that is responsible for India's Five Year Plans) has organized an app contest. Developers, entrepreneurs and start-up companies can submit entries to the #OpenDataApps Challenge up until August 20.

Earlier this year the Planning Commission sponsored a hackathon at multiple universities across India. It was India's first government sponsored hackathon.

More than 1,000 of the data sets on data.gov.in relate to agriculture. For example, the "State-wise recorded forest area of the country" or the "Gross irrigated area."

"Government is not the sole proprietor of data," Kapil Sibal, the union minister of communications and information technology, said at the launch event. "All forms of data must be shared, barring those that are important for security. There is also a responsibility on those who use and interpret this data. They must realize that it is for development."

The adviser to the Prime Minister of India, Sam Pitroda, said, "Today we have over 3,500 sets of data but in next six months we would like to see that this goes up to 10,000 data sets and we would like to challenge developer community to make at least 100 applications in next month to use this data."

The website also has six government created apps, including a map service and an app that shows rural sanitation coverage, a major problem in India.

The site was developed by the National Informatics Centre on Open Government Platform, an open source platform created by the NIC in India and the General Services Administration (GSA) in the US.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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