The National Open Data Portal comprising one hundred datasets encompassing 20 categories, was launched today by the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, in the context of the Open Data Initiative for Mauritius during a workshop at the Holiday Inn Resort, in Plaine Magnien.

The two-day workshop, focusing on Open Data Programme and Institutional Support for Open Data, is organised by the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation in collaboration with the National Computer Board. Around 100 participants mainly members of the Open Data Teams of Ministries and representatives of parastatal bodies dealing with datasets are attending. The resource person is Mr Gavin Chait, Lead Consultant, Whythawk, who will make a presentation on the theme ‘The Open Data Professionals’. A second workshop on the same topic is scheduled on Friday 27 April 2018 for Advisers on Information Matters of Ministries and journalists.

In his speech Minister Sawmynaden stated that while the 100 datasets launched is quite significant in number, it is also a starting point for an exciting journey forward so as to attain the set objective of making available 1000 datasets, over a period of one year, by enlisting the active participation and contribution of each and every one.

He recalled that, over the past two decades, Information and Communication Technologies have evolved at an accelerated pace, transforming societies, cultures and economies. In the past few years the world has witnessed the emergence of Social Media, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Block chain and the Internet of Things. These technologies have managed to deeply transform the lives of masses of people, including Mauritian citizens, he said.

According to Mr Sawmynaden, practically everyone is online today with pervasive WIFI and mobile technologies driving the broadband revolution in Mauritius. This is true even for those who live in places where fixed line connectivity presented insurmountable challenges only a few years back and this has prompted many experts to term our age the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution, he pointed out.

Speaking about Open Data, the Minister said that Government, conscious of the transformative power of open data, embarked on an Open Data Initiative in 2015 with the formulation of a National Open Data Policy in April 2016. Even though it is difficult to predict the future one thing is certain and that is Data is the new oil, he said adding that it is inconceivable today for any organisation to make decisions which are not based on concrete data.

He observed that the organisations which will succeed in the coming years will, most probably, all be data-driven organisations and this is true not only for private companies but also government and parastatal bodies. The Mauritian Government acknowledges this paradigm shift and is coming forward with a number of initiatives in the data space at various levels. Some of these initiatives focus on laying the ground for data-based policy making, some around personal data privacy and cybersecurity, he added.

Open Data Initiative

In 2015, Government embarked on the Open Data Initiative, by developing the National Open Data Policy, and carrying out the Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA) with the assistance of the World Bank. Subsequently, Government approved the National Open Data Policy in 2016 and the Open Data Readiness Assessment Report in July 2017. The success of Open Data initiatives relies on the effort of each Ministry/Department and key parastatal bodies to release data as Open Data. The main objective of the National Open Data Policy is to create economic value out of the releases of Government datasets as Open Data.

National Open Data Portal

The Open Data Readiness Assessment Report identified a list of datasets that could be published on the National Open Data Portal which can be accessed on https://data.govmu.org/dkan/

The datasets were categorised as Quick Win, Priority or Longer Term. Among these datasets, some were deemed to be important in order to support citizen engagement in Mauritius as well as to promote Government transparency and accountability. They are: Public expenditure and budgeting data; Environmental data; Demographic data and socio-economic indicators; Health care data; Geographical and geo-spatial data; and Transport data.

Open Data is data which is provided in a machine-readable format and is the public dissemination of all or part of the information from a Knowledge Management system.

Source: Government of Mauritius