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Data for Development: National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy

Data for Development: National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy

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"Reliable statistics are necessary not only for economic decision making. Democratic governments also have a responsibility to consciously promote information sharing policies, which make information more widely available. These policies must close the divides between the information-haves and the information have-nots. Our government has pursued the sharing of information as a public good."

- Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India on September 9, 2008

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It is well recognized that data produced by government agencies constitute a valuable and irreplaceable asset which should be managed in a way that encourages their widest possible use and re-use. Provision of reliable and timely official statistics is a vital responsibility of the Government at par with the provision of basic infrastructure to the public. To this extent data can be treated as a public good. Modern information technology has further enabled the citizens to have easy access to such data placed in the public domain besides speeding up the process of transparency in public affairs.

Keeping in view the emphasis of the Government on engaging citizens in Governance Reforms and the provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 (External website that opens in a new window) for empowering the citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authority, the Government of India adopted the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (PDF file that opens in a new window) (NDSAP). The National Policy notified in March 2012 will increase the accessibility and easy sharing of non-sensitive data amongst the data users and their availability for scientific, economic and social developmental purposes.

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  Why NDSAP?
Why NDSAP?  

A large quantum of data generated using public funds by various organizations and institutions in the country remains inaccessible to civil society, although most of such data may be non-sensitive in nature and could be used by public for scientific, economic and developmental purposes. There is a general need to facilitate sharing and utilization of the large amount of data generated and residing among the entities of the Government of India. This would call for a policy to leverage these data assets which are lying with various agencies.

The current regime of data management does not enable open sharing of Government owned data with other arms of the government nor does it expect proactive disclosure of sharable data available with data owners. Such regimes could lead to duplication of efforts and loss of efficiency of planning of activities focused on national development. Efficient sharing of data among data owners, inter, intra governmental agencies and with public calls for data standards and interoperable systems.

In September 1998, the Cabinet approved a proposal for a National Policy on Dissemination of Statistical Data. This for the first time enabled researchers to access the unit level data from different surveys and laid own certain parameters within which such data could be provided to the public such as confidentiality of individual respondents. Keeping in view the requirements of the time, the policy laid emphasis on licensed use of unit level data and the need for creating a single point access for all official statistics. The present policy goes much beyond the dissemination of statistical data and encompasses all data domains such as scientific data including geo-spatial data, administrative data besides officially compiled statistics.

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NDSAP Objectives

The objective of this Policy is to facilitate the access to Government of India owned shareable data and information in both human readable and machine readable forms through a network all over the country in a proactive and periodically updatable manner, within the framework of various related policies, Acts and rules of Government of India, thereby permitting a wider accessibility and use of public data and information.

Sources Of Data

The Policy is designed so as to apply to all sharable non-sensitive data available either in digital or analog forms but generated using public funds by various Ministries/Departments/Subordinate Offices/Organizations/Agencies (External website that opens in a new window) of Government of India. The NDSAP is designed to promote data sharing and enable access to Government of India owned data for national planning and development.

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  Benefits Of NDSAP
Benefits Of NDSAP  
  1. Uses
  2. Duplication
  3. Integration
  4. Ownership
  5. Decision
  6. Access

Maximising use

Ready access to government owned data will enable more extensive use of a valuable public resource for the benefit of the community.

Avoiding duplication

By sharing data the need for separate bodies to collect the same data will be avoided resulting in significant cost savings in data collection.

Maximised integration

By adopting common standards for the collection and transfer of data, integration of individual data sets may be feasible.

Ownership information

The identification of owners for the principal data sets provide information to users to identify those responsible for implementation of prioritised data collection programs and development of data standards.

Better decision-making

Data and information facilitates making important decisions without incurring repetitive costs. Ready access to existing valuable data is essential for many decision making tasks such as protecting the environment, development planning, managing assets, improving living conditions, national security and controlling disasters.

Equity of access

A more open data transfer policy ensures better access to all bonafide users.

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Features of NDSAP

The items excluded in the RTI Act will become part of the Negative List.

Negative List will be prepared by each Organization/Department/ Ministry/ taking into account the security, privacy, IPR etc.

The Negative List has to be constantly reviewed so that it is realistic and is intune with the technology.

No violation of any existing laws such as IPR, Copy Right and proposed Privacy Law.

RTI Act needs to be studied for the requirement of any explanatory notes.

Data Classification

Different types of data sets generated both in geospatial and non-spatial form by different Ministries/Departments are to be classified as shareable data and non-shareable data. The types of data produced by a statistical system consist of derived statistics like national accounts statistics, indicators like price index, data bases from census and surveys and administrative data flowing from statutory provisions. The geospatial data however, consists primarily of satellite data, maps, etc. In such a system, it becomes important to maintain standards in respect of metadata, data layout and data access policy.

Data Access

The policy defines the formats and role of users in accessing the Data.

 Open Access

Access to data generated from public funding should be easy, timely, user-friendly and web-based without any process of registration/authorization.

 Registered Access

 Restricted Access

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  Who will own the Data?
Who will own the Data?  

Data will remain the property of the Agency/Department/Ministry/Entity which collected them and reside in their IT enabled facility for sharing and providing access. Access to data under this policy will not be in violation of any Acts and rules of the Government of India in force. Legal framework of this policy will be aligned with various Acts and rules covering the data.

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Global Scenario

Globally several countries have the Open Data policy for sharing Government information free of cost. They have specialised Data Portals to distribute a portion of the data they collect. USA launched their open data through their (External website that opens in a new window) site which has now more than web site to provide data in a proactive manner as apart of open government initiative. Similarly, at launch, (External website that opens in a new window) has nearly 3,000 data sets available for developers. The UK government has been a big supporter of innovation built ontop of public data. The UK's data site also includes 22 military data sets at launch. Canada is alsoactively pursuing 'Government 2.0' making data available at municipal, provincial and federallevel.

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  Data Portal of India
Data Portal of India  

The Policy aims at the promotion of a technology-based culture of data management as well as data sharing and access. National Informatics Centre (External website that opens in a new window) (NIC) under the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (External website that opens in a new window) is responsible for providing the technology based data management through Data Portal of India (External website that opens in a new window). This portal is intended to be used by Government of India Ministries/ Departments their organizations to publish datasets, documents, services, tools and applications collected by them for public use.

The base Data Portal India is a joint initiative of Government of India and US Government. Data Portal India is also packaged as a product and made available in open source for implementation by countries globally.

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