I) What is India Open Data Association (IODA)?
The Indian Open Data Association (IODA) is an open data platform for promoting and supporting different open data initiatives. It’s an association of various Indian companies, enthusiasts, research institutes and academic departments, all with a keen interest in putting open data in the mainstream. It works on the principle cycle of:
IODA, as a platform, will collect data and make it publicly available to the people in an easy-to-use and understandable way that will generate awareness within the society and trigger an action to solve the problems which are of public interest. IODA, as an organizational structure will involve 200 members who are both individuals and organizations and are keen to work on the open data ecosystem in India. IODA will also offer the chance for a person to be an "associate member" as well. These members will play a critical role in designing the future path for IODA as well as in the decision-making process of different open data initiatives that IODA must undertake.
The IODA website has been designed to showcase how different ideas of IODA about open data projects have been effectively concertized onto the online platform. The website is not simply an online space that provides access to the different open data sets which are accessible in an organized and visualized format, but access to tools and methodology on how an open data project can be well executed and replicated for other topics, themes, locations etc.
II) Objectives of IODA
The objectives of India Open Data Association (IODA) are as follows:
- Create an online platform for showcasing the idea of open data and open data projects to the public.
- Provide an online space for different open data enthusiasts to come together and collectively engage in different open data initiatives either as a member or a maker.
- Interconnect different open data organizations together and provide them an online space to collectively design and implement different open data projects having a social impact on the society.
- Showcasing of information in a standard, easy-to-understand visualized format that can be replicated or reproduced in multiple other interactive formats.
- Provide a forum for a healthy discussion on various open data initiatives and its related topics.
- Perform the role of an information provider for various open data initiatives taking place in India and shaping up of the future open data markets in India.
- Provide access to knowledge materials such as documents on open data, know-hows of different open-data projects, toolkits and known people in the open-data market to create a healthy network.
- Create enough noise within the society through the information that can ultimately translate into a sound collective community action.
III) History of IODA
Over the last few years Juxt-Smart Mandate has been closely following the open data movement. However, it has never played an active role in it. JSM has only used open data sources when its clients required information for making certain important company decisions. However, the impact that open data had on the market and is currently creating in the Indian society has always intrigued and excited the JSM team.
Its first experience with open data was when was working with the National Informatics Center (NIC) in India on the Open Government Data initiative. That intervention helped in gaining a much better understanding of the value of open data within the society as well as the challenges in shaping it up for the public.
The moment of revelation came when some members of JSM participated in the MIT Kumbhathon at Nashik in June 2015. For the first time, they got a glimpse of what the entire concept and ecosystem of “open” was all about. The concept of "Open Sandbox Project" devised by Ulrike Reinhard, was adopted. Their particular sandbox was the Kumbha Mela. Together with a team of enthusiastic people participating in the Kumbhathon, signed up to achieve one common goal, i.e., to showcase the changes in environmental statistics occurring due to the sudden spike in the Nashik population by 10x times its usual rate. An open source hardware box was assembled, equipped with various sensors to make real-time measurements of the environmental status (factors such as dust SPM2.5 & 10, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, methane, and butane etc., UV, noise, temperature, pressure and humidity). The information was designed in a standard format and made open source for the community to decide the future course of development, through this information in hand.
This initiative in Nashik, helped in formulating an idea of creating an online platform which can help in initiating similar and different open data projects based on the open sand-box concept, for further commercial and non-commercial growth within the market through the information in hand and also to promote collective community driven action within the society against various issues (such as air pollution) vital to the public's interests.
Hence, the idea of India Open Data Association (IODA) was born.
III) Why IODA is Important?
Juxt-Smart Mandate during its experience with open-data, made some critical observations about the current situation of open-data market in India. These observations were:
- Most open-data projects have remained in the realm of making data open,i.e., making the information available. However, in terms of processing the information and organizing them in a standard visualized format, is where they lack. The pivotal tasks like visualization, data packaging in ready-to-use formats and sorting out complex legal issues haven't been figured out in the agenda.
- Except for various governmental open-data projects, most open-data projects have primarily been confined within the individual efforts of enthusiasts and data science practitioners. These projects have still not been able to grab the ‘mainstream’ attention in India, which they deserve.
- Open-data projects are barely sustainable, especially in the case of India. Most of the individuals, involved in the open-data projects, invest a lot of time and effort in it. However, at the end of the day they lack the resources required for the long haul. As a result, the projects collapse mid-way due to lack of sufficient funds.
- Lastly, open data projects are too often seen as a playground for big companies but not as a serious business proposition. In India, the idea of open-data market is still in its developing stage and requires a push to reach its next stage of evolution.
This is where India Open Data Association (IODA) comes in. IODA, as an open-data platform aims to offer the following:
- A well-defined online platform where multiple, different open-data initiatives can be launched and showcased in a standard, visualized format.
- A platform for providing information about various open-data needs within the society and the kind of open-data projects required to suit these needs.
- Inter-connecting different consumers of information with the potential creators of information to ensure a substantial degree of attention towards these open-data projects.
- A joint-collaboration between different open-data enthusiasts to function in a collective manner to achieve their respective common goals.
- Provision of technical expertise in the execution of open-data projects as well as know-hows and other necessary materials to further redevelop the open data initiatives or replicate them in other different regions.
- Creating an eco-system of open-data, where different sponsors and makers can come together and collectively carry out multiple open-data projects to fulfill the societal needs.
- Create new channels of revenue stream for the open-data initiatives, for their long haul.
- Promote different communities within the society to collectively collaborate and carry out necessary action for change and development of the society.