Government of Telangana has launched four IT policies related to data on cybersecurity, data centers, data analytics and open data. Honorable IT Minister K T Rama Rao has announced the intention of separate sectoral policies through the launch of Telangana IT policy in the month of April’16. During the launch he stressed the importance of open data policy for the state. In his own words:
” Telangana will be among the pioneers in the country in coming up with this open data policy. The open data policy is the first step in opening up government data to a host of potential applications. The policy sets the necessary framework in place to operationalize the state open data portal. The policy has many enabling provisions in place for multiple stakeholders. Through this policy we hope to catalyze data and to make data driven decision making possible and development of important solutions for societal benefits. “
These policies were made after several consultations with industry, academia, civil society and various individual experts. Though the policies focus on individual sectors primarily, most of the elements are inter-linked with the common element of data. While the state government intends to foster its economy and business with the help of data, the open data policy focuses on enabling transparency and human development apart from economic development. Telangana, an IT rich state following open data practices will be a major boost for the ecosystem in India too.
We have been interacting with officials from Government of Telangana since December ’15, providing appropriate suggestions for the open data policy. Dileep Konatham, Director for Digital Media, Department of Information Technology was our esteemed panelist during discussions on Digital India at Open Data Camp Delhi ’15. Datameet will work with the Government of Telangana to help implement the policy with necessary suggestions for guidelines and community building over the coming months.
Links to the policies launched:
Sikkim was the first state to come up with its own Sikkim Open Data Acquisition and Accessibility Policy (SODAAP) on the lines of National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). Continuing to lead Sikkim is now officially the first state to have its own data portal we are really happy to see this development and hope more states follow. DataMeet has been carrying consultations with officials of Sikkim in framing the policy and helping them with workshops and insights to use the data. Honorable Member of Parliament Dr. Prem Das Rai has also been our keynote speaker during the Open Data Camp 2015 at Delhi sharing experiences about the on-going work in Sikkim.
As emails were being pushed about the launch of the portal on 15th July, we were alerted about sensitive data being published through the data portal by Abhay Rana. Two datasets on the portal had sensitive information like 1) name, 2) religion, 3) caste, 4) father’s name, 5) mother’s name, 6) gender, 7) birth date, 8) residential address, and 9) information regarding disabilities (if any) of school children, teachers with additional detail of marital status for the teachers. We alerted both NIC and the chief data officer in charge for the datasets to get them taken down immediately. Open data does not promote any sensitive information being shared publicly and it violates the very core principles. We applaud the quick response by the data controller in response.
It was an unfortunate accident that sensitive information not to be published under the policy was shared through the data portal. NDSAP along with SODAAP has mandates for every department to make sure sensitive information has restricted access and is not to be published. This incident is not the first where we encountered sensitive information was being published by government officials. Most of the times such information is in the public domain by accident or due to lack of awareness among officials about type and parameters available under the datasets. More incidents like this can harm officials from publishing further data and is a threat to the ecosystem of open data.
As more and more data becomes part of the public domain it is important that we all can work together to ensure that we do not violate privacy or put up sensitive data. More guidelines and frameworks are needed to maintain and report sensitive data which is already public.
We request you to bring to our attention if any sensitive information is being published under the pretext of open data. For now explore the new data portal and use open data to bring positive change in your community.
A draft government open data license has been released by the oversight committee implementing National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). This license will be ideally applicable to all datasets being shared under NDSAP and through Open Government Data Platform (data.gov.in) and has been visioned to support all government data for public use.
While we welcome the requirement for a license to share government data, the license oversteps its boundaries in certain clauses and restricts data rights of users and citizens accessing public data along with a clause for no warranty of data. It also transfers liability of accessing sensitive data to the user and grants impunity to the data controller releasing such data incidentally or accidentally. Our submission for draft consultation has been uploaded to my.gov.in . Please go ahead a do an upvote if you agree with our submission.
Other notable submissions are also being shared for reference.
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has recently launched its Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) in May’16. First announced in 2013, this was one of the systems most data enthusiasts in urban transport were eagerly waiting for. The system was designed to scale on paper and BMTC made sure the data rights of data being generated are with them instead of the contractor. Even with extreme planning, the system was delayed by 2 years and has several issues with it. Some of these issues have been highlighted to BMTC by members of datameet’s transport working group with suggestions to make it better in early June. Along with the suggestions we had several questions regarding the project, we have asked BMTC to help us understand the ITS system in a better way and expressed interest to be part of the Evaluation & Monitoring (E&M) of the ITS project. It is important that the project is closely monitored to improve public transportation for Bengaluru.
We also shared some of the previous work carried out by members of the group and suggestions to use open transport standards like GTFS, usage of openstreetmap data to reduce maintenance costs for currently using third party services like Google Maps which is not entirely free.
Members of datameet have been working on transport data of BMTC since 2010. Thejesh GN hosts static data of routes and schedules of various years through his project OpenBangalore. As a community of researchers, data users and enthusiasts we have been studying and experimenting with the evolution of data practices in India. Open Data is helping us be aware of our surroundings and also contribute back to the city in our own way. BMTC’s ITS implementation is a opportunity for most of us, we can potentially use GPS data to understand traffic patterns, rash driving of bus drivers, skipping of bus stops and trips. The ITS system will help the commuters more than ever if being utilized the right way. Open Data can help make this dream a reality by letting any commuter analyze his ride. Officials of BMTC has made announcements of bringing up a data sharing policy on the lines of National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). In this regard we requested them to host a public consultation for their draft data sharing policy. We hope we can help BMTC and Bengaluru in a better way by bringing a policy suitable for all commuters and not just data users.