The India City Open Data Census is an ongoing, crowd-sourced measure of the current availability of the municipal datasets across India. It is run by Open Knowledge India and was conceptualized on the last Open Data Day (February 22, 2014). Any community member can contribute to the assessment of these datasets in their municipality at any time. Census content is peer-reviewed periodically by a volunteer team called the Open Data Census Librarians, within the Indian chapter of Open Knowledge.
Presently, the census has been conducted for 7 major cities â€” New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. We have presently the following aspects to rate their openness: Real-Time Transit, Annual Budget, Expenditure, Election Results, Air Quality, Transport Timetables, Public Facilities, Crime Statistics, Procurement Contracts, Food Safety Inspections, Traffic Accidents, Building Permits, Service Requests, Business Permits and Business Listings. Scores are given, taking into account a number of parameters that relate to different levels of openness. A few of the basic questions that are asked, while rating a given dataset, are: Does the data exist? Is it available in bulk? Is is machine-readable? It is openly licensed? Is it publicly available? Is it online? Is the data provided on a timely and up to date basis? etc.
The total number of existing datasets is 105. However, none of these is completely open and the percentage of open datasets found is zero therefore. What this means is that our governments have a lot of work to do and a lot of improvement is to be made to realize the potential of Open Governance in India. In many cities, like Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore and Mumbai, many of the existing datasets can be made open simply by presenting them in a machine-readable format. In other cities, the governments need to work harder, as the existing datasets for these cities lag behind on various parameters. In fact, many of the datasets do not even exist!
The Central Government of India and the Regional State Governments have overcome this issue mostly. Although, previously all datasets existed either as PDF or XLS formats, much of them are now in more machine friendly formats. However, the local governments have a long way to go, before we can have this sort of effect at the local level too. Transforming the existing datasets into machine-readable formats is the most important challenge that municipal governments face.
A much graver problem is that some of the cities’ datasets are outdated. This is another aspect that we need to focus a lot of our attention to. Further, we failed to find any data on a major head like Food Safety Inspections in any of the cities that we studied. As the census moves along further, we hope that issues like this get addressed with proper attention. Progress has been made already as we are working with governments at various levels to make the data open. One other field that needs our special attention is the visualization of data. Opening up data is one thing and making it meaningful to the general public is quite another. To that effect, we have initiated a Visualized Data platform. Presently, most of the visualizations that we have done relate to national, regional or state levels. In the coming days, we intend to include more and more visualizations related to the datasets from the local governments too.