Open data in Yemen

The Guardian is running an interesting piece on a Yemeni campaign for open data:

… one important and vital measure towards meeting those ambitious goals is to have the government open data up for public scrutiny. There appears to be a strong commitment to transparency from the new regime. But this commitment must be translated into allowing the public to access information on former and current projects, tenders, international agreements, loans and grants and many other areas. The government should start this open data initiative by inviting civil society, the international community and the media to access and widely publicise available data.

As in Egypt, many argue that Yemen’s transition process is being held back by corruption and opaque decision-making practices. Growing calls for open data will become particularly important as political elites prepare to draft a new constitution. At the last count, 57 countries have enshrined a right to information in their own constitutions. Yemen’s lawmakers would do well to follow suit. Although by no means a silver bullet for the country’s problems, effective freedom of information provisions would lay both practical and cultural foundations for the open system of governance that campaigners seek to establish.

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3 comments

  1. patlockley

    I do wonder, in an odd way, as we see with people now deleting emails and using personal accounts for work whether open data isn’t enough – there needs to be a co-requirement to document decisions and record meetings.

    If every meeting was recorded then you’d start to see a lot of interesting things (and by recorded – as in transcript).

  2. Troy

    When did we decide that civil society should lead governmental reform? That’s more of just a rhetorical question. Whatever the answer is, this is positive news. The next question that comes to mind is, what is the state of press in Yemen? What sorts of news is there on that front? It’d be interesting to hear someone like Tom Finn opine on the ability to use such transparency.

  3. patlockley

    I’m in no way anti-open data; just concerned as to the reaction to open data and recording governmental actions leads to a lot more off the record activities.

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