Context: The inadequate availability of credible public data in the public domain is adversely impacting the efficacy of measures taken to combat COVID-19.

More on News:

  • The dismal state of India’s data collection and processing system was highlighted by the recent upward revisions in COVID deaths in some states. 
  • Moreover, there are also allegations of under-reporting of cases.
  • This inadequacy has adversely impacted the government in tackling the migrant crisis and delivering an adequate stimulus package for the people.

The utility of Open Government Data:

  • It promotes transparency, accountability and value creation by making government data available to all.
  • Public bodies produce and commission huge quantities of data and information. By making their datasets available, public institutions become more transparent and accountable to citizens.
  • Further encouraging the use, reuse and free distribution of datasets, governments promote business creation and innovative citizen-centric services.

The situation in other countries:

  • 22 countries since 2015 adopted the Open Data Charter which calls for governments to disseminate public data in the public domain for achieving better policy solutions.
  • The rationale behind such a declaration is that data collected at public expense must be available to the public.
  • The data portals of Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. present district-wise COVID-19 cases data, and also the emergent effects on mental health, jobs and education. 

The situation in India:

  • Adoption of National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy in 2012 paved the way for declaring non-sensitive government data in the public domain.
    • The main thrust is to make available the government’s data in the public domain for planning, development and awareness.
    • As per policy, the principles of openness, transparency, flexibility and quality must be followed while the declaration of the data.
    • Data must be presented in an open digital format for dissemination and analysis while discouraging opaque formats like portable document format or image format.
  • As part of the policy, an open government data portal was launched in 2012 called
  • Although policies and portals are there but credible data is not available in the public domain due to which reliable model forecasts of disease spread were not generated especially due to lack of district-wise data.
    • Much of the Census and socio-economic data, publicly funded research data, and scientific data are either not open or rotting in unusable formats. 
  • Further data at various places is available in image format only which can’t be processed. Such half-hearted attempts throttle any possibility of data-driven research, innovation and useful outcomes.

Way Ahead:

  • According to the latest report of the Open Data Barometer, an independent group measuring the impact of open data, while nations like the U.S, U.K lead the pack while India is a contender to reach the top position.
  • The government must provide the impetus and incentive to exploit this voluminous data by invigorating the dated national data portal.
    • A start-up managed to create an app which allows users to check ticket confirmation prediction based on Indian Railways Data. 
  • The data must be shared keeping in mind the privacy concerns with an aim to create beneficial social impact.