(GIS) – A data revolution has begun in Saint Lucia with the launch of the Saint Lucia Open Data portal.
The open data process started some four years ago as part of the World Bank Open Data in the Caribbean initiative, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The online data repository, data.govt.lc, is being spearheaded by the Department of the Public Service, and ensures that all government-owned data, which does not contain personal information or create a threat to national security, is made freely available in an easily reusable format.
Sheila Hyacinthe-Imbert, is the Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Department of Public Service.
“If data is truly gold as is widely proclaimed, then the Saint Lucia Public Service is sitting on a proverbial gold mine,” she said. “The data is now available at our fingertips, in one location. This is, however, not the end. We look forward to not just working to ensure that Saint Lucia’s data becomes a useful tool, and a symbol for our government of ICT advancement, but we also look forward to continuing our partnerships in carrying out activities to nurture the open data eco-System in Saint Lucia.”
Anat Lewin, head of the World Bank Open Data Team, commended the Government of Saint Lucia on this latest accomplishment. According to Lewin, not only can open data create advantages in government transparency, but it can also be a driver of economic growth.
“This is our hope for Saint Lucia. Open data is part of that overall data revolution and it’s a stepping stone to some of the data-driven technologies that are over the horizon.”
Resident British Commissioner, Steve McCready has described Saint Lucia’s Open Data Policy as ground breaking in the OECS. Mr. McCready believes that the Saint Lucia Cabinet should be acknowledged and thanked for adopting an Open Data Policy for Saint Lucia. The Open Data Policy Document was adopted last November, and determines how publicly available data shall be treated.
“I am delighted that there has been very meaningful buying in of the portal at all levels of government. This high level policy agreement is not only groundbreaking in the OECS but it’s a vital component in ensuring that the portal has the foundation and political backing that needs to deliver what it was actually built for.”
At the heart of the Open Data Project, Mr. Mc Cready noted, is the commitment to transparency.
“An understanding the basic principle of a democratic government purpose is always to serve the best interest of the public; an understanding that a government who is fulfilling this mandate should not fear transparency and accountability but welcome it; and an understanding that accessible data to other government departments, to other international institutions like OECS and CARICOM, to the press, to business, but most important to the public at large can deliver many intrinsic benefits.”
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Hon. Bradley Felix, has called on government agencies to take full advantage of the Open Data Portal.
“Open data has become a symbol of good governance, transparency and improved public service. In 2015, we ranked 66 globally out of 114 on the open data barometer. We scored 14.65 percent while the average for the region is 31.4 percent, so we are quite below the regional average. In 2016 we ranked 87. This launch today is a demonstration of our commitment to our open data programme and to improving.”
Following the launch of the Open Data Portal, the World Bank Open Data Team conducted a three-day technical mission in Saint Lucia from June 11-13. The main objective of the mission is to discuss among other things the governance and sustainability of the Saint Lucia Open Data Portal.
The portal was launched on Friday June 8.