Where Have All the Good Data Gone?

2013-02-03 14.18.03

One big problem that everyone seemed to have at last Sunday’s Hacks/Hackers New Delhi hackathon: finding good data sets about India.

Some friends dropped by from Google Open Data in Bangalore, who are doing cool stuff around building a data ecosystem in that city.  They suggested a few lists to add to the World Bank/etc lists that we already had.  But it wasn’t enough.  When I think about the treasure trove of data available in the US, it’s so much more robust.  And in order to create deep, informative data visualizations for news (or whatever) you need good data sets.

Maybe there’s a link between open data and good government, too.  Rudi MK summed it up perfectly when he said, “if we don’t become more transparent about our data, we [India] will be left behind.”  At least data related to public programs and development should be fair game.  Why is the Census data from 2011 so hard to find?  (Or am I looking for it wrong?)

Of course, a friend over at India Spend, India’s first data journalism initiative, said they get a lot of the data they need by knocking on government agencies’ doors.  Fair point.  I’ve been a journalist in India and I know that’s how you get all your info, from data to quotes.  But is that enough if we want to get more people working with this data?

Another tool – are we taking full advantage of RTI?  My friend Nikhil Pahwa over at MediaNama is working a ton of stuff through RTI, and he swears by it for pulling out some good scoops about digital media and news in India.

Interesting…anyway, despite that, people seemed to have a good time. Check out Pierre Fitter’s post for an example of the kind of data visualization that people made.

Shout out in the comments with data sets, suggestions, or opinions about what we should be doing with our data in India.


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