Dr Verma specified that by the democratisation of data, she means both improved access to, and understanding of, research and government data resources. Dr Verma provided a compelling version of the enormous scale of data being generated in the Indian context and its potential for research, enterprise and social good. She noted the current multiple impediments and barriers to data democratisation in India today: data resources commonly lie in silos, often in different IT systems, where they may have inconsistency in formats, definitions, and schemas. There is a need for seamless access by individuals via accessible platforms to bring together these resources for analysis.
Data democratisation also means removal of barriers to understanding data resources. Metadata description is important to promote description and help avoid misinterpretation. Further, Dr Verma argued, everyone ought to develop at least basic data analytics skills, to improve the accurate use and reuse of data in government, business and research.
Practical steps that can be taken to progress along the road to data democratisation were explained, including the role of policies for data sharing and access, and how they should encourage sharing by dealing clearly with privacy, ethics and security measures where necessary. As a powerful example of progress, Dr Verma also described the Indian national open government data portal, https://data.gov.in/, which has been developed to stimulate simple access for citizens to a large range of data resources, whilst giving providers – including government – the ability to stipulate access and use conditions.
Our speaker concluded by reminding the audience that if we start opening our own data, that can become a big game changer, and when open data is supported through policy, governance and easy access to analytics, data can help us by being leveraged for social good, helping enterprises and the country to grow and meet its sustainable development goals.
If you missed the live event, a video of the talk is available at https://www.youtube.com/
This talk was presented by the Pune Knowledge Cluster, the Indian National Science Academy and the CODATA India National Committee.