Today (July 4, 2019) the government of India released the Economic Survey 2019 (read here). What caught the eye for many was Chapter 4 ‘Data “Of the People, By the People, For the People”’.
It is good to see the Government of India has given the much-needed focus on Data. There are many companies in India who can build various interesting applications and create a huge impact in the country.
There are lot of use cases that can be built over private and open data. It is left to the creativity of the product manager to come up various use cases.
In the case of transport, Transport of London has demonstrated that releasing data to the public can save users time to the economic value of between £15m and £58m per year (page 86 of the report). Delhi Metro station has made hourly wise traffic data available.
Govt at times can prevent something good coming out of data. In Bengaluru, the silicon valley of India, the official BMTC mobile app was recognized to be as unreliable as their service and they went an extra mile to shut down a third party app which was built on BMTC’s open data! And I came across this useful app which can tell you how unpredictable your NY Subway commute could be!
DigiLocker is a great example of an app for the public good. They, however, depend on the reliability of data providers from various State governments for their service. I have been facing issues in importing the registration information of my car into DigiLocker.
Chapter on Data
Few points from the report,
- The marginal cost of data has declined exponentially and the marginal benefit to society of using this data is higher than ever. (Marginal Cost vs Marginal Benefit)
- People produce data about themselves and store this data on public and private servers, every day, of their own accord.
- A majority of the poor still have no digital footprint. Among those who do, the range of activities undertaken online is quite limited.
- Once processed, the cost of disseminating insights is negligible – it is nearly costless to transfer information through the internet. However, dissemination of data entails another cost – that of ensuring data privacy and security.
- With a huge amount of data being generated & shared, we have to give importance to privacy. The processing of data will be in compliance with accepted privacy norms and the upcoming privacy law, currently tabled in Parliament.
- The need for a Government-driven data is driven by – data becomes a lot more useful when it is married with other data, data needs to cover a critical mass of individuals/firms, data must have a long enough time-series so that dynamic effects can be studied and employed for policymaking.
- Data are generated by the people, of the people and should be used for the people. As a public good, data can be democratised and put to the best possible use.
- Citizens are the largest group of beneficiaries of the proposed data revolution. DigiLocker has benefited many users as it makes all their documents available, in a verified format, in one place on the cloud. The upcoming Account Aggregator will completely change the way data is shared with the consent of the owner/user.