More data please...The changing landscape of open water data

After 2 years of its launching, the data project by the India Water Portal looks back at how government water data accessibility has changed since then

Data related to the water sector although available online was very scattered and inaccessible and did not reveal much on its own when India Water Portal (IWP), Arghyam started the data project with the aim of providing better ways of accessing and representing data related to the water sector. The process led to some interesting learnings, revelations and very positive outcomes.

We started by launching the Datafinder and  were happy to see that there was in fact a good amount of data online that people could access.  We went about the process of aggregating that data, mostly from government sources, in pdfs, and html tables. We thought that this was the best list we could get.  

The IWP Data Project's goal was to provide the water sector with better ways to access data and demonstrate by providing good examples of what data could do when made available.  We went about doing the arduous task of convertng pdf tables to excel, scraping data from websites, and in general asking people to submit data. 

While we were going through this effort on the civil society side, the Government of India too, went about a drastic change in how it looked at or viewed data and also provided data.

It was clear that the government was thinking what IWP was also thinking, that there had to a more open and accessible data culture.  The work that the government did to put in place infrastructure and reach out to citizens to understand how people used data was refreshing.

While issues still exist in relation to access to data, it is good that the government has become more positive and welcoming in engaging with this issue.  This was also apparent when we collaborated with Aidan Cronin from UNICEF to write a paper on Monitoring and evaluation of water and sanitation project. 

While it is easy to say that there are still many issues with access to water information in India, we have built solid bridges that have culminated with our collaborating with Aidan Cronin from UNICEF to write a status and advocacy paper on Monitoring and Evaluation of water and sanitation projects. 

There is much more to do, but now that there are more avenues to participate, it need not be such an arduous process.  I look forward to more engagement and efforts from the water sector data community to further improve access and quality of data. 

 

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