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WEEKLY OVERVIEW

Africa makes inroads on open development data

New statistical and open data platforms are being set up to remedy long-standing challenges of development data access across Africa, promising to improve services and increase transparency. Open data on developing countries can be used “to improve the efficiency and coverage of public services in a variety of development sectors such as education, health, transport, energy”, says Amparo Ballivian, a lead economist at the World Bank. Open data can also help generate new businesses and therefore job opportunities, and improve transparency, adds Ballivian.

Open data and driverless buses: how London transport heads to the future

Vernon Everitt, TfL's managing director for customer experience, claims London is a global leader in its open approach to data, with live information shared freely with developers, around 6,000 of whom have registered to take feeds from the Tube and roads control rooms. This has not only led to an array of brilliant apps for passengers, but their use has helped TfL monitor shifts in demand as passengers monitor information about the whereabouts of their tube trains, Boris bikes and buses, in a way that suits them – not just going to the TfL website, he said, adding that the website has been used by around three quarters of Londoners to check on their journey.

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails.

Festival shows the promises and perils of open data

Governments and big businesses want information to be free, but how will it work? A Berlin festival last week cast a friendly but critical eye over the idea. From science journals to research data, there is a movement towards setting data free for everyone to use. It is a fine idea, but how we get from A to Z is quite another issue.

Open data, crowdsourcing, and sharing economy tech take on new roles in disasters

In a disaster, figuring out what technology you have still works, how long it will work, and who knows how to use it is precious information. The idea of "disaster tech" is a vocative of that notion: what works when nothing else does? Last week, at a forum convened by the White House to share commitments from the private sector and to demonstrate data-driven innovation to helping people and disasters, I was reminded of that need.

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