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Local media take lead in Open Data

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY WINFRED KAGWE

Many internet users will narrate how frustrating it is trying to get specific information on Kenya from the net without success.

There is a serious shortage of data on Kenya and trying to gather conclusive and updated information on business, agriculture, education,administration, health or many other topics is a real challenge. Despite heavy investments in making sure there is enough bandwidth to support such data, Kenyans have probably lost countless opportunities due to shortage of information. There is also the challenge of having data that users can make sense of.

The World Bank, African Media Initiative and other concerned players like the Kenya ICT Board, iHub Research and iLabAfrica undertook an incubation programme to help accelerate the ability for public to make sense of data and galvanise engagement around public issues. The programme, dubbed Code4Kenya, saw three media houses and a civil society group develop Applications and service platforms that would ease access to vital public data.

StarHealth:(http://health.the-star.co.ke)

The Star developed StarHealth dashboard, an interactive website that works for the journalists as much as it serves the general public. The dashboard provides data visualisation of health-related data so users easily understand the latest and largest health industry issues.

The data application will allow users to search for registered doctors, services available in which facility, National Hospital Insurance Fund covers among other health related issues in their respective counties.

The dashboard has an open data repository powered by the Open Knowledge Foundation's CKAN.

StarHealth plans to extend the interactive web application to a mobile SMS and possible as downloadable App in the near future.

Election data: (http:// elections.nation.co.ke )

The aim of this application by the Nation Media Group team was making information of elections available particularly digitisaion of past elections data .

The platform had three major components of Data Repository with simple visualisation techniques to help users interact with the data set. The Data Story which is a simple publishing system akin to Wordpress providing journalists with writing and publishing tools it also provides different types of infographics. The platform also has a Siasa API, an application programming which partly allow access to opinion polls.

The Nation developer plans to provide mapping tools on the platform and also come up with ways of monetising the platforms as a revenue stream.

County Safety (www.labs.code4Kenya.org/county_safety)

The Standard team developed this platform aimed at consolidating available crime data in to a visualisation to identify key crime areas. They used their stories library to convert the information into data sets and categorised crimes according to the county it was reported. The service uses an intensity map to communicate nationwide trends but also uses graphs to show trends for every crime category.

Find my school (www.findmyschool.co.ke)

The web platform for parents to compare schools on various metrics which was developed Twaweza group.

Parents experience difficulty in sourcing information on schools' past performance in the country. This application makes this possible and also provide a simple solution that makes it easy for parents to find where their children can get admission based on their current performance.

The website will soon include data for both KCPE and KCSE examinations going back to 2006. It is also exploring which elements of the website can be made available via mobile phones.