After more than an year of its announcement, looks like the Indian government has finally launched data.gov.in (hat-tip - @paraschopra ) in open beta. The site allows the Government of India Ministries/ Departments and their organizations to publish data-sets, documents, services, tools and applications collected by them for public use, in order to make government functions more
transparent. As we reported earlier, the portal is a joint initiative of Government of India and US Government, and will be on the lines of the US government’s open data initiative, data.gov. The US team of the General Services Administration developed the Data Management System module and India team of the National Informatics Centre developed the Website, its Content Management System and the Visitor Relation Management module. The two teams had launched the Open Government Platform (OGPL), an open source version of the US’s Data.gov platform, in March. We had reported that the data.gov.in site was in closed beta, at that point in time.
Accessibility: The website claims to have been tested for compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA and Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) using a technical standards check-list, testing with screen readers, policy experts, and person with disabilities.
The Data.gov.in platform will offer a module for contributing data catalogs by various government agencies for making it available on the front end website after a due approval process through a defined workflow. It will also have a Module for managing and updating various functionalities and content types of the National Data Portal frontend, and a module for collating and disseminating viewer feedback on various data catalogs.
Presently, the site offers 13 sample raw data-sets, 4 sample high value data-sets, with data from seven Ministries/Departments. The site also offers 4 apps from 4 government departments, including apps from ISRO, CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) and Indian Railways/IRCTC. The data is also being offered as a separate download at Open Source Code Sharing Platform “GitHub”.
- Data-Sets: The site offers data-sets in searchable catalogs, available in XML, Text/CSV, KML/KMZ, Feeds, XLS, ESRI Shape file formats, among others. Data is searchable by category, agency, keyword, and/or data format. Each data-set has a meta-data page, where users can see details about the data, the issuing department/ministry, metrics, ratings on quality, accessibility, and usability, and comments, in addition to offering a code to embed it on a web page. The page also allows users to send feedback to the department. Sample data sets available at this time include data on MBA institutes in India, classified on the basis of region, state, district and its number in totality in each district, number of AICTE approved Post Diploma Institutes in India, and data on MNREGA, among others.
- Apps: The site also offers apps from government departments for end-users/citizens. These are also offered via meta pages similar to data-sets with a download or access link. Among the apps listed at the time of writing this post, Pocket Bhuvan, a geospatial app from the Indian Space Research Organisation is rather interesting. It’s like Google Earth, with specific emphasis on Indian Region and showcases Indian Imaging Capabilities in Multi-sensor, Multi-platform and Multi-temporal domain.
- Data Metrics: The site also offers department wise and category wise metrics and visitor statistics for data sets and apps.
- Communities: The site also features Communities allowing users to share views and interact under the heads – Energy, Education, Rural, Health and Agriculture, in addition to a dedicated community for developers. According to the site, agencies, organizations, or individuals can share the mashups they have created using datasets from the catalog with the Data Portal India community, through the Developers corner.
It’s indeed a good start, and we expect more government departments to share extensive data sets in the coming time. We feel that the navigation, and search capabilities of the site are good, making it user friendly. However, there were some dead links in the apps section. So we hope that the NIC takes care of keeping links and data up to date. We had discussed the use cases and challenges in maintaining such a platform, you can read them here.