Kenya’s open data efforts have received tremendous attention since Kenya became the first sub-Saharan country to successfully launch a national open data initiative. The Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) has been celebrated, and also drawn its share of critics. Today, three years later, KODI is entering an exciting, new phase. Kenya’s ICT Authority is launching a series of three initiatives that will enable open data in Kenya to take a big leap forward.
The first step is increasing focus on ensuring supply meets demand for data in Kenya – and results in greater and broader understanding of important issues that matter to Kenya’s citizens. High value information for high priority needs. The ICT Authority is actively working with public agencies in Kenya to get the release of publicly important data that not only speaks to issues affecting people’s lives but also creates the possibility, and even pressure, to improve vital public services and infrastructure – and do it in a way that the public can more easily understand and engage with. As part of this, the ICT Authority is creating new visualizations that provide insights into issues that impact the lives and well being of Kenyans across the country – from health services and education to water access.
The first example to highlight is the release of a new dataset Water Point Mapping in Kenya on the Open Data Portal. We have not only opened data on the location and type of water points across the country and their functionality, but also visualized that data on a map to enable people—including officials—to quickly determine where boreholes or wells have failed and require repair.
This simple, easily understood map can have a potentially powerful and real impact. With that knowledge in hand—even in real time if data is available from the field—this dataset and map strengthen the ability of the government or even development partners to take action – and identify which communities need their water source points repaired most urgently.
In a second example, the ICT Authority recently created a new map that provides insights on the nationwide distribution of public and private health services in Kenya. Although the data has been available on the Open Data Portal for some time, now citizens can not only see the locations of various types of health facilities; they can actually see the disparity in access to public health services. In rapidly developing urban settlements such as satellite towns just outside the city limits of Nairobi, construction of public health facilities has failed to keep pace with a growing population and its equally growing demand for healthcare. As shown in this map of health facilities in satellite towns, private clinics (shown in purple) have sprung up out of necessity in areas like Kiserian where hospitals are missing.
Linet Kwamboka is the Project Coordinator for Kenya Open Data at the ICT Authority.
Arleen Seed is the Senior ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank’s Transport & ICT Global Practice.