India’s new initiative to create smart cities across the country has brought back to light the need for open and accessible data. Although the government legitimized the Right to Information Act in 2005, the data or information requested is usually provided only to the applicant. The establishment of an opengovernment data platform under 2012’s National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) is a step towards making some public data open to all, but does little to address data collected at the sub-national level.
Transport, for example, is governed at the state level in India. This means that there are no regulations in place encouraging the various agencies collecting data on traffic and public transport services to open data that could completely change urban mobility in India. Despite this, global examples show that these same agencies stand to benefit immensely by opening their data to the public.
Open data has the potential to spark innovation, encourage private and public collaboration, and make moving in cities more comfortable, cost effective, and convenient for all. It’s time for Indian cities to begin realizing this potential.