Data transparency project launched in Yangon


YANGON — Innovation hub Phandeeyar on Tuesday launched an open data portal to encourage transparency and improve decision-making, as part of a Mekong-wide project.

Phandeeyar program manager Ko Thet Aung said the Open Development Myanmar site aims to use information and technology to promote development and support Myanmar’s transition process.

“If people have access to data and know how to use it, then they will have the opportunity to make better decisions,” he said.

Thet Aung said the site was developed over the past seven months in consultation with teams from around the region.

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“This is a platform … where people can easily get information about the Mekong region, including Myanmar,” he said.

As well as data, Open Development Myanmar also features maps, visualisations and profiles. A news page compiles media reports about Myanmar from a range of sources.

Thet Aung said the site was a work in progress and the Phandeeyar team planned to enlarge its sources of data over time.

Ravi Chhabra, a former adviser to the Myanmar Computer Federation and a researcher in the open data movement, said Myanmar should prioritise a “data production” law before enacting freedom of information legislation.

If a freedom of information law comes first, he said, it would be difficult to implement and public confidence in the law could be undermined.

“Widespread use of open data can improve management and decision making, particularly on the economy,” he said.

Nyi Lynn Seck, a member of the Myanmar Computer Professionals Association’s executive committee, said the collection and distribution of data about Myanmar had previously been very difficult.

In particular there were few resources online. But with a concerted effort, that could soon change, he said. “I am very to see people get involved in improving access to data in our country and always welcome those people who want to help,” he said.

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