Report: Businesses want more data on crime, public transport

According to a report, the private sector wants more data on crime statistics, as well as additional data on public transport, health care, public safety and education. — Reuters pic
According to a report, the private sector wants more data on crime statistics, as well as additional data on public transport, health care, public safety and education. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 ― The private sector in Malaysia wants more crime statistics, as well as additional data on public transport, health care, public safety and education, a World Bank Group report said.

The Open Data Readiness Assessment (ODRA) report also highlighted demands from businesses for more direct interaction and “data crunching” sessions with the Department of Statistics in order to better understand and trust the data.

“There is strong actual demand for various types of data from civil society, the business community and in particular from academia, but notably much less so from the media,” said the ODRA report released yesterday that was prepared by the World Bank with support from the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) and the Malaysian government.

According to the report, data journalism in Malaysia seemed to be much less developed compared to online developers’ communities and certain civil society organisations (CSOs) like Sinar Project that is working on projects related to government accountability.

“The press wasn’t regularly referred to as a potential data user by both government and nongovernment entities during the interviews. Online media, due to their diversity in comparison to traditional media, likely have the best starting point for using data,” said the ODRA report.

“Some CSOs, such as the Sinar Project, are very visible in their actual demand for open data seeking specific procurement, tender and budget data which are all in high demand for CSOs working on public financial management issues,” it added, though it noted that civil society in general seemed less developed in terms of their IT and data capabilities.

The ODRA report said existing demand in the academic and business community included currently unavailable high-value data, such as on health, maps, meteorological information, census and procurement, specifically more comprehensive information.

According to the report, government agencies decided on data requests on a case-by-case basis, which could lead to “significant” delays, and new requests were often required for subsequent use of the same data.

“A lack of clarity on the legal issues concerning data availability and publication, especially the different acts and regulations that apply to each department and agency, makes outcomes of data requests uncertain. Data requesters signal that the data made available regularly does not meet their expectations of desired granularity or comprehensiveness,” said the ODRA report.

The report said external stakeholders believed that data owners could better communicate the data they hold and the information they make available, noting that data owners generally do not publish data inventories.

“While acknowledging improvements in the open data portal, external stakeholders generally questioned the depth of understanding that government officials have regarding the role and importance of open data.

“Many external stakeholders indicated a lack of clarity on how to approach a data owner with a request. Knowing someone within the data-owning agency is seen as helpful to make sure a request reaches the right official and gets decided upon,” said the ODRA report.

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