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Telangana’s ‘open data’ policy to help start-ups address public issues

Information from various government departments is all set to become easily available online with the Telangana government’s new ‘open data’ policy. The move is aimed not only at transparency, but to also enable start-ups in the state to address public issues by finding solutions using the information online.

The state is the second one in India to have an open data policy, after Sikkim, Telangana’s information technology (IT) minister K.T. Rama Rao said earlier this week.

So what exactly does this mean for the state and its citizens?

For starters, it is being looked upon as a bridge between start-ups and the government to collaborate in a big way, said Dileep Konatham, director, digital media, department of information technology, electronics and communications.

“It can help us save expenditure and also innovate. The open data policy was developed along with others under the over-arching IT policy,” he added.

Post bifurcation of the two states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2014, it was realized that a lot of government decisions were not data-driven, said Konatham, and added that the Telangana IT department will decide what will go on the portal. A quick look at the page shows information from various sectors like education, power, livestock, law and order, transport, etc, in graphics and data sets, depending on the data one requires.

For example, the latest infographics/data uploaded on the portal show that there are 1.32 million old age pensioners in Telangana. It also shows that industrial, commercial and agriculture sectors occupy just 1.11 %, 8.95% and 15.89%, respectively, of the total electricity connections in the state, with 72.6% domestic electricity users taking the major chunk.

The collaboration with start-ups will also draw investments indirectly, if they come up with viable solutions, said Konatham.

To have a robust policy, the state government also roped in consultants who work on open data for feedback before finalizing the policy.

Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, founder of www.factly.in, an initiative that works primarily on public data, was one of the people who helped the Telangana government with the open data policy.

“Opening up of the government (to the public) is part of the larger paradigm of changing governance across the world and the Telangana government realizes the same,” he said.

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