The ‘1991 Open Data Incubator,’ Ukraine’s first incubator for Open Data projects, was launched last week by SocialBoost, a tech NGO, in partnership with the Ukrainian government, Western NIS Enterprise Fund and Microsoft Ukraine. The incubator aims to create socially-oriented services and applications based on government open data. Its website is available only in Ukrainian.
The project is a contribution to improving the economy and state management, develop anti-corruption analytical systems while paying maximum attention to the local projects, stated Denys Gursky, founder of SocialBoost and government advisor.
The incubator will support projects in four directions:
- industry solutions for infrastructure, agribusiness and energy sectors;
- electronic services for citizens, essentially via public-private partnerships;
- analytical systems for government bodies;
- Smart Cities solutions for local authorities.
The program targets startups using open data from the state and corporate sectors. The first residents will be selected through a series of hackathons to be held next month in Kyiv, Lviv (Lvov), Kharkiv (Kharkov) and Odessa.
Participants will benefit from a free two-month incubation program dedicated to open data, government services, industry solutions based on Big Data, and other topics, as well as from a fully-equipped office in Kyiv (Kiev) center.
In 2015, the government took several steps to make government data publicly available. In May, the Ukrainian parliament amended the existing legislation on access to public information. In October, the government approved a resolution making no fewer than 327 state datasets open to the public.
“Now, it’s the turn of IT developers, analytical centers and journalists to build useful services and applications that help citizens and produce quality analytics,” said Anatoly Bondarenko, Head of Data Visualization at Texty.org.ua.
In 2015, Ukraine was ranked 54th among 134 countries in the Global Open Data Index, the Ukrainian government portal notes.
Who needs open data?
However, open data projects are still far from getting strong traction in Ukraine, many industry experts believe.
eData’s traffic is still very low, said Alexander Shchelokov of the Ministry of Finance.
“So far no one needs open data,” said Bondarenko. “To promote the concept of open data, we need to highlight success stories of working with a large number of government datasets, and to show successful use of open data by government offocials and civil servants,” he believes.
While the media show low interest in open data, legislation on access to public information still needs to be improved, notes Cityscale founder Alexander Prosto.
The law guarantees free access to public information, but requested data is not always provided, in particular in the regions. Certain state bodies are not interested in making data open for the public because they are not willing to work transparently.