Laksiej Lavončyk | Open Data in Europe and Central Asia

Freelance media consultant having worked with all major organizations in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. My specializations are promotion of technological solutions for transparency and empowerment of civil society and other players.

Freelance media consultant
Freelance media consultant

1. Why did you start working with open data?

Open data are full of opportunities to empower all players in the country – NGOs, media, commercial organizations, state officials. Having data in one analysable format allows all players to see potential opportunities for development of their projects and make their work more efficient, both timewise and financewise. Open data allow to see into the structure of expenditures seeing how they can be optimized in order to maximize return per unit. They allow to better present the country, region, enterprise to foreign and inside-the-country partners, stakeholders, clients.

They allow to build on them visualizations of data which attract 50 and more percent more visitors then a regular article or presentation. In other words, they 1. allow getting a better picture, and 2. really help attract partners, investors, stakeholders, which hate absence of transparency.

I believe Belarus is a regular country without any mythical “third way” that has everything yet in front of it, so open data may well help on this road.

 

2. What is one achievement you are proud of?

I am happy that we managed to promote one open data publishing standard to all groups in the society – and here I am talking about media, state agencies, NGOs of different kinds, commercial companies.

It was believed that open data are not beneficial to anyone except for a small groups of media and NGOs that are willing to expose the flaws of the state and they really need these technologies. It was presumed that motivation of this groups runs counter to motivations of other groups and open data will never become popular and ubiquitous. Well, they indeed are limited a small group of organizations and groups, but contrary to expectations, we see willingness of state agencies and commercial companies to emprace openness data would bring – with time, but we see the changes. Of course it is moving very slow, however it is moving, and I am happy that it is happening.

 

3. What is the next step for you?

The next step us is making one publishing standard a ubiqitous thing, so that every data provider in the country publishes their data reports in a format that may be downloaded into an analytical software and assessed instantly. The next step will be to organize meetups, labs, lectures, or other training events for those who will want to work with data which already have been formatted.

As you see, one thing is to bring everything into one format – e.g. make data available, and the second thing is to teach different organizations and agencies to work with these data – analyse, visualize, make reports, make presentations, etc.

We have started developing mobile applications permitting to submit data, make visual and physical measurements of e.g. subway passages and submit these measurements into dataset that accumulates info for accessibility projects. We have an app allowing visualization of data on budgets – i.e. a person selects a dataset containing budget info, form an app, and plays with it. It may then be published on FB or in a blog – given that more and more Belarusians are keen to work from mobile devices, we need mobile tools of this kind.