National Open Data Portal of Tunisia
The National Open Data Portal is a single access point for all data produced by public institutions for the purpose of :
- Complying with the provisions of the organic Law on access to information in its section on the proactive publication of public data in open format;
- Promoting the reuse of public data to stimulate innovation and the creation of new value-added services aiming to enhance the economic growth; and
- Strengthening the transparency and integrity of governmental activities.
The National Open Data portal is a unified repository of all public data published in open format. It centralizes the data manually fed via the back office of the portals of several government entities and other sectoral open data portals.
The main goals of this platform are to:
- Improve the citizens empowerment and activate their participation in public affairs;
- Enrich the analyzes and researches specially in the academic field;
- Improve the quality of public services and create new services in compliance with citizens needs
- Develop new innovative services by the private sector (startups, developers,...);
- Improve strategic decision-making
The beneficiaries of this initiative are various, including citizens, private sector, academia, media and civil society organizations (CSOs).
Planned measures for the future: In order to sustain and institutionalize the open data publication process by public authorities, and to establish an ecosystem in favor of the innovation and economic development, an open data Decree is being drafted by the Tunisian Government. This decree will provide the governance model for the national open data program, and will define associated technical standards.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The development of this portal contributed to the establishment of a whole Open Data ecosystem in Tunisia. Indeed, the platform allows developers through APIs to automatically use published data sets to develop applications and services. It also offers the possibility of highlighting the reuse cases created based on these open data. Moreover, this platform emphasizes the principle of "open by default" and the free access to public data, which open new possibilities for civil society and small businesses to engage in new projects.
The platform is an impactful tool in the framework of Tunisia's efforts to promote a more open government, by addressing concrete problems such as:
- The opacity of public structures linked to the low level of disclosure of public data and information on government action.
- The insufficient availability of structured and open format data. An issue which hampers the innovation through the reuse of public data, especially by startups and developers.
Collaborations & Partnerships
In the framework of collaboration between Government and civil society, various activities have been achieved, such as the organisation of several workshops and training sessions on the concept of open data, building technical capacity, in addition to promoting the national OD program. Moreover, various open data portals have been developed in this context such as the OD portal which are harvested to the national portal. Also, several Hackathons have been organised by CSOs based on public data sets published by this portal.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Citizens are considered as the main target, given that applications and services developed based on OD are oriented to address the needs of the public. He could have an overview about public policies and government actions. The dissemination of government information in an open and standardized format will allow public structures to effectively manage the cycle of public data production. It will improve data quality and facilitate the access to it. Furthermore, these datasets can be used by start ups and IT companies to develop projects.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
1/Concrete results, outcomes & impacts include :
- Existence of the National OD portal in two languages and data sets are published in Arabic and French and publication of about 1200 datasets through it by 37 public providers (ministers,...),
- From September 2016 to May 2019, around 27000 users have made use of the national portal (20500 users and 25000 sessions for the arabic version, 6000 users and 7000 sessions for the french version),
- Development of 7 sectoral Open Data portals,
- Establishment of an assessment grid used for the monitoring and evaluation of OD portals,
- Development of a public data inventory project with 6 ministries
- Organisation of Hackathons aiming to use public datasets (Onshor Hack, Mapathon Hackthon,)
2/The next measures include :
- Organizing training sessions
- Adoption of the Open public Data Decree,
- Complete the implementation of the public data inventory project.
Challenges and Failures
- Need to raise public awareness on the existing data structures at the initial stages of the project to promote a larger involvement of the public. The initiative faced challenges as there was a general lack of knowledge about the OD concepts and standards in the country. To resolve this issue, several workshops and informational sessions have been organized to build knowledge and capacity around open data and to promote the use of the National OD portal. Given the weak capacity of the administration in some cases, civil society contributed to the arrangement of forums and workshops.
- Lack of financial and human resources dedicated to manage this project, given the absence of a budget allocation in the State budget to ensure this component. Currently, the international cooperation is being used to set up some activities related to OD (training, awareness-raising workshops, drafting a communication plan on OpenGov and Open Data)
Conditions for Success
The leadership, guidance and high-level political commitment have been key success factors of this innovation. The involvement of civil society in this approach has also been an important enabling condition for the initiative's success. Moreover, the existence of a legal framework on access to information (Organic Law Number 22 of 2016) and the acknowledgments of the right to access information in the constitution form the enabling conditions to support the National OD portal.
Several open data portals (7) at the sectoral level have been developed as of 2018, for sectors on cultural affairs, transport, agriculture, municipalities and local affairs. The creation of an open data ecosystem in Tunisia will enable the establishment of a new economy based on data reuse and innovation. It will also allow public entities to harness the power of new technologies through the development of new services and applications.
The success of the Tunisian experience is due to the adoption of a practical approach of "learning by doing". Indeed, the national OD portal was the second version of a simple website developed in 2012. The first step was the coverage of the technical aspects of OD. Afterwards, Government reflections were focused on covering the technical, institutional and organizations aspects related to the open data field. In this context, several projects have been launched to enhance the Open Data ecosystem, for example the establishment of sectoral OD portals, the drafting of legal framework of OD, the elaboration of a national Open Data action plan. In addition, the involvement of the civil society in this approach contributed to the success of the project. As a result, the publication of data sets in the national portal takes into account the users' demand (CSOs and citizens).