0 The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a multi-stakeholder initiative bringing together bilateral and multilateral donors, partner countries and civil society to enhance aid effectiveness by improving transparency and making information about aid more available and more accessible. At the heart of the IATI proposal is the development of an aid information standard, including an agreement that donors, and other actors, will publish information about what they are funding in a consistent way, in an open format.
0 In the past few years there has been growing recognition of the value of ‘openness’ – in relation to software, content and data. In recent months there has been a spike of interest in the last of these, open data. In the US the Obama administration has placed great emphasis on openness in government – creating a new ‘data.gov’ portal to allow citizens to access and re-use official data. In the UK Gordon Brown has asked Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, to help open up UK government data.
0 Why does this matter? The recent spate of interest in openness has not only been about accessibility, but also about re-usability. New internet technologies allow NGOs, companies and interested citizens to make compelling web applications and services based on official data. By making their data open, public agencies allow citizens to re-use official data in new ways – from generating interactive visual representations, to creating better services based on the information, to connecting more datasets together so we can ask and answer more complex questions.
0 Similarly in the context of international development, sharing aid information more effectively will ultimately enable stakeholders to build up a richer picture – by allowing more information to be aggregated and by allowing innovation in the way this information is represented and queried.
0 This paper looks at what publishers of information relevant to international development (NGOs, government agencies, research bodies, …) can do to make their knowledge assets open. In particular it focuses on legal and technical measures that publishers can take in order to make it easy for others to re-use the material they publish. It also makes a series of recommendations towards the development of a standard for publishing aid information.