Open Data Policy
His Majesty’s grand vision of transforming Oman into a sustainable knowledge based economy began with setting the economic vision for the Sultanate towards the year 2020 to which the Digital Oman Strategy, endorsed in March 2003, contributes in terms of developing the Oman Digital Society and e-Government.E-Government refers to the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a tool to achieve more efficient government processes, higher quality of public services, and higher citizen engagement. As government agencies transform their process and public services into e-services, they produce, maintain and update huge amount of data electronically. The term ‘Open Data’ describes the concept that this data should be made available for public to access, reuse, and redistribute without any restrictions.Open Data policy provides the basis for public participation and collaboration in the creation of
innovative, value-added services.
1.1 What is Open Government Data?
Open Data is data that can be accessed, reused, and redistributed by anyone, for any purposes, including commercial reuse, free of charge and without any restrictions. Open Data refers to datasets that are held in government databases.
1.2 Dimensions of Open Government Data
Government agencies such as ministries, municipalities, and other government authorities produce, maintain and update huge amounts of data. Some examples of data include:
- National statistics,
- Budgetary information,
- Geographical data,
- Laws and Regulations, and
- Data about education and transport.
Most of this data could become Open Data.
There are some kinds of government data which cannot be treated as open data. Exceptions are as under:
- Personal data, that is, data which contain information about specific individual.
- Government data which is classified as sensitive. For example, for reasons of national security.
Establishing a culture of open data, and applying the right policy settings from when data is first generated or collected, has been shown to deliver benefits to communities and economies across the globe. The eOman Strategy demands and prioritizes open data; and this Policy aims to assist government agencies across the Sultanate of Oman in embedding open data principles in their operations. The purpose of this Policy is to:
2.1 Scope of Applicability
- Make explicit the Sultanate of Oman Government’s commitment to open data;
- Help agencies in understanding community and industry priorities for open data;
- Simplify and facilitate the release of data by Government agencies in Sultanate of Oman;
- Create a practical policy framework that enables high-value datasets to be released to the public;
- To define principles of open data to promote information based culture;
- To increase opportunities for this raw data being used creatively to build innovative applications with a positive economic and social benefit to the public.This Policy helps facilitate implementation of best practice open data principles across the public sector in the Sultanate of Oman.
This Policy applies to all Government Agencies and Statutory Bodies in Sultanate of Oman.Target audiences for the policy itself include government agencies, NGOs, academia, industry(including ICT developers) and members of the public who are interested in or have a specific use for government data.
3.1 Policy Statements
We are working to make sure that all government agencies in Sultanate of Oman commit to releasing high value government data (open data) actively to increase opportunities for this raw data being used creatively to build innovative applications with a positive economic and social benefit to the public. Agencies are required to release open data in accordance with the principles set forth in this policy.
Government Agencies are required to create and maintain Data Inventory that accounts for all data assets created or collected by the agency. This includes, but is not limited to, data assets used in the agency’s information systems. After creating the Inventory, agencies should continually improve the usefulness of the Inventory by expanding, enriching, and opening the Inventory.It is the policy of Government of Sultanate of Oman that government agencies must publish their open data for public use on their websites (should be .om domain), or, on National Data Portal (www.data.gov.om), or on both locations.
Agencies should also establish a process or platform for the public to request certain datasets from
the Data Inventory to be published as open data. Agencies should perform due diligence while
responding to such requests to publish datasets as open data.
The principles by which open data will be governed, managed and operated are:
1. Complete: Datasets released by the government should be as complete as possible,reflecting the entirety of what is recorded about a particular subject. All raw information
from a dataset should be released to the public, except to the extent necessary to comply with valid privacy or security requirements regarding the release of personally
identifiable information. Metadata that defines and explains the raw data should be included as well, along with formulas and explanations for how derived data was
calculated. Doing so will permit users to understand the scope of information available and examine each data item at the greatest possible level of detail.
2. Primary: Datasets released by the government should be primary source data, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms.
3. Timely: Datasets released by the government agencies should be available to the public in a timely fashion (at least on annual basis). Whenever feasible, information collected
by the government should be released as quickly as it is gathered and collected. Priorityshould be given to data whose utility is time sensitive. Real-time information updates
would maximize the utility the public can obtain from this information.
4. Permanent: Datasets are available permanently (information made available should remain available) with appropriate version tracking and archiving over time. There
should be proper indication that an alteration has been made. (Refer to data retentionas per archive law - Royal Decree 60/2007)
5. Accessible: Datasets released by the government should be accessible (ability to locate and download content) easily. Providing an interface for users to download all of the
information stored in a database at once (known as “bulk” access) and the means to make specific calls for data through an Application Programming Interface (API) make
data much more readily accessible.
6. Machine process-able: Datasets should be reasonably structured to allow automated processing and available in machine friendly formats. Information shared in the widely
used PDF format, for example, is very difficult for machines to parse. Thus, information should be stored in widely used file formats (CSV,XLS, JSON, XML, etc.) that easily lend themselves to machine processing. These files should be accompanied by documentation related to the format and how to use it in relation to the data.
7. Trusted: Published content should be digitally signed or include attestation ofpublication/creation date, authenticity, and integrity. Digital signatures help the public
validate the source of the data they find so that they can trust that the data has not been modified since it was published.
8. Documented: Documentation about the data sets, format and meaning of data goes a long way to making the data useful. The principles state that Government websites must provide users with sufficient information to make assessments about the meaning, accuracy and currency of information published.
9. Non-discriminatory: Datasets are available to anyone, at any time without having to identify themselves (with no requirement of registration) or provide any justification for
accessing open datasets.
10. Non-proprietary: Datasets are available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control (data can be accessed without the need for a software license).
11. License-free: Datasets are available with no restrictions on dissemination and are not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Maximal
openness includes clearly labeling public information as a work of the government and available without restrictions on use as part of the public domain. Government agencies
use Open Data licenses to clearly explain the conditions under which their data may be used.
Note 1: These principles describe what open data looks like when it meets best practice requirements.
Note 2: Resourcing implications can affect an agency’s ability to fully implement every principle with
respect to all datasets, and so high-value datasets should be identified as the priority for
standardization and release first.
Note 3: These principles are defined in UN Guidelines on Open Government Data
4 Roles and Responsibilities
4.1 Policy Management
1 Creation and maintenance of this Open Data Policy is vested with the Information
Technology Authority (ITA).
2 NCSI has the overall responsibility for facilitating the implementation of the Open Data
Policy and providing advice and guidance to all government agencies, and target audience.
(refer to Royal Decree 40/2014 establishing NCSI)
Nominate Point Of Contact and clarify/establish roles and responsibilities for overall data management, as well as promoting efficient and effective release of OGD.
3 month after the Publication of Policy
Develop Data Publication Process
Create a process to engage with customers to help facilitate and prioritize data release
Establish Customer Feedback Mechanism
Describe Customer Feedback Processes on the OGD portal
Establish a process for interested parties to request Open Data
3 month after the Publication of Policy
Create and maintain a Data Inventory (Inventory of all agency datasets)
Develop an Inventory development Schedule
Publish Inventory Schedule on the OGD portal
Create a Data Inventory of all agency datasets
Maintain the Data Inventory: Expand, Enrich, Open
6 month after the Publication of Policy
Publish Open Data
Create and publish Open Data Listing at the OGD portal
Maintain the Open Data Listing by regularly updating the datasets as required.
9 month after the Publication of Policy
Document if data cannot be released
12 month after the Publication of Policy
5 Related References
Following documents/links may be relevant to this policy.
A. Royal Decree 40/2014 establishing NCSI
B. Royal Decree 60/2007 - Archive law for data retention
C. Royal Decree 118/2011 and 42/2015 (Information Classification Scheme)
D. World Bank Guidelines for Open Data (data.worldbank.org/ogd)
E. UN Guidelines for Open Data (http://www.unpan.org)
F. Open Knowledge Foundation (https://okfn.org )
G. Sunlight Foundation (http://sunlightfoundation.com)