October 23, 2020

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India’s Data and Analytics Platform to Democratise Publicly Available Government Data

National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP)

India’s policy commission, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), released its vision for the national data and analytics platform (NDAP), earlier this week.

The platform aims to democratise access to publicly available government data. It will host the latest datasets from various government websites, present them coherently, and provide tools for analytics and visualisation.

NDAP will follow a user-centric approach and will enable data access in a simple and intuitive portal tailored to the needs of a variety of stakeholders, a press release stated.

NDAP will spearhead the standardisation of formats where data is presented across sectors and will cater to a wide audience that includes policymakers, researchers, innovators, data scientists, journalists, and citizens.

The development of NDAP will take place over a year. The first version of the platform is expected to be launched in 2021. The process will incorporate feedback received from various users and stakeholders throughout the course of its development.

The vision document was released by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog, in the presence of the agency’s CEO. Senior officials from various ministries, state governments, academics, and researchers were also present.

In his opening remarks, the Vice-Chairman said that India has made tremendous progress in generating and using data for policymaking and programme implementation. It is time to build on these efforts to further strengthen the data ecosystem. NDAP, with its mission to be a one-stop and user-friendly data platform, is expected to go a long way in transforming India’s data ecosystem.

NITI Aayog’s CEO explained the context for the development of NDAP. He said that the organisation has always promoted and championed the use of data in all spheres of governance. It is therefore natural that NITI Aayog takes the lead in providing the nation with a simple and compelling platform

The Senior Adviser for the project. Image credit: NITIAayog; Twitter

where various datasets can be accessed together. This has been a longstanding gap in the data ecosystem, which NITI Aayog is now seeking to try and address.

The Senior Adviser, who is leading this initiative within the agency, expounded the need for NDAP: It seeks to address three main gaps. One, all datasets are not published in a user-centric manner that is analysable and visually presented. Two, there is a multitude of datasets out there that is not easily accessible. The NDAP proposes a simple, interactive, visual, and robust platform that will host various Central and state government datasets.

According to the vision document, the three main objectives are:

  1. User-centric: Data access is user-friendly and engaging, tailored to the needs of policymakers, bureaucrats, data scientists, journalists, and citizens.
  2. Coherent: Multiple data sets are presented using a standardised schema, by using common geographical and temporal identifiers.
  3. Up to date: Standard operating procedures are set to ensure data is updated regularly.

The success of the endeavour is dependent on the cooperation and support of various stakeholders. An inter-ministerial committee will oversee the progress of the development of the platform and a group of experts has been inducted into an advisory group to provide technical guidance for the development of the platform.