How Can We Help The Open Data Initiative?


Jamaica Open Data - Barometer

As a country, we are very good at starting projects, but the challenge is in the maintenance phase. Are we under a spell? We tend to put little effort in maintaining projects for one reason or another. Take for example the JUTC bus park downtown or the multipurpose stadium. I’m seeking your help as we can’t let the Open Data Initiative suffer the same faith.

Jamaica has made some significant strides in getting the project off the ground. We are the first in a total of five (5) Caribbean countries to get the ball rolling. The purpose of this article is to reignite the debate around this critical piece of legislation and to encourage public debate.


Mic check. Mic check 1…3

After the official launch by the previous MSTEM Minister (A. Wheatley) of the Open Data Portal in 2016, I believe we were in a go-slow phase of the project.

As with all new projects, we started with good momentum. First I want to acknowledge the work down by both Julian Robinson and A. Wheatley for the work they’ve done in getting this project off the ground. Thanks, guys! I believe the work done helped to lay the foundation for this project.

But now, there is little to no movement on the project. I went on the portal looking for updated information for my next article but no luck thus far. The most recent data-set is from 2018. So I went on a semi-rant on Twitter and this is what I’ve learned – in terms of project status:

  • Draft mode for a few years: The policy was in draft mode sitting on the desk at the ministry until recently.
    • #Kudos to Mr. T Forrest & /Slashroots team for their work in educating stakeholders.
  • The staff at these various government entities needs direction – the policy is needed.
  • Current MSTEM Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams understands the importance of this bill and is putting it on the front burner  – Amen!
  • Progress: The Hon. said it is now before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.


What Is At Stake

As it relates to how we use technology for the foreseeable future, everything is at stake.

This is my interpretation so forgive my ignorance. But here are a few things which are at stake:

  • Our ability as a country to make intelligent decisions.
  • Improve communication between government entities
  • The back end cost savings for citizens.
  • Our technology infrastructure as a country.
  • AI integration and other new frontiers.

In my opinion, this is much bigger than the NIDs. NIDs impact you as an individual and how your information is being shared. The Open Data policy can help our government make better decisions. Not to mention how it will help reduce corruption through data transparency.


Why Do I Care?

Hackerthon photo


That’s me hacking away at one of the DevCa competition a few years back. As you can tell, I do love Open Source technology and what it has done for me. My passion for Open Source technology helped in the completion of my studies. So I will  continue to preach the good news of Open Source technology on this platform.

Also, I care about our independence. We need a platform that is robust scalable and vendor agnostic. In this new era where data is the new gold, we can’t be at the mercy of a third party hoarding our treasures. Our forefathers won’t be proud.


Jamaica Needs Your Help.

We need to add our voices to the conversation. We’ve done so in the past and we’ve seen how it has moved the needle. Social media is one of the most powerful tools so let’s use it for the greater good of your country – Twitter & Fb do your thing!

Even if you’re not into technology, I’ve written many articles expressing the value of Open Source technology  and what it means for us. You may also check out out these links:



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Hi there, I'm a Software Engineer, Administrator & advocate for Jamaica Cultural Alliance, and a local farmer. Always questioning the status quo in search of better alternatives. Motto: "Love your life perfect your life, beautify all things in your life - Tecumseh" Favourite slangs: "At least am alive" & "Bless up"

1 Comment

  • As with most ICT projects that result from lots of noise the open data project was created because everyone else was doing it and not because Jamaica actually was interested in doing it. It was probably funded by a loan from an international body. Project such as this will always fizzle out because they are not grounded. One need to identify a problem and craft a solution by slowly putting things together that are sustainable. Take a look at a search project i started in 2018;

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