Data Management and Publication Training for Government Agencies and Ministries

The government of Ghana through the National Information Technology agency has contracted SBC4D and Mobile Web Ghana to revamp the already existing Ghana Open Data portal. Activities leading to the revamping of the Ghana Open Data Portal are still ongoing to ensure that the platform becomes more effective and useful to open data enthusiasts in this country. One of the ways to ensure that the open data portal is useful is to make sure there are enough government-approved data sets on it. Therefore there is the need to involve government agencies and ministries in the redevelopment of the platform. This is what necessitated the organizing of a two-day training program in data management and publication for government agencies and ministries.

The training had in attendance members of staff of the following agencies and ministries, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Lands Commission, Ghana Post, Energy Commission, and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. The training was conducted by Gavin Chait a Data Scientist and a representative of SBC4D. He began the training by introducing the concept of Open Data to all the trainees. In doing this, Gavin gave the definition of open data as:

Data that are made available to the public free of charge, without registration or restrictive licenses, for any purpose whatsoever (including commercial purposes), in electronic, machine-readable formats that ensure data are easy to find, download and use.

He went on to mention that open data reuse requires certain criteria, these are:

  • The data must be legally open, which means it is placed in the public domain or under liberal terms of use with minimal restrictions.
  • The data must be technically open, which means that it is published in electronic formats that are machine-readable and non-proprietary.

Gavin’s style of training is characterized by practicality, illustrations, and historical and experiential examples to support the points he makes. Therefore he shared from his wealth of experience and also made references to some historical events that have helped shaped the open data movement globally.

After the introductory aspect of the training, the rest of the day was set aside for some practical work. Participants were taught how to write Meta data and given time to break into groups to write Meta data for the data they had brought. Prior to the day of the training, all the participants were informed to come along with some data sets from their various institutions that can be used for practical work during the training. All the groups made presentations at the end of this session and those who made mistakes in the Meta data they wrote were corrected. It was an enlightening session as well.

On the second day of the training program, participants were taken through lessons in ‘Data classification, publishing and management’. The government institutions represented at the training all work with data and have a database. The first goal of this session was to teach participants how to upload data unto the Ghana Open Data Portal. Accounts were created for all the participants at the training. However, they worked in groups. Each group was expected to upload data sets members had brought from their various institutions. This process required the application of the knowledge acquired in the previous day’s training since participants had to learn how to write Meta Data. After the teams logged into their accounts, they worked at publishing the data sets. By the end of the session, all the 3 teams had published data unto the revamped Ghana open data portal.

The other goal of the second day’s session was to get the representatives acquainted with techniques they can use to make the data they generate more structured and machine-readable. This process is referred to as Data Wrangling. Gavin shared a document with all the participants which contained several data sets. He asked all of them to break into groups again and clean up the messy data using Microsoft excel.

At the end of the 2-day training program, participants expressed their joy and satisfaction at the content of the training program.

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