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PS: Simplify data for citizens

By - | January 24th 2013

By David Odongo

NAIROBI; KENYA: Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo has asked leaders and the media to take a lead role in simplifying data for public interest.

 Speaking during the launch of ‘Making Open Data Work’ workshop which showcased applications using data to tell stories for The Standard Group, Nation Media Group and The Star Newspaper, Ndemo said data can help simply and solve many of Kenya’s problems.

“Media must simplify facts and figures while telling stories which will investors, the public and leaders make informed decisions.” Ndemo said.

 “There is too much data available but locked up in files or inaccessible which needs to be demystified to help in planning and for public consumption,” the PS argued.

 Developed countries like UK and US, he said have been successful in their planning because it is informed by data.

 “We need data scientists to come up and share information in partnership with the media to help drive the economy,” Ndemo said at a meeting in Nairobi which was attended by media executives, journalists and World Bank officials.

The applications showcased was done in partnerships with Africa Media Initiative, the World Bank, the Open Institute under the Code4Kenya project.

Code4Kenya is a six-month experiment to help accelerate the ability for the public to make sense of data and to galvanise engagement around critical public issues.

 The Standard Group used data to visualise County safety by using statistics gathered from reportage of crime. Mr Simon Oriko worked on the project with crime reporters.

 The Star newspaper used a health application which integrated national health programmes while the Nation Media Group used digitised data to visualise election coverage.

 The programme funded by Africa Media Initiative also showcased an initiative of Twaweza Kenya-a platform for parents to compare schools on various metrics and championed by Mr Muchiri Nyaggah.

 The CEO of Kenya ICT Board asked media to help bridge the digital divide and to educate public using the data.

“Data helps present valuable information to citizens and even going into elections data will help Kenyans understand critical issues.” Kukubo said.

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