Snapshot: state of Open Data in the Caribbean in 2015

Summary of the Caribbean results in the 2015 Global Open Data Index exercise.

The concept of “Open Data” is not new in the Caribbean. It began to gain prominence around five years ago, with the crystallised into the first Caribbean Open Data Conference, and the
Caribbean Open Institute. With regard to understanding the term ‘Open Data”, the key focus should be on the word “open”, which speaks to being able to “freely access, use, modify, and share for any purpose (subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness)” (Source: Open Definition).

Greater openness on the part of governments, with respect to data and information, along with the provision goods and services, foster not only improved transparency, accountability and public participation, but also contributes to innovation and entrepreneurship. According to a 2013 study by Capgemini,

…[p]ublic administration officials are now beginning to realize the value that opening up data can have. For instance, the direct impact of Open Data on the EU27 economy was estimated at €32 Billion in 2010, with an estimated annual growth rate of 7%.


Launched in 2013, the Global Open Data Index is an annual effort to measure the state of open government data worldwide. The methodology employed is based on the following four assumptions:

  • Open Data is defined by the Open Definition
  • Government’s role is in publishing data
  • National government as aggregator of data
  • Federal (or national) government is accountable for the open publication by all its sub-governments

To secure a comprehensive view of the state of openness of data in 2015, 13 datasets on data that could and should be made public are examined, as outlined in Table 1.

Datasets examined for 2015 Global Open Data Index (Souce: Global Open Data Index)
Table 1: Datasets examined for 2015 Global Open Data Index (Souce: Global Open Data Index)

Caribbean results

The 2015 assessment comprised 122 countries, including the following 15 Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda (A&B); the Bahamas (BAH); Barbados (BAR); Cayman Islands (CAY); Dominica (DOM); Dominican Republic (DR); Grenada (GDA); Guyana (GUY); Jamaica (JAM); Puerto Rico (PR); Saint Kitts and Nevis (SKN); Saint Lucia (SLU); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG); Trinidad and Tobago (T&T); and Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). Table 2 shows the rank and scores each Caribbean country received for the 13 datasets examined

2015 Open Data Index ranking and scores for select Caribbean countries (Source: Global Open Data Index)
Table 2: 2015 Open Data Index ranking and scores for select Caribbean countries (Source: Global Open Data Index)

In Caribbean, Jamaica was considered the most open, achieving a rank of 37th out of 122 countries, with Saint Kitts and Nevis being considered the least open, near the bottom of the list at 117th. The most open countries worldwide were: Taiwan (#1); the United Kingdom (#2); Denmark (#3); Colombia (#4) and Finland (#5), with the United States and Canada at number 8 and 17. respectively.

Across the Caribbean countries assessed, there is still considerable room for improvement, as it relates to the availability of data collected by government. evidenced by the number of ‘0’ scores received, here are still data for several datasets that either is not being collected, and perhaps more importantly, are not made being made publicly available. Additionally, for data that is being collected, the low scores suggest that they are not being comprehensively collected, or collected with adequate frequency.

In summary, the Open Open Index provides a benchmark for the state of Open Data in the countries examined. it also provides basis to evaluate all of the reported progress that has been communicated in the Caribbean in this area, and to truly gauge the extent to which our individual countries, and by extension the region, is incraesing in openness.


Image credit:  justgrimes (flickr)