All the data you can eat
Umbilical Ruminations

A CDO for RSA?

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford

We may be a little late to this, what with the world going to hell around us, but we’ve finally had time to peruse the report of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was launched in South Africa to much hullabaloo 18 months ago with a mandate to fix South Africa with 5G, or something like that.

There’s some of the expected techno-futurism – apparently we’re going to be 3D printing autonomous power stations at some unspecified point in the future – alongside some of the expected state as Godhead stuff, and government must be “fiscally creative”. Some might quip that what we want is working power stations and a government that is a little less fiscally creative than in the past, thanks.

There’s even some stealing of language from Singularity University with the introduction of Grand Challenges early on.

What is exciting, though, is that right at the back of the report – on page 51 out of 54 no less – there’s a strong recommendation around open data and even the suggestion that there should be a Chief Data Officer appointed for the whole country.

It’s a tiny detail in a big report, but could deliver so much more change and innovation, and faster, than many of the rest of the pages put together.

It must be recognised that data also presents an opportunity for productive exchange, through which the state can make available anonymised open datasets to collaborate with different stakeholders in society to solve service delivery challenges and enable innovation. Standardising data is crucial for effective processing.

Here’s hoping.

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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