The Ministry of Technology and Communications has very recently issued a circular announcing the release of the government’s new Open Data Policy. This policy sets the general framework that government entities must follow when releasing their data to the public in a way that should maximise the ability of businesses, journalists, members of the public, and other government entities to benefit from government data.
Oman is embracing open data as part of the global open data movement that aims to liberate government information to enhance transparency, promote government efficiency, create business opportunities, and empower citizens. Many ministries in Oman have had open data initiatives for a few years now, from the Ministry of Manpower to the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and everything in between.
Like the older open data policy, this policy applies to all forms of digital content and not only numeric or statistical data. The policy requires government data to be technically open (e.g. machine-readable and downloadable in bulk) and be legally open (i.e. free to download, use, and re-use for both commercial and non-commercial purposes). This policy therefore provides a framework for government entities to release their reports, images, audio files, and all other forms of content in a manner that allows the public to use this data for any purpose.
The new policy attempts to assist government entities in creating a streamlined approach for managing and releasing open data by requiring entities to create open data inventories, identify an open data officer, establish a dedicated page on their websites to publicise their open data, and explicitly provide contact details for the public to request more data and respond to the request within 15 days.
The new policy also prohibits government entities from using the phrase “All Rights Reserved” on their websites and requires them to adopt the Open Government Licence instead. The policy also requires government entities to apply an open licence (such as a Creative Commons licence) when publishing their data on third-party platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud.
The new policy is a great addition to Oman’s open data efforts, but it will have an impact only if properly implemented by the various government entities.
You can download the circular and the new policy on the links below: