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TIJ Launched Datathon, Connecting Public Information to Technology Empowering People through Rule of Law
Nowadays, modern technology has brought about many changes to society, as well as how government operates. It means the old-style service cannot function well to respond the need of citizen immediately as before. More than ever, people are empowered through digital technology that enables access to information and provides platforms for participation of the government. Thus, letting citizens investigates the management of the government through technology becomes a trend in many countries.
In 2013, Taiwan launched the website vTaiwan.tw that encourages the public to participate in government policies. The digital platform gathers proposals made by the people and allows for public voting in order to find the most favored proposals that could be developed into government policies. Also, Seoul, Madrid, Paris publicly opened their process of drafting constitution through the internet, allowing people to participate widely. Similar to the platform “Development Check” from Armenia which gives an alternative way to citizens check and follow up with the government’s process such as checking the amount of chairs that provided in community schools simply.
Previously, Thailand had been using technology to develop and improve public services in many aspects, one of it was the justice development. “Tech for Justice” is an agenda of Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ). In 2018, TIJ began “Project j” under the slogan “solving old and persisting justice issues with innovative means”. On the platform “jX - Justice Experiment”, TIJ invited local and international experts to exchange ideas on how to drive rule of law through innovation, from blockchain to Open Data and AI, in order to create a prototype of how the Thai public may participate in the process of law and justice. The seminar concluded that transparency is an important step towards good governance, as such, the Open Data platform should be first developed.
According to the discussion from project J’s seminars, many specialists, along with the participants all agreed that giving citizen rights to be able to investigate through open data to help strengthening the transparency in the operation of public sector is one of the best solution so far.
TIJ’s policy prioritizing multi-stakeholder’s empowerment, especially citizens, in order to strengthening the good governance of public sector. On July 6, TIJ organized the event “Datahon: Organizing Data for Anti-Corruption” in partnerships with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), ChangeFusion, OpenDream, Hand Social Enterprise, ACT and Open Data Thailand. Over 60 participants from various backgrounds, including program developers, data analysts, data collectors and government representatives came together to brainstorm on how to best create Open Dataset and Machine-readable Data that is in accordance with international standard of Open Data.
Dr. Anuwan Wongphichet, Director of Strategy and Planning Bureau, TIJ, said, “This is Thailand’s first step towards using Open Data to create transparency and empower the people. With access to information, the public will not only be informed, but also they will be able to pose informed questions.”
The participants examined the usage of Open Dataset for public information that would bring transparency to such government agencies as the Supreme Court and the anti-corruption commission, as well as details on government expenditures. The discussions also involved data categorization and visualization.
This database, once completed, will be considered of as the first of its kind that collects structured datasets and systematically link information across datasets to provide comprehensive data visualization. The database is called Corrupt 0 (zero). Beside, having it to assist citizens and media to investigate government’s action, it also enhances participation of the technical access for citizens. TIJ and its network aim to help equip citizen with the right information that allows them to post the right questions to look into the work of the public sectors. With this tool, there will be more channel for public participation in building transparency in the work of public sector.
Bringing technological innovation that would allow for transparency and public participation is an integral part of TIJ’s agenda to create rule of law and sustainable development. To realize this goal, there must be participation from all sectors: public, private and civil. Transparency and good governance require the support and involvement of everyone.