The city of Bhubaneswar is going Open

Posted by Sailesh Patnaik at Mar 07, 2019 11:41 AM |
Bhubaneswar supporting the concept of Openness movement has joined as one of the ambassadors of the movement in the world by giving citizens the right to access the content online produced by the government and make use of the work.


The Openness movement is a concept or philosophy that is characterized by an emphasis on transparency, free and unrestricted access to knowledge and information. The movement across the world is trying to build on the interest of like-minded people and an urgent need of bringing new resources of knowledge for the benefit of people with a method of collaborative or cooperative management. Many successful projects such as OpenStreetMap, Github, Wikimedia projects are free, open for everyone and evolve both by contributions and review efforts by participant volunteers. Open Knowledge Projects across the world are embarking upon a silent revolution to change the way information and knowledge are consumed by people.

Bhubaneswar supporting the concept of Openness movement has joined as one of the ambassadors of the movement in the world by giving citizens the right to access the content online produced by the government and make use of the work. As the city turned 70-year-old as the capital of Odisha in April 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched two websites — and Smart City Bhubaneswar under a  Creative Commons license. The websites were made to provide visitor or tourist information about the city and to showcase various projects being undertaken as a part of the Smart City mission.


Wide image Mukteswar temple

A visual walk-through video was released for the and Smart City website over social media sites for the public to understand the features of the websites which ended saying “Knowledge now made more accessible”, anyone can use the content and data of the website under the campaign for Transparency in Governance. These websites have adopted Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license also known as CC-BY-4.0, which allows the citizens of Bhubaneswar to use the work of the government. Creative Commons licenses are a set of open licenses that are used worldwide to enable widen use and reuse of creative work that is otherwise restricted by the strict copyright laws.  Currently, the majority of government websites under the Bhubaneswar administration are under an Open license.

Transparency is considered the traditional hallmark of an open government, meaning that the public should have access to government-held information and be informed of government proceedings, says an article from Transparency, accountability, and participation are one of the needed conditions for the government to ensure that public resources are used efficiently, public policies are designed in the best interest of the population.

Though most of the government websites can be accessed online, the content of those sites are not open by default, the government has to adopt a specific license to open their content. In September 2017, Odisha became the first state in India to release all of its social media contents under a free license such as Creative Commons license, initially eight social media accounts of the state government were part of the project and followed by few other departments under the state government releasing their content under the same license. Because of this initiative by the government, currently, ten or more websites and eight social media accounts are allowing people from all around the world to freely reuse the state government’s work.

As the content of the websites is under a free license it creates an impact on a project like Wikipedia-one of the most popular websites in the world and the largest online encyclopedia available on the internet, committed to free and open copyright licenses from its earliest days on the internet. Currently, a near about  files from the websites and social media accounts of the Government of Odisha are added into Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s sister site and an open multimedia repository, under a content donation program of which 70% of files are used in different Wikipedia articles, all of which together has received over 25 million page views in last 18 months.

Cities opening their data and content for the citizens encourages individuals for new innovation and to form new ideas that help to bridge the gap in the city. A report from Forbes in 2012 says Open city data can help app developers, urban planners, and others understand a city’s problems and manage city services in ways that improve the quality of life and business prospects for its residents. When Bhubaneswar led the way of promoting the Openness movement in India, there is a huge scope for the rest of the cities to adopt open licensing to make knowledge more accessible for the citizens and enhance public trust in government.