DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A group of computer professionals said that the data generated using public funds should be made available to the public and without any restrictions such as in the case of state weather bureau PAGASA.
CPU, in a statement Tuesday, particularly hit out the statement of PAGASA official for saying that raw data will only be given to vetted organizations that have the technical expertise to handle the information properly.
“We take offense over the statement of PAGASA Weather Division Operations Chief Esperanza Cayanan that raw weather forecasting data generated by the agency should be only made available to ‘vetted’ entities with technical expertise,” Rick Bahague, national coordinator of CPU, said.
Bahague questioned PAGASA for being “selective” as to who will be able to use the data generated by from the technological platform.
“It is the public who pays the salaries of these good men and women in our weather forecasting agency. Who are they to say that data generated from their efforts, including raw data, will only be accessible to a select few?,” Bahague asked.
“In the first place, it is the public, through taxes exacted from our hard-earned money, who pays for the purchase of computers, satellite access, and software to generate these data,” he added.
The DOST’s Data Sharing Policy of 2015, which supervises both Project NOAH and PAGASA, acknowledged that publicly-funded research data is “produced in the public interest and should therefore be accessible to the maximum extent possible” and also enabling the agency to “restrict the release of proprietary data (and) maintain confidentiality of proprietary Information.”
With this, Bahague argued that all DOST agencies such as PAGASA are expected to publicly share “research data and supporting materials created or generated from public funds”, especially “hazard related real-time and historical data.”
“Sharing data, especially those generated from publicly funded research initiatives, is a big step towards building inclusive economies and encouraging peoples’ participation in governance and national development,” he said, pointing out that such is in accordance with the commitments of the Philippine government under the Open Government Partnership entered into in 201.
CPU called on PAGASA to reconsider its open data policy, especially given the significant role of weather and hazards data in the Philippines, which placed 4th among disaster-prone countries in 2015.
“Whatever data is being generated by government research agencies should empower citizen to make informed decisions. What the PAGASA is doing is definitely a big step back from this direction,” the group said.
The IT group added that “we need more science-backed data to be made public. We need to fight for the spirit of open knowledge and the sharing of information that is one of the cornerstones of a truly inclusive, people-centered science and technology development.” (davaotoday.com)