Myanmar has taken another step toward open data with the debut of an online statistics portal.
The Myanmar Information System (MMSIS), built by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development with help from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), aggregates information spanning subjects such as trade, investment, demographics and national income.
Stats come from the CSO and the Myanmar National Statistic System (NSS), as well as private sector sources, according to the database website.
“The MMSIS is designed to provide statistical data and metadata to the public,” it says. “It is meant to respond to the growing demands of data users for various statistics that describe socio-economic conditions in Myanmar, at national and sub-national levels, across various periods.”
It describes itself as a one-stop shop for statistical data services with information available for download via Excel in both Myanmar language and English.
The launch follows similar moves from the Myanmar government to digitise data in conjunction with foreign partners.
The Union Election Commission collaborated with the International Federation of Electoral Systems (IFES) to create its first nationwide, typed voter list, while it also teamed up with The Asia Foundation to compile candidate information. Earlier this year, the government made the results of its first census in decades available online.
Myanmar’s developing tech ecosystem has taken advantage of these data dumps through hackathons at downtown innovation lab Phandeeyar, which have yielded results such as voter education apps and data visualisations.
Currently, more than 300 data sets populate the MMSIS statistical database. It also features data visualisations segmenting the country by indicators such as number of metal mines and sport grounds.
“The trend toward open data in government ... is really encouraging. In any closed authoritarian system, retaining control over information is critical to maintaining power,” said Kim Ninh, Myanmar representative for The Asia Foundation.
“But as Myanmar makes the shift toward a more democratic polity in recent years, I think what we are seeing is the result of a bigger push in society toward greater access to information and making the availability of information a normal part of the interactions between the state and citizens.”
Ms Ninh traces the trend through the abolition of censorship, the expansion of independent media, and telecom sector reform “that has brought about a connectivity revolution in Myanmar”.
“We should note that the government has also stated that it wants Myanmar to become a member of the global Open Government Partnership by 2016, and a core part of this commitment is information access,” she added. “I think greater transparency of information will really help to build trust between government and citizens.”