19 October 2020

Opinion: “Data Observatory: open data for knowledge economy”


A column of opinion

By Carlos Jerez, DO Executive Director and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Sciences at UAI

Astronomical images taken from Earth to comprehend the Universe; terrestrial images obtained from space satellites to search for sustainable development; information from different national and international academic, governmental and private organisations to better address the current pandemic. This is the impressive amount and variety of data that Data Observatory Foundation is working with nowadays, having two things in common: they are public domain data, and they are open.

In general, data per se cannot acquire ownership nor can they be submitted to intellectual property rights. Nevertheless, the workmanship in which these data are expressed can be subject to ownership, for example: reports, software, images, compilations, studies, among others. The idea of open data implies that they are freely available for everyone, without copyright constraints or any other control mechanisms. Why is this desirable or necessary? This is desirable because, as the data are needed more and more frequently, and as the amount of users, organizations and applications needing them increases, their value is multiplied. For example, thanks to the immediate delivery and accessibility of clinical studies related to Covid-19 worldwide, humanity has been able to coordinate the collaborative development of better treatments for the disease in a way that has never been seen before.

Consequently, in a society that is increasingly dominated by the digital world, being able to access open data becomes equivalent to being a value adding catalyst. Therefore, the main project for Data Observatory is to create, manage, and enrich an open source data platform. The Copernicus Programme at the European Space Agency was used as a reference for building the delivery model that was based on the provided data. In this process, it became evident that the State was in the need of being modernized and had to address certain existent difficulties regarding the generation of security and interoperability data protocols that, among many objectives, make it possible to develop a larger amount and a higher quality of databases.

Since October is Cybersecurity Month, it is essential for us to move forward emphatically regarding these matters, and to launch Chile into a knowledge economy instead of an economy that is only based on the exploitation and extraction of natural resources.

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