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New initiatives of Kherson region: open data and digital technologies
Public relations manager of the Center for Political Studies and Analysis Oleksandr Kulchitsky presents the Open Budget project Photo by Anna Martyniuk
Public relations manager of the Center for Political Studies and Analysis Oleksandr Kulchitsky presents the Open Budget project

Best practices of the use of state open data in combination with digital technologies and activity of citizens were discussed on August 26 at the First Regional Open Data Forum in Kherson.

Experts from the Ukrainian and international organizations, the IT companies presented possibilities of the use of state open data in different spheres of life to society in Kherson region. In turn representatives of local government and civil organization presented the ongoing projects, as well as the ones in progress.

- We are inclined to implement modern information technologies in work of the city authority to attract investments into our city, to present Kherson as the center of tourism in Southern Ukraine. Our expectations were met. Due to introduction of open data on the budget, land plots, the map of districts the work of officials of city council has become more transparent and effective. I am sure that the work done will have a positive impact not only on officials, but also on ordinary citizens’ lives, - the Mayor Volodymyr Mykolayenko told when greeting the Forum participants.

The “Open Budget” initiative was presented by the Deputy Mayor Victor Ivanushkin. The idea of the project is that the city budget is posted on the Internet not in the form of obscure plates, but in the form of open data. Data about spending budgetary funds will be displayed clearly and comprehensively.

The Kherson map of investment land plots was presented by the director of communications with public authorities of Google Ukraine Oleg Yakimchuk. 30 objects are already plotted and anyone can examine them. Now you shouldn’t come into an office to the official to ask for information, expect the official answer for a long time, to thank back. It is enough to open Google Map and examine the land plots which are free for implementation of business ideas.

Diana Zubko, the expert in management and civil society of the “Democratization, Human Rights and Civil Society Development in Ukraine” Programme of the UNPD in Ukraine told how Ukraine looks in the context of the best international practices in the field of open data. She explained the audiences that open data are public or nonpublic information and everyone can get access to it. To receive the open data permissions or inquiries from authorities are not necessary. There are a huge number of branches where open data can be useful. Business can analyze opportunities and risks of its development in this or that region, municipal services and authorities can effectively interact with the public and citizens can learn how the government spends their taxes!

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Diana Zubko, the expert in management and civil society of the “Democratization, Human Rights and Civil Society Development in Ukraine” Programme of the UNPD in Ukraine. Photo by Anna Martyniuk

But only free access to open data does not resolve an issue of openness and transparency of government activities and overcoming corruption. Involvement of citizens is of great importance as well. There has to be an inquiry from society which open data are necessary, and also desire and ability to use them. The representative of the Active Citizens programme of the British Council in Ukraine Mike Waldron told about a role of active citizens in development of communities. Also he spoke about traditions of publicity in Great Britain. The United Kingdom has a long history of fight between culture of privacy and civilization request for openness. And during this time the state changed the attitudes to this question – shifting from the position: “Citizens, you do not need to know it” to the approach: “We will explain why you need to know it and be involved”. Such relations develop trust between the state and citizens.

- There are a lot of perspective young people at the First Regional Open Data Forum. Intense curiosity of the public. Feeling of strong intellectual support of initiatives of the city authority from Kherson Regional Charitable Foundation “Union”. People from other regions go to Kherson to gain experience! – The participant Oleksandr Goloborodko estimates the forum.

The First Regional Open Data Forum was full of useful information, instructive and perspective. Ideas that now take root in Kherson caused interest in representatives of other communities and regions. And according to experts the multinational Kherson region can become a model and a platform for the development of digital capacity and activity of citizens.

You can see more photos of the event in the photo gallery to the link “The First Regional Open Data Forum in Kherson”.

Reference
The Forum is held by Kherson Regional Charitable Foundation “Union” within the “Society: open initiative” project with the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation and the Kherson city council.
Partners of the Forum: broadcasting company “YaTB”, the Vgoru newspaper, the Kakhovskie Novosti newspaper, the Legal Space portal, “Events and Persons of Kherson” public page, Kherson youth initiative group “Kipyatok”, the Active Citizens programme of the British Council in Ukraine and Local community of cartographers in Kherson region.

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