Open Data enables governments, businesses and entrepreneurs around the world to act as a catalyst and tool for social and economic change in diverse sectors. In Morocco in order to realize the full potential of Open Data, a Civic Tech organization built Marocviz, a visualization platform for Morocco’s public data. The platform, makes information accessible and digestible with narrative visualizations. The platform is currently one of 70 proposals that have been shortlisted out of the 736 applications for a grant from the innovateAFRICA fund.
The Marocviz platform tools were developed around four objectives:
Objective I: Deliver direct benefits to citizens and communities, and change how citizens perceive open data
The main aim of open data is to empower citizens to improve public services which will benefit the economy and society as a whole. In reality, only a small segment of the general public understands the value of open data. Most do not understand how open data applies to them, why they should care about it and how they can benefit from it. For these reasons, public perception of open data is often seen as an abstract subject without clear benefits to everyday life.
One of Marocviz goals is to help people understand the data that effects their lives, by developing tools that transform data into visualized stories., This visualization puts the data gathered from a variety of public institutions into the hands of the citizens who were responsible for it in the first place. Marocviz offers answers to the citizens’ questions by turning data into knowledge, allowing society to learn about itself, its inhabitants, places, industries, and institutions.
Objective II: Solve two major challenges for journalists
One of the tasks where journalists often get stuck and spend too much time on collecting documents, records, datasets. This task is even harder in African countries like Morocco, where freedom of information and transparency laws are relatively new.
Instead of searching through multiple data sources which are often incomplete and difficult to access, Marocviz puts Morocco’s public data in the hands of the journalists, data journalists, in a curated and coherently organized in way so that it is understandable and easy of navigateion for users.
The platform’s visualization tools enable millions of slices of data to be displayed in a meaningful way, bridging the enormous gap between raw data and the ability to understand it, and empowering journalists to liberate the stories behind the data.
Objective III: To ease the use of government data as a resource for businesses and entrepreneurs
Businesses are at the heart of the economy and open data can fuel their growth, foster entrepreneurship and expand opportunities for business. Marocviz helps companies by facilitating access to valuable government data and simplifying their communication.
Here are some additional scenarios where companies can directly benefit from the visualization tools and data collected by Marocviz:
Optimizing the operations of existing companies and launching new activities:
The analysis and distillation of open data in combination with various traditional businesses data leads to a more in-depth and insightful understanding of the company, leading to greater productivity, innovation and competition, as well as enabling the company to reach customers more effectively, and discover and develop new products and services.
Improving decisions for foreign investments:
Marocviz offers companies a guide on investment decisions, giving investors the essential information they need on the governance, infrastructure and resources of the country, as well as a number of other criteria and indicators.
Helping companies reduce costs:
Marocviz offers various sources of data collected and transformed using various techniques and technologies of data analysis, relieving companies of the burden of processing public data.
Objective IV: Stimulating innovation, scientific discovery and public debate in Morocco
Government agencies collect a large amount of data that can give rise to large-scale scientific and social benefits, but they must ensure that their data is not locked into spreadsheets and static tables that are hard to understand and aggregate.
Marocviz brings together the public data of the Moroccan government from a variety of agencies and carries out the work of information aggregation and visualization. From there, scientists and economists can better exploit public data, using their own analysis to understand and visualize the critical problems of Morocco.
Improved visualization of public data through Marocviz will also enable citizens and journalists to become more involved in the country’s development by being a reminder of the government’s sense of responsibility, ensuring more transparency, calling for public debate, improving political decisions and decision- making strategies.