open data

Indian government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog is planning to launch a new portal in next six months that will allow private organisations, especially startups, to use public data available with various ministries for innovation and come up with sector-specific solutions, announced Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, reports Economic Times.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conclave on artificial intelligence organized by Bennet University, NITI Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant has said that the Aayog will soon launch a new portal that will open the floodgate of public data for private companies especially startups to come up with innovative sector-specific innovations.

Amitabh further said that the government departments are generally hesitant in sharing public data with private players which has restricted the scope of technological research, thus by opening a window of data for private players will not only expand the scope of research in India but also promote innovation.


It is to be noted however that, in 2012, India has already launched portal — Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India or data.gov.in — a platform for supporting Open data initiative of Government of India. This portal is a single-point access to datasets, documents, services, tools and applications published by ministries, departments and organisations of the Government of India. It combines and expands the best features of India government’s India.gov.in and the U.S. government’s data.gov project.

Now the question is, how different will the upcoming portal announced by NITi Aayog CEO be from existing one (data.gov.in) and what is the need for it? when there’s already one in existence which can easily be revamped and enhanced to solve the purpose of offering public data window to private players.

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Moreover, the Aayog would also come up with a strategy document on artificial intelligence (AI) soon, laying down some sort of guidelines for use of public data by private players. “I believe innovations always come before the regulations. Hence, policies might not be very relevant. And in certain areas, it’s better for the government to let private players innovate and disrupt,” said Amitabh Kant in the AI conclave organized as part of leadingIndia.ai — a collaborative initiative by 100-odd institutions to promote research in the field of AI.

It may be recalled that, this month NITI Aayog partnered with tech giant Google to stimulate growth in India’s nascent artificial intelligence and machine learning ecosystem by working together on several initiatives in these new-age technologies.

Speaking about AI strategies within the country, he said that the artificial intelligence could help increase India’s year-on-year growth rate by 1.3% and that the government was already working with organisations, such as Microsoft and IBM, in that direction. “We are using artificial intelligence for improving agricultural productivity, using ISRO data in over 100 aspirational districts across the country,” he added.

On leadingIndia.ai, Kant said, “Such initiatives have the potential to change the landscape of AI research in India as they bring together startups, industry and academia to work on providing application-inspired ideas.”

Dr Deepak Garg, director of leadingindia.ai initiative, said they look forward to working with NITI Aayog to solve some of the critical problems that would help improve the quality of life in the aspirational districts. They are also planning to setup a centre of excellence in AI at Bennett University with the help of Govt of India, he added.

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The Bennett University, which is a part of Times of India group, has launched leadingindia.ai initiative with aims to impart training in artificial intelligence technologies to nearly one million students in two years.

Notably, Amazon had set up its first Intelligent Devices Lab in the country, on the Bennett University campus in Greater Noida, that would help create new skills and promote cutting-edge research in speech technology.

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