When we say digital map, we're often thinking of a google maps. But Road networks are just one layer in a digital map. There are many more "layers" for a comprehensive map. Layers like residential addresses (which is not always accurate on Google maps), terrain data, rainfall maps, drainage networks, cable networks and the list goes on. In Sri Lanka, our digital map is limited to road networks layer. It's not that the data on these other layers are not available, it's just that it's not available in a format for the public to access and use. (in case you didn├??├?┬ó??t notice, you could book an Uber through Google maps. That's because Google maps has the Uber data layer on it)  

Enter Opendata.  

N*Able partnered with Opendata; a not-for profit organization cofounded by Chandima Perera and Keshan Sodimana whose objective is to create a complete digital map of Sri Lanka. Opendata is going to work with a wide spectrum of groups, from the open-source community, volunteers who contribute to the open maps platform, the ICTA and various government bodies who will contribute data towards an "Opendata" platform; which can be accessed and used by anyone.   The use cases for a platform such as this is immense, but I'd like to point out to one area which Peter touched on, at his speech at the Opendata launch event.   The public healthcare system is one that we see could be the recipient of the biggest gains of the platform. As a system, we have a knee-jerk reaction approach to dealing with crisis. We're not predicting, We're not pinning problems down before they spread. It's not that our doctors are not capable, nor is it a problem of not having data- it's about not being able to access the right data on time. Imagine having a real-time map of dengue outbreaks, and being able to overlay it with historical maps of the same. You'd be able to see areas which are new to the disease as well as ones that have had the issue over the years. Now add another layer showing a vegetation map, waste disposal map, a map of canals and a rainfall map. Now you're having a lot better clarity on how the disease came to be and why it's spreading.   Imagine an outbreak of a disease that's highly contagious. Having a public transit map, with how the population moves within the country on a daily basis could be the key to stopping a nationwide outbreak.   We see the potential to develop highly potent tools with publicly available geospatial data.

What we're going to be working on is developing use cases for two specific areas - healthcare and education - with the data that Opendata is making available. They're also working parallel on a project to install rainfall gauges throughout the country using Arduino based devices.   Opendata has also partnered with Dialog Axiata's Ideamart as the platform partner, who will be making the Opendata APIs available along with the hundreds of other APIs they have.   What ideas do you have? what do you think we could do if we have all these different layers of geospatial data? what would you build? We'd love to hear them. reach out to us on niruban@n-able.biz if you'd want to know more about Opendata or have ideas on things to do with this platform.