Monday, January 26, 2009

Data Commons; Why Now

Good Afternoon,

A young and energetic Ghanaian set out six months ago to follow his
heart and build for Ghanaians an online service, one like never done
before, he was going to pay attention to detail, he was going to make
sure the user interface said loads about the service and was not going
to compromise on anything.

So month in, month out he started his building the idea and
researching. He realised that his service will need other services to
run and make sense. Say someones needs to buy wines should the service
tell him he could get one in Accra or Kumasi, of course the one
closest to him, hmm where does he stay: by the main mosque top floor,
now that will be almost impossible right. His dream was dying.

Should this young and energetic guy go out there and now build an
addressing system, catalogue all points of interests and feed data
into Google Maps before he starts his actual service? That's well
known as yak-shaving.

Any ideas?

Alas came BarCampGhana 08 in Accra on the 22nd of December last year,
Emmanuel Okyere was talking data commons in a break-out session and
there, just at that moment he fell in love with the idea. Other people
had made mention of the lack of data but this guy actually had a
solution. His idea was to start and gather as much as he can from the
internet then to apply structure to it and then build on it and the
sweetest part make it open. That sounds like our own google of data
all about Ghana.

Now why is this all so important and why the long story I'm spinning.
Three scenarios:

The HipGuy:
On his mobile phone hipguy wants to find the closest non-visa ATM to
Accra Mall and the fastest route based on current traffic readings to
this place. With a little addition he can text the location to his
friends who look it up via GMaps on phone or PC and Meet up.
Emma's idea is to build the data of such locations and make it
available for third party to build the applications

Where The Heat At:
So this time HipGuy has some AmeriGhanaians visiting and wants to know
which Hotel, Bar, Restaurants or Joint is open till late, or check out
Cinemas and showtimes just a good for place his friends with good
taste and oh kelewele.

Ready To Settle:
Ever attempted to look for a home: buying or renting or some serviced
plots. Google that and you'll get flats in brooklyn and where my man
at, yankee. So to add a little twist to that, what are the schools in
the area like and what kind of people stay in the neighbourhood,
crime, shops and malls.

The scenarios and benefits are endless. Most of the ideas I picked
from my short interaction at BarCampGhana 08. I believe this is the
time for all these ideas and projects and platforms and like Okyere
let's build the data and we'll know what to do with it.

Internet is getting cheaper and cheaper and soon Ghanaians will be
looking for data, at least they'll start from the internet and I think
we should be there.

So for the young and energetic entrepreneurs that is an opportunity;
an opportunity to build the data or to use the data.

The Power Is Yours (if you have the information)

Sent from my mobile device