Data has always meant numbers – random digits from 0 to 9. It’s informative and useful, but it is not interesting enough to compete in the world of music and animation. But music and animation have little to do with development and that is where the data comes in.
I had a small chat with Santosh Gartaula, CEO of Bikas Udhyami about Nepal in Data.
Nepal in Data (NiD) is an open data and statistics portal where development data and statistics on Nepal from 1950 to present are available and accessible to a wide audience.
NiD is huge. All data, collected from various government sources like the Central Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission and different ministries, are classified into sections, indicators and sub-indicators with options to select the time range and the location. All data are presented in charts, graphs, and maps – making it easier to see trends and patterns. It also has a multigraph feature with which different graphs can be viewed in the same timeline.
It is also visually pleasing. The home page has a live counter for sections, datasets, events, downloads, visits and discussions and a timeline of all important events in Nepal since 1950. It has a lot of photos and videos on the timeline, including a video of the King Mahendra’s visit to the USA.
Santosh had always been interested in data. As an undergraduate, going through a lot of pain to collect the data he required, scattered in several government agencies, he started collecting the data himself. Then when he started Bikas Udhyami, he was determined to create a portal where people can access the data they need easily.
The entire application took six months to build, starting from concept to actual development, and involved 10 people (including five from Techkunja; another startup that provides the web, enterprise, mobile and graphic design services).
Challenges and Future Plans
Developing this application had its own problems. Since all data is scattered, collecting it all in one place was difficult. Secondly, the processing of the data was a challenge, because most of the data was only available in hard copy or pdf format. Then there were challenges ensuring data consistency and creating the database design to correctly represent all the data.
In the future, the team at NiD wants to keep adding new datasets that are useful to the people and cover different aspects of Nepal – to get bigger and better. They are keen to add new visualization features and enable people to understand and use data by increasing data literacy.
“For us, quality is extremely important in our work. We wanted to develop a portal that is not only useful but also appealing in terms of design to a wide range of users. We are passionate about what we do, particularly about data and its potential for development of Nepal. We want to support users like government and help them with our portal.” says, Santosh.
He adds, “We are keen to collaborate with government, civil society, development agencies, private sector, media houses and other stakeholders to further enhance the portal and make it as useful as possible to everyone.”
Nepal in Data is different. It lures you in with visuals and keeps you stuck with its interactive and informative data and figures. It actually makes data easy and fun. NiD is an interesting site. Give it a try.
The team at TechLekh wishes Nepal in Data all the best for all its future endeavors.
Visit Nepal in Data
Edited by Awale Sushil.