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Open Data Day 2015 Recap #4: Hacks, Meet Ups and Data Exploration in Africa!

Katelyn Rogers - March 25, 2015 in Featured, Open Data Day, open knowledge

Open Data Day 2015, which took place on February 21, was celebrated in hundreds of communities around the world. In this blog series, we have been highlighting the discussions and outcomes of a small selection of the hacks, data dives and meetups that were organised that day. In this fourth post in the series, we will be looking at a selection of events that took place in Africa, from Tunisia to South Africa and Nigeria to Kenya! If you want to learn more about what transpired in other parts of the world, check out our recaps posts on Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Open Data Day was rocking this year on the African continent, here is just a sample of some of the incredible events that were organised through open community members!

Cameroon

As far as we can tell, the award for largest open data day event in the world goes to the open data community in Yaoundé, Cameroon who managed to pile 2,000 people into the amphitheater at the University of Yaoundé to learn about open data and its potential to improve the lives of citizens in Cameroon. Furthermore, as if 2,000 people in an university amphitheater on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t impressive enough, the event had 5,000 registered participants and incredible online engagement.

ODD Cameroon

The NetSquared Yaoundé community brought together students, open data experts and professors to listen and learn about the importance of open data and specifically the benefits that open data can bring education, economic development, citizen engagement and government transparency and accountability. In a keynote talk, the president of the College of Law and Political Science at the University of Yaoundé emphasised the importance open data for researchers in Cameroon and West Africa as a whole, highlighting that access to open data allows researchers to better understand the challenges they are facing and to developed evidence based and locally specific solutions.

Our hats are off to the open data community in Cameroon, what an exceptional result!

Tanzania

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, open data day was attended by technologists, programmers, hackers, students, activists and NGOs, all of whom came together to grow the local open knowledge community, introduce newcomers to civic hacking and demonstrate the incredible storytelling power of data and data driven projects. Overall, the event was a great success. Several open data projects were presented and a number of open data challenges were identified discussed (for example, the lack of open licence, FOIA, and reluctance of government agencies to share data). Together, participants, shared their strategies to overcome these challenges and brainstormed an effective best path forward.

Participants acknowledged the very real challenge that the open movement is facing in Tanzania as some civil society groups still fail to see the value of coming together to collectively raise a louder voice in demanding open government data. Ultimately, participants determined that the open movement in Tanzania would benefit from increased community building efforts and targeting new partners in order to push the open agenda forward with a larger, more joined-up, base. The participants also determined that there was a need to encourage government officials to attend events like this in the future.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, the open data community organised Benin City’s first open data hackathon with resounding success.

The goal of the event was simple, to raise awareness for open data by using the agricultural sector as an example and demonstrating how data was being used by entrepreneurs in the sector. By the end of the day, organisers hoped that they would generate a pool of ideas on how to stimulate innovation within the agricultural sector through data driven applications and were pleased to report that a number of ideas emerged from the day’s discussion. Keynote presentations were used to introduce key concepts and provide examples of open data. Subsequently, participants were asked to get their hands dirty and actually work with data and think about solutions to challenges within the sector.

Open Data Day participants in Benin City worked with agriculture data from the state’s open data portal – www.data.edostate.gov.ng. The emerging projects are still in development phase and are not yet online but organisers were incredibly excited to see participants working with the data the government has been publishing!

Uganda

Kampala, Uganda was bustling with open data day activities this year, so much so that hackathons were carried out across two weekends!

Open Data Uganda

On February 28th, Reality Check organised an open data day event for journalists, researchers, entrepreneurs, students and technologists. This followed up on data storytelling from the week before. Participants learned about the strengths and weaknesses of tools like videos, pictures, charts as well as about the various tools that are available. Participants learned how to clean and visualise data it in order to use it for effective storytelling. New visualisations were created as well. .. Check it out here.

The participants discussed the progress that had been made over the past year, specifically focusing on what worked and what didn’t, in order to plan better for the year to come. The event was a great success and created such excitement among participants that many of them want to meet and discuss the subject on a monthly basis! In addition, a new google group as well as facebook page were opened to allow people can keep in touch and continue to engage with one another online as well as offline.

Finally, in February in Kampala, open data related activities were not limited to one off hackathons> check out the awesome Code for Africa Bootcamp organised the following week! February was a busy month for open data in Uganda!

Tunisia

In Tunisia, Clibre organised a meetup with a diverse group of participants to celebrate open data day 2015! There were a number of participants with little to no technical knowledge and the goal of the meetup was to expose all participants to the concept of open data and open government as well as to discuss the legal implications of open government in light of the new Tunisian constitution.

ODD Tunisia

Following the presentations and discussion, a number of initiatives using Open Data in Tunisia were presented. M. Nizar Kerkeni, president of the CLibre Association, presented the new open data portal developed for the city of Sayada. At the end of the day, after having had the chance to play around with the new data portal, M. Ramzi Hajjaji from CLibre announced that an official web portal for the city of Monastir would be launched soon, inspired by the portal developed for the city of Sayada.

You can check out a full report of the day (in French) on their website, along with a number of videos (in Arabic)!

Kenya

Kenya ODD

Open Data Day in Mombasa, Kenya was celebrated by organising four separate focus groups in order to explore the potential of open data in the following key areas: security, economy, education & conservation.

The conservation group looked at data on everything from marine and wildlife conservation to the conservation of historic buildings and sites in Mombasa. They looked for various datasets, analysed the data and created various data visualisations documenting pertinent trends. The group exploring the potential of open data on the economy built a prototype for an open tendering system for the government of Kenya, scoping the necessary features and potential impact. The participants exploring open data in education brainstormed various ways in which open data could help parents and students make more informed choices about where they go to school. Finally, in the security group, participants discussed and hacked on ways that they could use open data to combat corruption and fraud.

South Africa

In South Africa, Code for South Africa organised an Data Easter Egg Hunt! If you want to find out more, check out the awesome video they made on the day!

Open Data Day report #3: Data Fiesta in Latin America and the Caribbean

Mor Rubinstein - March 20, 2015 in Featured, Open Data Day

(This post was co-written by Open Knowledge and Fabrizio Scrollini from ILDA)

argentina

In our follow-up series about Open Data Day 2015, which took place on February 21 across the world, we will now highlight some of the great events that took place across the Latin America and the Caribbean. See our previous post about Asia-Pacific and Europe.

The Americas saw a lot of activity during this Open Data Day. Events, hackathons, formal and informal discussions were some of the activities in which the continent engaged through the day. There is an emerging movement with different levels of experience, maturity and resources but with lots of enthusiasm and great perspectives for the future.

Argentina

ODDARPPL The Argentine Open Data Community came together to participate in a full day of activities in Buenos Aires, organized by Open Knowledge embassador, Yamila Garcia. Different members of the community presented their experience in lighting talks that took place throughout the day. Presenters shared experiences about their work in the federal government, Buenos Aires municipality, media, hacking space and advocacy. In a different room, round tables were set up in order to deliberate and plan on the future of open data in Argentina. Subjects like Innovation and the upcoming elections. Hopefully, Ideas will be taken forward and will help to shape the eco-system of Open Data in Argentina. Read more about the event here.

Brazil

Brazil held 6 events in 6 different cities this Open Data Day. In the small Sao Carlos, there was a roundtable discussion about open data policies. The group tried to convince local authorities about the importance of having open data policies that can help build a more transparent and open political process. In Teresina, the local group took a more hands on approach. The local hacker club organised hackathon and all the outcomes were shared under open knowledge licence. San Paulo was also in a coding mood and orginized a hackathon with the LabHacker, PoliGNU, Thacker and Comptroller General of São Paulo (SP-CGM) to promote the use of dataset and the creation of new apps in the fields of Water, Health and transport (See summary of the event here).

Read more about ODD 2015 in Brazil on the Open Knowledge Brasil blog.

Chile

chileIn Chile, Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente took a different approach and moved open data from the virtual space to the streets. As Felipe Alvarez mentions in his blog post, members of Ciudadano Inteligente got out of the office in Santiago and went to meet the citizens in Valparaíso, the second biggest city in Chile. Their objective was simple – to engage with citizens and to know what data they would like to see open. Some interesting topics came up such as expenditure on conservation efforts and local festivals as well as civil rights issues. In addition, the guys invited participants to join AbreLATAM, the regional un-conference that will take place this year in Santiago, Chile.

Uruguay

uruguayThe Uruguayan community was busy around a cup of fresh coffee plotting on how to use local government data to visualize women’s right issues. For four hours engineers, designers, communication people and policy wonks tried some ideas and look for available open data on this topic. With geographical data available and wikipedia, the team took on the task to visualize streets that are named after notable women in Montevideo. The results were a bit discouraging but expected: only 100 out of 5000 streets in Montevideo are named after women. This result catalysed a small community that worked for two weeks on developing this interactive website that acknowledges and explain the role that these women played in Uruguayan history. No doubt, this was a very productive open data day for this country!

Paraguay

paraguayParaguayans did not have enough with one day so they had a whole week for open data activities! Groups like TEDIC took the streets hand in hand with government officials to paint murals with data. Also the government launched the national open data portal among other initiatives that are fostering the nascent open data scene in Paraguay

Costa Rica

In central America “Ticos” are building their open data community. Abriendo Datos Costa Rica is a nascent initiative which co-organised the Costa Rica open data day reaching out to other civil society stakeholders. The event had a wide variety of participants and topics focusing mostly on what data relevant to society should the government open next. Hopefully, open data day is just the beginning for more activities in the country. You can see some of their pics here.

El Salvador

elsalvador In El Salvador a group of civil society organised a roundtable to discuss uses of open data in journalism. Taking a deep look into journalistics practices in El Salvador and Costa Rica the group discussed how to use open data in their day to day assignments. El Salvador has one of the few open data portals that is run by civil society in the region.

Peru

peruPeru saw an epic event organised by the Community Open Data Peru in Lima, where local specialists share knowledge and developed projects together during the whole day. The event galvanised the local open data community which is now spreading through other communities in Peru. Peruvians are very keen to work in several projects and this event may be big stepping stone for a more sustainable and diverse open data community in Peru.

guatemala2

Guatemala

guatemala In Guatemala Accion Ciudadana organised a day based on exploring the community need and their understanding of open data. Participants identified how open data could help their community in daily and strategic issues. The event showed the different levels of understanding participants had about open data. Social Tic Executive Director Juan Manuel Casanueva delivered a training based on community’s perceptions of Open Data. This was one of the first activities in Guatemala about open data and probably one of the many to come!

Mexico

mexico As usual, the Mexican community know how to party with data. In Mexico city, hundred people came to celebrate open data accompanied by Parilla and beer. Participants could choose to go to one of the four workshops that were offered, participate in a hackathon for sustainability or to discover new findings in a data expedition. In addition, a conversation around the state of openness in Mexico developed after the presentation of the the Mexican local and global index results and participant raised ideas for how to grow the local community.

Panama

In Panama IPANDETEC, organized an awesome day which involved a hackathon, documentary screenings, conferences and workshops. The event was set up in collaboration by the chapters in Panama Floss, Wikimedia, Mozilla, Fedora and Creative Commons, as well as IPANDETEC.

columbia

Colombia

columbia2In Medellin Fundación Gobierno Abierto invited school of data fellows to deliver trainings about scraping data. Furthermore the community also spent time to reflect on the regional and local science of open data, as well as get into developing ideas for further action, advocating for open data all across Colombia, both nationally and locally.

Jamaica

[credit to  Mona School of Business & Management]

[credit to Mona School of Business & Management]

In the Caribbean a great event took place at the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and organized by the Open Caribbean Institute. The day kicked off by Dr. Maurice McNaughton, who delivered a 1 hour workshop data visualization based on online resources from School of Data. Then, fuelled by Coffee and Pizza, the students divided into three team where they started to develop data visualizations in three fields – the 2015-2016 Budget, High school track and field data and Development Alert!, an online tool for increasing transparency and public engagement on projects that impact the environment and public health. One on the visualizations, a dashboard for field and track data is now available online here. Over all, it seems like a great start to many more Open Data Day in the Caribbeans!

Summary

All in all the region is showing a vibrant community evolving, showing different degrees of resources and levels of understanding of open data. This is then complex but also presents an opportunity to engage and support more groups here. We could not support as many as we wanted to but this ODDay shows that open data in the Americas is here to stay. Check out some more detailed reports in Spanish on the open data day activities on the Yo Gobierno website (see also here), in this blog post from DAL and this one from BID.

13 mini Grants were given to organisers in the region, as part of the Open Data Day microgrant partnership thanks to ILDA, the Caribbean Open Institute and The Partnership of Open Data. See you next year with even more exciting events and news!

Open Data Day report #2: All of Europe pushing open data

Christian Villum - March 13, 2015 in Events, Featured, Open Data Day, open knowledge

germany1

In our follow-up series about Open Data Day 2015, which tooks place on February 21 across the world, we will now highlight some of the great events that took place across the European continent. To see the first blog post, which covered Asia-Pacific, go here.

Portugal

portugalThis year’s event was the 4th consecutive Open Data Day for the Transparência Hackday Portugal community, all of which have taken a “show-and-tell” approach to ensure an inclusive, community-building programme for the general public. For this year’s event the goals were to invite the general public with an interest in open data to get together, and also become interested in joining hackdays during the rest of the year – as well as showcase the work done at Transparência Hackday Portugal and elsewhere for collective inspiration.

The programme was divided into two parts: in the morning, there was a 2-hour workshop around the subject of linked open data; in the afternoon, there was a set of 3 talks, followed by discussion about the current state of open data in Porto and Portugal, which lead into setting possible next steps.

Overall, the event was successful and productive and attracted a mixed audience of over 20 technologists, programmers, hackers and students. While the group did not engage in hack sessions (as they usually do in other meetups), the event was an energetic moment and formed a great space for interested people to get in touch with the existing community. More over, the linked data workshop turned out to be a great way to get people engaged with the goals and virtues of open data and the necessary steps to get there. A sentiment that was also emphasized in the projects that were showcased during the talks: They provided good topics for discussion, as well as an effective pathway for newcomers to learn of what the Portuguese open data hacker community has been producing.

Austria

AustriaWe got two working groups here at Open Data Day 2015 Vienna. A group of 10 People analyzed and visualized all subsidies given by the City of Salzburg in the year 2012 and 2013. This full and complete dataset will be published in the near future, to bring full transparency into Salzburg’s subsidy regime.

Another group of 15 started a new citizen sensor data project. We built first seven sensor boxes based on Arduino which measure sun­hours, traffic density, noise, NOx and respirable dust, alike. Together with the city wide public sensors owned by the city administration, this new citizen sensor network bring more local and more frequent data to be used in APPs and analysis. It’s planned to present the running citizen sensor dashboard at viennaopen.net (April 2015). See a photo gallery here.

Czech Republic

CzechRepCzech community celebrated Open Data Day with a hands­ome gathering aimed at solving specific data problems. One of the groups worked on improving an API for government contacts, while others discussed the state of openness of Prague’s data. Thanks to the presence of one of the municipal representatives, the working group managed to draft a basic concept for opening the datasets of the Czech capital. The organiser is very happy with the results and would thank brmlab hackerspace, which hosted the event and all the hardworking participants. See photos here.

Denmark

Denmark_photoIn Denmark two seperate events took place. In Aarhus students were competing in creating the most innovative open data solutions at the Open Culture Days, organized among other by the Open Data Aarhus initiative. In the capitol city of Copenhagen 35 open data enthusiasts met for multiple workshops: a dataworkshop on electoral data, introduction to data analysis and an attempt to map different actors involved in the field of open data and “open” in generel. As a pre-­event a group of people went for a data-­walk in the area to learn about Mapillary, the crowdsourced open-source equivalent of Google Street Maps.

Spain

With around 40 participants coming from 9 countries, past 21st of February it we be hold the II OKFN AWARD to open knowledge, open data and transparency. Winners include,for its involvement with citizens and society to Concurso datos abiertos Junta de Castilla y León, best sustainable initiative Open Food Facts, best use of open data for transparency Aragón Open Data, best open science initiative Open science training initiative, best non public initiative for transparency to Openkratio and El BOE nuestro de cada día and for support to entrepreneurship based on open knowledge to Medialab Prado. Our president Rufus Pollock close the event, and last but not least thanks to the main collaborator, Google and the jury members coming from local groups of Argentina, Belgium, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Paraguay, Spain and UK. Read more in this blog post

Germany

germany2In Germany the OK Labs from Code for Germany once again participated in Open Data Day and organized hackathons and workshops in their cities across the country. Leipzig, Münster, Munich, Cologne, Heilbronn (Mannheim), Berlin and Ulm were all among the cities where events took place. Open data enthusiasts in Frankfurt, Jena, Magdeburg and Karlsruhe even used the occasion to launch new OK Labs groups! At all events the community hacked, discussed, welcomed new members and developed numerous projects. You can find an Storify-overview about the Open Data Day in Germany.

Bulgaria

With a varied and very interesting spectrum of participants covering both civil society, servants from government bodies and gov-related businesses (including the Head of Cabinet of Deputy Prime Minister Rumyana Bachvarova) as well as representatives from TechnoLogica (one of the top companies in Bulgaria that are executing e-government public tenders), Open Data Day in Bulgaria was kicked off really well and ran over 2 days. Activities included automatic data pushing to the national CKAN instance and the creation of a data visualization with data from the energy sector. Furthermore there were several discussions during the event as well and talks about topics such as what to be aware of when working for opening government administration data.

The event also got into concrete chats about the ongoing government data project: The Bulgarian government has prioritized 119 datasets to be published in open format and are now working on putting them on the CKAN data portal that volunteers from Obshtestvo.bg developed last year. They also talked about potentially organising a larger event when there is data in the portal, in which they’ll attempt to engage other organisations like the British Council, universities and venture funds.

Lastly, a group created a project on github that reads data from a specified datasource (currently only a file) and submits it to the configured datastore in CKAN. The configuration has a GUI with data validation and it’s meant to be used by local administrations to automate data publishing. The team has agreed to continue working on it and started a facebook group where progress will be posted.

Romania

Also in Romania the organisers, Coalition for Open Data and its partners, ran their event over 2 whole days to celebrate Open Data Day. The event, run by Coalition for Open Data in collaboration with the Romanian Government and supported by State Embassies of United Kingdom and the Netherlands in Romania, was held at the National Library and on the first day included debates about transparency, justice, culture and business, all from an open data perspective.
On the second day a programming activism marathon was organised at the Academy of Economic Studies, Faculty of Cybernetics and Economic Statistics. Participants included developers, activists, journalists as well as many others, who all got together to build applications that promote good governance. Read about the event in more detail on the Open Government blog.

Russia

In Moscow, the international Open Data Day was supported by the OP Information Culture and the Russian branch of Open Knowledge. The event was attended by over 40 people who represented a variety of skills. Among the participants were representatives of the humanities (PR, advertising, journalism etc), as well as developers, programmers and data analysts. Were presented not only reports the presentations, but also stories, announcements of upcoming events in the free form. The activities included presentations, among other on open science, data visualisations, plain language and Leaflet.js. This was followed by a hackathon, which resulted in four prototype applications. Lastly, some of the participants participated in the Open Science Labs project, which focuses on the discoveries of science and is designed to popularize and promote the concept of open science in Russia. To join in, simply go here

Open Data Day report #1: Highly inspiring activities across the Asia-Pacific

Christian Villum - March 9, 2015 in Community, Featured, Open Data Day

kathmandu1

Following the global Open Data Day 2015 event, which tooks place on February 21 with hundreds of events across the globe, we will do a blog series to highlight some of all the great activities that took place. In this first post (of four in total) we start by looking at some of the great events that took place across the Asia and Pacific. Three more accounts will bring similar accounts from the Americas, Africa and Europe in the days to come.

Philippines

indonesiaIn the Philippines, Open Knowledge Philippines and the School of Data local grouping celebrated the International Open Data Day 2015 with back to back events on February 20-21, 2015. The extensive event featured talks by Joel Garcia of Microsoft Philippines, Paul De Paula of Drupal Pilipinas, Dr. Sherwin Ona of De La Salle University and Michael Canares of Web Foundation Open Data Labs, Jakarta – alongside community leaders such as Happy Feraren of BantayPH (who is also one of the 2014 School of Data Fellows) and Open Knowledge Ambassador Joseph De Guia. The keynote speaker was Ivory Ong, Outreach Lead of Open Data Philippines, who rightly said that “we need citizens who are ready to use the data, and we need the government and citizens to work together to make the open data initiative successful.”

Talks were followed by an open data hackathon and a data jam. The hackathon used data sets taken from the government open data portal; General Appropriation Act (GAA) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The students were tasked to develop a web or mobile app that would encourage participation of citizens in the grass root participatory budgeting program of national government. The winning team was able to develop a web application containing a dashboard of the Philippine National Budget and a “Do-It-Yourself” budget allocation.

Nepal

nepal2Another large event took place in Kathmandu, where Open Knowledge Nepal had teamed up with an impressive coalition of partners including open communities such as Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Nepal Community, Mozilla Nepal, Wikimedians of Nepal,CSIT Association of Nepal, Acme Open Source Community (AOSC) and Open Source Ascol Circle (OSAC). The event had several streams of activities including among other a Spending Data Party, CKAN Localization session, a Data Scrapathon, a MakerFest, a Wikipedia Editathon and a community discussion. Each session had teams of facilitators and over 60 people tooks part in the day.

Bangladesh

bangladeshIn Dhaka an event was held by Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN) and Open Knowledge Bangladesh. The event featured a series of distinguished speakers including Jabed Morshed Chowdhury, Joint Secretary of BDOSN and Bangla administrator of Google Developer Group, Nurunnaby Chowdhury Hasive, Ambassador Open Knowledge Bangladesh, Abu Sayed, president of Mukto Ashor, Bayzid Bhuiyan Juwel, General Secretary of Mukto Ashor, Nusrat Jahan, Executive Officer of Janata Bank Limited and Promi Nahid, BdOSN coordinator – who all discussed various topics and issues of open data including what open data is, how it works, where Bangladesh fits in and more. Moreover those interested in working with open data were introduced to various tools of Open Knowledge.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan An community initiative in Tajikistan took place in partnership with the magazine ICT4D under the banner of “A day of open data in Tajikistan”. The event was held at the Centre for Information Technology and Communications in the Office of Education in Dushanbe, and brought together designers, developers, statisticians and others who had ideas for the use of open data, or desires to find interesting projects to contribute to as well as learn how to visualize and analyze data. With participants both experienced and brand new to the topic, the event aimed to ensure that every citizen had the opportunity to learn and help the global community of open data to develop.

Among the activities were basic introductions to open data and discussions about how the local government could contribute to the creation of open data. There were also discussions about the involvement of local non-profit organizations and companies in the use of open data for products and missions, as well as trainings and other hands-on activities to participants actively involved.

India

indiaOpen Knowledge India, with support from the National Council of Education Bengal and the Open Knowledge micro grants, organised the India Open Data Summit on February, 28. It was the first ever Data Summit of this kind held in India and was attended by Open Data enthusiasts from all over India. Talks and workshops were held throughout the day, revolving around Open Science, Open Education, Open Data and Open GLAM in general, but also zooming in on concrete projects, for instance:

  • The Open Education Project, run by Open Knowledge India, which aims to complement the government’s efforts to bring the light of education to everyone. The project seeks to build a platform that would offer the Power of Choice to the children in matters of educational content, and on the matter of open data platforms, [CKAN](http://ckan.org/) was also discussed.
  • Opening up research data of all kinds was another point that was discussed. India has recently passed legislature ensuring that all government funded research results will be in the open.
  • Open governance not only at the national level, but even at the level of local governments, was something that was discussed with seriousness. Everyone agreed that in order to reduce corruption, open governance is the way to go. Encouraging the common man to participate in the process of open governance is another key point that was stressed upon. India is the largest democracy in the world and this democracy is very complex too.Greater use of the power of the crowd in matters of governance can help the democracy a long way by uprooting corruption from the very core.

Overall, the India Open Data Summit, 2015 was a grand success in bringing likeminded individuals together and in giving them a shared platform, where they can join hands to empower themselves. The first major Open Data Summit in India ended with the promise of keeping the ball rolling. Hopefully, in near future we will see many more such events all over India.

Australia

In Australia they had worked for a few weeks in advance to set up a regional Open Data Census instance, which was then launched on Open Data Day. The projects for the day included drafting a Contributor Guide, creating a Google Sheet to allow people to collect census entries prior to entering them online as well as adding Google Analytics to the site – plus of course submission of data sets.

The launch even drew media attention: CIO Magazine published an article where they covered International Open Data Day, the open data movement in Australia, and the importance of open data in helping the community.

You can read about the process of setting up the Open Data Census in this blog post and follow the Australian Regional Open Data Census team on @AuOpenDataIndex.

Cambodia

OpenDataDay 2015, PP The Open Knowledge Cambodia local group in partnership with­ Open Development Cambodia & Destination Justice, co-­organized a full day event with presentations/talks in the morning & translate-a-­thon of the Open Data Handbook into the Khmer language at Development Innovations Cambodia. The event was attended by over 20 participants representing private sector employees, NGO staff, students and researchers.

Watch this space for more Open Data Day reports during the week!

India Open Data Summit 2015

Guest - March 6, 2015 in Community, Events, OKF India

This blog post is cross-posted from the Open Knowledge India blog and the Open Steps blog. It is written by Open Knowledge Ambassador Subhajit Ganguly, who is a physicist and an active member of various open data, open science and Open Access movements.

ODSummit1

Open Knowledge India, with support from the National Council of Education Bengal and the Open Knowledge micro grants, organised the India Open Data Summit on February, 28. It was the first ever Data Summit of this kind held in India and was attended by Open Data enthusiasts from all over India. The event was held at Indumati Sabhagriha, Jadavpur University. Talks and workshops were held throughout the day. The event succeeded in living up to its promise of being a melting point of ideas.

The attendee list included people from all walks of life. Students, teachers, educationists, environmentalists, scientists, government officials, people’s representatives, lawyers, people from the tinseltown — everyone was welcomed with open arms to the event. The Chief Guests included the young and talented movie director Bidula Bhattacharjee, a prominent lawyer from the Kolkata High Court Aninda Chatterjee, educationist Bijan Sarkar and an important political activist Rajib Ghoshal. Each one of them added value to the event, making it into a free flow of ideas. The major speakers from the side of Open Knowledge India included Subhajit Ganguly, Priyanka Sen and Supriya Sen. Praloy Halder, who has been working for the restoration of the Sunderbans Delta, also attended the event. Environment data is a key aspect of the conservation movement in the Sunderbans and it requires special attention.

ODSummit2The talks revolved around Open Science, Open Education, Open Data and Open GLAM. Thinking local and going global was the theme from which the discourse followed. Everything was discussed from an Indian perspective, as many of the challenges faced by India are unique to this part of the world. There were discussions on how the Open Education Project, run by Open Knowledge India, can complement the government’s efforts to bring the light of education to everyone. The push was to build up a platform that would offer the Power of Choice to the children in matters of educational content. More and more use of Open Data platforms like the CKAN was also discussed. Open governance not only at the national level, but even at the level of local governments, was something that was discussed with seriousness. Everyone agreed that in order to reduce corruption, open governance is the way to go. Encouraging the common man to participate in the process of open governance is another key point that was stressed upon. India is the largest democracy in the world and this democracy is very complex too.Greater use of the power of the crowd in matters of governance can help the democracy a long way by uprooting corruption from the very core.

ODSummit3Opening up research data of all kinds was another point that was discussed. India has recently passed legislature ensuring that all government funded research results will be in the open. A workshop was held to educate researchers about the existing ways of disseminating research results. Further enquiries were made into finding newer and better ways of doing this. Every researcher, who had gathered, resolved to enrich the spirit of Open Science and Open Research. Overall, the India Open Data Summit, 2015 was a grand success in bringing likeminded individuals together and in giving them a shared platform, where they can join hands to empower themselves. The first major Open Data Summit in India ended with the promise of keeping the ball rolling. Hopefully, in near future we will see many more such events all over India.

Open Data Camp UK: Bursting out of the Open Data Bubble

Marieke Guy - February 24, 2015 in Events, open knowledge

“But nobody cares about Open Data”

This thought was voiced in many guises during last weekend’s Open Data Camp. Obviously not entirely true, as demonstrated by the 100+ people who had travelled to deepest Hampshire for the first UK camp of its kind, or the many more people involving themselves in Open Data Day activities around the world. However the sentiment that, while many of us are getting extremely excited about the potential of Open Data in areas including government, crime and health, the rest of the planet are ‘just not interested’ was very clear.

As a non-technical person I’m keen to see ways that this gap can be bridged.

Open Data Camp was a 2-day unconference that aimed to let the technical and making sit alongside the story-telling and networking. There was also lots of cake!

Open Data Camp t-shirts

Open Data Camp t-shirts

Open Data Board Game

After a pitch from session leaders we were left with that tricky choice about what to go for. I attended a great session led by Ellen Broad from the Open Data Institute on creating an Open Data board game. Creating a board game is no easy task but has huge potential as a way to reach out to people. Those behind the Open Data Board Game Project are keen to create something informative and collaborative which still retains elements of individual competition.

In the session we spent some time thinking about what data could underpin the game: Should it use data sets that affect most members of the general public (transport, health, crime, education – almost a replication of the national information infrastructure)? Or could there be data set bundles (think environmental related datasets that help you create your own climate co-op or food app)? Or what about sets for different levels of the game (a newbie version, a government data version)?

What became clear quite early on was there was two ways to go with the board game idea: one was creating something that could share the merits of Open Data with new communities, the other was something (complex) that those already interested in Open Data could play. Setting out to create a game that is ‘all things to all people’ is unfortunately likely to fail.

Discussion moved away from the practicalities of board game design to engaging with ‘other people’. The observation was made that while the general public don’t care about Open Data per se they do care about the result it brings. One concrete example given was Uber which connects riders to drivers through apps, now with mainstream use.

One project taking an innovative approach is Numbers that Matter. They are looking to bypass the dominant demographic (white, male, middle class, young) of technology users and focus on communities and explore with them how Open Data will affect their well-being. They’ve set out to make Open Data personal and relevant (serving the individual rather than civic-level participant). Researchers in the project began by visiting members of the general public in their own environment (so taxi drivers, hairdressers,…) and spoke to them about what problems or issues they were facing and what solutions could be delivered. The team also spent time working with neighbourhood watch schemes – these are not only organised but have a ‘way in’ with the community. Another project highlighted that is looking at making Open Data and apps meaningful for people is Citadel on the Move which aims to make it easier for citizens and application developers from across Europe to use Open Data to create the type of innovative mobile applications they want and need.

The discussion about engagement exposed some issues around trust and exploitation; ultimately people want to know where the benefits are for them. These benefits needs to be much clearer and articulated better. Tools like Open Food Facts, a database of food products from the entire world, do this well: “we can help you identify products that contain the ingredient you are allergic to“.

Saturday’s unconference board

Saturday’s unconference board

“Data is interesting in opposition to power”

Keeping with the theme of community engagement I attended a session led by RnR Organisation who support grassroots and minority cultural groups to change, develop and enhance their skills in governance, strategic development, operational and project management, and funding. They used the recent Release of Data fund, which targets the release of specific datasets prioritised by the Open Data User Group, to support the development of a Birmingham Data and Skills Hub. However their training sessions (on areas including data visualization, use of Tablau and Google Fusion tables) have not instilled much interest and on reflection they now realise that they have pitched too high.

Open Data understanding and recognition is clearly part of a broader portfolio of data literacy needs that begins with tools like Excel and Wikipedia. RnR work has identified 3 key needs of 3rd sector orgs: data and analysis skills; data to learn and improve activities; and measurement of impacts.

Among the group some observations were made on the use of data by community groups including the need for timely data (“you need to show people today“) and relevant information driven by community needs (“nobody cares about Open Data but they do care about stopping bad things from happening in their area“). An example cited was of a project to stop the go ahead of a bypass in Hereford, they specifically needed GIS data. One person remarked that “data is interesting in opposition to power“, and we have a role to support here. Other questions raised related to the different needs of communities of geography and communities of interest. Issues like the longevity of data also come in to play: Armchair Auditor is a way to quickly find out where the Isle of Wight council has been spending money, unfortunately a change in formats by the council has resulted in the site being comprimised.

Sessions were illustrated by Drawnalism

Sessions were illustrated by Drawnalism

What is data literacy?

Nicely following on from these discussions a session later in the day looked at data literacy. The idea was inspired by an Open Data 4 Development research project led by Mark Frank and Johanna Walker (University of Southampton) in which they discovered that even technically literate individuals still found Open Data challenging to understand. The session ended up resulting a series of questions: So ‘what exactly is data literacy’? Is it a homogeneous set of expertise (e.g. finding data), or is the context everything? Are there many approaches (such as suggested in the Open Data cook book or is there a definitive guide such as the Open Data Handbook or a step by step way to learn such as through School of Data. Is the main issue asking the right questions? Is there a difference between data literacy and data fluency? Are there two types of specialism: domain specialism and computer expertise? And can you offset a lack of data expertise with better designed data?

The few answers seemed to emerge through analogies. Maybe data literacy is like traditional literacy – it is essential to all, it is everyone’s job to make it happen (a collaboration between parents and teachers). Or maybe it is more like plumbing – having some understanding can help you understand situations but then you often end up bringing in an expert. Then again it could be more like politics or PHSE – it enables you to interact with the world and understand the bigger picture. The main conclusion from the session was that it is the responsibility of everyone in the room to be an advocate and explainer of Open Data!

“Backbone of information for the UK”

The final session I attended was an informative introduction to the National Information infrastructure an iterative framework that lists strategically important data and documents the services that provide access to the data and connect it to other data. It intended as the “backbone of information” for the UK, rather like the rail and road networks cater for transport. The NII team began work by carrying out a data inventory followed by analysis of the quality of the data available. Much decision making has used the concept of “data that is of strategic value to country” – a type of ‘core reference data’. Future work will involve thinking around what plan the country needs to put into play to support this core data. Does being part of the NII protect data? Does the requirement for a particular data set compel release? More recently there has been engagement with the Open Data user group / transparency board / ODI / Open Knowledge and beyond to understand what people are using and why, this may prioritise release.

It seems that at this moment the NII is too insular, it may need to break free from consideration of just publicly owned data and begin to consider privately owned data not owned by the government (e.g. Ordnance Survey data). Also how can best practices be shared? The Local Government Association are creating some templates for use here but there is scope for more activity.

With event organiser Mark Braggins

With event organiser Mark Braggins

Unfortunately I could only attend one day of Open Data Camp and there was way too much for one person to take in anyway! For more highlights read the Open Data Camp blog posts or see summaries of the event on Conferieze and Eventifier. The good news is that with the right funding and good will the Open Data Camp will become an annual roving event.

Where did people come from?

Where did people come from?

#openbelgium15, the Open Data Discussion after Open Data Day

Guest - February 23, 2015 in Events, OKF Belgium

This is a guest blog post by Pieter-Jan Pauwels from Open Knowledge Belgium.

Skærmbillede 2015-02-25 kl. 14.23.29

This past weekend has been buzzing with activities around the world during #OpenDataDay. In Belgium however they saved their strength for this week in order to host the #openbelgium15 conference, featuring industry examples, community workshops and much more. Over 180 people are gathering in Namur to attend and you can too via streaming. The whole day Open Knowledge Belgium will broadcast activities for the online audience.

“Auditorium Félicien Rops” is the plenary session hall and also the workshop room for “Open Data Tools & Standard” and “Local Open Data”. The “Plein Ciel” hall will host the “Open Transport session” as well as the “Open Science session”.

You can let us know what you think through the hashtag #openbelgium15 on Twitter, or read much more about the conference on the official website. Enjoy!

Auditorium Félicien Rops (plenary sessions):

Want more data? If you are still interested in knowing more about how the OKFestival budget was spent, we have published details about the events income and expenses here.

If you missed OKFestival this year, don’t worry – it will be back! Keep an eye on our blog for news and join the Open Knowledge discussion list to share your ideas for the next OKFestival. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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