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Open Data Day Mini Grants: back for 2016!

Mor Rubinstein - January 29, 2016 in Featured, Open Data Day, open knowledge

This year, on Saturday, the 5th of March, the fourth annual Open Data Day will take place. For us in Open Knowledge, Open Data Day is one of our favourite initiatives. This is a grassroot event that has no particular organisation behind it, and it is able to bring together people from all over the world to discuss, hack and promote open data. From Japan to Vancouver, Cape Town to Oslo, Brazil to Nepal, London and Greece, Open Data Day is a global celebration of openness. It helps us all raise awareness about openness of data in different fields across the world and It unites us once a year as a community.

Last year, Open Knowledge International started the mini grant scheme to support Open Data Day events across the world. As a volunteer based event, we know how a small chunk of money can make a great difference – from getting food to your hackathon to hiring a venue to whatever you need. In 2015, with the support of ILDA, Sunlight Foundation and the Caribbean Open Institute we were able to give 28 grants all over the world and to enrich Open Data Day.

This year We are happy to announce that we will keep giving mini grants to support Open Data Day around the world. Open Knowledge will be able distribute a total amount of $7500 USD between different groups around the world. The mini grants will be in the sum of $250-$350 USD each and will serve Open Data Day 2016 events only. The deadline to all applications is Sunday, 14/2/2016.

indonesia

2015 Open Data Day participants in Indonesia

How to apply for the mini grants scheme?

First, add your event to the Open Data Day website and wiki. Then, fill out this FORM. NOTICE: Events that are not be registered on the Open Data Day website will not be considered for the grant.

Who can apply for a mini grant?

Any civil society group from anywhere around the world. We will give preference to current groups and affiliates groups that already work as part of the Open Knowledge Network, but we will consider other groups as well. Notice, we will not give this grant to governments.

Is there any topic that the event should focus on? No, it can be Open Science, Open GLAM, Open Gov… As long has it has something to do with Open Data. :-)

Are there any geographical restrictions? It doesn’t matter where your event is, you are welcome to apply. Please note that we will not fund two events in the same country, so we encourage groups to merge to one event as they can.

What is the catch? Do I have to do anything in return? Yes there is a small catch, but only for the sake of knowledge sharing and smooth operations!

  1. Since Open Data Day is really around the corner, we ask you to provide us all information for delivering your grant, within 3 working days after you have been notified you will get the grant.
  2. We do ask you to write a blog post that describes your event and what the group learned from it. We believe that in this way the Open Knowledge Network can learn better from one another and make better connections between people and ideas.

If my application is successful, how are you going to transfer us the money?

If your application was successful, you will be required to immediately provide sufficient Bank information in order to make payment. All payments will either be made via Paypal, or direct to you bank account.

When will you announce if I got the mini grant? We aim to notify all grant winners by Friday the 19/2/2016.

The deadline to all applications is Sunday, 14/2/2016.

For more information please ask in our forum, and one of us would be happy to assist. – https://discuss.okfn.org/c/network-and-community/open-data-day

Treasures from the Public Domain in New Essays Book

Adam Green - November 12, 2015 in Featured, Public Domain, Public Domain Review

PDRBook2014_Cover2_540

Open Knowledge project The Public Domain Review is very proud to announce the launch of its second book of selected essays! For nearly five years now we’ve been diligently trawling the rich waters of the public domain, bringing to the surface all sorts of goodness from various openly licensed archives of historical material: from the Library of Congress to the Rijksmuseum, from Wikimedia Commons to the wonderful Internet Archive. We’ve also been showcasing, each fortnight, new writing on a selection of these public domain works, and this new book picks out our very best offerings from 2014.

All manner of oft-overlooked histories are explored in the book. We learn of the strange skeletal tableaux of Frederik Ruysch, pay a visit to Humphry Davy high on laughing gas, and peruse the pages of the first ever picture book for children (which includes the excellent table of Latin animal sounds pictured below). There’s also fireworks in art, petty pirates on trial, brainwashing machines, truth-revealing diseases, synesthetic auras, Byronic vampires, and Charles Darwin’s photograph collection of asylum patients. Together the fifteen illustrated essays chart a wonderfully curious course through the last five hundred years of history — from sea serpents of the 16th-century deep to early-20th-century Ouija literature — taking us on a journey through some of the darker, stranger, and altogether more intriguing corners of the past.

Order by 18th November to benefit from a special reduced price and delivery in time for Christmas


If you are wanting to get the book in time for Christmas (and we do think it’d make an excellent gift for that history-loving relative or friend!), then please make sure to order before midnight on Wednesday 18th November. Orders placed before this date will also benefit from a special reduced price!

Please visit the dedicated page on The Public Domain Review site to learn more and also buy the book!

Double page spread (full bleed!), showing a magnificent 18th-century print of a fireworks display at the Hague – from our essay on how artists have responded to the challenge of depicting fireworks through the ages.

Join the School of Data team: Technical Trainer wanted

Open Knowledge - November 9, 2015 in Featured, Jobs, School of Data

Background

The mission of Open Knowledge International is to open up all essential public interest information and see it utilized to create insight that drives change. To this end we work to create a global movement for open knowledge, supporting a network of leaders and local groups around the world; we facilitate coordination and knowledge sharing within the movement; we build collaboration with other change-making organisations both within our space and outside; and, finally, we prototype and provide a home for pioneering products.

A decade after its foundation, Open Knowledge International is ready for its next phase of development. We started as an organisation that led the quest for the opening up of existing data sets – and in today’s world most of the big data portals run on CKAN, an open source software product developed first by us.

Today, it is not only about opening up of data; it is making sure that this data is usable, useful and – most importantly – used, to improve people’s lives. Our current projects (School of Data, OpenSpending, OpenTrials, and many more) all aim towards giving people access to data, the knowledge to understand it, and the power to use it in our everyday lives.

The School of Data is growing in size and scope, and to support this project – alongside our partners – we are looking for an enthusiastic Technical Trainer (flexible location, part time).

School of Data is a network of data literacy practitioners, both organisations and individuals, implementing training and other data literacy activities in their respective countries and regions. Members of the School of Data work to empower civil society organizations (CSOs), journalists, governments and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively in their efforts to create better, more equitable and more sustainable societies. Over the past four years, School of Data has succeeded in developing and sustaining a thriving and active network of data literacy practitioners in partnership with our implementing partners across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Our local implementing partners are Social TIC, Code for Africa, Metamorphosis, and several Open Knowledge chapters around the world. Together, we have produced dozens of lessons and hands-on tutorials on how to work with data published online, benefitting thousands of people around the world. Over 4500 people have attended our tailored training events, and our network has mentored dozens of organisations to become tech savvy and data driven. Our methodologies and approach for delivering hands-on data training and data literacy skills – such as the data expedition – have now been replicated in various formats by organisations around the world.

One of our flagship initiatives, the School of Data Fellowship Programme, was first piloted in 2013 and has now successfully supported 26 fellows in 25 countries to provide long-term data support to CSOs in their communities. School of Data coordination team members are also consistently invited to give support locally to fellows in their projects and organisations that want to become more data-savvy.

In order to give fellows a solid point of reference in terms of content development and training resources, and also to have a point person to give capacity building support for our members and partners around the world, School of Data is now hiring an outstanding trainer/consultant who’s familiar with all the steps of the Data Pipeline and School of Data’s innovative training methodology to be the all-things-content-and-training for the School of Data network.

Objectives

The hired professional will have three main objectives:

  • Technical Trainer & Data Wrangler: represent School of Data in training activities around the world, either supporting local members through our Training Dispatch or delivering the training themselves;
  • Data Pipeline & Training Consultant: give support for members and fellows regarding training (planning, agenda, content) and curriculum development using School of Data’s Data Pipeline;
  • Curriculum development: work closely with the Programme Manager & Coordination team to steer School of Data’s curriculum development, updating and refreshing our resources as novel techniques and tools arise.

Terms of Reference

  • Attend regular (weekly) planning calls with School of Data Coordination Team;
  • Work with current and future School of Data funders and partners in data-literacy related activities in an assortment of areas: Extractive Industries, Natural Disaster, Health, Transportation, Elections, etc;
  • Be available to organise and run in person data-literacy training events around the world, sometimes in short notice (agenda, content planning, identifying data sources, etc);
  • Provide reports of training events and support given to members and partners of School of Data Network;
  • Work closely with all School of Data Fellows around the world to aid them in their content development and training events planning & delivery;
  • Write for the School of Data blog about curriculum and training events;
  • Take ownership of the development of curriculum for School of Data and support training events of the School of Data network;
  • Work with Fellows and other School of Data Members to design and develop their skillshare curriculum;
  • Coordinate support for the Fellows when they do their trainings;
  • Mentor Fellows including monthly point person calls, providing feedback on blog posts and curriculum & general troubleshooting;
  • The position reports to School of Data’s Programme Manager and will work closely with other members of the project delivery team;
  • This part-time role is paid by the hour. You will be compensated with a market salary, in line with the parameters of a non-profit-organisation;
  • We offer employment contracts for residents of the UK with valid permits, and services contracts to overseas residents

Deliverables

  • A lightweight monthly report of performed activities with Fellows and members of the network;
  • A final narrative report at the end of the first period (6 months) summarising performed activities;
  • Map the current School of Data curriculum to diagnose potential areas of improvement and to update;
  • Plan and suggest a curriculum development & training delivery toolkit for Fellows and members of the network

Requirements

  • Be self-motivated and autonomous;
  • Fluency in written and spoken English (Spanish & French are a plus);
  • Reliable internet connection;
  • Outstanding presentation and communication skills;
  • Proven experience running and planning training events;
  • Proven experience developing curriculum around data-related topics;
  • Experience working remotely with workmates in multiple timezones is a plus;
  • Experience in project management;
  • Major in Journalism, Computer Science, or related field is a plus

We strive for diversity in our team and encourage applicants from the Global South and from minorities.

Duration

Six months to one year: from November 2015 (as soon as possible) to April 2016, with the possibility to extend until October 2016 and beyond, at 10-12 days per month (8 hours/day).

Application Process

Interested? Then send us a motivational letter and a one page CV via https://okfn.org/about/jobs/.

Please indicate your current country of residence, as well as your salary expectations (in GBP) and your earliest availability.

Early application is encouraged, as we are looking to fill the positions as soon as possible. These vacancies will close when we find a suitable candidate.

Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis and may be requested on short notice.

If you have any questions, please direct them to jobs [at] okfn.org.

Introducing Portfolios, hiring Managers

Open Knowledge - October 29, 2015 in Featured, Jobs, News

The mission of Open Knowledge International is to open up all essential public interest information and see it utilized to create insight that drives change. To this end we work to create a global movement for open knowledge, supporting a network of leaders and local groups around the world; we facilitate coordination and knowledge sharing within the movement; we build collaboration with other change-making organisations both within our space and outside; and, finally, we prototype and provide a home for pioneering products.

A decade after its foundation, Open Knowledge International is ready for its next phase of development. We started as an organisation that led the quest for the opening up of existing data sets – and in today’s world most of the big data portals run on CKAN, an open source software product developed first by us.

Today, it is not only about opening up of data; it is making sure that this data is usable, useful and – most importantly – used, to improve people’s lives. Our current projects (OpenSpending, OpenTrials, School of Data, and many more) all aim towards giving people access to data, the knowledge to understand it, and the power to use it in our everyday lives.

Portfolios at Open Knowledge International

At Open Knowledge International, we are creating a new organisational structure that will help us to grow into our next phase of development. This will better enable us to support new and existing open knowledge initiatives to help people to improve their lives and the societies that they live in.

We are excited to be hiring for the roles of three Portfolio Managers, who will each lead a portfolio of products in a different stage of development:

  • In the portfolio Planting the Seeds we focus on developing prototypes and early-stage products. When a new approach to the use of data can be tested, or the application of open data in a new field becomes more relevant, this is where we trial whether our ideas are sound and are able to generate wider traction. This portfolio is closely connected to our cutting-edge research work;
  • The Growing the Trees portfolio focuses on those products that have proven to be viable and deserve broader investment to really affect change through innovative applications of open data. Examples might include initiatives such as our OpenTrials project developed with Ben Goldacre. We build these initiatives into platforms that shape the world. All of our products here are collaborative in nature, and we seek to develop partnerships with other organisations and stakeholders who share our interest in using data to improve the world;
  • When products have sufficient traction from other organisations and communities they move onto the third portfolio, Harvesting the Fruits. In this portfolio we focus on a mature governance structure of the products that involve high-level buy-in from other key organisations. We seek to sustain the products together with those stakeholders and the focus is on building lasting partnerships, while ensuring that new innovative ideas can be generated from those mature products.

For each of these portfolios we are looking for an enthusiastic and passionate

Portfolio Manager

(flexible location, full time)

As a Portfolio Manager, we expect you to lead the strategic development of the portfolio, as well as monitoring and reporting progress on the portfolio. You will function as a product manager for existing and new products. You will develop and manage the budget of your portfolio, and will be responsible for staffing all projects together with project managers. You will collaborate closely with the other Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Director, and support the CEO in fundraising. You understand how open licenses in software, content and data enable collaborative innovation and have demonstrable experience in these.

While these qualifications are similar for all the Portfolio Managers, we define specific profiles for each Portfolio Manager which matches the stage of development of the products within each portfolio. Please have a read through our role descriptions below and have a think whether you are the kind of person that would thrive in an innovative, very dynamic environment; whether you excel more when executing on a few key initiatives, and really want to build those into highly successful products; or whether you are a better fit building lasting partnerships and coalitions around products that have demonstrated their value to the world.

Portfolio Manager Planting the Seeds

  • You are excited by the opportunities that new technology and the availability of data present, to help citizens and civil society organisations to shape the world around us – which could include, for example, social, democratic and environmental impacts
  • You thrive on developing new concepts and ideas, and know what to do to develop those into early-stage products
  • You know how to evaluate early-stage products over a period of 6-12 months, and how to develop clear metrics of success
  • You understand how innovative projects are successfully executed and are not afraid to make tough decisions to cease activity
  • You have practical and hands-on experience of working in an innovative tech-related environment, for example in a ‘lab’ or incubator
  • You are able to handle multiple projects at the same time and have demonstrable skills in leading multiple teams

Portfolio Manager Growing the Trees

  • You relish the opportunity to develop and oversee a portfolio of products that are built on data and can change the world
  • You understand the opportunity that data, through online technology, offers to impact our lives
  • You know how to build a sustainable open source software product, including how to build a sustainable network of contributors and stakeholders who take an active role in developing the product
  • You can move a product out of prototype and roll it into multiple markets at the same time. For this, you use proven marketing techniques and you have the ability to tweak products according to customer and market needs
  • You know how to work with Theories of Change and how to apply them to products’ development cycles to achieve the maximum value
  • You know how to build partnerships around products and develop them into mature collaborative initiatives

Portfolio Manager Harvesting the Fruits

  • You are a coalition builder who excels in fostering long-lasting partnerships with demonstrable value and impact
  • You naturally develop products and partnerships into sustainable networks, and would know how to represent and coordinate with Open Knowledge International as one partner amongst others
  • You support networks and partners in sharing responsibility for products, moving from full ownership by Open Knowledge International to collaboration and collective ownership
  • You consider future sustainability for products, developing – together with networks – a roadmap for future roll-outs
  • You are invested in partnerships and know how to work with diverse communities, including with volunteers
  • You are enthusiastic about open knowledge, and would be able to represent Open Knowledge International in diverse networks and projects

Personally, you have a demonstrated commitment to working collaboratively, with respect and a focus on results over credit.

You are comfortable working with people from different cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds. You are happy to share your knowledge with others, and you find working in transparent and highly visible environments interesting and fun.

Instead of your formal education, we believe that your track record over the last 5 years speaks clearly of your abilities. You communicate in English like a native speaker.

We demand a lot, but we offer a great opportunity as well: together with the other two Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Director, this Portfolio Manager leads the strategic focus of Open Knowledge International. You will be at the heart of the development of projects and products, able to make a huge impact and shape our future.

We also encourage people who are looking to re-enter the workplace to apply, and are willing to adjust working hours to suit.

You should be based somewhere in between the time zones UTC -1 to +3. You can work from home, with flexibility offered and required. You will be compensated with a market salary, in line with the parameters of a non-profit-organisation.

Interested? Then send us a motivational letter and a one page CV via https://okfn.org/about/jobs/. Please indicate your current country of residence, as well as your salary expectations (in GBP) and your earliest availability.

Early application is encouraged, as we are looking to fill the positions as soon as possible. These vacancies will close when we find a suitable candidate.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Naomi Lillie, via naomi.lillie [at] okfn.org.

Seeking a Chief Operating Officer

Open Knowledge - October 20, 2015 in Featured, Jobs, open knowledge

The mission of Open Knowledge International is to open up all essential public interest information and see it utilized to create insight that drives change. To this end we work to create a global movement for open knowledge, supporting a network of leaders and local groups around the world; we facilitate coordination and knowledge sharing within the movement; we build collaboration with other change-making organisations both within our space and outside; and, finally, we prototype and provide a home for pioneering products.

A decade after its foundation, Open Knowledge International is ready for its next phase of development. We started as an organisation that led the quest for the opening up of existing data sets – and in today’s world most of the big data portals run on CKAN, an open source software product developed first by us.

Today, it is not only about opening up of data; it is making sure that this data is usable, useful and – most importantly – used, to improve people’s lives. Our current projects (OpenSpending, OpenTrials, School of Data, and many more) all aim towards giving people access to data, the knowledge to understand it, and the power to use it in our everyday lives.

With this development comes a new organisational structure, new processes that support this mission, and new ways of working together. Therefore, for the first time in our history, we are now looking for a dedicated COO to support us in developing and sustaining a world-class organisation.

Chief Operating Officer

(flexible location, 30 hours to full time)

Here is what we need you to do:

  • Develop and implement a lean project management model that supports the diverse project portfolio of Open Knowledge International, and that enables staff and contractors to plan, execute, and deliver high-impact projects;
  • Design strategies, policies and practices so that they fit our needs as a distributed organisation that spawns across many countries and timezones. This includes – but is not limited to – internal communications tools, ways to collaborate effectively in teams, and methods to assess and report on progress and impact;
  • Being a virtual organisation (without a central office) challenges us to have great and supportive HR processes in place, which take people’s experience and expectations into account, and support development of individual staff and of the organisation as a whole. You will be responsible for leading this, as well as helping us find and retain great talent;
  • Work with our Chief of Finance on all financial processes around budget planning, tracking, and reporting.

To be able to fulfill this role, you will need extensive experience in running the internal processes of a mid-sized organisation, preferably within a (partial) virtual organisation as well. You will have a proven track record of project management skills, both in running projects yourself, and in implementing methodology. You can show that you have implemented a variety of processes in organisations, and that these organisations performed better afterwards. Demonstrable experience in dealing with legal matters is required, as well as a solid understanding of Human Resources, especially regarding the professional and personal development of staff, both in terms of high-level strategy and the day-to-day operations.

Personally, you have a demonstrated commitment to working collaboratively, with respect and a focus on results over credit.

You are comfortable working with people from different cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds. You are happy to share your knowledge with others, and you find working in transparent and highly visible environments interesting and fun.

Instead of your formal education, we believe that your track record over the last 10 years speaks clearly of your abilities. You communicate in English like a native.

We demand a lot, but we offer a great opportunity as well: together with the CEO and the Portfolio Director, the COO forms the Senior Management Team of Open Knowledge International. You will be at the heart of the development of Open Knowledge International, able to make a huge impact and shape our future.

We also encourage people who are looking to re-enter the workplace to apply, and are willing to adjust working hours to suit.

You should be based somewhere in between the time zones UTC -1 to +3. You can work from home, with flexibility offered and required. You will be compensated with a market salary, in line with the parameters of a non-profit-organisation.

Interested? Then send us a motivational letter and a one page CV via https://okfn.org/about/jobs/. Please indicate your current country of residence, as well as your salary expectations (in GBP) and your earliest availability.

Early application is encouraged, as we are looking to fill the position as soon as possible. This vacancy will close when we find a suitable candidate.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Naomi Lillie, via mail naomi.lillie [at] okfn.org.

Open: A Short Film about Open Government, Open Data and Open Source

Guest - September 29, 2015 in Featured, Open Data, Open Government Data, open knowledge

This is a guest post from Richard Pietro the writer and director of Open.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely familiar with the terms Open Government, Open Data, and Open Source. You probably understand how civic engagement is being radically transformed through these movements.

Therein lays the challenge: How can we reach everyone else? The ones who haven’t heard these terms and have little interest in civic engagement.

Here’s what I think: Civic engagement is a bad brand. If we’re to capture the attention of more people, we need to change its brand for the better.

When most people think of civic engagement, they probably imagine people in a community meeting somewhere yelling at each other. Or, maybe they picture a snooze-fest municipal planning and development consultation. Who has time to fit that in with everything else going on in their lives? I think most people would prefer to invest their spare time on something they’re passionate about; not sitting in a stuffy meeting! (If stuffy meetings ARE your passion, that’s cool too!)

Civic engagement is seen as dry and boring, or meant solely for the hyper-informed, hyper-engaged, policy-wonk. Between these two scenarios, you feel your voice will never be heard – so why bother? Civic engagement has bad PR. It isn’t viewed as fun for most people. Plus, I think there’s also an air of elitism, especially when it’s spoken as a right, duty, privilege, or punishment (judges issue community service as a punishment).

That’s why I’ve adopted a different perspective: Civic Engagement as Art. This was motivated via Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin” where he suggests that art shouldn’t only be thought of as fine art. Rather, he argues that art is a product of passion; art is creating something, and that’s what civic engagement is all about – creating something in your community that comes from passion.

I’m hoping that Open will introduce Open Government, Open Data, and Open Source to new people in simply because it is being done in a new way. My intention is to begin changing the civic engagement brand by having fun with it.

For example, I call myself an Open Government Fanboy, so Open uses as many pop-culture and “fanboy-type” references as we could squeeze in. As a matter of fact, I call the film a “spoofy adaptation” of The Matrix. What we did was take the scene where Morpheus is explaining to Neo the difference between the “Real World” and the “Matrix” and adapts it to the “Open World” versus the “Closed World.” We also included nods to Office Space, The Simpsons, Monty Python, and Star Trek.

As a bonus, I’m hoping that these familiar themes and references will make it easier for “newbies” to understand Open Government, Open Data, and Open Source space.

So, without further Apu (Simpsons fans will get it), I give you Open – The World’s first short film on Open Government, Open Data, and Open Source.

Watch Open

THE TEAM BEHIND OPEN

Writer and Director: Richard Pietro
Screenplay: Richard Pietro & Rick Weiss
Executive Producers: Keith Loo and Bruce Chau
Cinematographers: Gord Poon & Mike Donis
Technical Lead: Brian Wong
Composer and Sound Engineer: GARU
Actors: Mish Tam & Julian Friday

New Report: “Open Budget Data: Mapping the Landscape”

Jonathan Gray - September 2, 2015 in Featured, Policy, Releases, Research

We’re pleased to announce a new report, “Open Budget Data: Mapping the Landscape” undertaken as a collaboration between Open Knowledge, the Global Initiative for Financial Transparency and the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam.

The report offers an unprecedented empirical mapping and analysis of the emerging issue of open budget data, which has appeared as ideals from the open data movement have begun to gain traction amongst advocates and practitioners of financial transparency.

In the report we chart the definitions, best practices, actors, issues and initiatives associated with the emerging issue of open budget data in different forms of digital media.

In doing so, our objective is to enable practitioners – in particular civil society organisations, intergovernmental organisations, governments, multilaterals and funders – to navigate this developing field and to identify trends, gaps and opportunities for supporting it.

How public money is collected and distributed is one of the most pressing political questions of our time, influencing the health, well-being and prospects of billions of people. Decisions about fiscal policy affect everyone-determining everything from the resourcing of essential public services, to the capacity of public institutions to take action on global challenges such as poverty, inequality or climate change.

Digital technologies have the potential to transform the way that information about public money is organised, circulated and utilised in society, which in turn could shape the character of public debate, democratic engagement, governmental accountability and public participation in decision-making about public funds. Data could play a vital role in tackling the democratic deficit in fiscal policy and in supporting better outcomes for citizens.

The report includes the following recommendations:

  1. CSOs, IGOs, multilaterals and governments should undertake further work to identify, engage with and map the interests of a broader range of civil society actors whose work might benefit from open fiscal data, in order to inform data release priorities and data standards work. Stronger feedback loops should be established between the contexts of data production and its various contexts of usage in civil society – particularly in journalism and in advocacy.

  2. Governments, IGOs and funders should support pilot projects undertaken by CSOs and/or media organisations in order to further explore the role of data in the democratisation of fiscal policy – especially in relation to areas which appear to have been comparatively under-explored in this field, such as tax distribution and tax base erosion, or tracking money through from revenues to results.

  3. Governments should work to make data “citizen readable” as well as “machine readable”, and should take steps to ensure that information about flows of public money and the institutional processes around them are accessible to non-specialist audiences – including through documentation, media, events and guidance materials. This is a critical step towards the greater democratisation and accountability of fiscal policy.

  4. Further research should be undertaken to explore the potential implications and impacts of opening up information about public finance which is currently not routinely disclosed, such as more detailed data about tax revenues – as well as measures needed to protect the personal privacy of individuals.

  5. CSOs, IGOs, multilaterals and governments should work together to promote and adopt consistent definitions of open budget data, open spending data and open fiscal data in order to establish the legal and technical openness of public information about public money as a global norm in financial transparency.

Global Open Data Index 2015 is open for submissions

Mor Rubinstein - August 25, 2015 in Featured, Global Open Data Index, open knowledge

The Global Open Data Index measures and benchmarks the openness of government data around the world, and then presents this information in a way that is easy to understand and easy to use. Each year the open data community and Open Knowledge produces an annual ranking of countries, peer reviewed by our network of local open data experts. Launched in 2012 as tool to track the state of open data around the world. More and more governments were being to set up open data portals and make commitments to release open government data and we wanted to know whether those commitments were really translating into release of actual data.

The Index focuses on 15 key datasets that are essential for transparency and accountability (such as election results and government spending data), and those vital for providing critical services to citizens (such as maps and water quality). Today, we are pleased to announce that we are collecting submissions for the 2015 Index!

The Global Open Data Index tracks whether this data is actually released in a way that is accessible to citizens, media and civil society, and is unique in that it crowdsources its survey results from the global open data community. Crowdsourcing this data provides a tool for communities around the world to learn more about the open data available in their respective countries, and ensures that the results reflect the experience of civil society in finding open information, rather than accepting government claims of openness. Furthermore, the Global Open Data Index is not only a benchmarking tool, it also plays a foundational role in sustaining the open government data community around the world. If, for example, the government of a country does publish a dataset, but this is not clear to the public and it cannot be found through a simple search, then the data can easily be overlooked. Governments and open data practitioners can review the Index results to locate the data, see how accessible the data appears to citizens, and, in the case that improvements are necessary, advocate for making the data truly open.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 13.35.24

 

Methodology and Dataset Updates

After four years of leading this global civil society assessment of the state of open data around the world, we have learned a few things and have updated both the datasets we are evaluating and the methodology of the Index itself to reflect these learnings! One of the major changes has been to run a massive consultation of the open data community to determine the datasets that we should be tracking. As a result of this consultation, we have added five datasets to the 2015 Index. This year, in addition to the ten datasets we evaluated last year, we will also be evaluating the release of water quality data, procurement data, health performance data, weather data and land ownership data. If you are interested in learning more about the consultation and its results, you can read more on our blog!

How can I contribute?

2015 Index contributions open today! We have done our best to make contributing to the Index as easy as possible. Check out the contribution tutorial in English and Spanish, ask questions in the discussion forum, reach out on twitter (#GODI15) or speak to one of our 10 regional community leads! There are countless ways to get help so please do not hesitate to ask! We would love for you to be involved. Follow #GODI15 on Twitter for more updates.

Important Dates

The Index team is hitting the road! We will be talking to people about the Index at the African Open Data Conference in Tanzania next week and will also be running Index sessions at both AbreLATAM and ConDatos in two weeks! Mor and Katelyn will be on the ground so please feel free to reach out!

Contributions will be open from August 25th, 2015 through September 20th, 2015. After the 20th of September we will begin the arduous peer review process! If you are interested in getting involved in the review, please do not hesitate to contact us. Finally, we will be launching the final version of the 2015 Global Open Data Index Ranking at the OGP Summit in Mexico in late October! This will be your opportunity to talk to us about the results and what that means in terms of the national action plans and commitments that governments are making! We are looking forward to a lively discussion!

Just Released: “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”

Jonathan Gray - July 2, 2015 in Data Journalism, Featured, open knowledge, Open Spending, Policy, Research, Where Does My Money Go

The EU has committed to spending €959 988 million between 2014 and 2020. This money is disbursed through over 80 funds and programmes that are managed by over 100 different authorities. Where does this money come from? How is it allocated? And how is it spent?

Today we are delighted to announce the release of “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”, which aims to help civil society groups, journalists and others to navigate the vast landscape of documents and datasets in order to “follow the money” in the EU. The guide also suggests steps that institutions should take in order to enable greater democratic oversight of EU public finances. It was undertaken by Open Knowledge with support from the Adessium Foundation.

Where Does Europe's Money Go?

As we have seen from projects like Farm Subsidy and journalistic collaborations around the EU Structural Funds it can be very difficult and time-consuming to put together all of the different pieces needed to understand flows of EU money.

Groups of journalists on these projects have spent many months requesting, scraping, cleaning and assembling data to get an overview of just a handful of the many different funds and programmes through which EU money is spent. The analysis of this data has led to many dozens of news stories, and in some cases even criminal investigations.

Better data, documentation, advocacy and journalism around EU public money is vital to addressing the “democratic deficit” in EU fiscal policy. To this end, we make the following recommendations to EU institutions and civil society organisations:

  1. Establish a single central point of reference for data and documents about EU revenue, budgeting and expenditure and ensure all the information is up to date at this domain (e.g. at a website such as ec.europa.eu/budget). At the same time, ensure all EU budget data are available from the EU open data portal as open data.
  2. Create an open dataset with key details about each EU fund, including name of the fund, heading, policy, type of management, implementing authorities, link to information on beneficiaries, link to legal basis in Eur-Lex and link to regulation in Eur-Lex.
  3. Extend the Financial Transparency System to all EU funds by integrating or federating detailed data expenditures from Members States, non-EU Members and international organisations. Data on beneficiaries should include, when relevant, a unique European identifier of company, and when the project is co-financed, the exact amount of EU funding received and the total amount of the project.
  4. Clarify and harmonise the legal framework regarding transparency rules for the beneficiaries of EU funds.
  5. Support and strengthen funding for civil society groups and journalists working on EU public finances.
  6. Conduct a more detailed assessment of beneficiary data availability for all EU funds and for all implementing authorities – e.g., through a dedicated “open data audit”.
  7. Build a stronger central base of evidence about the uses and users of EU fiscal data – including data projects, investigative journalism projects and data users in the media and civil society.

Our intention is that the material in this report will become a living resource that we can continue to expand and update. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.

If you are interested in learning more about Open Knowledge’s other initiatives around open data and financial transparency you can explore the Where Does My Money Go? project, the OpenSpending project, read our other previous guides and reports or join the Follow the Money network.

Where Does Europe’s Money Go - A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources

UK Crime Data: Feeling is Believing

Meg Foulkes - July 1, 2015 in Featured, Legal, Open Data, Open Government Data, open knowledge

Latest crime data shows that the UK is getting significantly more ‘peaceful’. Last month, the Institute for Economics and Peace published the UK Peace Index, revealing UK crime figures have fallen the most of all EU countries in the past decade. Homicide rates, to take one indicator, have halved over the last decade.

Crime Scene by Alan Cleaver, Flickr, CC-BY

Crime Scene by Alan Cleaver, Flickr, CC-BY

But the British public still feels that crime levels are rising. How can opening up crime data play a part in convincing us we are less likely to experience crime than ever before?

The ‘Perception Gap’

The discrepancy between crime data and perceptions of the likelihood of crime is particularly marked in the UK. Although it has been found that a majority of the public broadly trust official statistics, the figures are markedly lower for those relating to crime. In one study, 85% of people agreed that the Census accurately reflects changes in the UK, but only 63% said the same of crime statistics.

Credibility of Police Data

Police forces have been publishing crime statistics in the UK since 2008, using their own web-based crime mapping tools or via the national crime mapping facility (http://maps.police.uk/ and http://www.police.uk). This has been purportedly for the purpose of improving engagement with local communities alongside other policy objectives, such as promoting transparency. But allegations of ‘figure fiddling’ on the part of the police have undermined the data’s credibility and in 2014, the UK Statistics Authority withdrew its gold-standard status from police figures, pointing to ‘accumulating evidence’ of unreliability.

The UK’s open data site for crime figures allows users to download street-level crime and outcome data in CSV format and explore the API containing detailed crime data and information about individual police forces and neighbourhood teams. It also provides Custom CSV download and JSON API helper interfaces so you can more easily access subsets of the data.

Crime map from data.police.co.uk

But the credibility of the data has been called into question. Just recently, data relating to stop-search incidents for children aged under-12 was proved ‘inaccurate’. The site itself details many issues which call the accuracy of the data into question: inconsistent geocoding policies in police forces; “Six police forces we suspect may be double-reporting certain types of incidents“; ‘siloed systems’ within police records; and differing IT systems from regional force to force.

In summary, we cannot be sure the ‘data provided is fully accurate or consistent.’

The Role the Media Plays: If it Bleeds, it Leads

In response to persistent and widespread public disbelief, the policies of successive UK governments on crime have toughened: much tougher sentencing, more people in prison, more police on the streets. When the British public were asked why they think there is more crime now than in the past, more than half (57%) stated that it was because of what they see on television and almost half (48%) said it was because of what they read in newspapers [Ipsos MORI poll on Closing the Gaps. One tabloid newspaper, exclaimed just recently: “Rape still at record levels and violent crime rises” and “Crime shows biggest rise for a decade“. As the adage goes, If it Bleeds, it Leads.

Crime Data and Mistrust of the Police

Those engaged in making crime figures meaningful to the public face unique challenges. When Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993, and the following public inquiry found institutional racism to be at the heart of the Met police, public trust towards the police was shattered. Since then, the police have claimed to have rid their ranks of racism entirely.

Police by Luis Jou García, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Police by Luis Jou García, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

But many remain less than convinced. According to official statistics, in 1999-2000, a black person was five times more likely than a white person to be stopped by police. A decade later, they were seven times more likely. One criminologist commented: “Claims that the Lawrence inquiry’s finding of institutional racism no longer apply have a hollow ring when we look at the evidence on police stops.” [Michael Shiner reported in the Guardian].

Equally, the police distrust the public too. The murder of two young, female police officers in Manchester in 2012 ignited the long-rumbling debate over whether the police should be armed. So the divide between the police and the public is a serious one.

A Different Tack?

In 2011, a review was undertaken by the UK Statistics Authority into Crime Data. Its recommendations included:

  • Improving the presentation of crime statistics to make them more authoritative
  • Reviewing the availability of local crime and criminal justice data on government websites to identify opportunities for consolidation
  • Sharing of best practice and improvements in metadata and providing reassurance on the quality of police crime records.

It’s clear that the UK police recognise the importance of improving their publication of data. But it seems that opening data alone won’t fix the shattered trust between the public and the police, even if the proof that Britons are safer than ever before is there in transparent, easily navigable data. We need to go further back in the chain of provenance, scrutinise the reporting methods of the police for instance.

But this is about forgiveness too, and the British public might just not be ready for that yet.

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