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The Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

Open Knowledge - December 9, 2014 in Featured, Global Open Data Index

Skærmbillede 2014-12-09 kl. 17.36.32

The Global Open Data Index 2014 team is thrilled to announce that the Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

We would not have arrived here without the incredible support from our network and the wider open knowledge community in making sure that so many countries/places are represented in the Index and that the agenda for open data moves forward. We’re already seeing this tool being used for advocacy around the world, and hope that the full and published version will allow you to do the same!

How you can help us spread the news

You can embed a map for your country on your blog or website by following these instructions.

Press materials are available in 6 languages so far (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and French), with more expected. If you want to share where you are please share a link to our press page. If you see any coverage of the Global Open Data Index, please submit them to us via this form so we can track coverage.

We are really grateful for everyone’s help in this great community effort!

Here are some of the results of the Global Open Data Index 2014

The Global Open Data Index ranks countries based on the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas, including government spending, election results, transport timetables, and pollution levels.

The UK tops the 2014 Index retaining its pole position with an overall score of 96%, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. Finland comes in 4th while Australia and New Zealand share the 5th place. Impressive results were seen from India at #10 (up from #27) and Latin American countries like Colombia and Uruguay who came in joint 12th .

Sierra Leone, Mali, Haiti and Guinea rank lowest of the countries assessed, but there are many countries where the governments are less open but that were not assessed because of lack of openness or a sufficiently engaged civil society.

Overall, whilst there is meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 105), the percentage of open datasets across all the surveyed countries remained low at only 11%.

Even amongst the leaders on open government data there is still room for improvement: the US and Germany, for example, do not provide a consolidated, open register of corporations. There was also a disappointing degree of openness around the details of government spending with most countries either failing to provide information at all or limiting the information available – only two countries out of 97 (the UK and Greece) got full marks here. This is noteworthy as in a period of sluggish growth and continuing austerity in many countries, giving citizens and businesses free and open access to this sort of data would seem to be an effective means of saving money and improving government efficiency.

Explore the Global Open Data Index 2014 for yourself!

The Public Domain Review brings out its first book

Adam Green - November 19, 2014 in Featured, Public Domain Review

Open Knowledge project The Public Domain Review is very proud to announce the launch of its very first book! Released through the newly born spin-off project the PDR Press, the book is a selection of weird and wonderful essays from the project’s first three years, and shall be (we hope) the first of an annual series showcasing in print form essays from the year gone by. Given that there’s three years to catch up on, the inaugural incarnation is a special bumper edition, coming in at a healthy 346 pages, and jam-packed with 146 illustrations, more than half of which are newly sourced especially for the book.

Spread across six themed chapters – Animals, Bodies, Words, Worlds, Encounters and Networks – there is a total of thirty-four essays from a stellar line up of contributors, including Jack Zipes, Frank Delaney, Colin Dickey, George Prochnik, Noga Arikha, and Julian Barnes.

What’s inside? Volcanoes, coffee, talking trees, pigs on trial, painted smiles, lost Edens, the social life of geometry, a cat called Jeoffry, lepidopterous spying, monkey-eating poets, imaginary museums, a woman pregnant with rabbits, an invented language drowning in umlauts, a disgruntled Proust, frustrated Flaubert… and much much more.

Order by 26th 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 is a fine addition to any Christmas list!), then please make sure to order before midnight (PST) on 26th November. Orders place 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!

The heartbeat of budget transparency

Tryggvi Björgvinsson - November 18, 2014 in Featured, Open Budget Survey Tracker

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Every two years the International Budget Partnership (IBP) runs a survey, called the Open Budget Survey, to evaluate formal oversight of budgets, how transparent governments are about their budgets and if there are opportunities to participate in the budget process. To easily measure and compare transparency among the countries surveyed, IBP created the Open Budget Index where the participating countries are scored and ranked using about two thirds of the questions from the Survey. The Open Budget Index has already established itself as an authoritative measurement of budget transparency, and is for example used as an eligibility criteria for the Open Government Partnership.

However, countries do not release budget information every two years; they should do so regularly, on multiple occasions in a given year. There is, however, as stated above a two year gap between the publication of consecutive Open Budget Survey results. This means that if citizens, civil society organisations (CSOs), media and others want to know how governments are performing in between Survey releases, they have to undertake extensive research themselves. It also means that if they want to pressure governments into releasing budget information and increase budget transparency before the next Open Budget Index, they can only point to ‘official’ data which can be up to two years old.

To combat this, IBP, together with Open Knowledge, have developed the Open Budget Survey Tracker (the OBS Tracker), http://obstracker.org,: an online, ongoing budget data monitoring tool, which is currently a pilot and covers 30 countries. The data are collected by researchers selected among the IBP’s extensive network of partner organisations, who regularly monitor budget information releases, and provide monthly reports. The information included in the OBS Tracker is not as comprehensive as the Survey, because the latter also looks at the content/comprehensiveness of budget information — not only the regularity of its publication. The OBS Tracker, however, does provide a good proxy of increasing or decreasing levels of budget transparency, measured by the release to (or witholding from) the public of key budget documents. This is valuable information for concerned citizens, CSOs and media.

With the Open Budget Survey Tracker, IBP has made it easier for citizens, civil society, media and others to monitor, in near real time (monthly), whether their central governments release information on how they plan to and how they spend the public’s money. The OBS Tracker allows them to highlight changes and facilitates civil society efforts to push for change when a key document has not been released at all, or not in a timely manner.

Niger and Kyrgyz Republic have improved the release of essential budget information after the latest Open Budget Index results, something which can be seen from the OBS Tracker without having to wait for the next Open Budget Survey release. This puts pressure on other countries to follow suit.

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The budget cycle is a complex process which involves creating and publishing specific documents at specific points in time. IBP covers the whole cycle, by monitoring in total eight documents which include everything from the proposed and approved budgets, to a citizen-friendly budget representation, to end-of-the-year financial reporting and the auditing from a country’s Supreme Audit Institution.

In each of the countries included in the OBS Tracker, IBP monitors all these eight documents showing how governments are doing in generating these documents and releasing them on time. Each document for each country is assigned a traffic light color code: Red means the document was not produced at all or published too late. Yellow means the document was only produced for internal use and not released to the general public. Green means the document is publicly available and was made available on time. The color codes help users quickly skim the status of the world as well as the status of a country they’re interested in.

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To make monitoring even easier, the OBS Tracker also provides more detailed information about each document for each country, a link to the country’s budget library and more importantly the historical evolution of the “availability status” for each country. The historical visualisation shows a snapshot of the key documents’ status for that country for each month. This helps users see if the country has made any improvements on a month-by-month basis, but also if it has made any improvements since the last Open Budget Survey.

Is your country being tracked by the OBS Tracker? How is it doing? If they are not releasing essential budget documents or not even producing them, start raising questions. If your country is improving or has a lot of green dots, be sure to congratulate the government; show them that their work is appreciated, and provide recommendations on what else can be done to promote openness. Whether you are a government official, a CSO member, a journalist or just a concerned citizen, OBS Tracker is a tool that can help you help your government.

An unprecedented Public-Commons partnership for the French National Address Database

Guest - November 17, 2014 in Featured, OKFN France

This is a guest post, originally published in French on the Open Knowledge Foundation France blog image00

Nowadays, being able to place an address on a map is an essential information. In France, where addresses were still unavailable for reuse, the OpenStreetMap community decided to create its own National Address Database available as open data. The project rapidly gained attention from the government. This led to the signing last week of an unprecedented Public-Commons partnership  between the National Institute of Geographic and Forestry Information (IGN), Group La Poste, the new Chief Data Officer and the OpenStreetMap France community.

In August, before the partnership was signed, we met with Christian Quest, coordinator of the project for OpenStreetMap France. He explained the project and its implications to us.

Here is a summary of the interview, previously published in French on the Open Knowledge Foundation France blog.

Signature of the Public-Commons partnership for the National Address Database  Credit: Etalab, CC-BY

Signature of the Public-Commons partnership for the National Address Database Credit: Etalab, CC-BY

Why Did OpenStreetMap (OSM) France decided to create an Open National Address Database?  

The idea to create an Open National Address Database came about one year ago after discussions with the Association for Geographic Information in France (AFIGEO). An Address Register was the topic of many reports  however these reports can and went without any follow-up and there were more and more people asking for address data on OSM.  

Address data are indeed extremely useful. They can be used for itinerary calculations or more generally to localise any point with an address on a map. They are also essentials for emergency rescues – ambulances, fire-fighters and police forces are very interested in the initiative.  

These data are also helpful for the OSM project itself as they enrich the map and are used to improved the quality of the data. The creation of such a register, with so many entries, required a collaborative effort both to scale up and to be maintained. As such, the OSM-France community naturally took it over. However, there was also a technical opportunity; OSM-France had previously developed a tool to collect information from the french cadastre website, which enabled them to start the register with significant amount of information.

Was there no National Address Registry project in France already?  

It existed on papers and in slides but nobody ever saw the beginning of it. It is, nevertheless, a relatively old project, launched in 2002 following the publication of a report on addresses from the CNIG. This report is quite interesting and most of its points are still valid today, but not much has been done since then.

IGN and La Poste were tasked to create this National Address Register but their commercial interests (selling data) has so far blocked this 12-year old project. As a result, a French address datasets did exist but these datasets were created for specific purposes as opposed to the idea of creating a reference dataset for French addresses. For instance, La Poste uses three different addresses databases: for mail, for parcels, and for advertisements.  

Technically, how do you collect the data? Do you reuse existing datasets?  

We currently use three main data sources: OSM which gathers a bit more than two million addresses, the address datasets already available as open data (see list here) and, when necessary, the address data collected from the website of the cadastre.  We also use FANTOIR data from the DGFIP which contains a list of all streets names and lieux-dits known from the Tax Office. This dataset is also available as open data.  

These different sources are gathered in a common database. Then, we process the data to complete entries and remove duplications, and finally we package the whole thing for export. The aim is to provide harmonised content that brings together information from various sources, without redundancy. The process is run automatically every night with the exception of manual corrections that are done from OSM contributors. Data are then made available as csv files, shapefiles and in RDF format for semantic reuse. A csv version is published on github to enable everyone to follow the updates. We also produce an overlay map which allows contributors to improve the data more easily.  OSM is used in priority because it is the only source from which we can collaboratively edit the data. If we need to add missing addresses, or correct them, we use OSM tools.  

Is your aim to build the reference address dataset for the country?  

This is a tricky question. What is a reference dataset? When you have more and more public services using OSM data, does that mean you are in front of a reference dataset?

According to the definition of the French National Mapping Council (CNIG), a geographic reference must enable every reuser to georeference its own data. This definition does not consider any particular reuse. On the other hand, its aim is to enable as much information as possible to be linked to the geographic reference.  For the National Address Database to become a reference dataset, it is imperative that data is more exhaustive. Currently, there is data for 15 million reusable addresses (August 2014) of an estimated total of about 20 million. We have more in our cumulative database, but our export scripts ensure there is a minimum quality and coherency and release only after the necessary checks have been made. We are also working on the lieux-dits which are not address data point, but which are still used in many rural areas in France.  

Beyond the question of the reference dataset, you can also see the work of OSM as complementary to the one of public entities. IGN has a goal of homogeneity in the exhaustivity of its information. This is due to its mission of ensuring an equal treatment of territories. We do not have such a constraint. For OSM, the density of data on a territory depends largely on the density of contributors. This is why we can offer a level of details sometimes superior, in particular in the main cities, but this is also the reason why we are still missing data for some départements.

Finally, we think to be well prepared for the semantic web and we already publish our data in RDF format by using a W3C ontology closed to the European INSPIRE model for address description.  

The reached agreement includes a dual license framework. You can reuse the data for free under an ODbL license, or you can opt for a non-share-alike license but you have to pay a fee.  Is share-alike clause an obstacle for the private sector?  

I don't think so because the ODbL license does not prevent commercial reuse. It only requires to mention the source and to share any improvement of the data under the same license. For geographical data aiming at describing our land, this share-alike clause is essential to ensure that the common dataset is up to date. Lands change constantly, data improvements and updates must, therefore, be continuous, and the more people are contributing, the more efficient this process is.  

I see it as a win-win situation compared to the previous one where you had multiple address datasets, maintained in closed silos with none of which were of acceptable quality for a key register as it is difficult to stay up to date on your own.  

However, for some companies, share-alike is incompatible with their business model, and a double licensing scheme is a very good solution. Instead of taking part in improving and updating the data, they pay a fee which will be used to improve and update the data.  

And now, what is next for the National Address Database?  

We now need to put in place tools to facilitate contribution and data reuse. Concerning the contribution, we want to set-up a one-stop-shop application/API, separated from OSM contribution tool, to enable everyone to report errors, add corrections or upload data. This kind of tool would enable us to easily integrate partners into the project. On the reuse side, we should develop an API for geocoding and address autocompletion because not everybody will necessarily want to manipulate millions of addresses!  

As a last word, OSM is celebrating its ten years anniversary. What does that inspire you?  

First, the success and the power of OpenStreetMap lies in its community, much more than in its data. Our challenge is therefore to maintain and develop this community. This is what enables us to do projects such as the National Addresses Database, but also to be more reactive than traditional actors when it is needed, for instance with the current Ebola situation. Centralised and systematic approaches for cartography reached their limits. If we want better and more up to date map data, we will need to adopt a more decentralised way of doing things, with more contributors on the ground. Here’s to Ten More Years of the OpenStreetMap community!

   

Global Witness and Open Knowledge – Working together to investigate and campaign against corruption related to the extractives industries

Sam Leon - November 14, 2014 in Data Journalism, Featured, Visualization

Sam Leon, one of Open Knowledge’s data experts, talks about his experiences working as an School of Data Embedded Fellow at Global Witness.

Global Witness are a Nobel Peace Prize nominated not-for-profit organisation devoted to investigating and campaigning against corruption related to the extractives industries. Earlier this year they received the TED Prize and were awarded $1 million to help fight corporate secrecy and on the back of which they launched their End Anonymous Companies campaign.


In February 2014 I began a six month ‘Embedded Fellowship’ at Global Witness, one of the world’s leading anti-corruption NGOs. Global Witness are no strangers to data. They’re been publishing pioneering investigative research for over two decades now, piecing together the complex webs of financial transactions, shell companies and middlemen that so often lie at the heart of corruption in the extractives industries.

Like many campaigning organisations, Global Witness are seeking new and compelling ways to visualise their research, as well as use more effectively the large amounts of public data that have become available in the last few years.

“Sam Leon has unleashed a wave of innovation at Global Witness”
-Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of Global Witness

As part of my work, I’ve delivered data trainings at all levels of the organisation – from senior management to the front line staff. I’ve also been working with a variety of staff to use data collected by Global Witness to create compelling infographics. It’s amazing how powerful these can be to draw attention to stories and thus support Global Witness’s advocacy work.

The first interactive we published on the sharp rise of deaths of environmental defenders demonstrated this. The way we were able to pack some of the core insights of a much more detailed report into a series of images that people could dig into proved a hit on social media and let the story travel further.

GW Info

See here for the full infographic on Global Witness’s website.

But powerful visualisation isn’t just about shareability. It’s also about making a point that would otherwise be hard to grasp without visual aids. Global Witness regularly publish mind-boggling statistics on the scale of corruption in the oil and gas sector.

“The interactive infographics we worked on with Open Knowledge made a big difference to the report’s online impact. The product allowed us to bring out the key themes of the report in a simple, compelling way. This allowed more people to absorb and share the key messages without having to read the full report, but also drew more people into reading it.”
-Oliver Courtney, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness

Take for instance, the $1.1 billion that the Nigerian people were deprived of due to the corruption around the sale of Africa’s largest oil block, OPL 245.

$1.1 billion doesn’t mean much to me, it’s too big of a number. What we sought to do visually was represent the loss to Nigerian citizens in terms of things we could understand like basic health care provision and education.

See here for the full infographic on Shell, ENI and Nigeria’s Missing Millions.


In October 2014, to accompany Global Witness’s campaign against anonymous company ownership, we worked with developers from data journalism startup J++ on The Great Rip Off map.

The aim was to bring together and visualise the vast number of corruption case studies involving shell companies that Global Witness and its partners have unearthed in recent years.

The Great Rip Off!

It was a challenging project that required input from designers, campaigners, developers, journalists and researchers, but we’re proud of what we produced.

Open data principles were followed throughout as Global Witness were committed to creating a resource that its partners could draw on in their advocacy efforts. The underlying data was made available in bulk under a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license and open source libraries like Leaflet.js were used. There was also an invite for other parties to submit case studies into the database.

“It’s transformed the way we work, it’s made us think differently how we communicate information: how we make it more accessible, visual and exciting. It’s really changed the way we do things.”
-Brendan O’Donnell, Campaign Leader at Global Witness

For more information on the School of Data Embedded Fellowship Scheme, and to see further details on the work we produced with Global Witness, including interactive infographics, please see the full report here.

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Seeking new Executive Director at Open Knowledge

Rufus Pollock - November 11, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Knowledge Foundation

Today we are delighted to put out our formal announcement for a new Executive Director. In our announcement about changes in leadership in September we had already indicated we would be looking to recruit a new senior executive and we are now ready to begin the formal process.

We are very excited to have this opportunity to bring someone new on board. Please do share this with your networks and especially anyone in particular you think would be interested. We emphasize that we are conducting a world-wide search for the very best candidates, although the successful candidate would ideally be able commute to London or Berlin as needed.

Full role details are below – to apply or to download further information on the required qualifications, skills and experience for the role, please visit http://www.perrettlaver.com/candidates quoting reference 1841. The closing date for applications is 9am (GMT) on Friday, 2nd January 2015. [Note: this deadline has been revised from the original deadline of the 8th December 2014.]

Role Details

Open Knowledge is a multi-award winning international not-for-profit organisation. We are a network of people passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and enable people to work with it to create and share knowledge. We believe that by creating an open knowledge commons and developing tools and communities around this we can make a significant contribution to improving governance, research and the economy. We’re changing the world by promoting a global shift towards more open ways of working in government, arts, sciences and much more. We don’t just talk about ideas, we deliver extraordinary software, events and publications.

We are currently looking for a new Executive Director to lead the organisation through the next exciting phase of its development. Reporting into the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will be responsible for setting the vision and strategic direction for the organisation, developing new business and funding opportunities and directing and managing a highly motivated team. S/he will play a key role as an ambassador for Open Knowledge locally and internationally and will be responsible for developing relationships with key stakeholders and partners.

The ideal candidate will have strong visionary and strategic skills, exceptional personal credibility, a strong track record of operational management of organisations of a similar size to Open Knowledge, and the ability to influence at all levels both internally and externally. S/he will be an inspiring, charismatic and engaging individual, who can demonstrate a sound understanding of open data and content. In addition, s/he must demonstrate excellent communication and stakeholder management skills as well as a genuine passion for, and commitment to, the aims and values of the Open Knowledge.

**To apply or to download further information on the required qualifications, skills and experience for the role, please visit http://www.perrettlaver.com/candidates quoting reference 1841. The closing date for applications is 9am (GMT) on Friday, 2nd January 2015. [Note: this deadline has been revised from the original deadline of the 8th December 2014.]

The role is flexible in terms of location but ideally will be within commutable distance of London or Berlin (relocation is possible) and the salary will be competitive with market rate.

Open Knowledge Festival 2014 report: out now!

Beatrice Martini - November 6, 2014 in Community, Featured, Join us, News, OKFestival

Today we are delighted to publish our report on OKFestival 2014!

Open Knowledge Foundation-Festival 2014 at Kulturbrauerei in Berlin.

This is packed with stories, statistics and outcomes from the event, highlighting the amazing facilitators, sessions, speakers and participants who made it an event to inspire. Explore the pictures, podcasts, etherpads and videos which reflect the different aspects of the event, and uncover some of its impact as related by people striving for change – those with Open Minds to Open Action.

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!

Celebrating Open Access Week by highlighting community projects!

Christian Villum - October 20, 2014 in Featured, Open Access

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This week is Open Access Week all around the world, and from Open Knowledge’s side we are following up on last year’s tradition by putting together a blog post series to highlight great Open Access projects and activities in communities around the world. Every day this week will feature new writers and activities.

Open Access Week, a global event now entering its eighth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. This year’s theme is “Generation Open”, and what better way to celebrate that then to highlight some of all the amazing work out there. This past year has seen lots in great progress and with the Open Knowledge blog we want to help amplify this amazing work done in communities around the world:

  • TUESDAY, Jonathan Gray from Open Knowledge: “New Open Knowledge Initiative on the Future of Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences” (link)
  • WEDNESDAY, David Carroll from Open Access Button: “New Open Access Button launches as part of Open Access Week” (link)
  • THURSDAY, Alma Swan from SPARC Europe: “Open Access and the humanities: On our travels round the UK” (link)
  • FRIDAY, Jenny Molloy from Open Science working group: “Uncovering the true cost of access” (link)
  • SATURDAY, Kshitiz Khanal from Open Knowledge Nepal: “Open Access Week in Nepal” (link)
  • SUNDAY, Miguel Said from Open Knowledge Brazil: “Nature-branded journal goes Open Access-only: Can we celebrate already?” (link) – and Celya Gruson-Daniel from Open Knowledge France: “Let’s imagine a creative format for Open Access” (link)

We’re hoping that this series can inspire even more work around Open Access in the year to come and that our community will use this week to get involved both locally and globally. A good first step is to sign up at http://www.openaccessweek.org for access to a plethora of support resources, and to connect with the worldwide Open Access Week community. Another way to connect is to join the Open Access working group.

Open Access Week is an invaluable chance to connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level. Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks use Open Access Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus open-access policies, to issue reports on the societal and economic benefits of Open Access, to commit new funds in support of open-access publication, and more. Let’s add to their brilliant work this week!

Joint Submission to UN Data Revolution Group

Rufus Pollock - October 16, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Data, Open Government Data, Policy

The following is the joint Submission to the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution from the World Wide Web Foundation, Open Knowledge, Fundar and the Open Institute, October 15, 2014. It derives from and builds on the Global Open Data Initiative’s Declaration on Open Data.

To the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution

Societies cannot develop in a fair, just and sustainable manner unless citizens are able to hold governments and other powerful actors to account, and participate in the decisions fundamentally affecting their well-being. Accountability and participation, in turn, are meaningless unless citizens know what their government is doing, and can freely access government data and information, share that information with other citizens, and act on it when necessary.

A true “revolution” through data will be one that enables all of us to hold our governments accountable for fulfilling their obligations, and to play an informed and active role in decisions fundamentally affecting their well-being.

We believe such a revolution requires ambitious commitments to make data open; invest in the ability of all stakeholders to use data effectively; and to commit to protecting the rights to information, free expression, free association and privacy, without which data-driven accountability will wither on the vine.

In addition, opening up government data creates new opportunities for SMEs and entrepreneurs, drives improved efficiency and service delivery innovation within government, and advances scientific progress. The initial costs (including any lost revenue from licenses and access charges) will be repaid many times over by the growth of knowledge and innovative data-driven businesses and services that create jobs, deliver social value and boost GDP.

The Sustainable Development Goals should include measurable, time-bound steps to:

1. Make data open by default

Government data should be open by default, and this principle should ultimately be entrenched in law. Open means that data should be freely available for use, reuse and redistribution by anyone for any purpose and should be provided in a machine-readable form (specifically it should be open data as defined by the Open Definition and in line with the 10 Open Data Principles).

  • Government information management (including procurement requirements and research funding, IT management, and the design of new laws, policies and procedures) should be reformed as necessary to ensure that such systems have built-in features ensuring that open data can be released without additional effort.
  • Non-compliance, or poor data quality, should not be used as an excuse for non-publication of existing data.
  • Governments should adopt flexible intellectual property and copyright policies that encourage unrestricted public reuse and analysis of government data.

2. Put accountability at the core of the data revolution

A data revolution requires more than selective release of the datasets that are easiest or most comfortable for governments to open. It should empower citizens to hold government accountable for the performance of its core functions and obligations. However, research by the Web Foundation and Open Knowledge shows that critical accountability data such as company registers, land record, and government contracts are least likely to be freely available to the public.

At a minimum, governments endorsing the SDGs should commit to the open release by 2018 of all datasets that are fundamental to citizen-state accountability. This should include:

  • data on public revenues, budgets and expenditure;
  • who owns and benefits from companies, charities and trusts;
  • who exercises what rights over key natural resources (land records, mineral licenses, forest concessions etc) and on what terms;
  • public procurement records and government contracts;
  • office holders, elected and un-elected and their declared financial interests and details of campaign contributions;
  • public services, especially health and education: who is in charge, responsible, how they are funded, and data that can be used to assess their performance;
  • constitution, laws, and records of debates by elected representatives;
  • crime data, especially those related to human rights violations such as forced disappearance and human trafficking;
  • census data;
  • the national map and other essential geodata.

    • Governments should create comprehensive indices of existing government data sets, whether published or not, as a foundation for new transparency policies, to empower public scrutiny of information management, and to enable policymakers to identify gaps in existing data creation and collection.

 3. Provide no-cost access to government data

One of the greatest barriers to access to ostensibly publicly-available information is the cost imposed on the public for access–even when the cost is minimal. Most government information is collected for governmental purposes, and the existence of user fees has little to no effect on whether the government gathers the data in the first place.

  • Governments should remove fees for access, which skew the pool of who is willing (or able) to access information and preclude transformative uses of the data that in turn generates business growth and tax revenues.

  • Governments should also minimise the indirect cost of using and re-using data by adopting commonly owned, non-proprietary (or “open”) formats that allow potential users to access the data without the need to pay for a proprietary software license.

  • Such open formats and standards should be commonly adopted across departments and agencies to harmonise the way information is published, reducing the transaction costs of accessing, using and combining data.

4. Put the users first

Experience shows that open data flounders without a strong user community, and the best way to build such a community is by involving users from the very start in designing and developing open data systems.

  • Within government: The different branches of government (including the legislature and judiciary, as well as different agencies and line ministries within the executive) stand to gain important benefits from sharing and combining their data. Successful open data initiatives create buy-in and cultural change within government by establishing cross-departmental working groups or other structures that allow officials the space they need to create reliable, permanent, ambitious open data policies.

  • Beyond government: Civil society groups and businesses should be considered equal stakeholders alongside internal government actors. Agencies leading on open data should involve and consult these stakeholders – including technologists, journalists, NGOs, legislators, other governments, academics and researchers, private industry, and independent members of the public – at every stage in the process.

  • Stakeholders both inside and outside government should be fully involved in identifying priority datasets and designing related initiatives that can help to address key social or economic problems, foster entrepreneurship and create jobs. Government should support and facilitate the critical role of both private sector and public service intermediaries in making data useful.

5. Invest in capacity

Governments should start with initiatives and requirements that are appropriate to their own current capacity to create and release credible data, and that complement the current capacity of key stakeholders to analyze and reuse it. At the same time, in order to unlock the full social, political and economic benefits of open data, all stakeholders should invest in rapidly broadening and deepening capacity.

  • Governments and their development partners need to invest in making data simple to navigate and understand, available in all national languages, and accessible through appropriate channels such as mobile phone platforms where appropriate.

  • Governments and their development partners should support training for officials, SMEs and CSOs to tackle lack of data and web skills, and should make complementary investments in improving the quality and timeliness of government statistics.

6. Improve the quality of official data

Poor quality, coverage and timeliness of government information – including administrative and sectoral data, geospatial data, and survey data – is a major barrier to unlocking the full value of open data.

  • Governments should develop plans to implement the Paris21 2011 Busan Action Plan, which calls for increased resources for statistical and information systems, tackling important gaps and weaknesses (including the lack of gender disaggregation in key datasets), and fully integrating statistics into decision-making.

  • Governments should bring their statistical efforts into line with international data standards and schemas, to facilitate reuse and analysis across various jurisdictions.

  • Private firms and NGOs that collect data which could be used alongside government statistics to solve public problems in areas such as disease control, disaster relief, urban planning, etc. should enter into partnerships to make this data available to government agencies and the public without charge, in fully anonymized form and subject to robust privacy protections.

7. Foster more accountable, transparent and participatory governance

A data revolution cannot succeed in an environment of secrecy, fear and repression of dissent.

  • The SDGs should include robust commitments to uphold fundamental rights to freedom of expression, information and association; foster independent and diverse media; and implement robust safeguards for personal privacy, as outlined in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  • In addition, in line with their commitments in the UN Millennium Declaration (2000) and the Declaration of the Open Government Partnership (2011), the SDGs should include concrete steps to tackle gaps in participation, inclusion, integrity and transparency in governance, creating momentum and legitimacy for reform through public dialogue and consensus.


Colophon

This submission derives and follows on from the Global Open Data Inititiave’s Global Open Data Declaration which was jointly created by Fundar, Open Institute, Open Knowledge and World Wide Web Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation with input from civil society organizations around the world.

The full text of the Declaration can be found here:

http://globalopendatainitiative.org/declaration/

Open Definition v2.0 Released – Major Update of Essential Standard for Open Data and Open Content

Rufus Pollock - October 7, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Content, Open Data, Open Definition

Today Open Knowledge and the Open Definition Advisory Council are pleased to announce the release of version 2.0 of the Open Definition. The Definition “sets out principles that define openness in relation to data and content” and plays a key role in supporting the growing open data ecosystem.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the release of open data by dozens of governments including the G8. Recent estimates by McKinsey put the potential benefits of open data at over $1 trillion and others estimates put benefits at more than 1% of global GDP.

However, these benefits are at significant risk both from quality problems such as “open-washing” (non-open data being passed off as open) and from fragmentation of the open data ecosystem due to incompatibility between the growing number of “open” licenses.

The Open Definition eliminates these risks and ensures we realize the full benefits of open by guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility.See this recent post for more about why the Open Definition is so important.

The Open Definition was published in 2005 by Open Knowledge and is maintained today by an expert Advisory Council. This new version of the Open Definition is the most significant revision in the Definition’s nearly ten-year history.

It reflects more than a year of discussion and consultation with the community including input from experts involved in open data, open access, open culture, open education, open government, and open source. Whilst there are no changes to the core principles, the Definition has been completely reworked with a new structure and new text as well as a new process for reviewing licenses (which has been trialled with governments including the UK).

Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council, said:

“The Open Definition describes the principles that define “openness” in relation to data and content, and is used to assess whether a particular licence meets that standard. A key goal of this new version is to make it easier to assess whether the growing number of open licenses actually make the grade. The more we can increase everyone’s confidence in their use of open works, the more they will be able to focus on creating value with open works.”

Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge said:

“Since we created the Open Definition in 2005 it has played a key role in the growing open data and open content communities. It acts as the “gold standard” for open data and content guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility. As a standard, the Open Definition plays a key role in underpinning the “open knowledge economy” with a potential value that runs into the hundreds of billions – or even trillions – worldwide.”

What’s New

In process for more than a year, the new version was collaboratively and openly developed with input from experts involved in open access, open culture, open data, open education, open government, open source and wiki communities. The new version of the definition:

  • Has a complete rewrite of the core principles – preserving their meaning but using simpler language and clarifying key aspects.
  • Introduces a clear separation of the definition of an open license from an open work (with the latter depending on the former). This not only simplifies the conceptual structure but provides a proper definition of open license and makes it easier to “self-assess” licenses for conformance with the Open Definition.
  • The definition of an Open Work within the Open Definition is now a set of three key principles:
    • Open License: The work must be available under an open license (as defined in the following section but this includes freedom to use, build on, modify and share).
    • Access: The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable one-time reproduction cost, preferably downloadable via the Internet without charge
    • Open Format: The work must be provided in a convenient and modifiable form such that there are no unnecessary technological obstacles to the performance of the licensed rights. Specifically, data should be machine-readable, available in bulk, and provided in an open format or, at the very least, can be processed with at least one free/libre/open-source software tool.
  • Includes improved license approval process to make it easier for license creators to check conformance of their license with the Open Definition and to encourage reuse of existing open licenses

More Information

  • For more information about the Open Definition including the updated version visit: http://opendefinition.org/
  • For background on why the Open Definition matters, read the recent article ‘Why the Open Definition Matters’

Authors

This post was written by Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council and Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge

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