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New Report: “Changing What Counts: How Can Citizen-Generated and Civil Society Data Be Used as an Advocacy Tool to Change Official Data Collection?”

Jonathan Gray - March 3, 2016 in Data Journalism, Featured, Open Data, Open Government Data, Policy, Research

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Following on from our discussion paper on “Democratising the Data Revolution”, today we’re pleased to announce the release of a new report titled “Changing What Counts: How Can Citizen-Generated and Civil Society Data Be Used as an Advocacy Tool to Change Official Data Collection?”.

Undertaken as a collaboration between Open Knowledge and the CIVICUS DataShift, the report contains seven case studies accompanied by a series of recommendations for civil society groups, public institutions and policy-makers. The case studies cover data collection initiatives around a wide variety of different topics – from literacy rates in East Africa to water access in Malawi, migration deaths in Europe to fracking pollution in the US. It was researched and written by myself, Danny Lämmerhirt and Liliana Bounegru.

We hope that it will contribute to advancing policies and practices to make public information systems more responsive to the interests and concerns of civil society. You can download the full report here.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

The information systems of public institutions play a crucial role in how we collectively look at and act in the world. They shape the way decisions are made, progress is evaluated, resources are allocated, issues are flagged, debates are framed and action is taken. As a United Nations (UN) report recently put it, “Data are the lifeblood of decision-making and the raw material for accountability.”1

Every information system renders certain aspects of the world visible and lets others recede into the background. Datasets highlight some things and not others. They make the world comprehensible and navigable in their own way – whether for the purposes of policy evaluation, public service delivery, administration or governance.

Given the critical role of public information systems, what happens when they leave out parts of the picture that civil society groups consider vital? What can civil society actors do to shape or influence these systems so they can be used to advance progress around social, democratic and environmental issues?

This report looks at how citizens and civil society groups can generate data as a means to influence institutional data collection. In the following pages, we profile citizen generated and civil society data projects and how they have been used as advocacy instruments to change institutional data collection – including looking at the strategies, methods, technologies and resources that have been mobilised to this end. We conclude with a series of recommendations for civil society groups, public institutions, policy-makers and funders.

The report was commissioned as part of a research series by DataShift, an initiative that builds the capacity and confidence of civil society organisations to produce and use citizen-generated data. It follows on from another recent discussion paper from Open Knowledge on what can be done to make the “data revolution” more responsive to the interests and concerns of civil society,2 as well as a briefing note by DataShift on how institutions can support sustainability of citizen-generated data initiatives.3

New Initiative: Open Data for Tax Justice #OD4TJ

Jonathan Gray - March 2, 2016 in Campaigning, Featured, Open Data, Open Government Data, open knowledge, Our Work, Public Money

OD4TJ

Every year countries lose billions of dollars to tax avoidance, tax evasion and more generally to illicit financial flows. According to a recent IMF estimate around $700 billion of tax revenues is lost each year due to profit-shifting. In developing countries the loss is estimated to be around $200 billion, which as a share of GDP represents nearly three times the loss suffered by OECD countries. Meanwhile, economist Gabriel Zucman estimates that certain components of undeclared offshore wealth total above $7 trillion, implying tax losses of $200 billion annually; Jim Henry’s work for TJN suggests the full total of offshore assets may range between $21 trillion and $32 trillion.

We want to transform the way that data is used for advocacy, journalism and public policy to address this urgent challenge by creating of a global network of civil society groups, investigative reporters, data journalists, civic hackers, researchers, public servants and others.

Today, Open Knowledge and the Tax Justice Network are delighted to announce the launch of a new initiative in this area: Open Data for Tax Justice. We want to initiate a global network of people and organisations working to create, use and share data to improve advocacy and journalism around tax justice. The website is: http://datafortaxjustice.net/ and using the hashtag #od4tj.

The network will work to rally campaigners, civil society groups, investigative reporters, data journalists, civic hackers, researchers, public servants and others; it will aim to catalyse collaborations and forge lasting alliances between the tax justice movement and the open data movement. We have received a huge level of support and encouragement from preliminary discussions with our initial members, and look forward to expanding the network and its activities over the coming months.

What is on the cards? We’re working on a white paper on what a global data infrastructure for tax justice might look like. We also want to generate more practical guidance materials for data projects – as well as to build momentum with online and offline events. We will kick off with some preliminary activities at this year’s global Open Data Day on Saturday 5th March. Tax justice will be one of the main themes of the London Open Data Day, and if you’d like to have a go at doing something tax related at an event that you’re going to, you can join the discussion here.

OD4TJ members

Introducing Viderum

Open Knowledge - February 15, 2016 in Featured, News, open knowledge

Ten years ago, Rufus started CKAN as an “apt-get for data” in order to enable governments and corporations to provide their data as truly open data. Today, CKAN is used by countless open data publishers around the globe and has become the de facto standard.

With CKAN as the technical foundation, Open Knowledge has offered commercial services to governments and public institutions within its so-called Services division for many years. Some of the most prominent open data portals around the world have been launched by the team, including data.gov, data.gov.uk, publicdata.eu, data.glasgow.gov.uk, and—most recently—opendatani.gov.uk.

Today, we’re spinning off this division into its own company: Viderum.

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We’re doing this because we want to lend a stronger focus on further development and promotion of these services without distracting Open Knowledge’s core mission as an advocate for openness and transparency. We’ve also heard from our customers that they are asking for a commercial-grade service offering that is best realized in an organization dedicated to that end.

Viderum’s mission will be simple: to make the world’s public data discoverable and accessible to everyone. They will provide services and products to further expand the reach of open data around the world.

Says CEO of Viderum Sebastian Moleski:

I’m personally very excited about this opportunity to bring open data publishing to the next level. In all reality, the open data revolution has only just begun. As it moves further, it is imperative to build on core principles of openness and interoperability. When it comes to open data, there is no good reason to use closed, proprietary, and expensive solutions that tie governments and public institutions to particular vendors. Viderum will help prove that point again and again.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.45.19 PMAs a first step in fulfilling their mission, Viderum is offering a cloud-based, multi-tenant solution to host CKAN that has been live since mid-November. This allows anyone to get their own CKAN instance and publish data without the hassle, cost, and learning curve involved in setting one up individually. By lowering technological barriers, we believe there are now even more reasons for governments, institutions, and local authorities to publish open data for everyone’s use.

Viderum have set up an office in Berlin and are currently hiring developers! If you know anyone who’s passionate about building software and the infrastructure for open data around the world, please pass the link along to them.

To find out more about Viderum, check out their website, read the FAQ or contact the team at hello@viderum.com.

 

Treasures from the Public Domain in New Essays Book

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

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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.

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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!

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