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

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

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

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

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

Argentina

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

Brazil

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

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

Chile

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

Uruguay

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

Paraguay

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

Costa Rica

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

El Salvador

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

Peru

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

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Guatemala

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

Mexico

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

Panama

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

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Colombia

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

Jamaica

[credit to  Mona School of Business & Management]

[credit to Mona School of Business & Management]

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

Summary

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

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

We’re Hiring at Open Knowledge: Project Managers, Developers and Data Wranglers

Rufus Pollock - March 19, 2015 in Featured, Jobs, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

Open Knowledge are delighted to advertise several new open positions:

  • Project Manager – Open Data
  • Python Developer
  • Frontend Developer
  • Data Wrangler

A brief summary on each post can be found below. Full details and application forms can be found on http://okfn.org/about/jobs/.

 Project Manager – Open Data

We are looking for a professional and dynamic hands-on project manager to manage a portfolio of projects at Open Knowledge – an international, world-leading non-profit working on open data. The project management style will need to fit within our creative and innovative atmosphere, and should help us retain organisational flexibility and agility.

The projects requiring management will vary, but in general will range from £25k/several months/1-2 team members, to £500k+/several years/4-6 team members. Some projects will involve substantial software design and delivery and require good technical understanding and the ability to manage a technology delivery project. In general the project teams are made up of specialists who have a good sense of the area of work and may be able to be the public face of the project; the key role of the project manager is to ensure planning, delivery, tracking and reporting occurs reliably and to a good standard.

Open Knowledge’s partners and clients include national government bodies, NGOs, and organisations such as the World Bank. Projects funded by grants are delivered for philanthropic foundations, the European Commission (eg. through the FP7/H2020 programme) and others.

Find out more or apply »

Python Developer

Working in the fast-growing area of open data, we build open source tools to drive transparency, accountability and data-driven insight. Our flagship product CKAN runs official national data portals from the UK to Brazil, US to Australia and hundreds more around the world. We also build a variety of other open source software to help people access information and turn data into insight.

We’re looking for a python developer to join our team who is smart, quick-to-learn and interested in contributing to a fast-growing and exciting area. You can be based anywhere – we operate as a virtual, online team – and can offer a flexible working structure – we care about delivery, not being 9-5 at your desk!

Find out more or apply »

Data Wrangler

Work on cutting edge data-driven, high impact open knowledge projects with a world-leading non-profit in areas ranging from government finances to health-care.

We are looking for someone with good experience in “small-to-medium” data wrangling (e.g. you’ve been scraping in python for a while, have a deep love for CSV … ). You must be a self-starter, capable of working remotely and taking initiative as well as working effectively in a team with others.

Find out more or apply »

Frontend Developer

We are looking for talented front-end developers to work with us on an ongoing, freelance basis on a variety of open-source data-driven projects ranging from healthcare to illegal logging.

Find out more or apply »

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

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

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

Portugal

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

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

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

Austria

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

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

Czech Republic

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

Denmark

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

Spain

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

Germany

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

Bulgaria

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

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

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

Romania

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

Russia

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

Open Knowledge Russia: Experimenting with data expeditions

Guest - March 11, 2015 in Featured, OKF Russia, Open Education, open knowledge, WG Open Education

As part of Open Education Week #openeducationwk activities we are publishing a post on how Open Knowledge Russia have been experimenting with data expeditions. This a follow up post to one that appeared on the Open Education Working Group Website which gave an overview of Open Education projects in Russia.

Anna

Anna Sakoyan

The authors of this post are Anna Sakoyan and Irina Radchenko, who together have founded DataDrivenJournalism.RU.

Irina

Irina Radchenko

Anna is currently working as a journalist and translator for a Russian analytical resource Polit.ru and is also involved in the activities of NGO InfoCulture. You can reach Anna on Twitter on @ansakoy, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. She blogs in English at http://ourchiefweapons.wordpress.com/.

Irina Radchenko is a Associate Professor at ITMO University and Chief Coordinator of Open Knowledge Russia. You can reach Irina on Twitter on @iradche, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. She blogs in Russian at http://iradche.ru//.


1. DataDrivenJournalism.RU project and Russian Data Expeditions

The open educational project DataDrivenJournalism.RU was launched in April 2013 by a group of enthusiasts. Initially it was predominantly a blog, which accumulated translated and originally written manuals on working with data, as well as more general articles about data driven journalism. Its mission was formulated as promoting the use of data (Open Data first of all) in the Russian-language environment and its main objective was to create an online platform to consolidate the Russian-speaking people who were interested in working with data, so that they can exchange their experiences and learn from each other. As the number of the published materials grew, they had to be structured in a searchable way, which resulted in making it look more like a website with special sections for learning materials, interactive educational projects (data expeditions), helpful links, etc.

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On one hand, it operates as an educational resource with a growing collection of tutorials, a glossary and lists of helpful external links, as well as the central platform of its data expeditions; on the other hand, as a blog, it provides a broader context of open data application to various areas of activity, including data driven journalism itself. After almost two years of its existence, DataDrivenJournalism.RU has a team of 10 regular authors (comprised of enthusiasts from Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia, Sweden and UK). More than a hundred posts have been published, including 15 tutorials. It has also launched 4 data expeditions, the most recent in December 2014.

The term data expedition was first coined by Open Knowledge’s School of Data, which launched such peer-learning projects both in online and offline formats. We took this model as the basic principle and tried to apply it to the Russian environment. It turned out to be rather perspective, so we began experimenting with it, in order to make this format a more efficient education tool. In particular, we have tried a very loose organisational approach where the participants only had a general subject in common, but were free to choose their own strategy in working with it; a rather rigid approach with a scenario and tasks; and a model, which included experts who could navigate the participants in the area that they had to explore. These have been discussed in our guest post on Brian Kelly’s blog ‘UK Web Focus’.

Our fourth data expedition was part of a hybrid learning model. Namely, it was the practical part of a two-week’s offline course taught by Irina Radchenko in Kazakhstan. This experience appears to be rather inspiring and instructive.

2. International Data Expedition in Kazakhstan

The fourth Russian-language data expedition (DE4) was a part of a two-week’s course under the auspices of Karaganda State Technological University taught by Irina Radchenko. After the course was over the university participants who sucessfully completed all the tasks within DE4 received a certificate. Most interesting projects were later published at DataDrivenJournalism.RU. One of them is about industry in Kazakhstan by Asylbek Mubarak who also tells (in Russian) about his experience of participating in DE4 and also about the key stages of his work with data. The other, by Roman Ni is about some aspects of Kazakhstan budget.

First off, it was a unique experience of launching a data expedition outside Russia. It was also interesting that DE4 was a part of a hybrid learning format, which combined traditional offline lectures and seminars with a peer-learning approach. The specific of the peer-learning part was that it was open, so that any online user could participate. The problem was that the decision to make it open occurred rather late, so there was not much time to properly promote its announcement. However, there were several people from Russia and Ukraine who registered for participation. Unfortunately none of them participated actively, but hopefully, they managed to make some use of course materials and tasks published in the DE4 Google group.

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This mixed format was rather time-taking, because it required not only preparation for regular lectures, but also a lot of online activity, including interaction with the participants, answering their questions in Google group and checking their online projects. The participants of the offline course seemed enthusiastic about the online part, many found it interesting and intriguing. In the final survey following DE4, most of the respondents emphasised that they liked the online part.

The initial level of the participants was very uneven. Some of them knew how to program and work with data bases, others had hardly ever been exposed to working with data. DE4 main tasks were build in a way that they could be done from scratch based only on the knowledge provided within the course. Meanwhile, there were also more advanced tasks and techniques for those who might find them interesting. Unfortunately, many participants could not complete all the tasks, because they were students and were right in the middle of taking their midterm exams at university.

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Compared to our previous DEs, the percentage of completed tasks was much higher. The DE4 participants were clearly better motivated in terms of demonstrating their performance. Most importantly, some of them were interested in receiving a certificate. Another considerable motivation was participation in offline activities, including face-to-face discussions, as well as interaction during Irina’s lectures and seminars.

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Technically, like all the previous expeditions, DE4 was centered around a closed Google group, which was used by the organisers to publish materials and tasks and by participants to discuss tasks, ask questions, exchange helpful links and coordinate their working process (as most of them worked in small teams). The chief tools within DE4 were Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Refine and Infogr.am. Participants were also encouraged to suggest or use other tools if they find it appropriate.

42 people registered for participation. 36 of them were those who took the offline course at Karaganda State Technical University. Those were most active, so most of our observations are based on their results and feedback. Also, due to the university base of the course, 50% of the participants were undergraduate students, while the other half included postgraduate students, people with a higher education and PhD. Two thirds of the participants were women. As to age groups, almost a half of the participants were between 16 and 21 years old, but there was also a considerable number of those between 22 and 30 years old and two above 50.

13 per cent of the participants completed all the tasks, including the final report. According to their responses to the final survey, most of them did their practical tasks by small pieces, but regularly. As to online interaction, the majority of respondens said they were quite satisfied with their communication experience. About a half of them though admitted that they did not contribute to online discussions, although found others’ contributions helpful. General feedback was very positive. Many pointed out that they were inspired by the friendly atmosphere and mutual helpfulness. Most said they were going to keep learning how to work with open data on their own. Almost all claimed they would like to participate in other data expeditions.

3. Conclusions

DE4 was an interesting step in the development of the format. In particular, it showed that an open peer-learning format can be an important integral part of a traditional course. It had a ready-made scenario and an instructor, but at the same time it heavily relied on the participants’ mutual help and experience exchange, and also provided a great degree of freedom and flexibility regarding the choice of subjects and tools. It is also yet another contribution to the collection of materials, which might be helpful in future expeditions alongside with the materials from all the previous DEs. It is part of a process of gradual formation of an educational resources base, as well as a supportive social base. As new methods are applied and tested in DEs, the practices that proved best are stored and used, which helps to make this format more flexible and helpful. What is most important is that this model can be applied to almost any educational initiative, because it is easily replicated and based on using free online services.

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

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

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

Philippines

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

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

Nepal

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

Bangladesh

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

Tajikistan

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

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

India

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

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

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

Australia

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

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

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

Cambodia

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

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

New research project to map the impact of open budget data

Jonathan Gray - March 4, 2015 in Featured, Open Data, Policy, Research

I’m pleased to announce a new research project to examine the impact of open budget data, undertaken as a collaboration between Open Knowledge and the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam, supported by the Global Initiative for Financial Transparency (GIFT).

The project will include an empirical mapping of who is active around open budget data around the world, and what the main issues, opportunities and challenges are according to different actors. On the basis of this mapping it will provide a review of the various definitions and conceptions of open budget data, arguments for why it matters, best practises for publication and engagement, as well as applications and outcomes in different countries around the world.

As well as drawing on Open Knowledge’s extensive experience and expertise around open budget data (through projects such as Open Spending), it will utilise innovative tools and methods developed at the University of Amsterdam to harness evidence from the web, social media and collections of documents to inform and enrich our analysis.

As part of this project we’re launching a collaborative bibliography of existing research and literature on open budget data and associated topics which we hope will become a useful resource for other organisations, advocates, policy-makers, and researchers working in this area. If you have suggestions for items to add, please do get in touch.

This project follows on from other research projects we’ve conducted around this area – including on data standards for fiscal transparency, on technology for transparent and accountable public finance, and on mapping the open spending community.

Financial transparency field network with the Issuecrawler tool based on hyperlink analysis starting from members of Financial Transparency Coalition, 12th January 2015. Open Knowledge and Digital Methods Initiative.

Financial transparency field network with the Issuecrawler tool based on hyperlink analysis starting from members of Financial Transparency Coalition, 12th January 2015. Open Knowledge and Digital Methods Initiative.

Call for Applications: School of Data 2015 Fellowship programme now open!

Zara Rahman - February 18, 2015 in Featured, open knowledge

We’re very happy to open today our 2015 Call for School of Data Fellowships!

Apply here

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Following our successful 2014 School of Data Fellowships, we’re opening today our Call for Applications for the 2015 Fellowship programme. As with last year’s programme, we’re looking to find new data trainers to spread data skills around the world.

As a School of Data fellow, you will receive data and leadership training, as well as coaching to organise events and build your community in your country or region. You will also be part of a growing global network of School of Data practitioners, benefiting from the network effects of sharing resources and knowledge and contributing to our understanding about how best to localise our training efforts.

As a fellow, you’ll be part of a nine-month training programme where you’ll work with us for an average of ten working days a month, including attending online and offline trainings, organising events, and being an active member of the thriving School of Data community.

Get the details

Our 2015 fellowship programme will run from April-December 2015. We’re asking for 10 days a month of your time – consider it to be a part time role, and your time will be remunerated. To apply, you need to be living in a country classified as lower income, lower-middle income or upper-middle income categories as classified here.

Who are we looking for?

People who fit the following profile:

  • Data savvy: has experience working with data and a passion for teaching data skills.
  • Social change: understands and interested in the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the media in bringing positive change through advocacy, campaigns, and storytelling.
  • Has some facilitation skills and enjoys community-building (both online and offline) – or, eager to learn and develop their communication and presentation skills
  • Eager to learn from and be connected with an international community of data enthusiasts
  • Language: a strong knowledge of English – this is necessary in order to communicate with other fellows, to take part in the English-run online skillshares and the offline Summer Camp

To give you an idea of who we’re looking for, check out the profiles of our 2014 fellows – we welcome people from a diverse range of backgrounds, too, so people with new skillsets and ranges of experience are encouraged to apply.

This year, we’d love to work with people with a particular topical focus, especially those interest in working with extractive industries data, financial data, or aid data.

There are 7 fellowship positions open for the April to December 2015 School of Data training programme.

Geographical focus

We’re looking for people based in low-, lower-middle, and upper-middle income countries as classified by the World Bank, and we have funding for Fellows in the following geographic regions:

  • One fellow from Macedonia
  • One fellow from Central America – focus countries Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua
  • One fellow from South America – focus countries Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador
  • Two fellows based in African countries (ie. two different countries)
  • Two fellows based in Asian countries (ie. two different countries)

What does the fellowship include?

As a School of Data fellow, you’ll be part of our 9-month programme, which includes the following activities:

  • guided and independent online and offline skillshares and trainings, aimed to develop data and leadership skills,
  • individual mentoring and coaching;
  • an appropriate stipend equivalent to a part time role;
  • Participation in the annual School of Data Summer Camp, which will take place in May 2015 – location to be confirmed.
  • Participation in activities within a growing community of School of Data practitioners to ensure continuous exchange of resources, knowledge and best practices;
  • Training and coaching of the fellow in participatory event management, storytelling, public speaking, impact assessment etc;
  • Opportunities for paid work – often training opportunities arise in the countries where the fellows are based.
  • Potential work with one or more local civil society organisations to develop data driven campaigns and research.

What did last year’s fellows have to say?

Check out the Testimonials page to see what the 2014 Fellows said about the programme, or watch our Summer Camp video to meet some of the community.

Support

This year’s fellowships will be supported by the Partnership for Open Development (POD) OD4D, Hivos, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Macedonia. We welcome more donors to contribute to this year’s fellowship programme! If you are a donor and are interested in this, please email us at info@schoolofdata.org.

Got questions? See more about the Fellowship Programme here and have a looks at this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.- or, watch the Ask Us Anything Hangouts that we held in mid-February to take your questions and chat more about the fellowship.

Not sure if you fit the profile? Have a look at our 2013 and 2014 fellows profiles.. Women and other minorities are encouraged to apply.

Convinced? Apply now to become a School of data fellow. The application will be open until March 10th and the programme will start in April 2015.

The Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

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

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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.

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