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25 Countries in the Same Room: The OKFestival Community Summit

Christian Villum - August 1, 2014 in Community, Featured, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Heather Leson, CC-BY-SA

Two weeks back, over 1,000 people gathered in Berlin to co-create the future of the open knowledge movement. Even before OKFestival had officially kicked off, over 50 people from over 25 countries piled into a crowded, hot room on a glorious Berlin afternoon, to work through the pressing issues, opportunities and challenges facing the Open Knowledge community.

Over the course of three hours we talked about how to develop better peer to peer mentorship across our global network, how to ensure the sustainability of emerging local groups and Chapters & took a close look at what exactly we are – are we a movement, are we an organisation, are we a community?

These questions could never be completely answered in one three hour session but we did make some exceptional progress and observed quite a few common themes emerging – themes also to be witnessed over the course of the following festival as well!

Sharing Knowledge

As a concept, open knowledge is all about sharing knowledge but it seems that, as a community, we still have some way to go in exemplifying that ideal. During the community summit, we discussed how we could share knowledge about fundraising between Open Knowledge and Local Groups, how our Local Groups could better share their experiences and teach each other. We also were introduced to Open Steps, a fantastic initiative by two community members who spent the past year traveling the world and documenting the open knowledge movement along the way. They are now developing a directory that would allow us to map where people are working on open knowledge activities to facilitate partnerships and knowledge sharing beyond already established networks or country lines.

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Christian Villum, CC-BY-SA

Peer mentoring and skillshares

Another significant topic on the agenda was the discussion of how we could better transfer skills and know-how between newcomers and more experienced members of the community. There are already a series of initiatives pursuing these goals, for instance the series of Community Sessions hosted by Open Knowledge Central – as well as the regional calls organized around the world by members of the community. It was clear though that one of the main missing pieces in the puzzle is the facilitation of more day-to-day based mentoring, peer to peer, perhaps only involving 2 people – the mentor and the mentee – and also something that stretches over a longer period rather than being limited to a single session on Skype or a Hangout. Additionally one barrier that was very clear was the fact that people are living far apart, often having many time zones in between them, therefore prompting a need to rely on online tools – not only for communicating, but also to find each other and identify who to talk to. These are challenges that we, as a community of which Open Knowledge Central is also a part, will look much more into over the coming weeks and months. Lots of ideas are already brewing and a handful of community members have dedicated themselves to sketch out a plan for a mentoring program.

Open knowledge in the Global South

A growing portion of the global community are based in what can be referred to as the Global South and therefore have some additional needs and challenges as compared to countries in more structured environments. As it was noted, some members of the community even operate in areas that can be considered downright hostile. Oppressive governments, corrupt civil servants, failing IT-infrastructure, cultures of domestic oppression, language barriers (highlighted by the high level of anglo-fication characterizing the open knowledge field) and even illiteracy are just some of the factors that make up for a very different playing field for some open knowledge advocates, and in such cases peer support, resource/skill sharing and even funding becomes of increasing value and significance. We need to collaborate to localize key documents across languages, provide toolkits in downloadable and remixable online formats, challenge gender roles, move beyond Internet-driven activism and put international pressure on governments that work actively to hinder the free gathering of people in these regions.

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Christian Villum, CC-BY-SA

Community Identity & Re-branding

During the discussions we also revisited some of the discussions had earlier in the year around some of the branding/visions/values/strategy-related updates brought about by the central Open Knowledge organisation. It’s clear that more community consultation is needed around changes in such basic foundations, but what appeared during these face to face chats was also an understanding that some of the discontent and frustration put forward by parts of the community was rooted not only in these concrete issues, but also in some of the more deeper challenges of the community and organisation: For instance, how do we perceive ourselves as the community grows and grows at an almost explosive rate? What is our identity? The small family is growing into the thousands and the dynamics that used to be are clearly being replaced by others. Does it need to be that way? Can we avoid it? And if not, how do we cope with it and ensure the same level of transparency across the community and the organisation? We also need to define more clearly what the role of the Local Groups, the Working Groups and the Chapters – the most formal part of the community – is in this new reality of an increasingly larger body of people all associating themselves with our shared cause. This is clearly a conversation that will continue way beyond this community summit, and rightfully so!

We are currently writing up all the notes and will put them on the wiki as soon as we have collated them all. Jump on board and comment if you have thoughts or ideas!

Thank you for joining us at Open Knowledge Festival 2014!

Beatrice Martini - July 28, 2014 in Events, Featured, Join us, News, OKFest, OKFestival

Thank you for joining us in Berlin and helping to shape OKFestival and the future of the open knowledge movement!

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We hope that the event provided you with the opportunity to learn, to share and to connect with open knowledge advocates from around the world. While we were excited and inspired by the collaborations and activities we saw springing up over the course of the week, we know that we can always do better and we want to hear from you about what we did well and what you would change. Furthermore, we’d like to encourage all the festival participants to keep sharing – ideas, blogposts, photos, videos, anything which can make the work done last week together resonate with everyone who was there but also everyone who couldn’t join us in person but can still fuel the upcoming projects online!

So, in the spirit of Open Minds to Open Action – let’s call for action!

i) Tell us how it was for you! Firstly, we’d like to ask for your feedback about the event to help us with planning for the future. We’d really appreciate your answers to this survey, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete: okfestival.org/feedback

ii) Content from the festival Next, we’d like to remind you of all the great content created at – and around – the Festival, and to encourage you to check it out and contribute to it.

  • Etherpads Every session had an etherpad, which is an online tool for note-taking. You can find them listed on the Sched page for the corresponding session or you may want to browse the “pad of pads” where they’re all listed.
  • Photos We saw lots of great photos being tweeted from the event and would love to collect as many as possible in the festival Flickr pool so that everyone can find them. So whether you snapped people enjoying ice cream or artists creating graffiti, please do add your images to the group here.
  • Articles & blog posts Again, we’ve seen lots of tweets sharing blog posts about the festival – if you’ve written one or seen one you liked, please add it to this document so we can gather them all in one place and put the links up as a record on the festival website.

Finally, if you’d like to relive some of the festival, you might want to check out our short video celebrating the event. Enjoy!

Thanks once again for your energy, contributions and enthusiasm in making Open Knowledge Festival 2014 our best event yet.

With love, Your OKFestival Team

OKFestival: Day Two Highlights & Wrap Up

Katelyn Rogers - July 25, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

What a Week!

Opening Ceremony OKFestival 14

Between five incredible keynotes, 70+ participatory sessions, an unFestival and countless fringe events, not to mention informal strategizing in the courtyards of the Kulturbrauerei, I am sure that we are all still taking some time to process all the information. Last week, our incredible volunteers put together a Day 1 roundup, highlighting all the exciting conversations that were taking place! Here is just a taste of what happened on Day 2!

We kicked off Day Two with a keynote from Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner responsible for the digital rights agenda, who called on the open movement to put the pressure on national governments to open up data in order to help create jobs and stimulate growth. She highlighted the need to change the mindset of public administrations, to show them that there is a better way, an open way. After a standing ovation from the audience, Eric Hysen had a tough act to follow and was up for the challenge!  He joined us on the OKFestival stage to highlight that open data is not enough and if we truly want to create more innovative societies, we *have* to build the necessary infrastructure. If you missed it, you can read it here.

If you missed the Thursday morning keynotes, you can watch them here:

Following the keynotes, OKFestival participants spread throughout the Kulturbrauerei to share, learn and innovate together in 30 different interactive sessions and at the unFestival. All thirty sessions and the unFestival would be difficult to recap in a single blog post but you can check out the etherpads for all the the sessions here or our Storify of day two!

Here are a few photos of the day:

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Finally, because we were, after all, at a Festival, we ended with a live performance from Juliani, Valsero and The Swag. Thank you Artists Without a Cause!

TheSwag

Stay tuned, OKFestival official photos and videos are coming soon! In the mean time, if you want to help us tell the OKFestival story, please add your blogs to our list & your photos to our flickr pool.  Thanks for joining us in Berlin last week, it wouldn’t have been the same without each and everyone of you! 

Image Credit: Arte Pilpilean EgonOpenCorporates GalleryBurt Lum, Open Data Research Network , Mark Braggins

New Local Groups in Cameroon, Guernsey, Kenya, Bermuda and New Zealand!

Christian Villum - July 11, 2014 in Featured, OKF Cameroon, OKF Guernsey, OKF Kenya, OKF New Zealand, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

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Once again we can proudly announce the establishment of a new round of Open Knowledge Local Groups, headed by community leaders around the world. This time we welcome Cameroon, Guernsey, Kenya, Bermuda and New Zealand to the family of Local Groups, which brings the global Open Knowledge community tally beyond the 50+ countries mark. In this blog post we would like to introduce the people heading these groups and invite everyone to join the community in these countries.

Cameroon

In Cameroon, the incubating Local Group is headed in unison by Agnes Ebo’o and Jean Brice Tetka. Agnes Ebo’o is the founder of the Citizens Governance Initiatives in Cameroon, a nonprofit association that promotes accountability and citizens’ participation in governance. A pioneer in the promotion of freedom of information and open government in Cameroon, Agnes has been involved in the creation of several regional initiatives that promote open government and the rule of law in Africa. These include the Academy for Constitutional Law and Justice in Africa and the Africa Freedom of Information Centre; a Pan-African NGO and resource centre that promotes the right of access to information across Africa. Agnes is also the Co-founder of the Gulf of Guinea Citizens Network, a network of advocates for participatory, transparent and accountable management of the natural resources in the Gulf of Guinea region of Africa. A lawyer by training, Agnes holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Poitiers, France, and an LLM from the University of Wales Cardiff, UK.

Jean joined Transparency International in February 2014 as Data and Technology Coordinator for the People Engagement Programme working on technological solutions to anti-corruption, data analysis and visualisation. He has a Bachelors degree in Management ICT Studies from the African Institute of Programming and his previous experiences includes three years as a project manager with an anti-corruption organisation, two years as IT manager for a private company and volunteering for several NGOs.

Kenya

Ahmed Maawy is a Shaper with the Global Shapers Community (which is an Initiative of the World Economic Forum) and an Executive Direcotor at The Mombasa Tech Community (CBO). He is a technology expert working with D8A and Appfrica labs, and a Technology Lead at Abayima. Ahmed is also one of the pioneers in the groundbreaking institution that aims to create a world without boundaries, The Amani Institute‘s Post Graduate certificate in Social Innovation Management. Ahmed has spent more than 10 years developing web, mobile, and enterprise software as well as functioning as a project manager for a number of software products and projects. He has worked with corporations and non profits alike, as well as media agencies such as Al Jazeera New Media (on 3 important curation projects covering Somalia, Libya and Gaza) as well as Internews Europe. He has also worked for Ushahidi as a Software Engineer for SwiftRiver, Datadyne as Product Manager for EpiSurveyor (now MagPi), and with Kenya Airways for their Online Marketing strategy, Bookings and Reservations engines, and overall web strategy, to name a few.

Bermuda

Heading up the Open Knowledge efforts in Bermuda by setting up a new Local Group are Andrew Simons and Louis Galipeau. Andrew is Bermudian, born and raised. He attended Stanford University as a Bermuda Government Scholar, and graduated with a BSc in computer science and an MSc in chemical engineering. Before moving home to Bermuda, he worked in the Boston area at EMC, a global technology company. He now works as a catastrophe modeler in the insurance industry. In 2013, Andrew co-founded Bermuda.io, a free online repository of Bermuda public data running on CKAN.

Louis is Canadian and has made Bermuda his home. A self-taught technophile with a diverse background, he has a drive towards the use of new media and technology in art, business, and community efforts. He is involved locally as a core member of TEDxBermuda and works at a law firm as the senior lead applications architect. In 2013, Louis also co-founded Bermuda.io with Andrew.

New Zealand

The Local Group in New Zealand is being booted by Rowan Crawford, a software developer who originally trained as a pharmacist. He maintains New Zealand’s Freedom of Information requests site, fyi.org.nz, and currently focuses on connecting the public to representatives via askaway.org.nz and bringing Code for America-style fellowships to New Zealand.

Guernsey

In Guernsey, Philip Smith is the initiator of the new Local Group. He is a project and programme manager heading CBO Projects, has a background with charity This Is Epic and is one of the founders of The Dandelion Project, a community-driven initiative aiming to create a better place for people by bringing together citizens to share their knowledge and skills. Dandelion has, among other, started a small number of community led projects that involve Guernsey moving forward with open data, for example a bus app for local bus services and an open data portal that will hopefully drive open access to valuable data in Guernsey.

We encourage everyone to get in touch with these new Local Groups – to join, connect and collaborate! Contact information can be found via our global network page.

Photo by Volker Agüeras Gäng, CC-BY.

OKFestival Keynote Spotlight: Beatriz Busaniche

Katelyn Rogers - June 25, 2014 in Events, Featured

The Open Knowledge Festival team is thrilled to announce that Beatriz Busaniche will be joining us as a keynote speaker in Berlin this year. Beatriz Busaniche is a free software and culture expert and advocate, a board member of the Vía Libre Foundation in Argentina, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, a core team member at Creative Commons Argentina and a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina

     

Beatriz Busaniche’s “Freedom has Never Been Cheap – A Call to Action for Freedom and the Public Domain” will draw on the wealth of experience she has in fighting to keep the internet open and free. This talk will do more than simply explain how the public domain is at risk; Beatriz will call on all OKFestival participants to lead the way for the entire global open knowledge community.

Because ‘free’ as in ‘freedom’ has never come cheap, she will ask that we go beyond passive learning by joining forces and putting ourselves on the front line in the fight for a free public domain. To help us take those first steps, Beatriz will offer examples of and learnings from her own experiences as an activist fighting for the freedom of the public domain and, in doing so, her keynote will aim to truly address and impact the challenges which we are currently facing in the intellectual property debate.

Here is a sneak peak (in Spanish) of Beatriz speaking at TEDxCordoba, and as you may be able to see, we have a lot to look forward to!

Beatriz Busaniche’s Keynote will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Creative Commons Board member and href=”https://webwewant.org/”>Wed We Want, Renata Avila. We will open up the discussion to questions from the audience as we begin to develop long term strategies for engaging the entire open knowledge movement in the defence of the public domain!

There are still tickets left, join Beatriz Busaniche and hundreds of other members of the global open knowledge community at OKFestival from July 15th to July 17th to share experiences, learn from peers and collectively build a stronger open knowledge movement. Don’t miss out, buy your OKFestival tickets today.

Capture your events

Heather Leson - June 24, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

We’re on a skillshare craze leading up to OKFestival. A few weeks ago we hosted a session all about how to create great videos with our guest Sam Muirhead. This week we are inviting you to join a Photography Skillshare. Events is one of the top ways that you are involved in Open Knowledge. So, while we might be focused on OKFest, the skills transcend storytelling any event.

Photography Skillshare

Join us on Thursday, June 26, 2014 for a Photography Skillshare. The team and community will share best practices in photos as well as

  • Times: Thursday, June 26, 2014 @ 9:30 EDT/ 13:30 UTC/ 14:30 BST/15:30 CEST
  • To join

We will record it to share back in case your timezone or work schedule is different.

Video Skillshare

Does your video or photos look like this? While it is super artistic, it might not show your story in the best context. While the camera for this session was not playing nice, the content is full of all kinds of tips and resources to make your video shine. Thanks to Sam Muirhead of Camera Libre for donating his time. See the G+ hangout notes for a stack of resources to help your video learning.

Note: Community Sessions are taking a break for the summer. Stay tuned for more sessions in the future.

OKFestival Keynote Spotlight: Neelie Kroes

Katelyn Rogers - June 17, 2014 in Events, Featured

We are pleased to announce that Neelie Kroes, the Vice President of the European Commission and a staunch supporter of open data, open government and open access, will join us in Berlin this year as a keynote speaker.

Neelie Kroes is responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, one of seven flagship initiatives of Europe 2020, the European Union’s strategy for inclusive and sustainable growth. The Digital Agenda for Europe recognises that the digital economy is growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy and lays out seven priority areas that must be addressed in order to ensure that European citizens are truly able to take advantage of and receive the full benefits of digital technologies.

Opening up public sector information is a key part of the Digital Agenda for Europe and progress on open data in Europe has benefited significantly from the strong and unwavering support from Neelie Kroes. In a recent interview with OpenSource.com, Mrs. Kroes stated,

“Data is at the heart of the knowledge economy. All our decision-making is becoming ever more determined by data as a basis, not only inside companies, but also in our capacity as ordinary citizens. The products of the future are information-based products that will make our lives easier. Opening up data for use and reuse has therefore an enormous potential to change the way we live and make choices. A better use of data will thus contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the creation of jobs and the promotion of web-entrepreneurship and start-ups throughout the EU.”

We couldn’t agree more. We are honoured that Mrs. Kroes will take part in this year’s Open Knowledge Festival and look forward to engaging her in a fruitful discussion about how we can better harness the power and potential of open data for the benefit of society.

There are still tickets left, join Neelie Kroes and hundreds of other members of the global open knowledge community to share experiences, learn from peers and collectively build a stronger open knowledge movement. Don’t miss out, buy your OKFestival tickets today.

The OKFestival keynote excitement begins!

Megan McGrattan - June 16, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFestival, Uncategorized

This is a cross-post from the OKFestival blog, see the original here

The time is now. The time is today!

If you haven’t already, it’s time to buy your tickets because today, we announce the names of our four amazing keynote speakers!

This year, we have the pleasure of welcoming this stellar line-up of activists, experts, founders, leaders and visionaries who have each impacted the world as we know it in significant ways; pushing forward reform, demanding accountability, increasing transparency and creating new points of contact between governments and their people – to name but a few of their achievements!

We’re delighted to be able to confirm that these incredible speakers will be opening both full days of the festival and we hope that their ideas and stories will inspire you to think harder, make better and connect more during the discussions and activities which will follow later each day.

We’ll be letting you know more about each of our Keynote’s talks throughout this week, with a daily drop including their bios, their keynote details and some stellar prep material you can watch to get you excited about how incredible it will be to see this lot live!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, later this week we’ll let you in on an extra special addition to this line-up, so stay tuned to Twitter for hints on who it might be and tuned to our site for in-the-moment updates! Don’t miss out, OKFestival is the best place to be Open this summer!

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Neelie Kroes Vice President & EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda, European Commission

Neelie Kroes is currently Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. Since 2004, she has worked as one of the 27 European Commissioners aiming to maintain a peaceful and prosperous Europe. From 2004 to 2009, she was Competition Commissioner, responsible for ensuring a level playing field for business in Europe. In 2010, she became Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. This portfolio includes ensuring trust and security for the Internet and new technologies; building world-class European research and innovation in this sector; and above all getting every European Digital, with access to fast broadband, so Europe can make the most out of the Internet to support a strong economy and society.

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Patrick Alley Founder of Global Witness and a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council for Conflict prevention.

Patrick Alley is a director of Global Witness and co-founded the organisation in 1993. He took part in Global Witness’ first investigations into the Thai-Khmer Rouge timber trade in 1995, and since then has taken part in over fifty field investigations in South East Asia, Africa and Europe, and in subsequent advocacy activities. Patrick has focused on natural resource governance issues in resource-rich countries, including post-conflict, including Cambodia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe, and focuses on the thematic issue of Conflict Resources, and on forest and land issues, especially challenging industrial scale logging and land grabbing in the tropics. Patrick is involved in the strategic leadership of Global Witness, and is a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council for Conflict prevention.

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Eric Hysen Director of Google’s elections and civic engagement products and programs, creator of tools for Harvard Institute of Politics designed to drive youth voter turnout through social media.

Eric manages Google’s elections and civic engagement products and programs. His team has launched tools that have helped hundreds of millions of people vote and engage in the political process in over 25 countries, including India, Kenya, Germany, Australia, the US, Mexico, and Egypt. Eric’s team recently launched the Google Civic Information API to make it easier for developers to build useful new civic apps. Prior to joining Google in 2009, Eric built tools to drive youth voter turnout through social media at the Harvard Institute of Politics. Eric holds a BA with honors in Computer Science from Harvard College, and has published research on using advanced crowdsourcing techniques to solve complex problems.

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Beatriz Busaniche Founder of Wikimedia Argentina and key member of Argentina’s Fundacion Via Libre

Beatriz Busaniche is a member of the Fundacion Via Libre and is also a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina, local chapter of Wikimedia Foundation. She has a Mass Communication Degree from National University of Rosario, and is currently a part time professor at Social Sciences Faculty, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She’s preparing her Master Degree on Intellectual Property at FLACSO Argentina.

Join us!

The Open Knowledge Festival 2014 invites you to come and learn from these experts; to hear their thoughts, share their ideas and discuss the progress that we can make towards a more Open world when we work together. Come and join the conversation at OKFestival 2014, knowing that when you leave, it will be with more inspiration, more connections and more conviction than you might have imagined possible.

See you next month!

Brazil’s Development Bank – The Elephant in the Stadium

Guest - June 13, 2014 in Campaigning, Featured, Stop Secret Contracts

This is a guest blog post by Andrew Simms analyst and campaigner at our StopSecretContracts.org coalition partner Global Witness. If you believe public contracts should be open contracts, sign our petition and let world leaders know. This article first appeared on Global Witness’s website.


WorldCup


Symbolism doesn’t get much better than this – thousands of homeless Brazilians set up camp outside São Paolo’s stadium as it prepares for the opening game of the most expensive World Cup ever.

Brazil’s World Cup stadiums have become monuments to broken promises – largely publicly-funded (contrary to government assurances), colossally expensive (around four times over-budget on average, with allegations of overpricing abounding), and some fated to become post-Cup white elephants because their host cities can’t sustain them.

A who’s who of World Cup infrastructure sheds light on a paradox in Brazil’s development model. A major investor in its stadiums was the biggest bank most people haven’t heard of – the country’s national development bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES)), a majority public-funded bank whose mandate involves ‘promoting socio-environmental sustainability and reducing inequalities.’

These goals sit uncomfortably alongside the World Cup’s potential legacy.

Take the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, for example, built by Brazil’s second largest construction company, Andrade Gutierrez (which Associated Press says increased its political donations 500-fold in Brazil’s most recent elections). The cost of building Beira Rio went more than 150% over budget, and 80% of total costs were carried by the BNDES.

Andrade Gutierrez also built Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha stadium, along with engineering firm Via Engenharia. A seat in that stadium cost three times what an average stadium seat cost in South Africa and Germany for the last two World Cups.

The BNDES is a major player in Brazil and parts of Latin America and Africa, with a bigger investment portfolio even than the World Bank’s. In 2012 around a quarter of the bank’s funds came from Brazil’s Worker’s Assistance Fund and just over half from the National Treasury. As much as 70 percent of the bank’s expenditure meanwhile goes to ‘big companies’ whose gross annual revenue exceeds US$ 135 million.

Global Witness has three major concerns about the BNDES:

  1. Choice of investment partners

Senior officials from six World Cup contractors – Construcap, Galvão, Mendes Júnior, OAS, Odebrecht and Via Engenharia – are currently on trial for alleged illicit enrichment through the construction of key infrastructure at ten Brazilian airports between 2003 and 2006 – infrastructure that will bring millions of visitors to World Cup venues. Dozens of representatives stand accused of being part of a criminal association with officials at Infraero, a government-owned company that operates Brazil’s key airports.

Together they are charged with illicit enrichment that Brazil’s Public Attorney claims resulted in over US$ 440 million in public money being diverted. Investigators say that price inflation occurred on such a scale that at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas Airport alone the footbridges used by passengers to board planes were overpriced by 190%, amounting to US$ 2.6 million lost to Brazilian taxpayers.

This case first came to court in 2011. Three years later there have been no convictions. The accused deny the charges.

  1. Lack of transparency

While some ad hoc data is available on the volumes of money that BNDES invests in certain companies, the bank’s transparency tends to end there.

BNDES does not publish details of its loans to private entities inside or outside Brazil, claiming exemption to freedom of information requests on the basis of banking secrecy.

In the absence of publicly available information on BNDES’ rationale for financing certain companies over others, or the objectives or results of the projects it is funding, citizens are unable to scrutinise what their taxes are spent on.

BNDES investments in public institutions continue to be audited by public officials, but those in companies are not. This seems inconsistent considering that the BNDES is a federal public company under the supervision of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade.

  1. Social and environmental footprint

The BNDES lacks effective environmental and social safeguards to guide its investment choices or monitor their impact. This is evidenced by the fact that the bank is the majority funder of an infrastructure boom in the Amazon basin region, home to the world’s largest rainforest. Globally we are losing forests at a rate of fifty football pitches a minute.

One particularly controversial BNDES-backed project is the Belo Monte Dam, being built on one of the Amazon’s major tributaries. It is anticipated that the dam will result in the destruction of an area of over 1,500 square kilometres of rainforest, the forced displacement of between 20,000 and 40,000 people, and untold impacts on local livelihoods and eco-systems.

The economic viability of the dam has also been called into question, with industry analysts claiming that due to the challenges of building a project of this size in the Amazon total costs could easily exceed government predictions by US$ 5 billion.

The camp for homeless families outside São Paolo’s stadium has been nicknamed ‘The People’s Cup’ and is a stark reminder to World Cup visitors that Brazil’s booming economy remains elusive in much of the country.

Brazil’s month-long football revelries will likely distract from the real winners and losers of the 2014 World Cup, but the tournament offers critical insights into Brazil’s development trajectory – embodied in a bank that facilitates the cosy relationship between business and politics, lacks accountability back to its tax-payer donors, and finances projects that may undermine rather than further sustainable development.

 

Community Sessions: Video Skillshare and Open Education

Heather Leson - June 9, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFestival, Open Data, Open Education, Technical

Happy June! We have a few Community Sessions to announce. OKFestival is almost a month away. Videos are key for storytelling, so we are hosting a Video Skillshare to help us all learn. The Open Education Working Group will join us to talk about why open data matters in education. Join us for these two community sessions.

Take a Video: Preparing for OKFestival

cameras in baskets Storytelling is key to building Open. Join Sam Muirhead of Cameralibre and the Open Knowledge team to learn some tips and tricks about video. We are preparing for OkFest and hope this skillshare helps everyone.

  • Date:Thursday, June 12, 2014
  • Time: 9:30 EDT/13:30 UTC/14:30 BST/15:30 CST
  • Our guest is Sam Muirhead.
  • Duration: 1 hour (This will be recorded)
  • Register

We’ll cover some topics like: What you need to think about before and during shooting to make sure footage is high quality and relevant, Hard-to-fix but easy-to-avoid mistakes, Tips and tricks for editing a simple interview or event video and some VERY basic technical guidelines eg. what settings to use for recording, exporting, etc.

Sam was kind enough to share some resources:

Why Open Data matters to Education

Open Education is a very active global community. Join Marieke and Octavio to learn more about why open data matters to education. Also, learn about the many facets of open education and how to get involved.

This session builds on the Make it Matter Workshop all about using Open methods in Education. See all previous Making it Matter workshopvideos. We’ll share all about open data in education, learn about the Open Education Working group and hear about work in Brazil and the UK.

About Open Education

  • Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 EDT / 12:00 UTC / 13:00 BST/14:00 CEST
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Register

If you have a ideas for upcoming sessions, please ping heather DOT leson AT okfn DOT org.

(Photo by Heather Leson, Venice Biennale. Art by Magdalena Campos-Pons)

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