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Skillshares and Stories: Upcoming Community Sessions

Heather Leson - April 3, 2014 in CKAN, Events, Network, OKF Brazil, OKF Projects, Open Access, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, School of Data

We’re excited to share with you a few upcoming Community Sessions from the School of Data, CKAN, Open Knowledge Brazil, and Open Access. As we mentioned earlier this week, we aim to connect you to each other. Join us for the following events!

What is a Community Session: These online events can be in a number of forms: a scheduled IRC chat, a community google hangout, a technical sprint or hackpad editathon. The goal is to connect the community to learn and share their stories and skills.

We held our first Community Session yesterday. (see our Wiki Community Session notes) The remaining April events will be online via G+. These sessions will be a public Hangout to Air. The video will be available on the Open Knowledge Youtube Channel after the event. Questions are welcome via Twitter and G+.

All these sessions are Wednesdays at 10:30 – 11:30 am ET/ 14:30 – 15:30 UTC.

Mapping with Ketty and Ali: a School of Data Skillshare (April 9, 2014)

Making a basic map from spreadsheet data: We’ll explore tools like QGIS (a free and Open-source Geographic Information System), Tilemill (a tool to design beautiful interactive web maps) Our guest trainers are Ketty Adoch and Ali Rebaie.

To join the Mapping with Ketty and Ali Session on April 9, 2014

Q & A with Open Knowledge Brazil Chapter featuring Everton(Tom) Zanella Alvarenga (April 16, 2014)

Around the world, local groups, Chapters, projects, working groups and individuals connect to Open Knowledge. We want to share your stories.

In this Community Session, we will feature Everton (Tom) Zanella Alvarenga, Executive Director.

Open Knowledge Foundation Brazil is a newish Chapter. Tom will share his experiences growing a chapter and community in Brazil. We aim to connect you to community members around the world. We will also open up the conversation to all things Community. Share your best practices

Join us on April 16, 2014 via G+

Take a CKAN Tour (April 23, 2014)

This week we will give an overview and tour of CKAN – the leading open source open data platform used by the national governments of the US, UK, Brazil, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Austria and many more. This session will cover why data portals are useful, what they provide and showcase examples and best practices from CKAN’s varied user base! Our special guest is Irina Bolychevsky, Services Director (Open Knowledge Foundation).

Learn and share your CKAN stories on April 23, 2014

(Note: We will share more details about the April 30th Open Access session soon!)

Resources

Happy Spring Cleaning, Community Style

Heather Leson - April 1, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, Network, OKF Projects, OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Our Work, Working Groups

OKF_HK

Crazy about happy? Call it spring fever, but I am slightly addicted to the beautiful creativity of people around the world and their Happy videos (map). We are just one small corner of the Internet and want to connect you to Open Knowledge. To do this, we, your community managers, need to bring in the Happy. How can we connect you, meet your feedback, continue the spirit of global Open Data Day, and celebrate our upcoming 10 year anniversary as Open Knowledge? Tall order, but consider this.

Open Knowledge is a thriving network. We exist because of all of you and the incremental efforts each of you make on a wide-range of issues around the world. The way forward is to flip the community around. We will focus on connecting you to each other. Call it inspired by Happy or the Zooinverse mission, but we heard your input into the community survey and want to meet it.

Coffee smiley by spaceageboy

So, here are 4 key ways we aim to connect you:

1. Community Tumblr

Greece, MENA, and Tanzania – these are just some of the locations of Open Knowledge Stories on the Community Tumblr. We know that many of you have stories to tell. Have something to say or share? Submit a story. Just one look at the recent WordPress about 10 moments around the world gives me inspiration that the stories and impact exist, we just need to share more.

The Open Knowledge Community Tumblr

2. Wiki Reboot

As with every spring cleaning, you start by dusting a corner and end up at the store buying bookshelves and buckets of paint. The Open Knowledge wiki has long been ridden with spam and dust bunnies. We’ve given it a firm content kick to make it your space. We are inspired by the OpenStreetMap community wiki.

What next? Hop on over and create your Wiki User account – Tell us about yourself, See ways to Get Involved and Start Editing. We think that the wiki is the best way to get a global view of all things Open Knowledge and meet each other. Let’s make this our community hub.

3. Community Sessions

We have a core goal to connect you to each other. This April we are hosting a number of online community events to bring you together. Previously, we had great success with a number of online sessions around Open Data Day and OKFestival.

The Community Sessions can be in a number of forms: a scheduled IRC chat, a community Google hangout, a technical sprint or hackpad editathon. We are using the wiki to plan. All events will be announced on the blog and be listed in the main Open Knowledge events calendar.

Wiki planning for the Community Sessions:

The first session is Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 14:30 UTC/10:30 ET. We will host an IRC chat all about the wiki. To join, hop onto irc.freenode.net #okfn. IRC is a free text-based chat service.

4. OkFestival

OKFestival is coming soon. You told us that events is one of the biggest ways that you feel connected to Open Knowledge. As you many know, there are regular online meetups for School of Data, CKAN and OpenSpending Communities. Events connect and converge all of us with location and ideas.

Are you planning your own events where you live or on a particular open topic? We can help in a few ways:

  • Let us know about the events you’re running! Let’s discover together how many people are joining Open knowledge events all around the world!
  • Never organized an event before or curious to try a new type of gathering? Check out our Events Handbook for tips and tricks and contact our Events Team if you have questions or feedback about it
  • Want to connect with other community members to talk about your events, share skills, create international series of events together? Ping our global mailing list!

Have some ideas on how we can bring on the happy more? Drop us a line on the okfn-discuss mailing list or reach out directly – heather DOT leson AT okfn DOT org.

(Photo by SpaceAgeBoy)

Global Open Knowledge Festival Meetups – a warm-up in 3 steps

Beatrice Martini - November 26, 2013 in Events, Featured, Join us, Meetups, Network, OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation

It was just last week that we invited the open communities to start collaborating and warming up for the upcoming Open Knowledge Festival. Today we can already share with you the learnings and outcomes of the first OKFestival Meetup (in Berlin) – as we would love to imagine it, this was just the first in a long, diverse and busy series (no pressure, it’s all up to you!).

Folks from the Open Knowledge Foundation, Code for All, Free Software Foundation Europe, Open Bank Project, AfricaHackTrip, Hacks/Hackers, and Open Product Data facilitated a great evening of skill-sharing, peer-to-peer learning and exciting findings from each other’s projects. We spread the word about open (what is open? What does open knowledge mean? How many things around us can be open?), dug into a multitude of open projects and started discussing and writing down first ideas to be proposed for the festival (we’ll call for the community’s proposals to shape the agenda very soon – sign up for the festival’s newsletter to be the first to know when).

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 3.29.58 PM

But which are exactly the ingredients that made the evening special? We listed them and thought about sharing with you all – and you’re welcome to have a go too.

  • Diversity – the speakers came from different open communities (and countries, and languages) and we also invited people who wanted to discover more about open to join. Both newcomers and experienced folks in the open fields found a lot to learn from each other. The open ecosystem spreads itself in all directions, from open source, to open culture, government, science, education, environment and even to products we buy at the supermarket. There is so much to learn, talk about and share – and our peers can be the best source of new exciting discoveries. This doesn’t mean that multiple topics are always recommended, but inviting people with different backgrounds can often be a plus.

  • Online meets offline and viceversa – some of our attendees and speakers lived in the city we organised the event in, but that would be just half of the fun. Everybody was invited to join the conversation from anywhere in the world: on Twitter (ping the OKFestival crowd anytime including #OKFestival in your tweets), the events’ etherpad (prominently and publicly displayed during the event) and we also had a speaker from another country! Our guest this time was Katelyn Rogers talking about Open Product Data from the UK (see her projected on the wall in our pics). We missed to have Brazilian friends joining due to the overlapping Encontro Nacional de Dados Abertos on the same date – but next time we’ll be together. Hint: find time zones reasonably suitable with yours and ping people passionately working in the open space to invite them to your OKFestival Meetups! (The Open Knowledge Foundation Network could be a good place to start with)

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 3.30.43 PM

  • Participatory format – we all love listening to a thrilling lecture, but sometimes attending a talk with just a short Q&A at the end just doesn’t satisfy our curiosity to know more about new topics and people. So we experimented and organized the Berlin evening as a speed geeking session. What is it? Each project (and project’s presenter) has a table with chairs around. Participants are divided into groups, and each group starts sitting at one table, and talks with the presenter for 5 minutes. After that, at the sound of a gong (a kitchen pan, in our case) it’s time for each group to move to the next table and project. And if 5 minutes were not enough, there’s time (and rehydrating drinks) immediately after. It was a lot of fun – we’ll add the format to the Events Handbook soon.

So, what are you waiting for? Wherever you are, whatever is the field of open you’re passionate about, however you want to meet (be it in an embassy, in your kitchen, or in a bar!) – run your OKFestival Meetup! And don’t forget to share all about it on the dedicated etherpad; we can’t wait to hear what open means to you, feature your greatest meetups, and make OKFestival happen with you!

Open Data’s Business Value Isn’t That Important

Guest - November 8, 2013 in Network, Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a cross-post from the Sunlight Foundation blog, written by Director of Sunlight Labs, Tom Lee. See the original post here.

The recent Open Government Partnership meetings in London have provided a good opportunity to assess the direction of our community. The latest comes from Jonathan Gray, and the title — Open government should be about accountability and social justice, not the digital economy — more or less speaks for itself:

[Prime Minister David] Cameron’s speech typified a broader pivot in open government discourse in recent years from political accountability and social justice towards economic growth and digital innovation, from holding power to account to supporting startups. In recent years senior officials from the US and the UK have started alluding to a trinity of “open governments, open societies, and open economies” in high level transparency talks, as well as to the potential of digital technologies and digital information for innovative new businesses and growth. In addition to the kinds of panels you might expect at a transparency summit, there were also sessions on public-private partnerships, entrepreneurs in civic innovation, and smart cities. Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee remarked in his closing talk, “for me always the most exciting piece of it at the end of the day is economic value”.

[...]

While sometimes it may be more more comfortable for governments to highlight their plans to ‘go digital’ or to enable new businesses by opening up official data, transparency advocates should not be distracted from [their] mission to enable citizens to hold power to account and to fight for social and environmental justice.

I agree with Jonathan’s diagnosis of distinct strains within the open government data community. But I don’t think they have to be in tension. I’ve argued before that a big tent is beneficial to us all — that blurring the lines between open data for accountability and open data for economic development can serve both constituencies’ needs. After all, the great thing about open information is that its supply is limitless.

But even if we don’t need to choose between these rationales, it is worth evaluating their relative importance. And through that lens, Jonathan’s point is well taken: the business rationale for opening data is receiving a tremendous amount of attention — arguably more than it merits, given that this business rationale represents a relatively small share of open data’s potential benefits.

The latest evidence for this arrived just last week in the form of a new McKinsey report on the economic value of open data. The resulting headlines and powerpoint slides are likely to focus on the three trillion dollar estimate that leads the report. I’ll be the first to admit that this enormous number from a respected consulting firm will be a useful tool for advocates.

But it’s worth digging in to exactly what the report says and what it means. I suspect we can all agree that open data is meaningful for our countries’ economies. But we need to asking not just how much but also how. From the report:

Much of this value will lead to greater consumer surplus from improved transparency into price and product information. Market share shifts could also occur across the industry, as companies gain competitive advantage by incorporating open data into their analytics.

Emphasis mine. “Improved price transparency and product information” means consumers driving a harder bargain. That means thinner profit margins and more value landing with consumers rather than producers. The report goes on:

Consumers stand to gain the most. Consumers are already beginning to benefit from open data through price transparency (for example, by using online shopping sites that offer price comparisons). Other information about products and services could be made available through open data (e.g., whether trains are running on time or the labor and environmental practices of manufacturers) and could be used by consumers to select the products and services that best match their preferences. Opening [personalized datasets] gives consumers better visibility into their own consumption, often revealing information that can lead to changes in behavior. Open data also gives individuals (as consumers and citizens) new channels to provide input to improve the quality of goods and services (including public services) and the quality of data. Together, more than 50 percent of the value potential we estimated is in consumer and customer surplus.

This is an incredibly important point: most of the benefits of open data will accrue to consumers and citizens, not to investors and firms.

That’s not to say that open data startups aren’t important or potentially lucrative. But the wealth they generate directly is likely to be relatively small compared to the more diffuse benefits that open data can confer: better governance, more efficient markets, and smarter business decisions.

I’ve argued before that there are structural reasons to expect that business can only capture a small portion of open data’s value. And I’ll repeat: this in no way invalidates the importance of those businesses or the usefulness of the services they will deliver to citizens, government and industry.

But it does help to set our priorities. Open data’s value will manifest relatively rarely in the form of dividends or paychecks. Often, its benefits will be difficult to quantify.

Consider the now-classic pro-transparency case of restaurant inspection scores. Studies have found that posting these scores reduces food-borne illness hospitalizations between 13 and 20 percent. That’s a real benefit to diners and to our health-care system. But it will, if anything, show up as a decrease in business activity. The cost of implementing the program is probably small; diners will probably still pay the same amount for their (now slightly-safer) meals; hospitals will be billing less. This is boring econ 101 stuff, but it’s important to understand that these benefits are real even if they are difficult to measure in dollars.

It’s also important to understand the political economy implications of this example. There might be no natural constituency that demands health inspection data. The restaurants and hospitals have little incentive to push for disclosure. The benefit to diners is real but too diffuse to mobilize many. It might not be practical to expect a popular outcry to spur reform.

That’s where our community comes in — the nonprofits, activists, foundations, political organizers, policy experts and civic hackers. Better services, more value, greater accountability: that’s where most of open data’s promise lies, and where the most important work remains to be done if we are to ensure that it is realized.

This is doubly true thanks to the magic of the profit motive. If there’s money to be made, smart entrepeneurs will find ways to unlock it. I hope and expect that they will — that’s the beauty of capitalism. But this calls into question the rationale for government and philanthropic efforts to emphasize and explicitly subsidize the economic development of open data relative to other uses.

As I’ve said, I don’t think we have to choose between those uses. I truly believe that a big tent benefits us all. But I’m with Jonathan: better businesses will be great to have, but better societies are even more exciting.

Come and meet us at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London!

Beatrice Martini - October 29, 2013 in Events, Join us, Meetups, Network, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation

SummitLogo1

The Open Knowledge Foundation is involved with a number of events at and around the Open Government Partnership Summit this week. If you’re coming to the summit or any of the events around it, here is where you can find us.

Tuesday 29th October

If you’re going to the Open Data Institute’s Annual Summit, you can catch up with the Open Knowledge Foundation CEO Laura James who will be speaking there.

We’re having an informal Open Data Meetup at the Centre for Creative Collaboration on Tuesday night from 19:00-21:30. If you’re around come and join us for lightning talks, drinks and more!

Wednesday 30th October

On Wednesday we’re helping to run the Open Government Partnership Civil Society Day, before the main summit kicks off. We’re coordinating the unconference and will be involved in sessions on proactive transparency, privacy and more.

Thursday 31st October

At the OGP Festival, we’ll have information stands where you can come and talk to us, as well as a dedicated space with sessions on:

We’ll also be in the Festival Space for a drop in session on the new Open Data for Development project (17:15-18:45).

At the OGP Summit you can find us talking and participating at sessions on:

Friday 1st November

At the OGP Festival, you’ll still be able to find us at our Open Knowledge Foundation information stands, as well as at an igloo session on the OpenSpending project (13:00-14:00).

At the OGP Summit, you can come and join us at sessions on:

If you’re not in London, you’ll also be able to follow the live streams for many of these sessions, and we’ll be blogging and live tweeting throughout the event.

Network Summit

Naomi Lillie - July 19, 2013 in Network, Open GLAM, Open Government Data, Open Humanities, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Open Science, Our Work, Talks, Working Groups

Twice-yearly the whole community of the Open Knowledge Foundation gathers together to share with, learn from and support one another. The Summer Summit 2013 took place in Cambridge (UK) last week (10th-14th July), with staff updates on the Thursday and network representatives joining on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It was so inspiring to hear what our network has been doing to further the Open movement recently and over the last 6 months!

We heard from Local Groups about how these groups have been effecting change in all our locations around the world:

  • Alberto for OKFN Spain has been promoting open transparency in budgets, including their own, and using the power of events to gather people;
  • OKFN Taiwan, represented by TH (who we believe travelled the furthest to be with us in person), has also been investing in many large events, including one event for developers and others attracting 2,000 people! They have also been supporting local and central governments on open data regulation;
  • Charalampos of OKFN Greece highlighted the recent support of their works by Neelie Kroes, and took us through crashmap.okfn.gr which maps accidents using data from police departments and census data along with crowd-sourced data;
  • Pierre at OKF France reported that they have been helping redesign the national open data portal, as well as developing an open data portal for children and young people which kids which may align well with School of Data;
  • OpenData.ch, the Swiss Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation of course is hosting OKCon in September, and Hannes updated on exciting developments here. He also reported on work to lobby and support government by developing visualisations of budget proposals, developing a federal-level open data strategy and policy, and promoting a national open data portal. Thanks to their efforts, a new law was accepted on open weather data, with geodata next up;
  • David updated on OKFN Australia where there is support from government to further the strong mandate for open scientific data. The newspaper the Age has been a firm ally, making data available for expenses and submissions to political parties, and a project to map Melbourne bicycle routes was very successful;
  • Francesca of OKF Italy has been working alongside Open Streetmap and Wikimedia Italy, as well as with parliament on the Open Transport manifesto. They have also been opening up ecological data, from “spaghetti open data”;
  • OKFN Netherlands was represented by Kersti, who reported a shared sense of strength in open government data and open development, as well as in the movement Open for Change (where OKCon is listed as the top ‘Open Development Event’!);
  • Dennis, for OKF Ireland, has been pushing the local events and gathering high-profile ‘rock stars’ of the open data world as well as senior government representatives. He has also presented on open data in parliament;
  • OKF Scotland is a growing grassroots community, as conveyed by Ewan – an Open Data Day asserted the importance of connecting to established grassroots communities who are already doing interesting things with data. They are also working closely with government to release data and organised local hackdays with children and young people;
  • Bill joined us remotely to update on OKF Hong Kong, where regular meet-ups and hackdays are providing a great platform for people to gather around open knowledge. Although not able to join us in person (like Everton / Tom from OKF Brasil) Bill was keen to report that OKF Hong Kong will be represented at OKCon!
  • OKF Austria‘s update was given by Walter, who informed us that transport data is now properly openly licensed and that several local instances of the international Working Groups have been set up. Which segues nicely, as…

It wasn’t just during the planned sessions where community-building and networking occurred: despite the scorching 30°C (86°F) heat – somewhat warmer than the Winter Summit in January! – people made the most of lunchtimes and breaks to share ideas and plan.

We also heard from Working Groups about how crossing international boundaries is making a difference to Open for all of us:

  • Open Sustainability was represented by Jack who explained Cleanweb (an initiative to use clean technologies for good, engaging with ESPA to open up data) and has set up @opensusty on Twitter as a communication route for anyone wanting to connect;
  • Ben, newly involved with Open Development, explained about the group’s plans to make IATI‘s released data useful, and bringing together existing initiatives to create a data revolution;
  • Open Science, represented by Ross, has been very active with lobbying and events, with the mailing list constantly buzzing with discussions on open data, licensing and convincing others;
  • Daniel explained that Open Government Data, being one of the largest groups with 924 mailing list members, has provided an important role as being at the heart of the Open Government Data movement, as a place for people to go to for questions and – hopefully! – answers. Daniel will be stepping down, so get in touch if you would like to help lead this group; in the meantime, the Steering Committee will be helping support the group;
  • OpenGLAM has also developed an Advisory Board, said Joris. There is good global reach for Open GLAM advocacy, and people are meeting every month. Documents, case studies, slide-decks and debates are available to new joiners to get started, and the Austrian instance of the Working Group demonstrated the process works. (Joris has now sadly left Open Knowledge Foundation ‘Central’, but we are delighted he will stay on as volunteer Coordinator for this group!);
  • Public Domain, with Primavera reporting, has been working on Public Domain Calculators in partnership with the government. PD Remix launched in France in May, and Culture de l’Europe will present at OKCon;
  • Primavera also updated on Open Design, where future planning has taken priority. The Open Design Definition has been a highlight but funding would help further activity and there are plans to seek this proactively. Chuff, the Open Knowledge Foundation Mascot, was pleased to get a mention…

It should be noted that these activities and updates are brief highlights only – distilling the activities of our groups into one or two sentences each is very much unrepresentative of the amount of things we could talk about here!

We also made time for socialising at the Summit, and much fun was had with Scrabble, playing frisbee and punting – not to mention celebrating Nigel‘s birthday!




As an aside, I was going to state that “we only need an Antarctic representative and the Open Knowledge Foundation will have all seven continents in our network”; however, it appears there is no definitive number of continents or agreed land-masses! An amalgamated list is Africa (Africa/Middle East and North Africa), America (Central/North/South), Antarctica, Australia (Australia/Oceania) and Eurasia (Europe/Asia)… but, however you wish to define the global divisions (and isn’t it pleasing that it’s difficult to do so?), Antarctica is the only area the Open Knowledge Foundation is not represented! Are you reading this from an outstation at the South Pole, or know someone there, and want to contribute to open knowledge? Apply to become an Ambassador and be the person to cement the Open Knowledge Foundation as the fully global demonstration of the Open movement.

If you’re in an unrepresented area – geographic or topic – we’d love to hear from you, and if you’re in a represented area we’d love to put you in touch with others. Get Involved and connect with the Open Knowledge Foundation Network – and maybe we’ll see you at the next Summit!

Images 1, 4-7 and front page: Velichka Dimitrova. Images 2 and 3: Marieke Guy, CC-BY-NC-ND

News from the Open Knowledge Foundation Events Team

Naomi Lillie - June 11, 2013 in Events, Join us, Network, News, OKCon, OKFest

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Events have a significant role for the Open Knowledge Foundation. They focus attention on the key issues of the day, gather interested individuals and organisations around specific topics, and represent the public face of the open knowledge community and its many and various projects. They also provide occasions for open data enthusiasts to meet face-to-face, working and learning (and socialising) together.

The Open Knowledge Foundation runs a multitude of events every year, from major international events to local meetups, and supports events organised by others around open topics. Also, we are involved in many events at which our staff and community speak on the Foundation’s behalf.

So what are our main events – OKCon and OKFestival – and what’s coming up this year and next?

  • OKCon A conference-style event, OKCon is primarily organised by Local Groups – an Initiative or Chapter – in collaboration with OKF Central. It can be more formal than OKFestival, with a centrally-planned 2-3 day conference format rather than a big multi-stream festival, and can have a specific focus (such as a topic or local emphasis). The programme may be topic and/or region specific. This year, OKCon in Geneva will be running over 3 days (16th-18th September) with a fantastic programme plus additional workshops and exhibitions. We’re currently working on how to develop the format for future events, in different countries and with variable frequency.
  • OKFestival This is our major international event for the whole community, with an informal, relaxed and celebratory feel. Organised by OKF Central, it is a place for debate and networking where all elements of open knowledge are welcome. Offering a crowd-sourced multi-layered programme spanning about a week, it also includes lots of satellite events, workshops – and parties! Our next one will be in 2014 – just in time for the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Open Knowledge Foundation!

We want to ensure all these events get excellent support and promotion, and for this reason we have strengthened our team in 2013:

  • Beatrice Martini joined us in January as Events Coordinator. She kicked off her work developing how-to guides, encouraging our project managers and Local Groups to run great events for the organisation and community, both big and small, online and offline. While supporting events of all formats, from the global Open Data Day to a great School of Data workshop in Berlin, Beatrice has been working with our community and the Swiss Chapter on OKCon 2013 and is preparing a brand new Events page premiering soon on the Open Knowledge Foundation website.
  • Elaine Shaughnessy joined the team as Marketing and Events Manager in May, and is working with Beatrice on the Foundation’s global events as well as with the Network Team on marketing activities.

(Want to know more about how we can support you locally in running open knowledge events? Apply to become a Local Group Ambassador today!).

We will keep you posted about all our events; in the meantime, keep yourself up-to-date following the OKCon Blog, join us in Geneva (Early Bird tickets are on sale until 23rd June!) and watch this space to be the first to know about the upcoming plans of our Events team. See you soon!

The Open Data Census Challenge on Open Data Day 2013

Christian Villum - March 5, 2013 in Events, Network, OKF Germany, Open Data Census, Open Government Data

On the recent Open Data Day we ran the Open Data Census Challenge. The challenge enlisted the help of participants around the world in digging up information on open data in their city and region and contributing it to the newly launched city section of the Open Data Census. The results have been impressive with information about data on more than 20 cities from Uruguay to Germany, US to Brazil. You can see the full results in the City Census dashboard.

Open Data Census challenge data mining in Berlin

Challenge Winner

Part of the challenge was to see which individual or group could dig up the most information.  Several groups and individuals across the world picked up the challenge and were hard at work throughout the Open Data Day – not only finding information for the census but also highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of open government data in their home region.

Many discovered that though open data may, in theory, be available, it is often hard to locate – and vary in size, accessibility and transparency. The census aims to map such facts and create a comparable overview of data in cities and countries across the world.

To give a few highlights:

  • In Amsterdam, a team not only researched the city but also the Netherlands as a whole.  The general conclusion was that the Netherlands scores reasonably well, but it turned out to be very time consuming to actually find the open datasets that were available. Moreover, the Dutch national dataportal data.overheid.nl was found not to have been very well used by civil servants and its search functionality could be improved substantially!

  • In Berlin the The School of Data experimented with what they call “Data Expeditions”, which are ways of learning about data by actively working with it and giving everyone a set role. Great teams have been forming in this format during recent events, and it worked particularly well this time as they picked up the Census Challenge – as people already had a good feel for what data was out there by the time they started. Subsequently lots of datasets were found and added to the census.

  • The Fond Otakara Motejla in Prague took a different and very interesting approach. Rather than organizing a physical event for Open Data Day they focused on a virtual campaign titled “We want open data”. The aims were to remind the Czech government of its commitments in Open Government Partnership and also to promote the notion of open data in general. Using the Census Challenge as a way to involve more people in the campaign, the organizers saw numerous instances of impromptu Census data mining take place during the day.

There were many more contributions from London, Shanghai, Montevideo, Palo Alto and many more. See the census for full details!

More Open Data Census challenge data mining in Berlin

And the Winner is!

Going through the submission registry we were not only overwhelmed by the total number of submissions (close to 100 datasets from across the world), but also with two groups in particular: Berlin and London, who sent in a significant part of the total number of submissions. The race was close, but in the end Berlin took the lead – and can therefore be announced winner of the Open Data Census Challenge on Open Data Day 2013. Congratulations!

All in all the Open Data Census Challenge proved to be a highly motivating and fun activity, and we were thrilled to see so many people take part. A huge thanks to all of you.

More about the Open Data Census

If you want to learn more about the Open Data Census in general you can either visit the official site or read this recent blog post that outlines the current status and future plans for the census.

Help Us to Cultivate the Digital Commons!

Jonathan Gray - January 24, 2013 in Featured, Network, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Our Work, Policy, Working Groups

At the Open Knowledge Foundation we work to cultivate a global commons of digital material that everyone is free to use and enjoy.

This digital commons includes everything from open data about carbon emissions or spending from governments around the world; to open access research in the sciences, the humanities, and many other disciplines; to public domain works from galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

We want to change institutional policies so that public information, publicly funded research and public domain cultural works are common public goods that everyone can benefit from.

We want to change sociocultural norms and individual behaviour so that more people voluntarily open up and are willing to collaborate around the knowledge they create.

And finally we want to increase the impact of the commons on the world by encouraging more people to use open material to change the world for the better. We want to help more people to translate digital bits and bytes into knowledge, and knowledge into action.

In order to make progress towards these things we need a proactive global community to promote open knowledge around the world, across different domains, disciplines, fields and institutions.

We Need You!

In the last few months we’ve been looking at how we can better support local and domain specific affinity groups around the world. If you share our vision and want to work with us to realise it, then you can now:

What Can You Do?

We’re always looking for energetic and talented people to help us to promote the idea of open knowledge, and to think of new ways of putting it to work to improve the world. Regardless of your background or expertise there are many different things that you can do to help. For example, you could:

Get In Touch

Whether you want to help build a useful website, help to run a campaign, or connect with other people interested in the digital commons in your field or in your region, please join and introduce yourself on the relevant local group or working group mailing list, or join the taskforce (or drop us a line if you’d like to help out with anything else).

Many of our key working group and local group coordinators will be convening in Cambridge next week to discuss and plot how we can continue to build a stronger and better connected global network to support the digital commons. More on this very soon!

Get Updates