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Just Released: “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”

Jonathan Gray - July 2, 2015 in Data Journalism, Featured, open knowledge, Open Spending, Policy, Research, Where Does My Money Go

The EU has committed to spending €959,988 billion between 2014 and 2020. This money is disbursed through over 80 funds and programmes that are managed by over 100 different authorities. Where does this money come from? How is it allocated? And how is it spent?

Today we are delighted to announce the release of “Where Does Europe’s Money Go? A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources”, which aims to help civil society groups, journalists and others to navigate the vast landscape of documents and datasets in order to “follow the money” in the EU. The guide also suggests steps that institutions should take in order to enable greater democratic oversight of EU public finances. It was undertaken by Open Knowledge with support from the Adessium Foundation.

Where Does Europe's Money Go?

As we have seen from projects like Farm Subsidy and journalistic collaborations around the EU Structural Funds it can be very difficult and time-consuming to put together all of the different pieces needed to understand flows of EU money.

Groups of journalists on these projects have spent many months requesting, scraping, cleaning and assembling data to get an overview of just a handful of the many different funds and programmes through which EU money is spent. The analysis of this data has led to many dozens of news stories, and in some cases even criminal investigations.

Better data, documentation, advocacy and journalism around EU public money is vital to addressing the “democratic deficit” in EU fiscal policy. To this end, we make the following recommendations to EU institutions and civil society organisations:

  1. Establish a single central point of reference for data and documents about EU revenue, budgeting and expenditure and ensure all the information is up to date at this domain (e.g. at a website such as ec.europa.eu/budget). At the same time, ensure all EU budget data are available from the EU open data portal as open data.
  2. Create an open dataset with key details about each EU fund, including name of the fund, heading, policy, type of management, implementing authorities, link to information on beneficiaries, link to legal basis in Eur-Lex and link to regulation in Eur-Lex.
  3. Extend the Financial Transparency System to all EU funds by integrating or federating detailed data expenditures from Members States, non-EU Members and international organisations. Data on beneficiaries should include, when relevant, a unique European identifier of company, and when the project is co-financed, the exact amount of EU funding received and the total amount of the project.
  4. Clarify and harmonise the legal framework regarding transparency rules for the beneficiaries of EU funds.
  5. Support and strengthen funding for civil society groups and journalists working on EU public finances.
  6. Conduct a more detailed assessment of beneficiary data availability for all EU funds and for all implementing authorities – e.g., through a dedicated “open data audit”.
  7. Build a stronger central base of evidence about the uses and users of EU fiscal data – including data projects, investigative journalism projects and data users in the media and civil society.

Our intention is that the material in this report will become a living resource that we can continue to expand and update. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.

If you are interested in learning more about Open Knowledge’s other initiatives around open data and financial transparency you can explore the Where Does My Money Go? project, the OpenSpending project, read our other previous guides and reports or join the Follow the Money network.

Where Does Europe’s Money Go - A Guide to EU Budget Data Sources

Become a Friend of The Public Domain Review

Adam Green - June 25, 2015 in Featured, Featured Project, Free Culture, Open GLAM, open knowledge, Public Domain, Public Domain Review

Open Knowledge project The Public Domain Review launches a major new fundraising drive, encouraging people to become Friends of the site by giving an annual donation.

For those not yet in the know, The Public Domain Review is a project dedicated to protecting and celebrating, in all its richness and variety, the cultural public domain. In particular, our focus is on the digital copies of public domain works, the mission being to facilitate the appreciation, use and growth of a digital cultural commons which is open for everyone.

We create collections of openly licensed works comprised of highlights from a variety of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, many of whom also contribute to our popular Curator’s Choice series (including The British Library, Rijksmuseum, and The Getty). We also host a fortnightly essay series in which top academics and authors write about interesting and unusual public domain works which are available online.

Founded in 2011, the site has gone from strength to strength. In its 4 plus years it has seen contributions from the likes of Jack Zipes, Frank Delaney, and Julian Barnes – and garnered praise from such media luminaries as The Paris Review, who called us “one of their favourite journals”, and The Guardian, who hailed us as a “model of digital curation”.

This is all very exciting but we need your help to continue the project into the future.

We are currently only bringing in around half of the base minimum required – the amount we need in order to tick along in a healthy manner. (And around a third of our ideal goal, which would allow us to pay contributors). So it is of urgent importance that we increase our donations if we want the project to continue.

Hence the launch of a brand new fundraising model through which we hope to make The Public Domain Review sustainable and able to continue into the future. Introducing “Friends of The Public Domain Review”https://publicdomainreview.org/support/

Image 1: one of the eight postcards included in the inaugural postcard set. The theme is "Flight" and the set will be sent out to all Friends donating $30/£20/€27.50 or more before 8th July - Source.

Image 1: one of the eight postcards included in the inaugural postcard set. The theme is “Flight” and the set will be sent out to all Friends donating $30/£20/€27.50 or more before 8th July. Source = http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/00650258.

What is it?

This new model revolves around building a group of loyal PDR (Public Domain Review) supporters – the “Friends” – each of whom makes an annual donation to the project. This club of patrons will form the beating heart of the site, creating a bedrock of support vital to the project’s survival.

How can one become a Friend?

There is no fixed yearly cost to become a Friend – any annual donation will qualify you – but there is a guide price of $60 a year (£40/€55).

Are there any perks of being a Friend?

Yes! Any donation above $30 will make you eligible to receive our exclusive twice-a-year “postcard set” – 8 beautiful postcards curated around a theme, with a textual insert. Friends will also be honoured in a special section of the site and on a dedicated page in all PDR Press publications. They will also get first refusal in all future limited edition PDR Press creations, and receive a special end of year letter from the Editor.

How do I make my donation?

We’ve worked hard to make it as easy as possible to donate. You no longer have to use PayPal on the PDR site, but can rather donate using your credit or debit card directly on the site.

For more info, and to make your donation, visit: https://publicdomainreview.org/support/

Become a Friend before 8th July to receive the inaugural postcard set upon the theme of “Flight”

Image 2: one of the eight postcards included in the inaugural postcard set. The theme is "Flight" and the set will be sent out to all Friends donating $30/£20/€27.50 or more before 8th July - Source.

Image 2: one of the eight postcards included in the inaugural postcard set. The theme is “Flight” and the set will be sent out to all Friends donating $30/£20/€27.50 or more before 8th July. Source = http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002722387/.

What should we include in the Global Open Data Index? From reference data to civil society audit.

Mor Rubinstein - June 18, 2015 in Global Open Data Index

Three years ago we decided to begin to systematically track the state of open data around the world. We wanted to know which countries were the strongest and which national governments were lagging behind in releasing the key datasets as open data so that we could better understand the gaps and work with our global community to advocate for these to be addressed.

In order to do this, we created the Global Open Data Index, which was a global civil society collaboration to map the state of open data in countries around the world. The result was more than just a benchmark. Governments started to use the Index as a reference to inform their priorities on open data. Civil society actors began to use it as a tool to teach newcomers about open data and as advocacy mechanism to encourage governments to improve their performance in releasing key datasets.

Three years on we want the Global Open Data Index to become much more than a measurement tool. We would like it to become a civil society audit of the data revolution. As a tool driven by campaigners, researchers and advocacy organisations, it can help us, as a movement, determine the topics and issues we want to promote and to track progress on them together. This will mean going beyond a “baseline” of reference datasets which are widely held to be important. We would like the Index to include more datasets which are critical for democratic accountability but which may be more ambitious than what is made available by many governments today.

The 10 datasets we have now and their score in France

The 10 datasets we have now and their score in France

To do this, we are today opening a consultation on what themes and datasets civil society think should be included in the Global Open Data Index. We want you to help us decide on the priority datasets that we should be tracking and advocating to have opened up. We want to work with our global network to collaboratively determine the datasets that are most important to obtaining progress on different issues – from democratic accountability, to stronger action on climate change, to tackling tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Drawing inspiration from our chapter Open Knowledge Belgium’s activities to run their own local open data census, we decided to conduct a public consultation. This public consultation will be divided into two parts:

Crowdsourced Survey – Using the platform of WikiSurvey, a platform inspired by kittens war (and as we all know, anything inspired by viral kittens cannot be bad), we are interested in what you think about which datasets are most important. The platform is simple, just choose between two datasets the one that you see as being a higher priority to include in the Global Open Data Index. Can’t find a dataset that you think is important? Add your own idea to the pool. You do not have a vote limit, so vote as much as you want and shape the index. SUBMIT YOUR DATA NOW

Wiki Survey

Our Wiki Survey

 

Focused consultation with civil society organisations - This survey will be sent to a group of NGOs working on a variety of issues to find out what they think about what specific datasets are needed and how they can be used. We will add ideas from the survey to general pool as they come in. Want to answer the survey as well? You can find it here.

This public consultation will be open for the next 10 days and will be closed at June 28th. At the end of the process we will analyse the results and share them with you.

We hope that this new process that we are starting today will lead to an even better index. If you have thoughts about the process, please do share your thoughts with us on our new forum on this topic: https://discuss.okfn.org/c/open-data-index

Announcing the new open data handbook

Open Knowledge - May 13, 2015 in Community, Open Data Handbook, open knowledge

We are thrilled to announce that the Open Data Handbook, the premier guide for open data newcomers and veterans alike, has received a much needed update! The Open Data Handbook, originally published in 2012, has become the go to resource for the open data community. It was written by expert members of the open data community and has been translated into over 18 languages. Read it now »

handbook

The Open Data Handbook elaborates on the what, why & how of open data. In other words – what data should be open, what are the social and economic benefits of opening that data, and how to make effective use of it once it is opened.

The handbook is targeted at a broad audience, including civil servants, journalists, activists, developers, and researchers as well as open data publishers. Our aim is to ensure open data is widely available and applied in as many contexts as possible, we welcome your efforts to grow the open knowledge movement in this way!

The idea of open data is really catching on and we have learned many important lessons over the past three years. We believe that is time that the Open Data Handbook reflect these learnings. The revised Open Data Handbook has a number of new features and plenty of ways to contribute your experience and knowledge, please do!

 Inspire Open Data Newcomers

The original open data guide discussed the theoretical reasons for opening up data – increasing transparency and accountability of government, improving public and commercial services, stimulating innovation etc. We have now reached a point where we are able to go beyond theoretical arguments — we have real stories that document the benefits open data has on our lives. The Open Data Value Stories are use cases from across the open knowledge network that highlighting the social and economic value and the varied applications of open data in the world.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; in fact just the beginning! If you have an open data value story that you would like to contribute, please get in touch.

 Learn How to Publish & Use Open Data

The Open Data Guide remains the premier open data how-to resource and in the coming months we will be adding new sections and features! For the time being, we have moved the guide to Github to streamline contributions and facilitate translation. We will be reaching out to the community shortly to determine what new content we should be prioritising.

While in 2012, when we originally published the open data guide, the open data community was still emerging and resources remained scarce, today as the global open data community is mature, international and diverse and resources now exist that reflect this maturity and diversity. The Open Data Resource Library is curated collection of resources, including articles, longer publications, how to guides, presentations and videos, produced by the global open data community — now available all in one place! If you want to contribute a resource, you can do so here! We are particularly interested in expanding the number of resources we have in languages other than English so please add them if you have them!

Finally, as we are probably all aware, the open data community likes its jargon! While the original open data guide had a glossary of terms, it was far from exhaustive — especially for newcomers to the open data movement. In the updated version we have added over 80 new terms and concepts with easy to understand definitions! Have we missed something out? Let us know what we are missing here.

The updated Open Data Handbook is a living resource! In the coming months, we will be adding new sections to the Open Data Guide and producing countless more value stories! We invite you to contribute your stories, your resources and your ideas! Thank you for your contributions past, present and future and your continued efforts in pushing this movement forward.

Meet the 2015 School of Data fellows!

Guest - April 22, 2015 in open knowledge, School of Data

This is a cross-post from the School of Data blog, written by their Community Manager Cédric Lombion. See the original.

We’re delighted to announce that after much difficult deliberation, our Class of 2015 School of Data Fellows have now been decided! We ended up with nearly 600 applicants from 82 different countries – so it was no mean feat to pick just 7 from this group – we wish we had more resources to work with many more of you!

A huge thanks to our local partners SocialTIC and Metamorphosis, who put in much of the hard work in the selection process for fellows from their respective areas.

Their fellowships will run from now until the end of December, and they’ll be working with civil society, and journalists, in their areas. A key part of the fellowships is building the data literate community in their local areas – so, if you’re based nearby and you’d like to take part in trainings, sign up to our newsletter to be kept up to date with news of upcoming workshops and training sessions that they’ll be running!

All of our 2015 fellows, along with a number of our key community members from our local instances, will be attending the International Open Data Conference in Ottawa at the end of May, so we look forward to seeing many of you there.

Without further ado: here are our 2015 fellows!

Camila Salazar, Alajuela, Costa Rica

camila_salazarCamila studied journalism at the University of Costa Rica and is currently finishing her bachelor degree in Economics. Since 2009 she has worked in TV, print and digital media. In the past years she has used data and quantitative tools to write journalistic stories that encourage people to question their reality and participate in an informed public debate. In 2013 she worked in the first political factchecking project in Central America. This project was a finalist in the Global Editors Network Data Journalism Awards of 2014. More recently she worked in a data journalism project called DataBase, in one of the most prestigious digital media in Costa Rica. You can follow Camila on Twitter at @milamila07

 

David Selassie Opoku, Accra, Ghana

david_dopoku

David Selassie Opoku is a graduate of the United World College Costa Rica, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Biology and the New Jersey Institute of Technology with an M.S. in Computer Science. His interest in data stems from an academic background in science and passion as a technologist in various civic and social contexts.

David is a developer and aspiring data scientist currently at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana where he teaches and mentors young entrepreneurs-in-training on software development skills and best practices. He has had the opportunity to work with the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, the Eugene Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, the UNICEF Health Division and a tech startup in New York City. In the past year, he has helped organize and facilitate several hackathons and design thinking workshops in Accra. You can follow David on Twitter at @sdopoku

 

Goran Rizaov, Skopje, Macedonia

Goran Rizaov

Goran Rizaov, data-journalist based in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, with several years of experience in investigative journalism. Goran was a Professional Development Year fellow in 2011/2012 studying data journalism, precision journalism and online media at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, ASU, Phoenix, Arizona.

He was also a part of the 2013 Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. Worked for six months on an investigative story about corruption in the communication sector in Macedonia and for the first time published the names of the officials that were part of the court process that is under way in USA. Did this mostly by obtaining data from the US PACER system and other civil organizations like Transparency International.

He works with online data analyzing tools and loves to prepare inphographics.

Goran has a Bachelor degree in journalism from the St Cyril and Methodious University in Skopje, Macedonia and more than seven years of experience in working as a reporter. You can follow Goran on Twitter at @goxo

 

Julio Lopez, Quito, Ecuador

 

julio_lopezJulio is currently finishing a Master’s Degree in Energy and Resources Management at University College London (UCL), Australian campus. He became interested in open data after joining “Extrayendo Transparencia“, which translates to “Extracting Transparency”, a Grupo FARO’s initiative that promotes the dissemination of citizen-oriented government data to improve the accessibility and use of information from the oil and mining industries in civil society organisations and local governments in Ecuador. Julio graduated in Economics in 2010 and has conducted studies and supervised training on fiscal policy, public finance and the governance of the oil and mining industries in Latin America. As part of his fellowship, he is interested in promoting open data initiatives in the energy sector in Ecuador and Latin America. You can follow him on twitter at @jalp_ec

 

Nirab Pudasaini, Kathmandu, Nepal

Nirab Pudasaini

Nirab is the lead mobile application developer at Kathmandu Living Labs. Working with the team at Kathmandu Living Labs Nirab has been championing the OpenStreetMap and Open Map data movement in Nepal.

By training and mobilizing volunteers they have been successful to make OpenStreetMap as the most detailed map data source for Kathmandu. His team is involved in application of Open Data and OpenStreetMap in different sectors like disaster resilience, governance, agriculture, food security, water health and sanitation. Nirab has experience in training very diverse groups ranging from undergrad geo informatics engineering students to map illiterate farmers.

Nirab has deployed the site Map My School and is developer of apps like Mero Bhada Meter – An app to help citizens find taxi fares using government provided rates and OpenStreetMap data and Citizen Report – An app that allows citizens to report problems in their locality. Nirab is a huge RMS fan and loves playing bamboo flute. You can follow him on Twitter at @NirabPudasaini.

 

Nkechi Okwuone, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

nkechi

Nkechi is the Open Data Manager of the Edo State Open Data portal in Nigeria, the first sub-national Open Data portal in Africa. She is an alumnus of Federal Government Girls College, Ibusa and the University of Port Harcourt, where she received her B. Eng in Electrical Electronics Engineering.

She leads a team of professionals who implement, promote the Governments agenda of transparency, collaborative and participatory governance. she has worked on various data driven projects for the past 2 years ranging from building applications/visualization with data, training/seminars on data to organizing/participating in data driven hackathons.

Nkechi is also a director in SabiHub, a not for profit organization with a vision to solve social problems using technology where she mentors entrepreneurs and open data enthusiast to. She recently organized the first open data hackathon on Agriculture in her state that saw the attendance of journalists, developers, CSOs and students.

She is well respected in the open data community of Nigeria and has been recognized as the youngest Open Data Manager in Africa and nominated for the Future Awards Africa prize in Public Service (2014). You can follow her on Twitter at @enkayfreda

 

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub, Makati City, the Philippines

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub Photo

Sheena has managed projects on gender-based violence and protection of the rights of women and their children in the Philippines funded by the European Union and set-up online monitoring systems on cases of GBV and VAWC. She worked with ACF International and UNICEF as the National Information Manager of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene cluster co-led by UNICEF and the Department of Health (DOH) where she provides support to communities, non-government and government agencies in managing and establishing information management systems during emergencies such as Typhoon Pablo in 2012, Zamboanga Crisis, Bohol Earthquake, and Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. She is assisting DOH in setting-up a national database on zero open defecation, training local government staff to use mobile-based technologies to collect data. You can follow her on Twitter at @sheena.orlson

 

 

Delivery partners The Fellowship Programme is developed and delivered with Code for Africa, Social-Tic (Mexico), Metamorphosis (Macedonia) and Connected Development (Nigeria).

Funding partners This year’s fellowships will be supported by the Partnership for Open Development (POD) OD4D, Hivos, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Macedonia.

Community building through the DM2E project

Lieke Ploeger - April 8, 2015 in Community, DM2E, Linked Open Data, Open GLAM

During the past three years, Open Knowledge has been leading the community building work in the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (DM2E) project, a European research project in the area of Digital Humanities led by Humboldt University. Open Knowledge activities included the organisation of a series of events such as Open Data in Cultural Heritage workshops, running two rounds of the Open Humanities Awards and the establishment of OpenGLAM as an active volunteer-led community pushing for increased openness in cultural heritage.

DM2E and the Linked Open Web

dm2e_logoAs one of its core aims, the DM2E project worked on enabling libraries and archives to easily upload their digitised material into Europeana – the online portal that provides access to millions of items from a range of Europe’s leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums. In total, over 20 million manuscript pages from libraries, archives and research institutions were added during the three years of the project. In line with the Europeana Data Exchange Agreement, all contributing institutions agreed to make their metadata openly available under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license (CC-0), which allows for easier reuse.

Since different providers make their data available in different formats, the DM2E consortium developed a toolset that converted metadata from a diverse range of formats into the DM2E model, an application profile of the Europeana Data Model (EDM). The developed software also allows the contextualisation and linking of this cultural heritage data sets, which makes this material suitable for use within the Linked Open Web. An example of this is the Pundit tool, which Net7 developed to enable researchers to add annotations in a digital text and link them to related texts or other resources on the net (read more).

Open Knowledge achievements

Open Knowledge was responsible for the community building and dissemination work within DM2E, which, apart from promoting and documenting the project results for a wide audience, focused on promoting and raising awareness around the importance of open cultural data. The presentation below sums up the achievements made during the project period, including the establishment of OpenGLAM as a community, the organisation of the event series and the Open Humanities Awards, next to the extensive project documentation and dissemination through various channels.

OpenGLAM

OpenGLAM-logoIn order to realise the value of the tools developed in DM2E, as well as to truly integrate the digitised manuscripts into the Linked Data Web, there need to be enough other open resources to connect to and an active community of cultural heritage professionals and developers willing to extend and re-use the work undertaken as part of DM2E. That is why Open Knowledge set up the OpenGLAM community: a global network of people and organisations who are working to open up cultural content and data. OpenGLAM focuses on promoting and furthering free and open access to digital cultural heritage by maintaining an overview of Open Collections, providing documentation on the process and benefits of opening up cultural data, publishing regular news and blog items and organising diverse events.

Since the start in 2012, OpenGLAM has grown into a large, global, active volunteer-led community (and one of the most prominent Open Knowledge working groups to date), supported by a network of organisations such as Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America, Creative Commons and Wikimedia. Apart from the wider community taking part in the OpenGLAM discussion list, there is a focused Working Group of 17 open cultural data activists from all over the world, a high-level Advisory Board providing strategic guidance and four local groups that coordinate OpenGLAM-related activities in their specific countries. Following the end of the DM2E project, the OpenGLAM community will continue to push for openness in digital cultural heritage.

Open Humanities Awards

openhumanitieslogosAs part of the community building efforts, Open Knowledge set up a dedicated contest awards series focused on supporting innovative projects that use open data, open content or open source tools to further teaching and research in the humanities: the Open Humanities Awards. During the two competition rounds that took place between 2013-2014, over 70 applications were received, and 5 winning projects were executed as a result, ranging from an open source Web application which allows people to annotate digitized historical maps (Maphub) to an improved search application for Wittgenstein’s digitised manuscripts (Finderapp WITTfind). Winners published their results on a regular basis through the DM2E blog and presented their findings at conferences in the field, proving that the awards served as a great way to stimulate innovative digital humanities research using open data and content. Details on all winning projects, as well as final reports on their results, are available from this final report.

DM2E event series

Over the course of the project, Open Knowledge organised a total of 18 workshops, focused on promoting best practices in legal and technical aspects of opening up metadata and cultural heritage content, providing demonstration and training with the tools and platforms developed in the project and hackdays and coding sprints. Highlights included the Web as Literature conference at the British Library in 2013, the Open Humanities Hack series and the Open Data in Cultural Heritage workshops, as a result of which several local OpenGLAM groups were started up. A full list of events and their outcomes is available from this final report.

og_fringe_okfest14 Open Data in Cultural Heritage Workshop: Starting the OpenGLAM group for Germany (15 July 2014, Berlin)

It has been a great experience being part of the DM2E consortium: following the project end, the OpenGLAM community will be sustained and build upon, so that we can realise a world in which our shared cultural heritage is open to all regardless of their background, where people are no longer passive consumers of cultural content created by an elite, but contribute, participate, create and share.

More information

Presenting public finance just got easier

Tryggvi Björgvinsson - March 20, 2015 in CKAN, Open Spending

This blog post is cross-posted from the CKAN blog.

mexico_ckan_openspending

CKAN 2.3 is out! The world-famous data handling software suite which powers data.gov, data.gov.uk and numerous other open data portals across the world has been significantly upgraded. How can this version open up new opportunities for existing and coming deployments? Read on.

One of the new features of this release is the ability to create extensions that get called before and after a new file is uploaded, updated, or deleted on a CKAN instance.

This may not sound like a major improvement but it creates a lot of new opportunities. Now it’s possible to analyse the files (which are called resources in CKAN) and take them to new uses based on that analysis. To showcase how this works, Open Knowledge in collaboration with the Mexican government, the World Bank (via Partnership for Open Data), and the OpenSpending project have created a new CKAN extension which uses this new feature.

It’s actually two extensions. One, called ckanext-budgets listens for creation and updates of resources (i.e. files) in CKAN and when that happens the extension analyses the resource to see if it conforms to the data file part of the Budget Data Package specification. The budget data package specification is a relatively new specification for budget publications, designed for comparability, flexibility, and simplicity. It’s similar to data packages in that it provides metadata around simple tabular files, like a csv file. If the csv file (a resource in CKAN) conforms to the specification (i.e. the columns have the correct titles), then the extension automatically creates the Budget Data Package metadata based on the CKAN resource data and makes the complete Budget Data Package available.

It might sound very technical, but it really is very simple. You add or update a csv file resource in CKAN and it automatically checks if it contains budget data in order to publish it on a standardised form. In other words, CKAN can now automatically produce standardised budget resources which make integration with other systems a lot easier.

The second extension, called ckanext-openspending, shows how easy such an integration around standardised data is. The extension takes the published Budget Data Packages and automatically sends it to OpenSpending. From there OpenSpending does its own thing, analyses the data, aggregates it and makes it very easy to use for those who use OpenSpending’s visualisation library.

So thanks to a perhaps seemingly insignificant extension feature in CKAN 2.3, getting beautiful and understandable visualisations of budget spreadsheets is now only an upload to a CKAN instance away (and can only get easier as the two extensions improve).

To learn even more, see this report about the CKAN and OpenSpending integration efforts.

Walkthrough: My experience building Australia’s Regional Open Data Census

Stephen Gates - March 6, 2015 in Featured Project, OKF Australia, Open Data Census

Skærmbillede 2015-03-06 kl. 11.27.11

On International Open Data Day (21 Feb 2015) Australia’s Regional Open Data Census launched. This is the story of the trials and tribulations in launching the census.

Getting Started

Like many open data initiatives come to realise, after filling up a portal with lots of open data, there is a need for quality as well as quantity. I decided to tackle improving the quality of Australia’s open data as part of my Christmas holiday project.

I decided to request a local open data census on 23 Dec (I’d finished my Christmas shopping a day early). While I was waiting for a reply, I read the documentation – it was well written and configuring a web site using Google Sheets seemed easy enough.

The Open Knowledge Local Groups team contacted me early in the new year and introduced me to Pia Waugh and the team at Open Knowledge Australia. Pia helped propose the idea of the census to the leaders of Australia’s state and territory government open data initiatives. I was invited to pitch the census to them at a meeting on 19 Feb – Two days before International Open Data Day.

A plan was hatched

On 29 Jan I was informed by Open Knowledge that the census was ready to be configured. Could I be ready be launch in 25 days time?

Configuring the census was easy. Fill in the blanks, a list of places, some words on the homepage, look at other census and re-use some FAQ, add a logo and some custom CSS. However, deciding on what data to assess brought me to a screaming halt.

Deciding on data

The Global census uses data based on the G8 key datasets definition. The Local census template datasets are focused on local government responsibilities. There was no guidance for countries with three levels of government. How could I get agreement on the datasets and launch in time for Open Data Day?

I decided to make a Google Sheet with tabs for datasets required by the G8, Global Census, Local Census, Open Data Barometer, and Australia’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework. Based on these references I proposed 10 datasets to assess. An email was sent to the open data leaders asking them to collaborate on selecting the datasets.

GitHub is full of friends

When I encountered issues configuring the census, I turned to GitHub. Paul Walsh, one of the team on the OpenDataCensus repository on GitHub, was my guardian on GitHub – steering my issues to the right place, fixing Google Sheet security bugs, deleting a place I created called “Try it out” that I used for testing, and encouraging me to post user stories for new features. If you’re thinking about building your own census, get on GitHub and read what the team has planned and are busy fixing.

The meeting

I presented to the leaders of Australia’s state and territory open data leaders leaders on 19 Feb and they requested more time to add extra datasets to the census. We agreed to put a Beta label on the census and launch on Open Data Day.

Ready for lift off

The following day CIO Magazine emailed asking for, “a quick comment on International Open Data Day, how you see open data movement in Australia, and the importance of open data in helping the community”. I told them and they wrote about it.

The Open Data Institute Queensland and Open Knowledge blogged and tweeted encouraging volunteers to add to the census on Open Data Day.

I set up Gmail and Twitter accounts for the census and requested the census to be added to the big list of censuses.

Open Data Day

No support requests were received from volunteers submitting entries to the census (it is pretty easy). The Open Data Day projects included:

  • drafting a Contributor Guide.
  • creating a Google Sheet to allow people to collect census entries prior to entering them online.
  • Adding Google Analytics to the site.

What next?

We are looking forward to a few improvements including adding the map visualisation from the Global Open Data Index to our regional census. That’s why our Twitter account is @AuOpenDataIndex.

If you’re thinking about creating your own Open Data Census then I can highly recommend the experience and there is great team ready to support you.

Get in touch if you’d like to help with Australia’s Open Data Census.

Stephen Gates lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He has written Open Data strategies and driven their implementation. He is actively involved with the Open Data Institute Queensland contributing to their response to Queensland’s proposed open data law and helping coordinate the localisation of ODI Open Data Certificates. Stephen is also helping organise GovHack 2015 in Brisbane. Australia’s Regional Open Data Census is his first project working with Open Knowledge.

Pakistan Data Portal

jobarratt - February 9, 2015 in CKAN, open knowledge

December 2014 saw the Sustainable Development Policy Institute and Alif Ailaan launch the Pakistan Data Portal at the 30th Annual Sustainable Development Conference. The portal, built using CKAN by Open Knowledge, provides an access point for viewing and sharing data relating to all aspects of education in Pakistan.

20140115_123213A particular focus of this project was to design an open data portal that could be used to support advocacy efforts by Alif Ailaan, an organisation dedicated to improving education outcomes in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Data Portal (PDP) is the definitive collection of information on education in Pakistan and collates datasets from private and public research organisations on topics including infrastructure, finance, enrollment, and performance to name a few. The PDP is a single point of access against which change in Pakistani education can be tracked and analysed. Users, who include teachers, parents, politicians and policy makers are able to browse historical data can compare and contrast it across regions and years to reveal a clear, customizable picture of the state of education in Pakistan. From this clear overview, the drivers and constraints of reform can be identified which allow Alif Ailaan and others pushing for change in the country to focus their reform efforts.

Pakistan is facing an education emergency. It is a country with 25m children out of education and 50% girls of school age do not attend classes. A census has not been completed since 1998 and there are problems with the data that is available. It is outdated, incomplete, error-ridden and only a select few have access to much of it. An example that highlights this is a recent report from ASER, which estimates the number of children out of school at 16 million fewer than the number computed by Alif Ailaan in another report.  NGOs and other advocacy groups have tended to only be interested in data when it can be used to confirm that the funds they are utilising are working. Whilst there is agreement on the overall problem, If people can not agree on its’ scale, how can a consensus solution be hoped for?

Alif Ailaan believe if you can’t measure the state of education in the country, you cant hope to fix it fix it. This forms the focus of their campaigning efforts. So whilst the the quality of the data is a problem, some data is better than no data, and the PDP forms a focus for gathering quality information together and for building a platform from which to build change and promote policy change— policy makers can make accurate decisions which are backed up.

The data accessible through the portal is supported by regular updates from the PDP team who draw attention to timely key issues and analyse the data. A particular subject or dataset will be explored from time to time and these general blog post are supported by “The Week in Education” which summarises the latest education news, data releases and publications.

CKAN was chosen as the portal best placed to meet the needs of the PDP. Open Knowledge were tasked with customising the portal and providing training and support to the team maintaining it. A custom dashboard system was developed for the platform in order to present data in an engaging visual format.

SAM_0561As explained by Asif Mermon, Associate Research Fellow at SDPI, the genius of the portal is the shell. As institutions start collecting data, or old data is uncovered, it can be added to the portal to continually improve the overall picture.

The PDP is in constant development to further promote the analysis of information in new ways and build on the improvement of the visualizations on offer. There are also plans to expand the scope of the portal, so that areas beyond education can also reap its’ benefits. A further benefit is that the shell can then be be exported around the world so other countries will be able to benifit from the development.

The PDP initiative is part of the multi-year DFID-funded Transforming Education Pakistan (TEP) campaign aiming to increase political will to deliver education reform in Pakistan. Accadian, on behalf of HTSPE, appointed the Open Knowledge Foundation to build the data observatory platform and provide support in managing the upload of data including onsite visits to provide training in Pakistan.

 

Open Data Handbook 2015 comeback – and you want to be a part of it!

Mor Rubinstein - January 12, 2015 in Open Data Handbook

There is famous saying that says that outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. We at Open Knowledge tend to agree. This is why we decided to take one of Open Knowledge key resources, the Open Data Handbook, and give it a bit of a face lift in this upcoming year.

The open data handbook has been an important resource for the open knowledge community for years. The handbook introduces and discusses legal, social and technical aspects of open data. It has been used by a wide range of stakeholders from open data beginners to data wizards, from government officials to journalists and civil society activists. It examines the following questions which are relevant to all: what is “open”, why to open up data, and the how to ‘open’ data?

Have any comments or suggestions or want to help out with the handbook? Please email us at handbook [at] okfn [dot] org

Since it was first written, the handbook is read by thousands of users each month and has been translated into 18 languages (making the most widely translated Open Data resource out there) . However, open data is both a fast moving and a relatively field. As such, it is not surprising that open data initiatives have been launched and open data policies approved, we, as a community, have learned a lot about the opportunities and the pitfalls of open data. The last version of the book is from 2011 and at the time, government open data portals were few and far between and the open government partnership had only just launched. The book represents what we new/thought then but as the open data movement expanded both in terms of numbers and in geographical spread, we have decided that it is high time that we incorporate our learnings into a new version. This version of the Open Data handbook will focus mainly on one main type of open data: open government data, but a number of the sections can be applied to other types of open data. This project is supported by Partnership for Open Data – a collaboration between Open Knowledge, Open Data Institute and the World Bank.

Interactive handbooks!

So much of this knowledge, these stories and the brilliant ideas about what works and what doesn’t work is in this community. Therefore, we believe that the process of creating the updated version of handbook should be, as its always been, a community project. This process can not only strengthen the community through a joint project, but also to help us to learn from peers, listen to members who usually do not participate in daily channels and to create a handbook, rich in content, experience and a wide spectrum of knowledge.

There are a number of ways you can get involved! You can submit your stories or comment on the “alpha” version we are planning to launch in February. The handbook will be part of a larger community owned resource platform and we have

How can you help?

  • Contribute a short open data story – We are looking to different stories about open government data stories in various fields. It can be a success story or even a failure that you think we should all learn about. If you want to contribute a story please fill this form and we will get back in touch with you.

  • Revise the first draft of the book – The current chapters in the open data handbook are being review by Open Knowledge staff – we are updating and producing new . Our goal is to release an ‘alpha’ version of the book the week before open data day, so it can be revised, commented on and added to by the community.

  • Propose a resource – We are putting together a list of open data resources – If you know of other resources about open data, in any language, please give us a shout. At the end of each section, we will have a “further reading” section and we’d love to share as many resources as possible.

  • Send us a short video about open data – In the internet world, a handbook doesn’t have to be text only. Send us a video of you / your organization and answer the following questions:

    Tell us an example of open data having an social and/or economic impact in your city/country/region What is your main obstacle dealing with Open Data?
    How do you / your community engage with open data?
    What do you think is the next big thing for Open Data in 2015?

The videos will be embedded in the handbook and on our YouTube channel!

Who can write to the book? Everyone! While we are editing the book are editing the book, we want your input. Unfortunately, we can’t promise that every story / idea will ultimately be part of the book. If you think that we are missing something, please let us know! We will try to include as much as possible!

Have any comments or suggestions or want to help out? Please email us at handbook [at] okfn [dot] org

2015 is going to be great for open data, let’s write about it together.

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