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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

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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

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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.

We need you! Become a School of Data Fellow

Milena Marin - May 9, 2014 in Featured, School of Data

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Got data skills to share? Member of a community that wants to turn data into information? Know about a data journalism or civic activism project or organisation which need a push for using data more effectively? The School of Data needs you! We are currently broadening our efforts to spread data skills around the world, and people like you are crucial in this effort: new learners need guidance and people to help them along the way. Stand out and become a **School of Data Fellow**.

We are looking for people fitting the following profile:

  • Data savvy: has experience working with data and a passion for teaching data skills.

  • Understands the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and media in bringing positive change through advocacy, campaigns, and storytelling. Fellows are passionate about enabling partners to use data effectively through training and ongoing support.

  • Interested or experienced in working with journalism and/or civil society.

  • Has some facilitation skills and enjoys community-building (both online and offline).

  • Eager to learn from and be connected with an international community of data enthusiasts

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

You will be part of a six-month training programme where we expect you to work with us for an average of five days a month, including attending online and offline trainings, organising events, and being an active member of the School of Data community.

There are up to 10 fellowship positions open for the July to December 2014 School of Data training programme.

We have current collaborations and resourcing confirmed to support fellows from the following countries: Romania, Hungary, South Africa, Indonesia, and Tanzania. We are also able to consider applicants for the remaining 5 places in this round from countries meeting these criteria:

  • The country falls under lower income, lower-middle income or upper-middle income categories as classified here.

  • There is demand from civil society organisations and/or journalists who wish to benefit from such a scheme.

  • There are some interesting datasets available in the country which would be worth exploring further. These could either be data published by a government or organisation or data collected by an organisation for their own internal use. Digitised or non-digitised—anything goes! We’re keen for a variety of challenges and want the fellows’ help to adapt teaching techniques to a variety of situations.

Our goal is to have global fellows from a wide mix of these countries. Don’t see your country listed? Keep reading to learn how you can get involved!

Got questions? See more about the Fellowship Programme here and have a looks at this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. If this doesn’t answer your question, email us on schoolofdata@okfn.org

Not sure if you fit the profile? Have a look at who is a fellow now!

Convinced? Apply now to become a School of data fellow. The application will be open until the 1st of June 2014 and the programme will start in July 2014.

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

The School of Data Journalism 2014!

Milena Marin - April 3, 2014 in Data Journalism, Events, Featured, School of Data

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We’re really excited to announce this year’s edition of the School of Data Journalism, at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, 30th April – 4th May.

It’s the third time we’ve run it (how time flies!), together with the European Journalism Centre, and it’s amazing seeing the progress that has been made since we started out. Data has become an increasingly crucial part of any journalists’ toolbox, and its rise is only set to continue. The Data Journalism Handbook, which was born at the first School of Data Journalism is Perugia, has become a go-to reference for all those looking to work with data in the news, a fantastic testament to the strength of the data journalism community.

As Antoine Laurent, Innovation Senior Project Manager at the EJC, said:

“This is really a must-attend event for anyone with an interest in data journalism. The previous years’ events have each proven to be watershed moments in the development of data journalism. The data revolution is making itself felt across the profession, offering new ways to tell stories and speak truth to power. Be part of the change.”

Here’s the press release about this year’s event – share it with anyone you think might be interested – and book your place now!


PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3rd, 2014

Europe’s Biggest Data Journalism Event Announced: the School of Data Journalism

The European Journalism Centre, Open Knowledge and the International Journalism Festival are pleased to announce the 3rd edition of Europe’s biggest data journalism event, the School of Data Journalism. The 2014 edition takes place in Perugia, Italy between 30th of April – 4th of May as part of the International Journalism Festival.

#ddjschool #ijf13

A team of about 25 expert panelists and instructors from New York Times, The Daily Mirror, Twitter, Ask Media, Knight-Mozilla and others will lead participants in a mix of discussions and hands-on sessions focusing on everything from cross-border data-driven investigative journalism, to emergency reporting and using spreadsheets, social media data, data visualisation and mapping techniques for journalism.

Entry to the School of Data Journalism panels and workshops is free. Last year’s editions featured a stellar team of panelists and instructors, attracted hundreds of journalists and was fully booked within a few days. The year before saw the launch of the seminal Data Journalism Handbook, which remains the go-to reference for practitioners in the field.

Antoine Laurent, Innovation Senior Project Manager at the EJC said:

“This is really a must-attend event for anyone with an interest in data journalism. The previous years’ events have each proven to be watershed moments in the development of data journalism. The data revolution is making itself felt across the profession, offering new ways to tell stories and speak truth to power. Be part of the change.”

Guido Romeo, Data and Business Editor at Wired Italy, said:

“I teach in several journalism schools in Italy. You won’t get this sort of exposure to such teachers and tools in any journalism school in Italy. They bring in the most avant garde people, and have a keen eye on what’s innovative and new. It has definitely helped me understand what others around the world in big newsrooms are doing, and, more importantly, how they are doing it.”

The full description and the (free) registration to the sessions can be found on http://datajournalismschool.net You can also find all the details on the International Journalism Festival website: http://www.journalismfestival.com/programme/2014

ENDS

Contacts: Antoine Laurent, Innovation Senior Project Manager, European Journalism Centre: laurent@ejc.net Milena Marin, School of Data Programme Manager, Open Knowledge Foundation, milena.marin@okfn.org

Notes for editors

Website: http://datajournalismschool.net Hashtag: #DDJSCHOOL

The School of Data Journalism is part of the European Journalism Centre’s Data Driven Journalism initiative, which aims to enable more journalists, editors, news developers and designers to make better use of data and incorporate it further into their work. Started in 2010, the initiative also runs the website DataDrivenJournalism.net as well as the Doing Journalism with Data MOOC, and produced the acclaimed Data Journalism Handbook.

About the International Journalism Festival (www.journalismfestival.com) The International Journalism Festival is the largest media event in Europe. It is held every April in Perugia, Italy. The festival is free entry for all attendees for all sessions. It is an open invitation to listen to and network with the best of world journalism. The leitmotiv is one of informality and accessibility, designed to appeal to journalists, aspiring journalists and those interested in the role of the media in society. Simultaneous translation into English and Italian is provided.

About Open Knowledge (www.okfn.org) Open Knowledge, founded in 2004, is a worldwide network of people who are passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and turn it into insight and change. Our aim is to give everyone the power to use information and insight for good. Visit okfn.org to learn more about the Foundation and its major projects including SchoolOfData.org and OpenSpending.org.

About the European Journalism Centre (www.ejc.net) The European Journalism Centre is an independent, international, non-profit foundation dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in journalism in particular and the media in general. Founded in 1992 in Maastricht, the Netherlands, the EJC closely follows emerging trends in journalism and watchdogs the interplay between media economy and media culture. It also hosts each year more than 1.000 journalists in seminars and briefings on European and international affairs.

Data Expedition: Investigate the Extractive Industries of Nigeria

Anders Pedersen - November 15, 2013 in School of Data, Transparency

UPDATE: there is now a dedicated page for the Nigeria Extractives Data Expedition here

Who operates the often poisonous wells in the Niger Delta? How does the money flow between the contractors running the oil fields and the government?

Join us for an online Data Expedition to Investigate the Extractive Industries of Nigeria, December 7, Noon-18:00 CET / Lagos (11:00-17:00 London, 8am-1pm New York).

Register for free

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The problem: Companies hide in plain sight

Data on the extractives industry is increasingly going public, from EITI‘s information about money flows from companies to governments to the UK’s decision to make its register of the beneficial owners of private companies public in the future. As more information about the oil, gas and mining industries makes it into the public domain, more people living in resource-rich countries have the potential to benefit. Information transparency can lead to greater public scrutiny of these industries that affect so many lives. Databases such as OpenCorporates are rapidly expanding and making companies involved in extractives and other industries easier to trace. Meanwhile, other data published in local media or tucked away in companies’ annual reports has seemingly been hiding in plain sight for years.

What are we going to do?

We want to begin cracking this data open and analysing it to facilitate investigations by journalists, organisations, activists and governments who all need to know how extractives impact people’s lives. In collaboration with OpenOil, School of Data will bring together those with an interest in learning to work with data to help tackle some of the biggest issues in the extractive industries today, with a focus on Nigeria. The Data Expedition will complement our recently launched Follow the Money network, which pushes for the transparency needed to help citizens around the world use information about public money to hold decision-makers to account.

What will you learn?

  • Network analysis: Investigate the corporate supply chain in Nigeria’s oil industry by using networks to see who is connected to whom
  • Corporate research: Cut through generic names like “Shell” and “Exxon” to identify the specific corporate vehicles responsible for activities in places such as the Niger Delta
  • Mapping: Work with maps of geo-coded oil spills, company license areas and other data to draw connections that might not be apparent in text-based media
  • Web-scraping: Find company data and establish leads for other investigations related to the oil industry by scraping the web

Open Knowledge Foundation at Mozilla Festival – meet us!

Beatrice Martini - October 24, 2013 in Events, Join us, Meetups, OKFestival, Open Science, School of Data, Workshop

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At the Open Knowledge Foundation we love festivals – and attending is just half of the fun, we really like making things happen. So as soon as our friends over at Mozilla started building up their fabulous Mozilla Festival we decided to roll up our sleeves and join the party!

Mozilla Festival will take place in London (UK) on October 25th-27th. A big group from our team (who? Read on to know more about it) will head over and spread all around town for the duration. Our calendar:

Who of the Open Knowledge Foundation staff members will be at Mozilla Festival and can’t wait to meet you (ping them on Twitter to find them – links below)?

  • Beatrice Martini (Events Coordinator) joining the Mozilla Team as enthusiast friend volunteer, supporting the work of Mozilla Festival’s Events Coordinator (the wonderful Michelle Thorne) and warming up for OKFestival 2014 next July (do join us – sign up on the website for news!)
  • Zara Rahman, Christian Villum, Katelyn Rogers (Community Managers for Local Groups, Working Groups and Open Government Data – not in that order) running the Building collaboration across the open space workshop
  • Michelle Brook (Open Education Community Coordinator) coordinating the Open Science on the Web workshop
  • Michael Bauer, Milena Marin (School of Data) and Heather Leson (Community Engagement Director) rocking the Data Expedition Bootcamp
  • Sander van der Waal (Head of Long Term Projects Unit), James Hamilton (Development Director), Marieke Guy (LinkedUp Project Community Coordinator) meeting, supporting, linking up

Dear festival-goers, see you there – and at our very own upcoming festival, OKFestival 2014!

Investigate the Garment Factories: new Data Expedition

Anders Pedersen - October 4, 2013 in Events, School of Data

Photo credit: Andy Teo

Photo credit: Andy Teo

In May, the School of Data community got together in a Data Expedition to respond to the Rana Plaza catastrophe. They built a crowdsourced database on garment factories and used it to expose the bad safety standards and non-transparency that contributed to the disaster.

Now we are taking the garment factory investigation to the next level with a new online Data Expedition. In collaboration with P2PU and the International Labor Rights Forum, School of Data will bring data explorers from around the globe together online to answer some of the tough questions about the global garment industry. Join us for the Online Data Expedition: Investigate the Garment Factories October 18-20.

What we will do:

  • Geocode garment factories with the Open Street Map community
  • Create visualizations to explore and explain the data from the global garment supply chain
  • Investigate the global supply chains: find new data sources and dig into the key issues in the garment supply chain

Join the Data Expedition using this participant signup form or in the form below!

The Data Expedition will also take place at on-site locations around the world such as Dhaka (Bangladesh). Would you like to help us turn the online expedition into a fantastic global expedition? Sign up to organise a local data expedition or help us run the global expedition! We’ll be there to support you along the way. All you need is a small venue, some great friends, and lots of curiosity.

Get in touch to help facilitate the expedition with this facilitator signup form.

Open Data Training at the Open Knowledge Foundation

Laura James - September 26, 2013 in Business, CKAN, Featured, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation, Our Work, School of Data, Technical, Training

We’re delighted to announce today the launch of a new portfolio of open data training programs.

For many years the Open Knowledge Foundation has been working — both formally and informally — with governments, civil society organisations and others to provide this kind of advice and training. Today marks the first time we’ve brought it all together in one place with a clear structure.

These training programs are designed for two main groups of people interested in open data:

  1. Those within government and other organisations seeking a short introduction to open data – what it is, why to “do” open data, what the challenges are, and how to get started with an open data project or policy.

  2. The growing group of those specialising in open data, perhaps as policy experts, open data program managers, technology specialists, and so on, generally within government or other organisations. Here we offer more in-depth training including detailed material on how to run an open data program or project, and also a technical course for those deploying or maintaining open data portals.

Our training programs are designed and delivered by our team of open data experts with many years of experience creating, maintaining and supporting open data projects around the world.

Please contact us for details on any of the these courses, or if you’d be interested in discussing a custom program tailored to your needs.

Our Open Data Training Programs

Open Data Introduction

Who is this for?

This course is a short introduction to open data for anyone and is perfectly suited to teams from diverse functions across organisations who are thinking about or adopting open data for the first time.

Topics covered

Everything you need to understand and start working in this exciting new area: what is open data, why should institutions open data, what are the benefits and opportunities to doing so, and of course how you can get started with an open data policy or project.

This is a one day course to help you and your team get started with open data.

Photo by Victor1558

Administrative Open Data Management

Who is this for?

Those specialising in open data, whether as policy experts, open data program managers and similar roles in government, civil service, and other organisations. This course is specifically for non-technical staff who are responsible for managing Open Data programs in their organisation. Such activities typically include implementing an Open Data strategy, designing/launching an Open Data portal, coordinating publication processes, preparing data for publication, and fostering data re-use.

Topics covered

Basics of Open Data (legal, managerial, technical); Success factors for the design and execution of an Open Data program; Overview of the technology landscape; Success factors for community re-use.

Open Data Portal Technology

Who is this for?

Those specializing in open data, whether as software or data experts, and open data delivery managers and similar roles in government, civil service, and other organisations. Technical staff who are responsible for maintaining or running an enterprise Open Data portal. Such activities typically include deployment, system administration and hosting, site theming, development of custom extensions and applications, ETL procedures, data conversions, data life-cycle management.

Topics covered

Basics of Open Data, publication process, and technology landscape; architecture and core functionality of a modern Open Data Management System (CKAN used as example). Deployment, administration and customisation; deploying extensions; integration; geospatial and other special capabilities; engaging with the CKAN community.

Photo by Victor1558

Custom training

We can offer training programs tailored to your specific needs, for your organisation, data domain, or locale. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements!

Working with data

We also run the School of Data, which helps civil society organisations, journalists and citizens learn the skills they need to use data effectively, through both online and in-person “learning through doing” workshops. The School of Data runs data-driven investigations and explorations, and data clinics and workshops from “What is Data” up to advanced visualisation and data handling. As well as general training and materials, we offer topic-specific and custom courses and workshops. Please contact schoolofdata@okfn.org to find out more.

As with all of our work, all relevant materials will be openly licensed, and we encourage others (in the global Open Knowledge Foundation network and beyond) to use and build on them.

Using public data to flag tax avoidance schemes?

Jonathan Gray - July 11, 2013 in Data Journalism, Policy, Public Money, School of Data

This post was jointly written by Jonathan Gray (@jwyg), Director of Policy and Ideas at the Open Knowledge Foundation and Tony Hirst (@psychemedia), Data Storyteller at the Open Knowledge Foundation’s School of Data project. It is cross-posted from the School of Data blog.

Today OpenCorporates added a new visualisation tool that enables you to explore the global corporate networks of the six biggest banks in the US.

The visualisation shows relationships between companies that are members of large corporate groups.

You can hover over a particular company within a corporate group to highlight its links with other companies that either control or are controlled by the highlighted company. It also shows which companies are located in countries commonly held to be tax havens.

OpenCorporates control map example

As well as corporate ownership data, OpenCorporates also publishes a growing amount of information detailing company directorships. Mining this data can offer a complementary picture of corporate groupings.

The Offshore Leaks Database from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, released earlier this year, also contains information about “122,000 offshore companies or trusts, nearly 12,000 intermediaries …, and about 130,000 records on the people and agents who run, own, benefit from or hide behind offshore companies”.

As you may have seen, we’ve recently been thinking about how all of this publicly available information about corporate ownership networks might be used to help identify potential tax avoidance schemes.

While the visualisation that OpenCorporates released today focuses on six corporate networks, we’d be interested in seeing whether we might be able to mine bigger public data sources to detect some of the most common tax avoidance schemes.

As more and more corporate data becomes openly available, might we be able to identify patterns within corporate groupings that could be indicative of tax avoidance schemes? What might these patterns look like? To what extent might you be able to use algorithms to flag certain corporate groupings for further attention? And to what extent are others (auditors, national tax authorities, or international fraud or corruption agencies) already using algorithmic techniques to assist with the detection of such arrangements?

There are several reasons that using open data and publicly available algorithms to detect potential tax avoidance schemes could be interesting.

Firstly, as tax avoidance is a matter of public concern arguably civil society organisations, journalists and citizens should be able to explore, understand and investigate potential avoidance, not just auditors and tax authorities.

Secondly, we might get a sense of how prevalent and widespread particular tax avoidance schemes are. Not just amongst high profile companies that have been in the public spotlight, but amongst the many other tens of millions of companies and corporate groupings that are publicly listed. The combination of automated flagging and collaborative investigations around publicly available data could be a very powerful one.

If you’re interested in looking into how data on corporate groupings might be used to flag possible tax avoidance schemes, then you can join us on the School of Data discussion list.

Hola Escuela de Datos!

Lucy Chambers - June 27, 2013 in Featured, School of Data

Today, we’re pleased to announce the launch of School of Data in Spanish!

The Website was launched at the AbreLatam, on the 24th June, with a workshop focusing on building the Latin American network.

This follows a series of warm up events thanks to the wonderful generosity of our hosts, in particular – the Hacks / Hacks network and ICFJ Knight Fellows in Latin America.

About Escuela de Datos

Escuela de Datos is first and foremost a mechanism to bring the School of Data methodologies and materials to people in their native languages.

Like School of Data, Escuela de Datos will be driven by learning through doing, running data expeditions, data clinics and hands-on tutorials. We will also produce materials as and when they are required, but largely in a reactive manner.

Besides translation, a couple of the courses and examples will be adapted to bring them closer to the local context.

This is a pilot – we hope to be able to do the same for other regions, too. Watch this space!

How can I get involved?

Great! You want to get stuck in, we are currently looking for:

Blog contributions in Spanish about case-studies / tutorials which could inspire or help NGOs or Journalists to work with Data.
Community mentors to lead data expeditions or drop-in clinics with learners.

Why not Escuela de Datos – Mexico, Escuela de Datos – Spain etc. ?

The work before us to close the data literacy gap for NGOs and journalists is immense and we need to work together, share techniques and materials wherever possible for the online work accross borders.

However – individuals and organisations will be very welcome to run data expeditions and other events in their own country!

Who is behind Escuela de Datos?

A lot of the groundwork and translation has been laid thanks to the help of the team of Social-TIC, a Mexico-based NGO dedicated to promoting and empowering social groups to strengthen their work through technology.

However, the team is still small, and we need more organisations and proactive individuals to help drive these projects.

Escuela de datos will have a governance structure which allows it to be driven by and adapt to the needs of the community. More details will be published in the coming weeks.

To get in touch:

About Escuela De Datos

Drop us a line on: escueladedatos [@] socialtic.org

Follow us on @Escueladedatos

About collaborations and internationalisation

Drop us a line on: schoolofdata [@] okfn.org

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