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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

Coding da Vinci – Open GLAM challenge in Germany

Guest - April 3, 2014 in Events, OKF Germany, Open GLAM

The following blog is by Helene Hahn, Open GLAM coordinator at Open Knowledge Germany. It is cross-posted from the Open GLAM blog

More and more galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) are digitizing their collections to make them accessible online and to preserve our heritage for future generations. By January 2014, over 30 million objects have been made available via Europeana – among which over 4.5 million records were contributed from German institutions.

Through the contribution of open data and content, cultural institutions provide tools for the thinkers and doers of today, no matter what sector they’re working in; in this way, cultural heritage brings not just aesthetic beauty, but also brings wider cultural and economic value beyond initial estimations.

Coding da Vinci, the first German open cultural data hackathon will take place in Berlin to bring together both cultural heritage institutions and the hacker & designer community to develop ideas and prototypes for the cultural sector and the public. It will be structured as a 10-week-challenge running from April 26th until July 6th under the motto “Let them play with your toys!”, coined by Jo Pugh of the UK National Archives. All projects will be presented online for everyone to benefit from, and prizes will be awarded to the best projects at the end of the hackathon.

The participating GLAMs have contributed a huge range of data for use in the hackathon, including highlights such as urban images (including metadata) of Berlin in the 18th and 19th centuries, scans of shadow boxes containing insects and Jewish address-books from the 1930s in Germany, and much more! In addition, the German Digital Library will provide their API to hackathon participants. We’re also very happy to say that for a limited number of participants, we can offer to cover travel and accommodation expenses – all you have to do is apply now!

All prices, challenges and datasets will soon be presented online.

This hackathon is organized by: German Digital Library, Service Centre Digitization Berlin, Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, and Wikimedia Germany.

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

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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.

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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)

Highlights from Open Data Day

Christian Villum - February 28, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Open Data Day, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

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This past Saturday was Open Data Day across the world. More than 190 events took place around the globe and many of these were organized by Local Groups of the Open Knowledge Foundation. In this summary we will be highlighting some of all these great events (see also our blog post leading up to Open Data Day and our dedicated Open Data Day overview page).

In Ireland they worked on 4 open data and civic projects. Around 70 people – data wranglers, coders, activists, civil society representatives and interested citizens – volunteered their time and participated actively in the different projects as well as networked, shared ideas and enjoyed great food! In Egypt lots of participants joined from around the country and collaborated online and offline, and in general lots of attention was garnered, also in the national media and across the social media space. The highlight of the impact was a couple of supporting tweets from Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Atef Helmy.

Our friends in India had great Open Data Day success as well. Day­ long events included hackathons, webinars, opening up of datasets, making of data visualization and many other such activities. The Nepal Local Group also organized a series of activities including talks and various sprints including wiki school and Mozilla webmaking, many of which are summarised in this blog post, this photo gallery and this video.

In Russia and Belarus they had several events in different cities, among other Minsk, Perm and Moscow – collaborating with among other the local OpenStreetMap community and OpenAccess project Cyberleninka. In Belgium they focused on making a pre-Open Data Day event. The result was a full topic stream at the Data Days conference in Belgium, titled ‘Open Belgium’ and it was a great success. They gathered over 180 data experts (which was maximum capacity of the venue), which included local and national policy makers and even visitors from other countries.

In Scandinavia several activities took place. In Sweden they used the occasion to officially launch the Open Knowledge Foundation Local Group and released a press release. Iceland did a hackathon, Finland hosted an Open Data Brunch and in Denmark they held a grand event with 4 difference hackathons and workshops, where around 60 people – scientists, artists, data wranglers, coders, activists, data providers and interested citizens – participated. Some had worked on making videos from openly licenses cultural heritage content and showcased the results in the evening at a big Bring Your Own Beamer event in downtown Copenhagen. During the day the 4 countries even had a video hangout to share stories and connect over shared enthusiasm about open knowledge!

OpenSpending and Local Open Data Census sprints

Some groups engaged in some of the global Open Data Day topics of the Open Knowledge Foundation network. One of those was the OpenSpending project, where for instance our group in Burkino Faso dug into public expenses. Open Knowledge Foundation Japan passed another milestone and have now added more than 250 datasets on OpenSpending. In London, transactional spending data from the London borough of Lewisham was published by participants – and in Spain they visualised the city of Vigo.

Many groups participated in the global Local Open Data Day sprint. Among the most active were the United States where the sprint was organized in collaboration with CodeAcross and Sunlight Foundation – and the result was the data mapping of over 20 cities across the nation. Also our Greek and German groups did an amazing job and mapped an impressive 10 cities and 11 cities respectively – see photo gallery from Greece here. Germany additionally worked on all kinds of other projects and even shot a little video.

The twittersphere was also highly active all around the globe. Congregating around hashtags such as #ODD14 and #ODD2014 thousands joined to either mention what they were doing or comment on the great works of others. We’ve highlighted some of the best tweets here.

All in all an amazing day that truly highlighted the breath and depth of the global open data community. We can hardly wait for Open Data Day 2015!

Two and a half months researching Open Data in (a part of) Asia

Guest - February 28, 2014 in Community Stories, Featured Project, OKF Cambodia, OKF Hong Kong, Open Data

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This is the third guest blog post from Open Steps, an initiative by two young Berliners Alex (a software developer from Spain) and Margo (a graduate in European politics from France) who decided to leave their daily lives and travel around the world for one year to meet people and organizations working actively in open knowledge related projects, documenting them on their website. Read also the first blog post and the second one.

After the first 6 months in East Europe and India, we landed in the Asian continent and had two and a half months to explore South-East Asia, Hong Kong and Japan. Starting first planning meetings and workshops in the Mekong Region, we rapidly understood there are not numerous organisations working on Open Knowledge there, compared to the previous visited countries.

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The Mekong Basin Region and its lack of Open Data momentum

In none of the countries we passed by in South-East Asia (Thailand, Cambodia & Laos) we could find a strong will from the public administration to promote Open Data (OD) or Open Government (OG) initiatives. However, each government has its own different experience. Let’s take a look at this in detail:

In Thailand, we got in contact with Opendream, a company focused on developing web and mobile apps around social issues, mostly using and released as Open Source. Organising our workshop in their offices brought us closer to the singular Thai Open Data history. A plan for releasing data to the public domain through an Open Data platform (which was built by Opendream members) had already been initiated under the mandate of the previous Prime Minister, but surprisingly dismissed few months afterwards when the power changed hands. At the time of our visit, this first attempt was not available anymore on the web and there was no plan to do a second one. Considering other kind of organisations than the public sector, we discovered Thai Netizen Network, a small group of advocates working on intellectual property. We met Arthit Suriyawongkul, its founder, who is also one of the activists working on the Thai adaptation of the Creative Commons license. According to him, the Open movement in Thailand can be summarized in a few individuals who might be connected via social networks but don’t represent in any case an active and regular meeting group.

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In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia which was our next stop, Open Data is neither the priority of the government. But there, we could meet several organisations, mostly NGOs, and also gathered numerous students, journalists and human rights advocates as attendees at our events. This reflects a big interest in both data visualisation and data journalism. Our 3 workshops were respectively organised at the national high school for media practitioners (the DMC of the Royal University), with the German GIZ (the Public Agency for International Cooperation) and with Transparency International Cambodia. One of the organisations we particularly consider relevant to mention is Open Development Cambodia (ODC), which manages the only online platform in Cambodia where local data is being aggregated and shared. The elaborate map visualisations of this NGO are the proof that the civil society is active and that making use of data is already a know tool to bring awareness and to address specific issues Cambodia has to face. ODC’s team is working hard on it and together with the newly created OKFN local group, they are the ones leading the efforts. Not to forget is the great event they organised for the international Open Data Day this year.

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What about Laos? The neighbouring country has an even more difficult situation than Thailand and we could not discover any initiative there which can be categorized as open, neither from the public administration nor from the civil society. In Vientiane, we met the IT-team behind the data portal of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental agency between Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, created to preserve the Mekong basin region and improve its water management. The data portal is a platform gathering and analysing data on (among others) water quality through various maps and reports. Sadly, due to national policies and the strict rules defined by the collaboration between these four countries, the data is not available as open but some fees and copyright apply for download and re-use.

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A different story : Hong Kong and Japan

South-East Asia can definitely not reflect all Asia and what we discovered during the rest of our journey was the antipode of the first three countries mentioned. We headed further East and arrived in Hong Kong, where we were already in contact since we left Berlin with two active organisations: DimSumLabs (hackerspace) and Open Data Hong Kong (ODHK). DimSumLabs offered us its space and ODHK its warm support to run our session in the big metropole. As they both have built a great community of activists and enthusiasts, the topic of Open Data and Open Cultures in general is large known and there was no need to present our usual beginners-targeted workshop. Instead of that, we prepared new contents and did a recap of the most exciting projects we had discovered so far. It resulted in a very interesting discussion about the status of Hong Kong as “Special Administration Region” of China. The city still remains under China´s rules (has no Freedom of Information Act) but its autonomy allows a “healthy” environment for OD/OG initiatives. The existence of the Open Data platform and Open Data challenges are a proof of it.

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On the same line, Japan was a productive stop for our research. First, we visited the Mozilla factory, created last year in the centre of Tokyo. A fantastic open space for everyone to learn and work on the web, equipped with tools such as 3D printers and greatly designed with Open Source furnitures available for download and re-use. On our meeting, we discovered also about their new project called MozBus, a refurbished camping van turned into a nomadic web factory that can provide internet infrastructure at remote areas after natural disasters. The International Open Data Day (22nd February 2014) happened during our stay in this last stop in Asia and we participated in the event organised in Kyoto. There, volunteers from public and private sector and members of the OpenStreetMap Foundation scheduled an one-day workshop to teach citizens with different backgrounds and ages how to use OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia, with the main purpose to document and report historical buildings of the city. In addition, this event was also a good place to research about the status of OD/OG initiatives in Japan. If the government has worked on a strategy for many years (with focus on how can OD/OG make disaster management more efficient) and seems to be in the list of the much advanced countries; the national Open Data platform, launched in beta, dates from last December and there are, generally speaking, still improvements needed, particularly regarding the licenses applied for spending and budgeting data.

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But that is not all what is happening in Asia

Although we would really have loved to, it was not possible for us to be all over the continent and discover all the projects and initiatives currently going on. Countries as Indonesia, Philippines or Taiwan present an advanced status regarding Open Data and we would definitely have had a lot to document if our route would have passed there. We invite you to read this sum-up about the Open Data situation in Asia (put together by a folk on the OKFN-Discuss mailing list after last year’s OKCon) to get a more detailed idea on the different contexts the Asian continent shows. It’s a very good read!

After Asia, keeping heading East, we are now reaching South-America and this is here where the last part of our one-year research begins. We have now four months to go through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Peru and the first contacts we could establish are really promising …. follow us to get updated!

Open Knowledge Foundation Spain becomes an official Chapter

Theodora Middleton - February 25, 2014 in Featured, OKF Spain, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Uncategorized

We are really pleased to announce that Spain has become the latest Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Celebration of Light: Spain

Last night, during the inaugural I OKFN awards, organised by Open Knowledge Foundation Spain, the group announced to a packed room of open data advocates, government representatives, and community members that they have become an official Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation. The awards ceremony was established by Open Knowledge Foundation Spain to recognise the incredible efforts of individuals and groups around the world in open data, open knowledge and transparency. It therefore provided the perfect opportunity to recognise the incredible efforts of the group themselves, by announcing their transition to Chapter status.

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Getting to this point has taken a whole lot of work from a whole lot of people. With 50 paying members, and over 200 people on their mailing list, the organisation has deep community foundations. Around 1000 people have attended events organised by the Chapter in the last year, all of whom have helped bring them to this exciting stage. The group has developed amazingly fast, having only been established around a year ago, which is a testament to the immense dedication and determination of those involved.

The Chapter is strongly committed to transparency and openness within its own organisational structures. They have developed a format – “transparencia radical” or “extreme transparency” – which lays out best practices and mechanisms for ensuring genuine accountability and openness, and which aims to be reproducible and applicable in many contexts. Their board meetings are also open – you can view the video from November’s meeting here – and they aim for real time accounting transparency. In sum, Open Knowledge Foundation Spain has genuine participation and openness baked into its core, in a way which will undoubtedly be inspirational for other groups around the world.

Juan Lopez

The new Chapter have tonnes of exciting stuff coming up over the coming months. They have built a dynamic data journalism community in Spain, and will be hosting a major data journalism event in May, Periodismo Datos, as well as bringing out a new edition of the Data Journalism handbook in April. They are keen to support and collaborate with other Open Knowledge Foundation groups, particularly those in Spanish-speaking countries. Having already translated and launched a Spanish language version of the School of Data, Escuela de Datos, they hope to continue strengthening and growing the movement for open knowledge abroad as well as at home. Do get in touch with them for more details.

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Rufus Pollock, founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, spoke to the attendees at the awards ceremony by video, saying:

“This is a great moment. We are delighted to recognise Open Knowledge Foundation Spain in this way. It is a really significant recognition of their achievement, their sustainability, and what they’ve already achieved within the community. It is brilliant to see the interconnection and flow of ideas between the Chapters, and Spain will undoubtedly inspire many others.”

Alberto Abella, President of the Open Knowledge Foundation Spain said:

“Many thanks to the team and all the members of the Open Knowledge Foundation Spain. Without their strong co-operation and dedication this would not have been possible. And of course, the best is yet to come in 2014!”

Images from top to bottom: Eduard Ereza and Jorge Martin, developers sued by local governments for using data from local webs to create apps; Juan Lopez de Uralde, Leader of the political party EQUO; and Mar Cabra, Vicepresident of Open Knowledge Foundation Spain.

Open Data Day – what’s happening around the Open Knowledge Foundation global network

Christian Villum - February 21, 2014 in Featured, Open Data Day, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

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With Open Data Day just around the corner – tomorrow, Saturday February 22, 2014, where over 100 events around the world will take place – it’s time to zoom out a bit and see what many of the Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups around the world are planning. So here we go, are you ready?

In the United Kingdom the event will focus on app making and general discussion of open data. Our friends in Japan are doing events in a whopping 31 cities (!), and in Denmark tomorrow’s event will have 4 different tracks focusing among other on visualizing environmental data and remixing public domain cultural heritage content into video clips. The group in Spain is running what we believe is one of the world’s first Open Data Award shows, and in France events in several cities across the country will highlight among other data from the Ministry of the Interior as well as the public domain through the hosting of a Public Domain Calculator session.

In Switzerland they are organizing an “Open Data Date” asking the federal, cantonal, and community media: where do we stand in terms of Open Data? The Iceland organizing group will be mapping open datasets and build some nice apps and visualisations on top of them. In Ireland they will be doing a booksprint, where they look for teaching and research materials in the public domain and work together to collate the information into a usable format for the general public, teachers and educators. The Burkina Faso organizers are planning an event with various presentations on open government, open parliament, Open Street Map, transit data, data journalism – and will be hosting data expeditions on gold revenue, energy supply data and public budgets.

The group in Finland will be hosting a two all-day Open Data Brunches, where food will be combined with various community project hacking activities. In Cambodia they are organising a local event in Phnom Penh with talks & networking – among other to introduce the Open Knowledge Foundation to a broader audience, talk about open culture, open development and much more. Indonesia is doing an open data for development workshop which will feature an idea challenge on how to apply open data principles and applications for national and subnational development. In Argentina they will do an open bicycle data expedition to find and open key transportation data sets from Argentina and other countries. These data sets will eventually be added to the local edition of the Local Open Data Census and to Bikestorming’s upcoming mobile app.

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In Egypt they will, among other, be translating various open data materials including the Open Data Handbook and School of Data tutorials – as well as blog and do budget scrapings. Last, but not least, they will be part of the global Local Open Data Census work:

Local Open Data Census work across the world

Some of the Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups will be working on a special shared project: The Local Open Data Census, which allows citizens around the world to run a local version of the popular Open Data Census. The first round of Local Census instances have now been activated, and many of the community-driven sprints to populate them with city-level data will take place tomorrow. For example, in the United States the Open Knowledge Foundation have teamed up with Code Across and Sunlight Foundation to jointly run a nationwide Local Open Data City Census hackathon. In China they will organize an online Census-a-thon to work on their new Local Open Data Census, and furthermore they will launch a new partnership network called “Open Data China” to bring different Chinese parties into together to collaborate on open data related projects and events. Germany is also combining many activities and will, alongside the Local Census sprint, be organizing an open data hackathon around health data. To see the full list of active Local Census instances (a rapidly growing list), go here. If you’re reading this and want to boot a Local Census of your own, you can request one here.

Moving beyond time and space

The creativity around the network for Open Data Day activities has even moved beyond time and space! In Belgium they started early this week and held a massive 3-day event titled Data Days that served as a lead-in to Open Data Day. And in the Czech Republic they will do a post-Open Data Day event next week by hosting a “Political Watchdog Workshop”. In the virtual sphere the brand new OpenMENA community of the Open Knowledge Foundation will host an online event across the MENA-region (Middle East, Northern Africa) – in an impressive three languages!

We hope as many people as possible around the world join to learn about open data! To see the full list of over 100 events across the globe, head over over to the Open Data Day website.

Photo by Hal990, CC BY-NC-SA.

Brazil becomes the Open Knowledge Foundation’s first Full Chapter in Latin America

Theodora Middleton - February 18, 2014 in Featured, OKF Brazil, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

We’re delighted to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation Brazil has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to become a, full, official Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation. You can read the official announcement on our press page, and here their coordinator, Everton Alvarenga, tells us more.

In July 2011, during the Open Knowledge Conference in Berlin, the formation of a Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Brazil was proposed. It was exciting to see that global network of people opening up knowledge in several fields: government data, educational resources, scientific knowledge and cultural goods.

In Brazil, several groups and individuals had already been doing amazing projects related to open knowledge (or “conhecimento livre”, as we translate it), from volunteers involved in the Wikimedia projects to members of the civil society trying to reform our outdated copyright law, from professors and students advocating for open educational resources to researchers trying to improve the access to scientific knowledge, and from developers and journalists starting to use modern tools to improve data analysis to create stories to developers and activists raising awareness of the importance of government date to be open and giving examples on how to use the available data.

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In the same spirit that guides the global Open Knowledge Foundation Network as a whole, the Brazil Local Group has been working for the last 2 years to form a local network supporting open knowledge, which we call “Rede pelo Conhecimento Livre”. We have brought together a national network aiming to connect all the amazing actors of the free culture movement and open movement in the country. We place a high value on our community roots, emphasizing decentralized collaboration. We firmly believe that all the fantastic groups and individuals building towards openness in Brazil will be stronger together, and our main task is to facilitate this, be it through projects aligned with our mission to open all forms of knowledge or supporting the communities part of our network.

To make this possible, the hard work of many people was necessary. We have been participating in and organizing events to promote open knowledge in several ways: at the international and local level, and also in the context of Latin America. We are supporting an active open science working group, and supporting other civil society organization to understand the importance of open data, for example through our visualizations of budget data. Our group has also actively bringing the School of Data to Portuguese speakers and we are planning to continue with several activities in the following years. And there is more: with some of our partners, from academics to other civil society organizations, we have started to work as a hosting organization, making projects to happen in a more dynamic and less bureaucratic way. Being a very young organization, we are still building our governance with a focus on community-driven decision making whenever possible, and we are also working to have a channel for crowd-funded projects to achieve our goals.

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Going forward, we see big challenges and opportunities for Open Knowledge Brazil, the “Rede pelo Conhecimento Livre”. We see the OKF Brazil as a key driver for a truly participatory democracy in the country, with access to knowledge and openness in several sectors as a key to our development. One of main challenges will be to build an organization with sustainable projects and give continuity to several good initiatives from the civil society we have seen that ended in nothing, but we are willing to change that. And you all are very welcome to join our network through your collaboration or new projects we can make together!

Myanmar – Developing a Knowledge Society from Scratch

Guest - January 23, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

This is a guest post by Waltraut Ritter from Knowledge Dialogues and Opendata Hong Kong/Open Knowledge Foundation Hong Kong, who recently visited Myanmar as basis for this interesting account. She can be contacted on waltraut(a)opendatahk(dot)com.

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New cars, new mobiles – photo by Waltraut Ritter, CC BY-SA


The Worldbank Knowledge Economy Index ranks Myanmar as second lowest among 157 countries across all key variables relating to ICT, innovation, education and economic incentive/institutional regime; Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perception Index lists Myanmar in the bottom group of countries, and the most recent Internet World Statistics (2012) shows that internet penetration is around 1%, although with the entry of two international telecom operators, Telenor and Ooredoo, rolling out voice and data services nationwide starting this month, these figures are expected to move up fast.

Foundation for a knowledge society?

The growth of internet access in Myanmar will predominantly be mobile internet access. 7% of the population use mobile phones; the lowest cost for an Android smartphone (with Myanmar font) is 60-70 USD and a SIM card with data services cost between 5 and 130 USD, depending on the channel through which one gets access to a SIM. Huawei’s smartphones are the market leader at the moment, followed by Samsung. With the opening of the country in the past 2-3 years, what are the prospects for building the foundations for a knowledge society?

Technology as a catalyst – and threat

Recent reports and studies about Myanmar (ADB 2012, Cheesman 2012, McKinsey 2013) describe the backwardness of everything related to information, from information laws, information access, ICT infrastructure to internet governance. Building the soft infrastructure, capacity, skills and mindset is another challenge. Nwe Nwe Aye says that the government in Myanmar is still heavily circumscribed by secrecy and lack of transparency, and that there is “no sense of political rule as a participative process”* The culture of an authoritarian society is hard to throw off, and technology may act as a catalyst, but there are quite a few countries with excellent ICT infrastructure and non-existing or low civic rights and public transparency as well.

Reporters without Borders and the Burma Media Association claim that “the structure of the new Burmese Internet as modified in 2010 gives the authorities more surveillance options, while reserving the fastest and best-quality access for the government and military”. They say that Burma’s use of Blue Coat technologies (the Silicon Valley tech company providing internet censorships equipment and services such as Deep Packet inspection) in government agencies raises questions about internet filtering policy and surveillance.

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Phone at Yangon Railway Station – photo by Waltraut Ritter, CC BY-SA

Private sector investments to drive open data?

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which resumed operations in Myanmar in 2013, is advising the government on ICT strategy and public administration reform. Following their tender for the development of an e-Governance Master Plan, it was just announced a few days ago that IT services provider Infosys will be appointed as advisor for the 1.5m USD project, which also includes a six month training for 100 engineering students. Building ICT capacity is the basis for information and data management across the public sector, and also the basis for any Open Data initiative. All major global tech companies are preparing their investment plans for the country, many of them coupled with education or civil society collaborations.

Very active civil society and library infrastructure

Myanmar has an active civil society working on various aspects of information society, from press freedom to civic-driven public libraries, such as Beyond Access, an organization that aims to transform the country’s vast network of 5000 public libraries into connected information and service hubs, MIDO (Myanmar ICT development organization, which organized the first internet freedom forum in Yangon last year), and the Myanmar Blogger Society, which now collaborates with telecom provider Ooredoo. These networks and organisations could play an important role in building the soft infrastructure of the future information society.

Wikimedia Zero provides charge-free mobile access to global knowledge

Another initiative with potentially wide reach is the introduction of Wikimedia Zero, whereby the Wikimedia Foundation through a partnership with Telenor, gives free access to the “sum of human knowledge” (Jimmy Wales) without incurring data usage charges.

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School girls at National Museum – photo by Waltraut Ritter, CC BY-SA

Revising Internet governnance legislation is necessary

The legal side of Myanmar’s information and internet governance also needs to be reformed. Currently there exist a number of outdated but still valid laws, such as the “Burma Official Secrets Act” from 1932, instated by the British Colonial regime, which is part of the ongoing discussions on constitutional reform ahead of the 2015 elections. (http://wvw.burmalibrary.org/docs15/Burma_Code-Vol-II-ocr-tu.pdf, p182-189). This year, however, there is a great opportunity to introduce open data initiatives in Myanmar: the country is conducting its first nationwide census in 31 years. Supported by UN organisations, the data collection will take place in March and April, and provide a sound basis for all further socio-economic development.

Reliable information has been a scarce resource in the past decades, and the country data compiled by various international organisations such as UNDP, ITU, and Worldbank has many gaps or only shows estimates, e.g. the figures of the country’s population range between 52 and 64 million. Data about livelihood, economy, and exact size of the many ethnic groups in the country is vague. The latter is widely discussed in the media in the preparation of the census http://www.mmfreedom-daily.com/?p=13669. Ethnic groups are worried that the census survey may not reflect the real size of the different groups due to classification problems.

Global open data community needs to engage

For the Open Data community, engaging with Myanmar government, public sector organisations, and civil society, could help to build an inclusive knowledge society, where the benefits of data, information and knowledge are available for all. Such an engagement would certainly not be a short-term project.

*in: Nick Cheesman et. al. (ed.) Myanmar’s Transition: Openings, Obstacles and Opportunities. ISEAS Singapore 2012

Thanks to Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO (Myanmar ICT for Development Organisation) for information on internet governance.

“Share, improve and reuse public sector data” – French Government unveils new CKAN-based data.gouv.fr

Guest - December 26, 2013 in CKAN, OKF France, Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a guest post from Rayna Stamboliyska and Pierre Chrzanowski of the Open Knowledge Foundation France

Etalab, the Prime Minister’s task force for Open Government Data, unveiled on December 18 the new version of the data.gouv.fr platform (1). OKF France salutes the work the Etalab team has accomplished, and welcomes the new features and the spirit of the new portal, rightly summed up in the website’s baseline, “share, improve and reuse public sector data”.

OKF France was represented by Samuel Goëta at the data.gouv.fr launch event OKF France was represented at the data.gouv.fr launch event by Samuel Goëta in the presence of Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister of France, Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy and Marylise Lebranchu, Minister of the Reform of the State. Photo credit: Yves Malenfer/Matignon

Etalab has indeed chosen to offer a platform resolutely turned towards collaboration between data producers and re-users. The website now enables everyone not only to improve and enhance the data published by the government, but also to share their own data; to our knowledge, a world first for a governmental open data portal. In addition to “certified” data (i.e., released by departments and public authorities), data.gouv.fr also hosts data published by local authorities, delegated public services and NGOs. Last but not least, the platform also identifies and highlights other, pre-existing, Open Data portals such as nosdonnees.fr (2). A range of content publishing features, a wiki and the possibility of associating reuses such as visualizations should also allow for a better understanding of the available data and facilitate outreach efforts to the general public.

We at OKF France also welcome the technological choices Etalab made. The new data.gouv.fr is built around CKAN, the open source software whose development is coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation. All features developed by the Etalab team will be available for other CKAN-based portals (e.g., data.gov or data.gov.uk). In turn, Etalab may more easily master innovations implemented by others.

The new version of the platform clearly highlights the quality rather than quantity of datasets. This paradigm shift was expected by re-users. On one hand, datasets with local coverage have been pooled thus providing nation-wide coverage. On the other hand, the rating system values datasets with the widest geographical and temporal coverage as well as the highest granularity.

Screenshot from data.gouv.fr home page

The platform will continue to evolve and we hope that other features will soon complete this new version, for example:

  • the ability to browse data by facets (data producers, geographical coverage or license, etc.);
  • a management system for “certified” (clearly labelled institutional producer) and “non-certified” (data modified, produced, added by citizens) versions of a dataset;
  • a tool for previewing data, as natively proposed by CKAN;
  • the ability to comment on the datasets;
  • a tool that would allow to enquire about a dataset directly at the respective public administration.

Given this new version of data.gouv.fr, it is now up to the producers and re-users of public sector data to demonstrate the potential of Open Data. This potential can only be fully met with the release of fundamental public sector data as a founding principle for our society. Thus, we are still awaiting for the opening of business registers, detailed expenditures as well as non-personal data on prescriptions issued by healthcare providers.

Lastly, through the new data.gouv.fr, administrations are no longer solely responsible for the common good that is public sector data. Now this responsibility is shared with all stakeholders. It is thus up to all of us to demonstrate that this is the right choice.


(1) This new version of data.gouv.fr is the result of codesign efforts that the Open Knowledge Foundation France participated in.

(2) Nosdonnees.fr is co-managed by Regards Citoyens and OKF France.

Read Etalab’s press release online here

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