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Global Community Stories #3

Zara Rahman - May 13, 2013 in Community Stories, Featured, OKF Australia, OKF Austria, OKF Belgium, OKF Brazil, OKF Greece, OKF Nepal, OKF Spain, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

 

 

Open Data Maker Vienna - April 2013

For your delectation, we bring you the third installment of Global Community Stories – a round up of the fantastic projects and activities of our Local Groups across the world, including a Wikipedia Editathon for girls in Nepal, a multitude of events in Belgium, Big Data Week across Spain, a Swiss Government pilot project, a multicultural open data event in Edinburgh, and a tiny town in Austria taking the lead in releasing data sets – the race is on!

Following the incredibly kind donation of OpenBelgium.be to our Open Knowledge community by Wunderkraut, OKF Belgium is preparing to take on maintenance of the site and grow the community that they began. They’ve been busy developing other collaborations too; a meet up with Random Hacks of Kindness is coming up June 1-2, as well as developing appsforgeo.be. Their impressive upcoming events include a fully booked master class on Open Culture data, a presentation at the Flemish government to civil servants, as well as Apps for Flanders on June 14, and a General Assembly in June too. They’ve been keeping an eye on the public sphere too, and are organising a debate on new business models to allow financial sustainability through art following a lawsuit by the Belgian copyright organisation Sabam against ISP for not wanting to cooperate on copyright tax on internet subscriptions.

In Austria, the OKF community is supporting the fight for a freedom of information act…

 Together with other civil society initiatives, the Austrian Chapter of OKFN is supporting this movement by organising a series of workshops for all stakeholders on the upcoming freedom of information law, reaching out to civil servants, citizens and politicans. They’ll be providing an opportunity for every stakeholder group to discuss and define their point of view, empowering change-makers across the sphere to broaden their influence, and they’ll be looking to develop the debate around freedom of information in a similar way to which the topic of open data was discussed some years ago.

 One little village in Austria deserves a special mention – Engerwitzdorf, a town of only 8000 inhabitants, has released 116 data sets – more than the entire federal government of Austria! They’ve been honoured for their work by being nominated for the Document Freedom Award by the Free Software Foundation Europe – congratulations! OKF Austria will joining in the celebrations through organising Engerwitzdorf’s first OKF MeetUp.

In Switzerland, government data is being made more accessible…

In Switzerland, the OKF Swiss Chapter has been developing a pilot project called Open Government Data at the Confederation – or, OGD@ Federation for short. Through the project, a group of government agencies will be attempting to bundle their data together via an open source platform, and they’ll be presenting this on May 22. We’ll keep you updated with how it goes, and for readers in Switzerland, you can register here.

OKF Spain has been expanding rapidly…

..having reached 149 members on their mailing list and recently having organised a successful Big Data Week in Madrid and Barcelona! It doesn’t sound like they’re sitting on their laurels though, as they have another three day event coming up in Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla and Valladolid about data journalism which will include a hackathon, a barcamp and several workshops. They have an impressive line up of speakers too, including James Ball from the Guardian, Manuel Aristarán from the Knight Foundation, and OKF Central’s own Michael Bauer, so if you can, swing by!

They also undertook the invaluable task of translating into Spanish Laura’s blog post, “Open Knowledge: much more than Open Data” – which has now become “Conocimiento Abierto: Mucho más que Open Data.” This is a wonderful way of getting our message out to a whole new audience – thanks!

Laura’s post was also a hit with our OKF Greece Chapter, who kindly translated it into Greek. Translations of posts on the okfn.org into any language at all are very much welcome; if you do any translations, please do let us know so we can publicise it too, and we very much appreciate your efforts!

OKF Greece have also been busy organising an #OpenHealth event, and also took part in a Wikimedia workshop together with the Greek Wikipedia community. They recently completed the incredibly useful task of translating the Open Spending handbook into Greek, and you can now find the OKF Greece group on Facebook, too!

In Scotland, Germans and Brits came together…

Last week, the University of Edinburgh hosted the wonderfully multicultural event of German-British Open Data event. Scholarship holders from the Foundation of German Business came together for the weekend of talks, under the title “Open Data — Better Society?” and you can find a great round up of the talks and conclusions on the OKF Scotland blog.

OKF Nepal have been focusing on getting girls into ICT…

OKF Nepal recently teamed up with Wikipedia Nepal to organise a Wikipedia Editathon, which took place on the International Day of Girls in ICT. A truly great initiative, addressing a key issue facing the tech movement. OKFN Nepal’s Prakash Neupane also took to the stage to explain about the Open Knowledge Foundation’s mission, and from the photos it looks like all involved had a wonderful time. We look forward to hearing from the next event!

Congratulations all, for some incredible activities from across the globe!

(and keep an eye out for some exciting upcoming events- OKF Brazil are organising an event on Open Science at the beginning of June, and OKF Australia are organising a Beautiful Data GovHack at the end of May !)

LOD2 plenary, Vienna, 21-3 March 2012

Mark Wainwright - March 23, 2012 in CKAN, Events, Linked Open Data, LOD2, OKF Austria

I am in Vienna, along with my colleague Ira, for a plenary meeting of the assorted partners of the LOD2 project. LOD2 is an EU-funded research project on Linked Open Data, the vision of an interlinked web of data known to many from Tim Berners-Lee’s TED talk. The meeting runs for 3 days, in which there will be discussions about the various work packages, but I have been given the task of blogging about the opening introductory session on Wednesday afternoon. (Full disclosure: I have received a handsome LOD2 mug as advance payment for my efforts.) The Open Knowledge Foundation is one of the partners, because the pan-European CKAN data portal publicdata.eu is part of the project. But being personally a relative newcomer, I was looking forward to finding out in this introductory session what the project is really all about.

[IMG: Delegates at LOD2 plenary]
Delegates at the LOD2 plenary

Sören Auer, the project co-ordinator, kicked off, giving an overview of the overview. He described the lifecycle of Linked Data, from extraction (from other structured or unstructured data) through to linking in to existing data, enrichment (perhaps by adding more structure), to the point where it can be explored for interesting patterns. For each stage in the lifecycle, there are tools being developed by the project – many are already released. Collectively these tools, which are all Open Source, form the LOD2 ‘stack’. Sören also mentioned some recent milestones, including a Serbian CKAN portal holding a lot of data in RDF, the native format for Linked Data; and a planned new data-oriented conference, the European Data Forum.

The tools: Work Packages 2-6

WP2: Optimising the store

Peter Boncz of CWI spoke about Work Package 2. (What happened to WP1, you ask? It was a prototype which finished earlier in the project.) WP2 concerns Virtuoso, the database part of the LOD2 stack. The challenge with RDF is to make a database that runs efficiently with huge quantities of data, as the potential for rich interlinking means the data is not neatly segmented into tables as in a normal database. A lot of progress has already been made, and he hopes that Virtuoso 7 will be released soon. It will be structured to enable better compression (speeding up processing by reducing I/O), and use adaptive caching to try to minimise the number of queries that need to be done more than once.

WP3: Getting the data

Jens Lehman of AKSW at the University of Leipzig was next, talking about WP3 on ‘extraction, enrichment and repair’: the creation of Linked Data from existing structured or unstructured sources, its enrichment with suitable taxonomies to describe it, and detecting inconsistencies or other problems with its structure. If that sounds like a wide-ranging package, it is: as Jens told me later over dinner (not entirely seriously), ‘anything that doesn’t fit in one of the other packages gets stuffed into WP3′! There are currently over 20 tools playing a role in this stage, including Natural Language Processing techniques for extracting data from free text.

WP4: Creating links

Next up was Robert Isele of the Freie Universität Berlin. WP4 aims to enrich RDF data by adding links to other data sources, as well as linking data together by identifying duplicate entities within or between datasets. Automatic tools suggest links that a user can confirm or reject. WP4 also includes work to create an RDF-enabled version of the open source data cleaning tool Google Refine.

WP5: User interfaces

Sean Policarpio of DERI reported on WP5 on browsing, visualisation and authoring interfaces. He demonstrated geospatial data on a map, filtered with a structured (faceted) search – combining the power of Linked Data with a mapping search like Google Maps. Associated with this, they have produced a ‘semantic authoring’ tool, allowing the user to add or edit Linked Data via the map. Their next tasks are to implement ‘social semantic networking’ – for example, notifications based on semantic content – and mobile interfaces for their semantic tools.

WP6: Integrating the tools

Finally, the engaging and very Belgian Bert van Nuffelen of TenForce spoke about WP6, which aims to make the various disparate tools in the LOD2 stack play nicely together. They have worked on making it easier for users to install the stack tools, a shared interface and shared authorisation using WebID. They have also recently released an intermediate version of the stack (version 1.1) with new and upgraded tools and better documentation.

By now it was 3 o’clock and, against all expectations, the meeting was ahead of schedule. So we had a relatively luxurious half-hour break for tea. Your correspondent and another relative newcomer, Jan from Tenforce, took the opportunity to get some fresh air and a feel for the Viennese genius loci. Or should that be Ortsgeist?

The use cases

WP7: Publishing

We had heard about the tools that had been, and are being, developed to manipulate Linked Data. But how will they be used? Refreshed by tea we returned to the meeting to hear about the three Work Packages concerned with use cases. Perhaps the most exciting talk of the afternoon came from Christian Dirschl of WP7 and Wolters Kluwer Germany (WKD). WKD is a legal and accountancy publisher who are already adapting and using the LOD2 stack tools to enhance their publishing business. Christian told us that ‘semantic technologies enable publishing media to create added value’, and WKD’s first release of news and media datasets created using Linked Data tools is on course for publication in April. By December they will release an interlinked version of the datasets, including links to DPpedia and further optimised tools.

WP8: Enterprise

Amar-Djalil Mezaour of Exalead presented the ‘enterprise’ use case WP8, an application to human resources with the aim of matching job vacancies to applicants. Some early work trying to model CVs had met criticism on the ground, among others, that the EU reviewers had doubts about volume of data freely available. WP8 has refocused its attention on job vacancies rather than CVs, for which there is plenty of data and better RDF support. They hope to release the results later this year, with vacancies ‘dashboards’ and analytics, faceted by sector, region, salary, etc, using Linked Data, and enriched with mashups with other sites such as social networks.

WP9: Government data

After a long wait in the wings, it was time for the OKF’s own Ira Bolychevsky to take centre stage at last. WP9 aims to explore the applications to making government data available and maximising its use. Its main visible output is publicdata.eu, which republishes open data from government portals throughout the European Union. publicdata.eu has recently been upgraded and repaired: it now runs the latest version of CKAN, introducing features such as data previews (like this) and – live on the DataHub and coming soon to publicdata.eu – a data API for structured data. Two subjects we hope to discuss more later in the plenary are closer integration with the LOD2 stack, and metadata standards.

[IMG: Ira Bolychevsky at LOD2 plenary]
Ira presenting WP9

Jindřich Mynarz briefly mentioned the new Czech CKAN portal. They have developed a detailed methodology as well as a ‘Quick Start guide’ for publishers, both of which they promise to make available in English soon (hurrah!)

Finally Vojtech Svatek of UEP gave a quick overview of WP9a, which aims to use Linked Data technology in the field of public procurement, with ontologies for public sector contracts – providing matchmaking and analytics not dissimilar from those in WP8.

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread

Perhaps the reader has read enough of Work Packages for now. Anticipating your satiety, the organisers had decided to defer the presentations from WP10-12 until Friday. In their place an outsider to the LOD2 project, Allan Hanbury, gave a lightning talk on a slightly related EU project, Khresmoi, which aims to provide useful searching tools for large medical databases.

Thus concluded the day’s business, and we all dispersed to our various hotels. The OKF contingent, along with TenForce, are staying in one just a couple of roads away. Crossing a road is hazardous in Vienna, because there are sometimes cars parked in what seems to be the middle of the road. You keep half-expecting some lights to change and the cars to zoom off. In fact they are parked between the road and the tramlines, along which long and elderly trams snake through the city.

In the evening, everyone from the day’s meetings reconvened and were whisked away on one such tram to an outlying districts of the city, for an evening at a (more or less) traditional Austrian Heurige, an untranslatable type of wine tavern. A true Heurige, Helmut from the Semantic Web Company explains to me as we hurtle along, is run by a vineyard, and gives people an opportunity to sample its new year’s crop of wine. (‘Heurige’ in Austrian German literally means ‘this year’.) It will have a licence to open for only 2 or 3 weeks a year, and when open will hang out a spray of branches and a lamp to signify the fact.

There is still some wine grown in Vienna, I am told, but most of the Viennese Heurigen are open all year round and are really just restaurants. But they recreate the atmosphere of the real thing. Patrons are served wine and a mixed plate of traditional local foods, which, for readers not familiar with Austrian cuisine, mainly consist of various kinds of sausage, potato and cabbage. They are delicious, and so is the Apfelstrudel that comes along later. The only thing I cannot recommend in Vienna is the tea. When will these foreigners learn that it must be made with boiling hot water?

To follow blogs from the LOD2 plenary, see the blog parade from the project blog.

Applying Austrian Open Data Experiences in the Czech Republic

Jindřich Mynarz - March 16, 2012 in Events, Featured, OKF Austria, OKF Czech Republic, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data

Open data in Austria enjoys support from various levels of the public administration, and as a result Austria is one step ahead of the Czech Republic. Last month, we held a seminar to learn from each other’s experiences.

Austrian initiatives promoting greater openness of government data, such as the Open Knowledge Forum Österreich, have managed to involve a wide array of stakeholders ranging from politicians to activists, and the country now hosts quite a number of related events, such as the Open Data & Business or the recently established Open Government Data Conference.

Still, is has to face the same challenges other countries encounter on their way to open up data. Given the Austrian headstart in open data activities compared to the ones in the Czech Republic, a seminar was held under the title “Open Data and Public Sector: applying Austrian experience in Czech Republic” so we could learn from Austrian practical experiences of taking first steps towards better availability of such public data.

Czech Republic and Austria

The seminar took place on February 28th, 2012, in the centre of Prague in the Chamber of Deputies, under the auspices of Jan Farský, a member of parliament. The main target group of the seminar consisted of Czech politicians and civil servants, who came to hear from their Austrian peers. The event was organized by OpenData.cz together with OKFN-CZ and was supported by the LOD2 Project and Open Society Fund Prague.

The programme was opened by Jan Farský, who went through the reasoning that led him to support open data. This overview provided a perspective of a politician, who realized that the public sector is not able to make applications for citizens in a cost-efficient way. However, as various evidence suggests, it often suffices to provide the public sector data and the applications will follow, for free.

The main part of the seminar consisted of presentations by the Austrian guests. Martin Kaltenböck from the Semantic Web Company kicked off, introducing the key concepts of open data and how they are underlying the vision of open government. A perspective of the Austrian federal level was brought to the fore in the next talk by Daniel Medimorec from the Austrian Federal Chancellery, emphasizing the vast, yet not insurmountable challenges that governments decided to put open data principles into practice face. What followed was the talk discussing view of the city Linz by Stefan Pawel representing the Linz Open Commons initiative. Of the applications shown, the one that caught the most attention was probably Linz Linien, a visualization based on streaming open data showing Linz public transportation in real-time. The Austrian session was finished by Marco Schreuder, who shared his views as politician from the Green party.

To complement the Austrian side, the ongoing open data activities in the Czech Republic were presented. First, Jakub Mráček from the Open Society Fund Prague announced the publication of Open data in the public sector: new era of decision making (in Czech), and provided information about the recently launched portal Náš stát.cz, that offers a guide to the Czech projects and applications that build upon public sector data. Jan Kučera from the University of Economics, Prague, presented the as-yet unofficial Data catalogue of Czech Republic.

The session was dedicated to open data business cases, that were “commissioned” by Jan Farský to provide him with strong arguments in favour of open data. For instance, a case for a price map of cycle paths or an application showing time slices through the legislation in force were suggested. In the final part of the seminar, three applications using Czech public sector data were demonstrated by their authors. This showcase featured Budování státu visualizing government spending, Váš majetek aggregating notices about auctions of public property, and Map of Public Contracts that explores the public contracts that were tailored to the suppliers.

Not only did the seminar provide a chance to learn from the Austrian experiences and to follow their lead in the Czech Republic, it also served as a meeting opportunity for the representatives of Open Knowledge Foundation’s local chapters, as the members of Czech, Austrian, and Italians chapters were present. Hopefully, it resulted in a useful knowledge sharing about overcoming the initial difficulties when starting with open data in the public sector.

To find out more about the seminar, please see its website. The slides and the links to the applications that were presented can be found there.

Community Note: The Czech Republic hosts one of our incubating OKFN:LOCAL groups and its organisers have held several regional open knowledge meetups in Prague to date. They are currently looking for more collaborators to join the community – introduce yourself on the OKFN CZ discussion list to get involved.

Footnote: All photos accompanying this blog post were kindly provided by Martin Kaltenböck under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Austria License.

Open Knowledge Forum Austria (OKFO) – activities around openness in Austria

Martin Kaltenböck - March 7, 2012 in Events, OKF Austria, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

Austria is one of our incubating OKFN:LOCAL chapters in its last stage before full incorporation. Its core group of organisers in Vienna are planning an OGD BusinessDay2012 on March 22nd in Vienna and the OGD2012 Conference on June 26th in Linz, Austria. For updates and more information, go to http://gov.opendata.at/okfo/index.html.

DSC_3297_JPG

The OKFO – the Open Knowledge Forum Austria was founded in early 2011 in Vienna, Austria. The objectives of this not-for-profit organisation are to promote, initiate, and accomplish activities around openness in Austria, and to actively co-operate with and be part of the international networks around Open Data, Open Science, Open Culture, Open Commons and Open Government (and a little bit of Open Source)!

The OKFO has 2 organisational bodies: an advisory board and an executive board consisting of people coming from several institutions and organisations interested in the area of open knowledge: academia, media, industry & business, politicians, students and private people from civil society.

One of the main goals of the OKFO is to push Open Data in Austria forward as part of the happening worldwide open data movement! Thus we supported the City of Vienna to launch their data portal in May 2011, as well as the City of Linz for their data portal launch in October 2011. Furthermore the OKFO organised the first Open Government Data Conference in Austria – OGD2011 – on 16 June 2011 in Vienna (supported by the City of Vienna), with about 130participants – where international open data evangelists like Rufus Pollock (OKF), John Sheridan (UK National Archives) or Ton Zijlstra (ePSI Plattform) discussed topics around open data with local Austrian stakeholders from politics, public administration, civil society, academia, media & industry.

Furthermore we managed four one-day stakeholder workshops with Austrian representatives of the four main stakeholder groups for open data: politicians, citizens, civil servants and industry/economy in early 2011, to evaluate the open data requirements of these very different groups. The results of these workshops together with a lot of additional information was published as the Open Government Data Weißbuch (für Österreich) – “Open Government Data White Book (for Austria)” – providing basic literature on the topic of Open (Government) Data in the German language.

The OKFO is also supporting the open data blog of the Austrian online media futurezone.at, suggesting relevant topics to the editors as well as creating blog posts continuously. Besides this, the OKFO website is the main resource for information – and the OKFO is operating the Austrian instance of CKAN! We are also supporting national and international hackathlons & hackdays on open data, organising local meet-ups for international hack days (such as the Eurostat Hackday), and organising and supporting local events working with local data.


We are an invited expert in the Cooperation OGD Austria – a co-operation between public administration of the national government, the Cities of Vienna, Linz, Graz and Salzburg, and hopefully very soon the first participating province – the province of Upper Austria. Being invited experts means we work together with the Cooperation on open data recommendations for Austria, for example publishing recommendations on how to use open source software, on a harmonised meta data standard for Austria (currently also being discussed with Germany and Switzerland for harmonisation), or on using CKAN and and CC-BY licensing as nationwide defaults for open data.

Taking a look into the near future of 2012, the activities of the OKFO are as follows:

  • Organising the OGD BusinessDay 2012: Open Data (and) Business on 22nd March 2012 in Vienna. For information & registration please see http://ogdb.eventbrite.com.
  • Organising the OGD2012 Conference on 26 June 2012 in Linz. For information and registration please see: http://www.ogd2012.at.
  • Participating & speaking at the Open Data Conference Switzerland on 28 June 2012 in Zürich
  • Pushing open data forward in the political arena to achieve a commitment at the highest level (too bad that this is still missing here in Austria on a national level).
  • Promoting the field of Open Knowledge by organising, speaking at and participating in relevant local and international events (as e.g. the European Data Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark in June 2012 or the OKFest in September 2012 in Helsinki, Finland)
  • Pushing forward the topic of Linked Open Data Business here in Austria to reach the real potential of Open Data

and many many other activities that for sure will arise in the course of 2012!

Hopefully this article gives you a rough overview of our OKFO activities and objectives – we are happy to get in touch with you on the topic of open knowledge – and all of you are very warmly invited to participate in our OKFO events in 2012!

Lets stay open!

Austria adopts CKAN and CC-BY as nation-wide defaults

Theodora Middleton - August 15, 2011 in CKAN, OKF Austria, Open Government Data, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data

The following post is by Theodora Middleton, the OKF blog editor.

Fantastic news from our fledgling Austrian chapter, the Open Knowledge Forum Österreich! The cities of Vienna, Linz, Salzburg, and Graz, together with the Chancellor’s office, have established the “Cooperation OGD Austria” – a new alliance bringing together federal, state, and city governments, as well as local communities, to forge common standards and develop conditions in which OGD can flourish to the benefit of all stakeholders.
OKF Austria will be acting as the advisory member to the new group.

Already the members have made some great steps towards the promotion and standardisation of OGD in Austria. All public administration will be free under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0 GB), meaning it can be reused and shared for any purpose, with only attribution necessary. And excitingly for us, CKAN will be used as the default data registry for all OGD and software!

Martin Kaltenböck from OKFO and the Semantic Web Company says:

“The Cooperation OGD Österreich is a very important step in the discussion and creation of national guidelines for Open Government Data in Austria. Harmonised licenses and terms of use, meta data standards, data publishing guidelines as well as technical guidelines help the local, regional, and national data holders and publishers to understand the topic of open data better, as well as supporting them through guidelines that ensure interoperability as well as offering highly re-useable data”

Read more here.

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