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All-star wrap-up of a month of Open Knowledge events all around the world – May 2014

Beatrice Martini - June 5, 2014 in Events, OKF Argentina, OKF Greece, OKF Italy, OKF Scotland, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Working Groups, Workshop

Last month flew by! It’s already June and time to turn the spotlight on the Open Knowledge community’s events which rocked the month of May!

Bikestorming is a mobile app to grow urban cycling in cities around the world, developed by members of Open Knowledge Argentina’s community. Matías Kalwill gave a Pecha Kucha talk in Buenos Aires, and was invited to record an English version for Pecha Kucha’s international website. Check it out to learn about this exciting project featuring a strong open knowledge ecosystem, including open data, open web technologies and community-powered events inspired by School of Data’s Data Expeditions started on the International Open Data Day at Buenos Aires. Must watch!

Rob Edwards, Ally Tibbitt, Sarah Hutchinson, Jackie McKenzie and Jennifer Jones co-facilitated a one-day workshop, bringing together people working on FOI, on journalism, and on open data. Many were the discussion items: is the information disclosed under FOIA accessible as it could be? How can Open Government Data policies best be integrated with FOI disclosure? Can FOI disclosure logs help us understand what types of data are most in demand? Is greater ‘data literacy’ necessary for both the media and the public to understand the potential and limitations of data? Read more about it here.

  • Busy month for Open Knowledge Greece!

The month kicked off with the final celebration and presentations of the first Greek Data Expedition, ended on May 7. The data expedition was as an initiative by the Open Knowledge Foundation Chapter in Greece, working in collaboration with the IT Applications laboratory in Media (AUTH Department of Journalism), and Postgraduate WebScience (AUTH Department of Mathematics) in Thessaloniki. The data journalism issues analysed focused on air quality in Greece, new technologies in business, student Mobility in Europe and Greece and e-Government. The articles presenting the expeditions’ results will be posted on the Greek School of Data website. European-Student-Mobility Then on May 27 Open Knowledge Greece invited community members and curious citizens to an open workshop to develop together the statements and propositions in regards to the Greek Action Plan 2014 – 2016 for the Open Government Partnership Initiative. Keep up the good work, Greece!

DNAdigest, a non-profit organisation aiming to educate, facilitate and engage on issues regarding access to genomic data, hosted an editathon with the goal to make it easier to find new resources, online tools and recent content for genetics research when searching Wikipedia. The editathon was open to participants in London as well as online contributors. Offline meets online collaboration – well done! tumblr_inline_n5j63gAD791suuv9r

Sport is fun, sport is healthy, sport is a business – and sport is increasingly data, too. There are huge amounts of data collected by fans, on global spectator sport and local junior leagues, on big matches and tiny niches. And personal data, too: bike routes, running trails and more. The Sports hackdays explored and celebrated open sports data and also represented the first project aiming to kick-off a new Open Knowledge Working Group dedicated to all things sports and open data. We’re sure that with the World Cup approaching we’ll hear more about it very soon! Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 11.23.50 AM

What a month! Are you running an Open Knowledge event? We want to hear from you – share your event stories for next months’ global roundup! Please submit your blogposts about your June events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here) by July 6 in order to be featured in our all-star monthly wrap-up to be published in July on the main Open Knowledge blog and channels!

All-star wrap-up of a month of Open Knowledge events all around the world – April 2014

Beatrice Martini - May 23, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, Meetups, OKF France, OKF Greece, OKF Italy, OKF Switzerland, OKFN France, Open Access, Open Data, Open Data Index, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

Last month we asked the Open knowledge community to start sharing more details about the events we all run, to discover how many people are rocking Open Knowledge events all around the world! The community has been great at responding the call and now we’re glad to feature some of the April events we got reports (and pictures and videos!) from.

The winners of the Apps4Greece award have been announced! Check out the winning apps, aiming to improve the functionality of cities, businesses, services and develop entrepreneurship and innovation.

Organised by Open Knowledge France after the Paris Open Government Conference (April 24-25) during which France announced it’s joining the Open Government Partnership – and gathering more the 50 people! Featuring Open Knowledge founder’s Rufus Pollock and discussions about the state of Open Data in France, Open Data Index, French version of School of Data Ecole des Données (congratulations!) and more.

  • Open Access Days in Egypt (Cairo, Egypt – April 27-28) Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 11.07.36 AM Open Knowledge Egypt, among many other organizations and researchers, participated in the 2-day event driven by the aim to promote open access to researchers in Egypt and the Middle East, and plant a seed for future initiatives.

We’re so looking forward to hearing everything about your upcoming events! Some juicy ones in the pipeline:

So, what you’re waiting for? It’s time to share your stories for next months’ global roundup! Please submit your blogposts about your May events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here) by June 4 in order to be featured in our all-star monthly wrap-up to be published in June on the main Open Knowledge blog and channels! Thank you! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

OKCon 2013 Guest Post: Open Data Toolkits and Assessment Tools

Guest - August 28, 2013 in Events, OKCon, OKF Switzerland, Open Development, Workshop

The following guest post is by Iulian Pogor (World Bank), Meghan Cook (University at Albany, Barbara Ubaldi (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development– OECD), and Ton Zijlstra (Open Knowledge Foundation) who are among the coordinators of the workshop Open Data Toolkits and Assessment Tools, which will take place at OKCon 2013, as part of the Open Development and Sustainability programme, on Tuesday 17 September. Cross-posted from the OKCon Blog.


OPEN DATA TOOLKITS AND ASSESSMENT TOOLS

A growing network of governments, corporations and civil society organizations around the world are working to expand the availability of open government data by removing technical and legal barriers to data re-use, and engaging the public to unlock the full potential of open data as valuable economic assets and drivers of civic engagement. There are currently hundreds of open data initiatives and a large number of organizations providing assistance to run them. However, the vast majority of them are focused on developed countries and only a few institutions are providing technical assistance to developing countries’ open data initiatives.

The Open Data Toolkits and Assessment Tools workshop to be held on September 17 from 11:30 to 13:15 within the Open Knowledge Conference will present some technical assistance tools and the emerging lessons from implementation of those in developing countries and discuss options for their improvement. The workshop will be broken down in two parts: (i) short presentations and discussion on the World Bank’s Open Government Data Toolkit (by Amparo Ballivian, Chair of the Bank’s Open Government Data Working Group) and the United Nations Guidelines on Open Government Data for Citizen Engagement (by Daniel Dietrich, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs), and (ii) longer presentations and discussion on the open data readiness assessment methodologies from the World Bank and the Web Foundation (by Tim Davies, Research Coordinator), the Center for Technology in Government (by Meghan Cook, Program Director), OECD (by Barbara Ubaldi, E-Government Unit Project Leader) and the Open Knowledge Foundation (by Ton Zijlstra, Independent Consultant on Change, Complexity, Knowledge Work, Learning) along with the lessons learned from their applications in developing countries. This second session will aim to gather ideas for improvements of these assessment methodologies.

Please see below short descriptions of the respective tools. We invite your feedback regarding the workshop and the tools in the comments section of this post before, during, and after the conference.

OpenGovernmentDataToolkitThe World Bank Open Government Data Toolkit is designed to help practitioners get “up to speed” in planning and implementing an open government data program, while avoiding common pitfalls. Resources include:

  • Open Data Essentials – answers “Frequently Asked Questions” about open data with many examples.
  • Technology Options – describes open data scenarios with different levels of complexity, and suggests technical solutions for open data platforms appropriate to each scenario.
  • Demand and Engagement – offers a ‘menu’ of services to promote and support ‘Open Data Literacy’, the goal of which is to catalyze, engage, and inspire strategic multi-stakeholder groups to see the value and potential of open data, and what it means for local, national, and regional development in a practical, hands-on way.
  • Supply and Quality of Data – discusses basic examples of data quality standards and useful tools to review, refine, clean, analyze, visualize and publish data.
  • Readiness Assessment Tool – provides a methodological tool for conducting an action-oriented assessment of the readiness of a government – or even an individual agency – to evaluate, design and implement an Open Data initiative. The tool has been applied in Ulyanovsk (Russia),  Antigua and Barbuda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Peru.

OpenGovernmentDataAndServicesThe Guidelines on Open Government Data for Citizen Engagement is a practical and easy-to-understand guideline for policy makers and technologists developed by the UN Public Administration Programme. It can be used to understand, design, implement and sustain open government data initiatives. The toolkit is tailored to the needs and constraints of developing countries, but it can be used by anyone interested in opening up data. It contains the core principles of openness, best practices and case studies, checklists, step-by-step guidelines and practical policy recommendations.

WebFoundationThe Web Foundation has completed initial assessments of two countries’ readiness for implementing open government data programs, in Ghana and in Chile and a third feasibility study is expected to be conducted in Indonesia. Initially, the Web Foundation developed a methodology and a set of composite indicators to define open government data readiness of a given country. These indicators range from political willingness, the public administration readiness, and the civil society interest and readiness. The Web Foundation followed this by conducting research to provide quantitative and qualitative data in preparation for in-country visits, during which the Web Foundation met with key stakeholders to refine the assessment of open government data readiness in their country.

20year_logoFor over 20 years, the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at State University of New York has developed tools and guides that help governments assess their capabilities, gauge readiness, and inform the design and implementation of open government and open data initiatives. Some selected CTG’s resources to build knowledge and assess readiness include:

Most recently CTG conducted an open government readiness assessment in the Republic of Nigeria using a blended approach of both World Bank and CTG’s tools and techniques.

OECDThe OECD project on Open Government Data (OGD) aims to develop a knowledge base on OGD policies, strategies and initiatives. The ultimate goal of the methodology proposed in the Working Paper on OGD Towards Empirical Analysis of Open Government Data Initiatives is to map practices across the OECD and to identify metrics to evaluate costs and benefits of OGD. This provides a framework for data collection to assess the economic, social and good governance value generated by making government data open, as well as the required conditions for successful implementation of OGD initiatives.

The assessment will also underlie policy support and capacity building activities to help governments in OECD and developing countries improve the impact of their OGD policies and practices. The assessment methodology includes: (i) An Analytical Framework for examining OGD initiatives, planning and implementation, and (ii) survey data collection on: OGD strategies and policies, implementation of OGD initiatives and portals, value generation and creation of relevant ecosystems, challenges to implementing OGD policies and initiatives.

OpenDataCensusThe Open Data Census assesses the state of open data around the world. The Census is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation but with participation from many different groups or individuals. It collects and presents information on the evolution and current state of open data.

OKCon 2013 Accommodation Subsidy Programme launching today!

Beatrice Martini - August 6, 2013 in Events, Join us, OKCon, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation

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Cross-posted from the OKCon Blog.

We are glad to invite our attendees who haven’t been awarded a travel bursary and would benefit from a little help to join us at OKCon to apply for our Accommodation Subsidy Programme, providing a simple and basic accommodation solution for a price of 50 EUR per night.

Our accommodation subsidy offers:

  • bed in a same-sex (women-only, men-only) dorm room (2-10 people) in an hostel in Geneva

  • for 3 nights, from Monday 16th September to Wednesday 18th September (please note that we will not be able to offer different dates)

  • at the price of 50 EUR per night (total for 3 nights: 150 EUR)

Because we are a community-driven, mostly volunteer-run event, OKCon ticket costs are not covered by the accommodation subsidies. If you are awarded an accommodation subsidy, you will be asked to purchase your ticket within the two following business days after you’ll have received our confirmation.

You can find further details, instructions and the submission form on the OKCon 2013 Accommodation Subsidies webpage. The OKCon Accommodation Subsidy Programme starts today (Tuesday 6th August) and ends on Monday 12th August, 23:59:59 GMT.

We are looking forward to receiving your applications. See you in Geneva next month!

OKCon 2013 travel bursary programme launching today!

Beatrice Martini - July 4, 2013 in Events, Join us, News, OKCon, OKF Switzerland


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Cross-posted from the OKCon Blog.

OKCon 2013 is happy to announce that we have received a grant to support travel bursaries to help some people with limited financial resources take part in the conference this September. A special thanks goes to the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), a Swiss charitable foundation within the Open Society Foundations, which helped to make this possible.

Our travel bursaries cover:

  • international travel and transport costs from your city of departure and back

  • accommodation (which we’ll be glad to book for you)

  • lunch at the conference venue on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th September.

You can find further details, instructions and the submission form on the OKCon 2013 Travel Bursaries webpage.
The OKCon travel bursary programme starts today (4th July) and ends on 14th July, at 23:59:59 GMT. We are looking forward to receiving your applications!

Read all about OKCon 2013 and get your ticket now on the conference website!

OKCon 2013: selected proposals, updated programme and Early Bird tickets!

Beatrice Martini - June 18, 2013 in Events, Featured, Join us, OKCon, OKF Switzerland, Workshop

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Cross-posted from the OKCon Blog.

We received more than 300 proposals and selecting the submissions that we could fit in the 2-and-a-half-day schedule was a real challenge. We had to leave out several truly exciting applications and believe us, that wasn’t easy.

But today: here we are, ready to announce the list of selected proposals and our freshly updated programme! Please find them in our Call for Proposals and Schedule pages. Workshops, talks, lightning talks, panels, sessions and a selection of fine bars and clubs to bring on the conference discussions and working groups plans after dark.

Some highlights?

Monday:

  • kick off afternoon with workshops – from Open Data Census to CKAN, a collaboration between The Engine Room and the Information Innovation Lab and a data viz hands-on session by Interactive Things
  • Law Mining Hackathon, first day (the hackathon will end on Thursday, 19th September), run by Christian Laux and Jean-Henry Morin
  • a selection of high-level Swiss speakers presenting the state of the art of open data in Switzerland
  • a session of talks from our global community focussing on open government with projects and presentations from Nepal, US, North Africa, Asia, Europe & more
  • launch of the Swiss Open Data Portal, a milestone for openness in Switzerland, and celebratory drinks

Tuesday:

  • keynote lectures by Ellen Miller (Sunlight Foundation) and John Ellis (CERN)
  • Open Data, Government and Governance session: with Kimberly Roberson (UNHCR), Chris Taggart (OpenCorporates), Amparo Ballivian (World Bank) among the others
  • Technology, Tools and Business talks and panel: with speakers such as Francis Irving (ScraperWiki), Thomas Gauthier (Geneva School of Management/ Biometis), Khristine R. Custodio (GEF/UNEP/SEASTART IW:LEARN)
  • Open Science and Research session: with Victoria Stodden (Columbia University), Ernst Hafen (ETH Zurich), Kaitlin Thaney (Mozilla Science Lab), Puneet Kishor (Creative Commons)
  • LinkedUp Award Ceremony
  • Urban Data Challenge exhibition and vernissage

Wednesday:

  • Open Development and Sustainability talks and panel: with Chris Vein (World Bank), Jack Townsend (University of Southampton), Florian Bauer (REEEP), Anahi Ayala Iacucci (Internews) and many more
  • Evidence and Stories: with Justin Arenstein, Federico Ramírez Corona (Fundar), Eva Vozarova (Fair-Play Alliance), Julia Keserű (Sunlight Foundation) and further speakers to be announced
  • Open Culture: with Anna Gold (Kennedy Library, California Polytechnic State University), Merete Sanderhoff (Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen), Building the Digital Commons Workshop team and the Open Humanities Award ceremony
  • a booming closing party, of course!

Thursday, day dedicated to satellite events around town, like:

  • Scholarly International Infrastructure Technical Summit
  • KNOWeSCAPE workshop, by Christophe Gueret
  • Is Open Source Drug Discovery Practical? Workshop run by Matthew Todd
  • Build a Better Transparency Technology Project: Lessons from the TAI mentors: panel with Sarah Schacht, Lucy Chambers (Open Knowledge Foundation), Gabriela Lula and Miriam McCarthy (Transparency and Accountability Initiative)
  • Law Mining Hackathon, final day and demos

Further details will come in the next few days and weeks, keep your eyes peeled!

Have you got your tickets yet? Now’s the time to buy, the Early Bird tickets are only on sale until 23rd June and after then the prices will rise.

We can’t wait to meet you all in Geneva, it’s going to be amazing!

Introducing the OKF French-speaking community!

pierre chrzanowski - June 3, 2013 in OKF Belgium, OKF France, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

View the French version of this post here

It is estimated that around 900 million people are able to communicate in French in the world. All those people do not necessarily speak English, and a lot of them use French as their Lingua Franca. After a suggestion from the French local group, the Open Knowledge Foundation is pleased to introduce the new international community for French speakers, with the launch of a dedicated mailing list:

http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/okfn-francophone

This new linguistic community aims to help further the Open Knowledge Foundation mission, which is to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful.

Map of French-speaking countries

French speaking countries map | Credit : aaker, wikimedia, public domain

We hope this new communication channel will help to develop the Open Knowledge movement across French-speaking communities in Europe, Africa, America and the world over.

This list will can be used for, but is not restricted to, the discussion of things such as:

  • Open Data (legal and licensing issues, initiatives, Open Data Census, etc.);
  • Open Science and Open Access;
  • Open Government Partnership;
  • Translation work;
  • Projects and events;
  • Sharing of French-language resources.

We look forward to discussing your local or global activities with you, and sharing it with the French-speaking community.

Register with OKFN-Francophone

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 !)

Does Switzerland have no need for Open Government Data?

Kat Braybrooke - March 2, 2012 in Featured, OKF Switzerland, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data


Switzerland is one of our incubating OKFN:LOCAL chapters in its last stage before full incorporation. Its core group of organisers, a talented collaboration from Geneva and Zürich who also founded http://OpenData.CH, are planning an Open Data Conference in Zürich on June 28th. Here’s a hello from Hannes Gassert and Andreas Amsler regarding the state of things in Switzerland, and why they believe their nation still needs more open data.

Switzerland is often cited as a model democracy. It does indeed have one of the most participatory systems, but, most notably, doesn’t have any Open Government Data policy to speak of. Why is that? Will it change? Let’s take a look.

It all seems rather obvious: in a small country where knowledge is the only resource to work with, opening public sector information as a commons for everybody clearly is sensible policy. And of course direct democracy is only as good as the information we have on the implementation of our common decisions, for adequate participation we clearly need adequate transparency. Obviously. Still, that is not what we practice in Switzerland today.

Sure, we do value privacy here – but privacy is for people, not bureaucracies. Sure, we have a system built for the long-term, for well-balanced compromise, not one for jumping the bandwagon for the latest fad or for grandiose initiatives by splendid spendthrift presidents – but can making data accessible be anything but decent, reasonable and neutral? And yes, sure, information technology moves fast and we prefer things to go rather slow and steady, but wasn’t the Web invented here, aren’t the worlds biggest IT corporations doing research on the shores of our lovely lakes, shouldn’t we move now?

Well, perhaps -and without cynicism- we just want to do things right. We want a clear plan, proven benefits, no experiments, no innovation for the sake of it. Maybe things just take more time in Switzerland, more time to come out not as an experiment, not in beta, but authoritative and reliable as our proverbial Swiss watches.

Somebody though has to take the risk of proposing and trying out new things, of going there and see what happens, of talking to people about things that might actually just work. For Open Government Data in Switzerland that role is taken by Opendata.ch, a small band of entrepreneurs, activists, civil servants and journalists about to join the Open Knowledge Foundation as their new Swiss Chapter.

Over the last two years they have been building awareness, alliances and considerable political clout, resulting in a number of parliamentary inquiries as well as a significant number of well-attended local events, from developers to designers, from policy makers to business leaders:

  • In June 2011 the first Opendata.ch conference took place at the Federal Archives, already attracted 150 participants, including some senior public officials
  • In September 2011 the first make.opendata.ch hackdays drew a crowd of 120 innovators, hackers and makers to venues in Lausanne and Zürich, resulting in stunning projects such as a visualization of sites contaminated by the Swiss army, tag clouds of all speeches in parliament and a “where did my taxes go” tool for Zürich, kindly supported by eZürich.
  • January 2012 saw the launch of a first broad study of the actual potential of Open Government Data in Switzerland, lead by the Bern University of Applied Science.

These grass-roots efforts were complemented by policy work on the federal level:

Further events are planned, hackdays on open transportation data (30/31 March 2012), open health data (fall 2012) as well as the second edition of the big Opendata.ch conference in June 2012 in Zürich, Opendata.ch has all the latest updates.

Taking a step back from all the successful events, from all the good news surrounding manifestos and motions and the slow official response, we Swiss seem to stand at a crucial point in the journey to upgrade our famed political system. Leveraging information technology to increase both transparency and ensure the highly participatory nature of our political setup can make all the difference in making sure that our direct democracy remains sustainable, adapting constantly to the changes in society and technology.

If we manage to do that in the months and years to come, using our political system so well geared toward sustainable solutions and abhorring quick shots from the hip, and implement sensible PSI policies we might well reap the ample fruits of a renewed “direct data democracy”.

But in the meantime Opendata.ch will continue to convince public servants and policy makers one by one – with both arguments and apps. What would you do in our place?

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