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Make Some Story Noise

Heather Leson - July 4, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Network, OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation

Stories wanted! We’re building a community storytelling team starting with OKFestival. Whether you are in Berlin for the big event or across the globe, our goal is to co-create and compile all the best OKFestival Stories. Many of you tell stories with video, photo, images and text. Some of you are master wordsmiths and aggregators. One could even opine that hardware, art and code are very much stories. Well, at OKFestival we will run the gamut of all things open from science to education to balloon maps to budgets and graffiti.

The community will be sharing content across many tools using many methods. We are building an in person and remote Storytelling team to capture all the gems, visions and tidbits. Even if you are not at the event, you can be our eyes and curators.

(All the links are on our OKFest Storytelling wiki page)

We have a few ways you can participate: Suggest some stories, Join a Storytelling team (digital or in person) or Go rogue! Be sure use some of the recommended ways to share. We will be remixing this as we co-create our Community Playbook.

Make some noise – join our OKFestival Storytelling Team Learn more in our Community Session

  • Date: Wednesday, July 9 , 2014
  • Time: Date:July 9, 2014 Time: 08:00-9:00 EDT /12:00-13:00 UTC / 13:00- 14:00 BST /14:00 – 15:00 CEST (worldtimebuddy.com)
  • Register here

If you can’t join the hangout, please be sure to reach out to heather.leson AT okfn DOT org or neal.bastek AT OKFN DOT org. We’ll be sure to brief you and collaborate on the next steps.

We are the Community: Join our OKFest community summit

Guest - July 4, 2014 in OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

This is a guest blog post by Kersti from Open Knowledge Netherlands and Rayna from Open Knowledge France/OpenMENA. Both are leading the organisation of the Open Knowledge Community Summit with the support of the Open Knowledge Central team.

Less than two weeks to go until the global open community will meet in Berlin and at digital and physical fringe events all over the world. OKFestival is driven by the shared values and the enthusiasm for openness of hundreds of people from all cardinal directions.

We are all engaged with the Open Knowledge network for a reason, for a cause. But what is it that brings us together and how do we want to shape this community for the future? These are crucial questions and we wish to dedicate a full afternoon to discuss, define and shape it together!

WE ARE THE COMMUNITY and as such, we would like YOU to join a very special fringe event, the OKFestival Community Summit

Everyone is welcome to participate, whether you consider yourself an active member of the community or are simply interested in meeting people over an in-depth discussion about strengthening digital communities.

When and Where?

The OKFestival Community Summit will take place on Tuesday July 15th, 2014 from 13:00 to 16:00. We have booked a space at the OKFestival Venue, the Kulturbrauerei, and so you can find us in the Franz Club.

Why is this event important?

The OKFestival Community event offers the unique occasion for everyone to meet, discuss and craft our identity as the Open Knowledge community, the way we envision it and the way we can all continue to identify with it.

We are a fast-growing group of like-minded individuals who have had the pleasure of contributing to the rapid expansion of open knowledge community over the past few years. Such organic growth also poses new challenges and motivates us to rethink the way we interact with staff members and the different paths through which we can channel expertise and knowledge within the community. It is thus in our hands to shape a community that enables everyone to identify and engage with the path forward we choose to take!

Therefore, it will be imperative to shape this way forward together.

What will we discuss?

Through consultation with the community leading up to the festival, we have identified a handful of topics that we will discuss during the session:

  • How do we provide better support and follow-up to local groups, ambassadors, working groups and individual community members?
  • How do we develop mentorship opportunities and peer-to-peer support within the community?
  • How do we root more of some shape of organized effort in the Global South? What are the different challenges, depending on local contexts and more globally?
  • Community or organisation: how do we decide? Are we a network, a movement, a community — and what implications does that have for our structure and actions?
  • Community programming: what next? Co-building and interaction online.

There is still room for more ideas, so bring yours along!

We really hope you can join the summit. There are still tickets available — hurry up! If you would like to participate, sign up here!

Looking forward to seeing you all at the summit!

Open Knowledge Ireland celebrate FOI victory

Flora Fleischer - July 3, 2014 in OKF Ireland, Open Government Data

Open Knowledge Ireland are this week celebrating partial victory in their campaign against application fees for FOI requests. Here is their press release.

Ireland

Open Knowledge Ireland welcomes Minister Howlin’s announcement that Government has approved the removal of an application fee for Freedom of Information Requests

Open Knowledge Ireland welcomes the announcement by the Minister that the suggested reforms to the FOI fees regime includes the removal of the €15 application fee for non-personal requests.

On April 10th 2014 Open Knowledge Ireland together with a squad of Freedom of Information advocates for Ireland wrote an Open Letter to Minister Brendan Howlin asking to leverage the Government’s commitment to the Open Government Partnership as an opportunity to remove fees at all stages of FOI and AIE requests and appeals. The letter was signed by 74 signatories urging the Minister to consider the points outlined for his upcoming FOI bill.

On May 7th, at the Civil Society Day, which was held on the eve of the OGP Europe regional meeting, the upfront fees charged in Ireland for submission of FOI requests were brought to the attention of 120 civil society and government representatives from 30 countries.

And today we are pleased to see the Minister is taking a step in the right direction!

Denis Parfenov, Open Knowledge Ambassador for Ireland and one of the Founders of the Open Knowledge Chapter in Ireland, in his reaction today said that he “warmly welcomes this announcement”.

This is a great success story for all citizens and FOI advocates who were involved in pushing to drop FOI fees as part of Ireland’s first OGP Action Plan. Open Knowledge Ireland together with Irish citizens and other Irish civil society organisations had been pushing to include a commitment on free FOI requests into the 2 year Action Plan and we are very pleased that the Minister has considered the recommendations of the Irish Civil Society OGP Network.

Flora, Co-Founder at Open Knowledge Ireland gives an early reaction to the announcement and has collated early voices from passionate FOI advocates in Ireland:

Open Knowledge Ireland is adopting a cautious position to the FOI reforms announced today. While we’re welcoming the announcements and Minister Howlin’s consideration of the Open Government Partnership principles, we still need to wait until we see the full set of proposed amendments in order to make an accurate assessment of the impact of all the changes.

Capture your events

Heather Leson - June 24, 2014 in Community Stories, Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

We’re on a skillshare craze leading up to OKFestival. A few weeks ago we hosted a session all about how to create great videos with our guest Sam Muirhead. This week we are inviting you to join a Photography Skillshare. Events is one of the top ways that you are involved in Open Knowledge. So, while we might be focused on OKFest, the skills transcend storytelling any event.

Photography Skillshare

Join us on Thursday, June 26, 2014 for a Photography Skillshare. The team and community will share best practices in photos as well as

  • Times: Thursday, June 26, 2014 @ 9:30 EDT/ 13:30 UTC/ 14:30 BST/15:30 CEST
  • To join

We will record it to share back in case your timezone or work schedule is different.

Video Skillshare

Does your video or photos look like this? While it is super artistic, it might not show your story in the best context. While the camera for this session was not playing nice, the content is full of all kinds of tips and resources to make your video shine. Thanks to Sam Muirhead of Camera Libre for donating his time. See the G+ hangout notes for a stack of resources to help your video learning.

Note: Community Sessions are taking a break for the summer. Stay tuned for more sessions in the future.

Why are patents and locked-up science seen as the way forward for growth and innovation?

Christian Villum - June 18, 2014 in OKF Denmark, Open Science

This is a translated and edited version of a blog post originally appearing on the Danish denfri.dk blog. See the original post here.

These past few weeks have highlighted the crossroads that we as a society are facing: Whether non-open data, siloed knowledge and patented ideas make up the best way for growth and innovation? Or whether the logic of the Internet with it’s open data, open knowledge sharing, open sourcing and remix-culture is the right path for the modern society?

A couple of weeks ago we saw the premiere of “The Internet’s Own Boy”, the documentary of Aaron Swartz, the now world-famous young Internet prodigy that despite enormous success with his start up business chose to throw himself actively into the battle to secure everyone free access to the large academic database JSTOR: An access that is normally only granted to the few that can afford a university degree. Appalled by the unproportionally high fees charged by JSTOR for access to (often tax funded) scientific journals Swartz set up a computer in the basement of the American MIT university, and started to download all the journals in the database. His scheme was unravelled when caught by a security camera, and contrary to all legal precedence, in order to make an example of Swartz, the federal government chose to charge him with a felony: Something that would likely send Swarz behind bars for up to 35 years. The pressure from the government and the FBI hurled Swartz into a depression and he ends up taking his own life. A horrible and tragic story.

A society currently building on intellectual ownership

As an entrepreneur and Danish translator of some of Swarz’ texts I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a panel at the Danish premiere event for the film in Copenhagen earlier this month. In this panel was also Director for the Danish National Library, Pernille Drost, who explained to the audience that even Denmark, with our free educational system, have similar draconian rules for access to our scientific journals (and cultural heritage as well). Science and culture is held systematically locked up behind technical and legal iron gates and is thereby closed off for the general public – both domestically and abroad – unless you are wealthy enough to pay huge sums of money. This goes even for journals that are a 100 years old!

Additionally, we recently had a referendum in Denmark to determine if we were to join the unified European patent court. The result was a resounding ‘yes’ (roughly 70% of the votes in favor of joining), which sent a clear signal – mainly inspired by the majority of the Danish political parties, both left and right – that we as a society believe ideas are developed best by being locked up and protected. Apparently, the idea is that only those companies rich enough to be able to afford expensive patent lawyers and navigate the complicated intellectual property rights universe should be the ones to ensure our continued growth, improve our welfare and create a balanced and fair global society. In other words, we choose to keep our knowledge hermetically locked in and accessible only to a very few hands, both in the United States and in Denmark. The same applies to the rest of the world, especially the developed world. But is this the best way forward? For ourselves and for the world?

What “open” enables…

In “The Internet’s Own Boy”, for instance, we saw examples of how free access to knowledge can create some very defining breakthroughs in science. Among other the film tells the story of a 14-year old boy in the US, who independently from the school system uses his wit and access to a series of otherwise unavailable science journals to develop a groundbreaking quantum leap in cancer science – to the great surprise of all doctors and scientists within that area.

This example made me think of the story about the English economy student Thomas Herndon, who in 2010 via access to a financial study made by Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff discovered a critical error in one of the most prolific analyses therein: An analysis with calculations used by governments around the world to guide economic austerity policy during the global financial crisis. The critical error had created an erroneous foundation for political work on the highest level – and it wasn’t discovered until Herndon, a graduate student at the time, obtained access and started looking into the numbers.

It also reminded me of the story of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”; a tale which in book form by author Bryan Mealer became an international bestseller. Mealer describes how another 14-year old, William Kamkvamba in Malawi, gets access to a handful of old science books and builds a fully functional wind turbine from scrap metal and all of a sudden produces power for his village in the chronically poor (and 98% powerless) African country.

Let’s zoom back to Denmark again. Two weeks ago an interesting story occurred in the news: A group of amateur data analysis enthusiasts (most of them actually from the Open Knowledge Denmark group) had looked into the data from Unified Patent Court referendum, which had been released in a somewhat open format. This made the group discover an anomaly in the reporting of votes from the small city of Taarsbaek north of Copenhagen: Something didn’t look right. The group contacted the authorities and further investigation showed that the officials in Taarsbaek had accidentally switched the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes! A human error, yes, and not something that had any influence on the final result. But at the same time an error that had never been discovered if the data hadn’t been released for the public to scrutinize.

What does these examples say about the gigantic potential of free access to knowledge?

Unleashing the gigantic supercomputer

Imagine if citizens in general had the opportunity to access scientific journals? Build on existing technology? Look into all our non-sensitive public data? How many errors could be corrected? How many breakthroughs would we see in medicine research? How many inventions and infrastructural improvements would proliferate in the developing world? Sadly, it’s a utopia, because we keep our knowledge locked up and kept away from the public eye. Isn’t it time we get rid of that kind of old-fashion pre-Internet thinking?

All the peoples around the world make up a huge brain trust, a giant computer, which holds a potential for growth and welfare that we can hardly imagine. The Internettet is the nerve system in this latent supercomputer. But to activate it we need to stop seeing science and knowledge as only a tradable product, which only the richest 5% of the world’s population has access to. By opening up knowledge for everyone, we create a foundation for citizen science that will enrich us all with a growth potential that exceeds our own capability by many unimaginable lengths.

Learning from the Internet

“Sure,” you think, “but what about the cost? It’s not cheap to research and develop ideas!”. Of course not, but look at the economies already developing on the Internet: For example open source software, where developers around the world share computer code and stand on each other’s shoulders, even if they are competitors. An billion dollar economy, where all parties become richer, and where companies flourish and where millions of jobs are made, while the core of it all, the code – that is, the product – is freely available for anyone to continue building on.

In the software world a large part of the major actors have already abandoned patents and tossed away the iron gates in favor of a much more powerful growth paradigm: Sharing of knowledge, crowdsourcing and open data. This open source mindset can easily be transferred to the rest of society, including the science world and business in general. The economic potential is gigantic – for all of the world’s population. Let’s all lead the way for this kind of thinking. That is real innovation.

Energy Buildings Performance Scenarios as Linked Open Data

Guest - June 6, 2014 in Linked Open Data, OKF Austria, Technical

This is a blog post by Martin Kaltenböck & Anne-Claire Bellec, cross-posted from the Semantic Puzzle Blog. Anne-Claire Bellec is Communications Manager at the Global Buildings Performance Network (http://www.gbpn.org), located at GBPNs headquarters in Paris, France, and Martin Kaltenböck is the responsible for web-based data tools at Semantic Web Company, a Linked Open Data specialised IT company located in Vienna, Austria as well as Member of the Board of the Austrian Chapter of Open Knowledge.

The reduction of green house gas emissions is one of the big global challenges for the next decades. (Linked) Open Data on this multi-domain challenge is key for addressing the issues in policy, construction, energy efficiency, production a like. Today – on the World Environment Day 2014 – a new (linked open) data initiative contributes to this effort: GBPN’s Data Endpoint for Building Energy Performance Scenarios.

Visualization

GBPN (The Global Buildings Performance Network) provides the full data set on a recently made global scenario analysis for saving energy in the building sector worldwide, projected from 2005 to 2050. The multidimensional dataset includes parameters like housing types, building vintages and energy uses – for various climate zones and regions and is freely available for full use and re-use as open data under CC-BY 3.0 France license.

To explore this easily, the Semantic Web Company has developed an interactive query / filtering tool which allows to create graphs and tables in slicing this multidimensional data cube. Chosen results can be exported as open data in the open formats: RDF and CSV and also queried via a provided SPARQL endpoint (a semantic web based data API). A built-in query-builder makes the use as well as the learning and understanding of SPARQL easy – for advanced users as well as also for non-experts or beginners.

Visualization

The LOD based information- & data system is part of Semantic Web Companies’ recent Poolparty Semantic Drupal developments and is based on OpenLinks Virtuoso 7 QuadStore holding and calculating ~235 million triples as well as it makes use of the RDF ETL Tool: UnifiedViews as well as D2R Server for RDF conversion. The underlying GBPNontology runs on PoolParty 4.2 and serves also a powerful domain-specific news aggregator realized with SWC’s sOnr webminer.

Together with other Energy Efficiency related Linked Open Data Initiatives like REEEP, NREL, BPIE and others, GBPNs recent initative is a contribution towards a broader availability of data supporting action agains global warming – as also Dr. Peter Graham, Executive Director of GBPN emphasized “…data and modelling of building energy use has long been difficult or expensive to access – yet it is critical to policy development and investment in low-energy buildings. With the release of the BEPS open data model, GBPN are providing free access to the world’s best aggregated data analyses on building energy performance.” The Linked Open Data (LOD) is modelled using the RDF Data Cube Vocabulary (that is aW3C recommendation) including 17 dimensions in the cube. In total there are 235 million triples available in RDF including links to DBpedia and Geonames – linking the indicators: years – climate zones – regions and building types as well as user scenarios….

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!

Save the date: OKFestival Community Session

Katelyn Rogers - June 4, 2014 in Events, Meetups, OKFestival, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Uncategorized

Open Knowledge community

Save the Date: We are thrilled to announce that the Open Knowledge community is organising a community session on Tuesday July 15th, 2014 from 1pm – 4pm, before the festival officially starts. This will be taking place at the OKFestival Venue, situated in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin.

We are delighted that so many community members will be in Berlin this summer and are pleased to have the opportunity to bring everyone together to reflect on the opportunities and challenges we face as the Open Knowledge community. Christian (International Community Manager at Open Knowledge) and myself will be helping by taking care of the logistics but the session and its agenda is completely community driven! Rayna Stamboliyska, co-founder of Open Knowledge France and the main initiative-taker behind this session, already volunteered to help lead this but she would love to get help from 2-3 community members (write to local @ okfn . org and we’ll connect you).

Outreach will be made to all of you over the coming days for ideas for the session. Already, people have suggested topics such as:

  • Mechanisms for providing better support and follow up to local groups and ambassadors.
  • Developing mentorship opportunities and peer-to-peer support within the community.
  • Discussing the different challenges, depending on local contexts and more globally how do we root more of some shape of organized effort in the Global South.

We are thus expecting a great deal of ideas, proposals and topics to discuss. We have decided to let the discussion of topics happen over the next week or 10 days in order for everyone to chime in. We’ll then organise the input and set up a community call to finalise and strategise the program of the session.

In summary: Help brainstorm more issues to discuss and put together the agenda and other details. As the Open Knowledge community grows and diversifies, it is important that we get together and address opportunities and challenges but also take advantage of these rare moments to enjoy each others company!

Photo CC-BY by Volker Atüeras Gäng

Newsflash! OKFestival Programme Launches

Beatrice Martini - June 4, 2014 in Events, Free Culture, Join us, Network, News, OKFest, OKFestival, Open Access, Open Data, Open Development, Open Economics, Open Education, Open GLAM, Open Government Data, Open Humanities, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Open Research, Open Science, Open Spending, Open Standards, Panton Fellows, Privacy, Public Domain, Training, Transparency, Working Groups

At last, it’s here!

Check out the details of the OKFestival 2014 programme – including session descriptions, times and facilitator bios here!

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 4.11.42 PM

We’re using a tool called Sched to display the programme this year and it has several great features. Firstly, it gives individual session organisers the ability to update the details on the session they’re organising; this includes the option to add slides or other useful material. If you’re one of the facilitators we’ll be emailing you to give you access this week.

Sched also enables every user to create their own personalised programme to include the sessions they’re planning to attend. We’ve also colour-coded the programme to help you when choosing which conversations you want to follow: the Knowledge stream is blue, the Tools stream is red and the Society stream is green. You’ll also notice that there are a bunch of sessions in purple which correspond to the opening evening of the festival when we’re hosting an Open Knowledge Fair. We’ll be providing more details on what to expect from that shortly!

Another way to search the programme is by the subject of the session – find these listed on the right hand side of the main schedule – just click on any of them to see a list of sessions relevant to that subject.

As you check out the individual session pages, you’ll see that we’ve created etherpads for each session where notes can be taken and shared, so don’t forget to keep an eye on those too. And finally; to make the conversations even easier to follow from afar using social media, we’re encouraging session organisers to create individual hashtags for their sessions. You’ll find these listed on each session page.

We received over 300 session suggestions this year – the most yet for any event we’ve organised – and we’ve done our best to fit in as many as we can. There are 66 sessions packed into 2.5 days, plus 4 keynotes and 2 fireside chats. We’ve also made space for an unconference over the 2 core days of the festival, so if you missed out on submitting a proposal, there’s still a chance to present your ideas at the event: come ready to pitch! Finally, the Open Knowledge Fair has added a further 20 demos – and counting – to the lineup and is a great opportunity to hear about more projects. The Programme is full to bursting, and while some time slots may still change a little, we hope you’ll dive right in and start getting excited about July!

We think you’ll agree that Open Knowledge Festival 2014 is shaping up to be an action-packed few days – so if you’ve not bought your ticket yet, do so now! Come join us for what will be a memorable 2014 Festival!

See you in Berlin! Your OKFestival 2014 Team

Opening up governance: OpenMENA joins public consultation process in Tunisia

Rayna Stamboliyska - May 23, 2014 in Open Government Data, OpenMENA, Transparency

OGP.Dialogue

This is a cross-post from the OpenMENA blog. Find the original here.

Civil society group OpenGovTN have asked our OpenMENA collaboration of Local Groups to join a forthcoming national public consultation in Tunesia. This aims to build an action plan which will bring greater openness and more collaborative governance to Tunisia, and the process, referred to as OGP.Dialogue, will run starting 28 May until September 2014. And we are delighted to be part of it!

Some background, please?

As you may have heard, Tunisia recently joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Launched back in 2011, the OGP aims “to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Since then, OGP has grown from 8 countries to the 64 participating countries. In all of these countries, government and civil society are working together to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms.” Prior to expressing interest in joining the OGP, a country has to fulfill several eligibility requirements in four key areas (Fiscal Transparency, Access to Information, Income and Asset Disclosures, and Citizen Engagement). Jordan was actually the first MENA country to join the Partnership.

Tunisia officially joined the OGP earlier in 2014: the country has now to present an action plan where it lists the commitments it makes in order to increase openness, transparency and accountability in the governance process. As per the OGP requirements, after joining the program, the country’s government has to work with civil society to elaborate an action plan.

OGP.Dialogue

In comes OGP.Dialogue, the Tunisian national public consultation, initiated by civil society organisations and joined by the government in an effort to bolster a truly participatory process. More than 40 Tunisian NGOs has confirmed their involvement, Touensa being the initiative’s transparency watchdog and TACID Network coordinating local associations in order to include rural areas. Civil society members and government officials will thus strive to gather and narrow down a set of concrete and measurable commitments. These will be Tunisia’s action plan for the next two years: a roadmap to reforms in the areas of transparency, integrity and citizen participation.

OGP.Dialogue: bootstrapping a participatory governance

OGP.Dialogue will be organised in an ambitious yet strategised fashion. Impulsed by OpenGovTN, an umbrella collective coordinating numerous Tunisian NGOs, the OGP.Dialogue will include a few different yet complementary approaches:

The consultation process will start on 28 May 2014 and numerous NGOs will participate, either through on-site activities in the cities where they are based in or through traveling across the country. Thus, the widest possible number of people will be able to have a say and provide valuable citizen input to the forthcoming action plan.

In parallel, an online platform will be launched. Its aim is three-fold: first, it will enable even wider participation. Second, an important part of Tunisians live abroad; thus, an online platform will allow them to contribute. Third, the platform will help structure the contributions. Indeed, most of those will happen asynchronously and will emerge from many and diverse stakeholders. It is therefore crucial to safeguard these insights all by making them available throughout the whole duration of the consultation – and beyond.

In order to assess the progress of the whole process, an event will be held in the capital city of Tunis on 20 and 21 June. It will welcome a wide number of stakeholders: NGOs, government representatives, OGP Support Unit staff, external experts. The event will be a series of public discussions on the main OGP topics where a member of the civil society meets a government representative to discuss the proposed approach. This ‘reality check’ is needed in order to harmonise the efforts: the action plan is an endeavour that the Tunisian government takes seriously and it is also working on narrowing down concrete commitments.

For the discussion between the civil society and the government representative to be as smooth and fruitful as possible, a neutral, external expert will be moderating the exchange. This expert will in addition provide feedback on the different suggestions and expertise from other countries where s/he has already worked on the topic. The two-day event will culminate with a big show-and-tell and various media points so the widest possible audience can be informed in due time about the progress of the consultation.

OpenMENA will be there!

OpenMENA

OpenMENA founder, Rayna Stamboliyska, will be present for the 20-21 June OGP.Dialogue progress point. We are grateful to OpenGovTN to have invited us as being there is important: the OGP.Dialogue event is a great opportunity for the Open Knowledge values to be brought to an ever-growing number of people. Taking an active part to the building of the forthcoming OGP Tunisia action plan is a challenge OpenMENA is more than keen to address.

We are thus more than delighted to be partners and to participate to this grand endeavour of co-creating a more open and collaborative society in Tunisia.

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