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Open Steps: 3 months documenting Open Knowledge in India

Guest - December 12, 2013 in Featured Project, Meetups, OKF India

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

Three months have already gone since we wrote the first report about our journey here on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog, sharing our experiences discovering and documenting Open Knowledge projects. After Europe, we travelled along the indian sub-continent, gathering impressions that we would now like to share with you through this article.

A big country full of active individuals and initiatives

India is a huge and heterogeneous country, strongly marked by the cultural, economical and social differences between its 28 states. This was the main challenge we had to face while exploring the existence of Open Government initiatives, the use of Open Data in different fields and the level of awareness about Open Cultures in general. After these three months, in which we have visited both northern and southern regions, we are impressed by the amount and quality of projects and individuals we have met.

The first proof of the momentum the Open Data movement is currently experiencing, is the presence of the national Open Data platform. Created in 2012, it hosts an increasing number of relevant datasets and is being currently improved with new features as API access, support for regional data and new on-site visualisations. As we could experience during our event in Delhi, where we had the opportunity to discuss with one of the developers behind the platform, the use of this data is being encouraged through App Challenges and regularly organised Hackathons. The existence of such a platform is a consequence of India’s participation within the Open Government initiative. Along this topic, we can also remark that although not yet taking part in the Open Government Partnership, a similar initiative we cover, India has already shown its commitment and has been listed as one of the eligible countries 2013 and could apply for it.

Our first workshop took place in Mumbai, where we were introduced to some members of the Datameet group. This small community of like-minded individuals, open-source supporters and data-activists is the second point we would like to underline here. This public online forum is the place you want to address if you are willing to stay up-to-date in all things open happening in India. Its members collaborate together in different projects, organise monthly events and stay connected across the huge country. And fact is, that we have met Datameet members on every event we have organised!

Data-activism and problem solving made in India

By running this project, we are learning new things everyday. One of the topics we have had the opportunity to explore more in detail is data-activism. Many groups we have met in India are using data as a tool for intelligent, resource-conscious and effective problem-solving at local level. Organisations such as Transparent Chennai and Karnataka Learning Partnership, who both helped us running our event, are remarkable examples of non-profit initiatives addressing social issues in their cities, Chennai and Bangalore respectively. Also, we discovered the Tactical Technologies Collective, a Berlin-based company with office in the Karnataka’s metropole which advises NGOs, journalists and activists on the smart use of data and technologies for advocacy.

In addition, we experienced on first hand that the public administration is beginning to be aware of the benefits of Open Data. We took part in one of the meetings of the Open Government Committee at Karnataka Highway Improvement Project (KSHIP). There, we could give our input on which tools and strategies they could profit from to achieve their goal: realising their data to the public domain, encouraging citizen-participation and improving the decision-making process regarding the state’s road infrastructures.

Open Access, sharing knowledge in academics

Along our journey, we have met various kinds of organisations. But it was in Vadodara, Gujarat, where we had the chance to witness the use of open principles in the context of a university. We visited the Smt. Hansa Metha Library and spoke with its director about the Open Knowledge Gateway, an online hub they initiated where researchers and students can access publications, documentation and further information for free.

We could also discuss about Open Access in our meeting in Delhi, where the Open Access Week took place last October, organised in cooperation with UNESCO and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). This shows that the interest towards making academic information available for everyone is growing in India and universities are already committed to accelerate innovation this way.

North vs South: Is there any difference?

As a matter of fact, southern indian regions are, in general, economically more developed than their northern neighbours. We experienced that in the South, Kerala’s administration promotes the development of Open Source software. Also, IT-metropoles such as Bangalore and Hyderabad, are the perfect setting for initiatives which use technology and data with the aim to improve society, always supporting the idea that knowledge should be available for everyone.

Nevertheless, as the Datameet group reveals, there are activists all over India. At the end, the motivation of these individuals and organisations is what makes the difference, and we could find them both in North and South.

We leave India with the feeling that we could keep researching further interesting projects for months. Actually, due to our tight schedule, we could not cover every project we happened to discover. There was a great interest in Open Steps and we were warm welcomed by all of our collaborators, even we have been contacted by many people we could not meet at the end. Hereby, we would like to thank all these remarkable persons who made our stay in India such an enriching experience.

But the journey continues. Open Steps is touring Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong and Japan) for the next two months. We will announce our schedule soon and would like to make a call for interesting Open Knowledge related projects we should get to know and document there, if you happen to run or know one, please drop us a line! Thanks!

The Open Knowledge Foundation Community Stories Tumblr: a new way of sharing your stories

Zara Rahman - December 11, 2013 in Community Stories

The Open Knowledge Foundation international community has grown tremendously over the past decade. Since 2004 people have come together in over 46 countries (and growing!) to do amazing things with open knowledge in a huge variety of ways, across so many domains and topics, and working in collaboration on some incredible initiatives.

It’s clear though that there are many awesome things going on, and we love hearing about them, but the community has grown too large for anybody to have a true sense of the breadth of work in our field at any given time.

So; we want to hear — and share — more of these stories! In the past we ran a blogpost series outlining great work by Local Groups, and others from Working Groups, as well as updates from project communities, but given the rate at which community activities are happening (incredibly quickly, in case you were wondering!) we wanted to give you all an easier, and faster, way to share.

Our solution: the Open Knowledge Foundation Community Stories Tumblr,

Whether it be people organising spending parties in Japan or Nigeria, to diving into election data in Nepal; holding governments in Morocco and Germany accountable thanks to the Open Data Index, or remixing the public domain in France, it’s these stories that make the open knowledge movement really make sense, and help us all see what it is that we are part of.

These stories help people understand what the open knowledge movement actually is, and why we do what we do. On our quest to build a truly global and change-making open knowledge movement sharing our stories of successes and failures is ever more important to sustaining our efforts.

This is a space for you to tell the Open Knowledge Foundation community about what you are up to in your part of the world.

Managed to convince your government to use CKAN for a new open government data portal? Translated a handbook or two into your local language, or launched a new project? Made a splash in the local press? Tell us, so we can share it with the world.

Submit your stories by dropping an email to communitystories[at], or directly on the Tumblr itself.

We want to see photos, hear audio interviews, video clips, see your slide decks, and read updates from you all. Ever wondered why your local coordinator/fellow community member/Ambassador is involved in the open knowledge movement? Why not ask them, record it with your phone and share with the rest of us?

Sharing what you’re doing inspires others all across our global network — it can help you find new collaborators and get ideas from other people, and it will, we hope, show the world why the open movement is so important.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Open Badges for OKF Scotland

Guest - December 9, 2013 in Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

The Following is a guest post by the Open Knowledge Foundation Community Member Graeme Arnott originally posted his blog here

At the first meeting in Glasgow of Open Knowledge Foundation Scotland it was good to see some familiar faces from the ‘Open Badges in Scottish Education Group‘ (OBSEG). A little twitter conversation afterwards with Sheila MacNeill and Lizzie Brotherston, and we had agreed that openbadges for OKF Scotland was something that we definitely wanted to do.


I started by playing around with the iPad App version of Badge Designer on It was a bit footery at first but once I’d gotten the hang of it I realised that playing with what was possible wasn’t simply a process of skills development but was also a process of working out what I wanted to be possible. So whilst it was easy enough to design individual badges I needed to think about the place of each individual badge within the proposed badge eco-system.


Before getting to the point of deciding what each badge looked like however, it was necessary to consider a number of questions,

  • who should get a badge?
  • for what should they get that badge?
  • what behaviours did we want to encourage?
  • what were the unintended consequences of encouraging certain behaviours?

The answer that I came up with to the first question was that everybody involved should get a badge. This meant that there would be a badge for the speakers who did the lightning talks, the people who turned up, and the people who organised the group.

I can appreciate that someone might make the argument that says the organisers and the speakers do more ‘work’ than an attendee but that’s to see the audience as simply passive recipients of the speaker’s knowledge. It’s an outdated idea of audience, and the amount of tweets both during and after the first meeting testify not solely to the audience’s enthusiasm but to the construction of the community that will (hopefully) want to reconvene at the next meeting. It’s also the case that within hours of the first meeting Lorna Campbell had storifyed it whilst Martin Hawksey had collated tweets featuring our #OpenDataGLA. This active participation on the part of the “audience” begged the question as to whether someone who simply turned up out of curiosity should also get a badge. It was thinking about that question, and the word ‘get’, that I started to think about using the phrases of “earning a badge”, or “claiming a badge”. However, I think it needs to be acknowledged that someone who comes to every OpenDataGla meeting but doesn’t present a lightning talk or tweet is nevertheless actively contributing to the group. So the view that I’ve now comfortably settled into is that everyone involved in OKF Scotland has a role to play in making it work, and that each role, consequently, deserves acknowledgement.

Spirit Level

Spirit Level

To achieve this horizontal arrangement my first idea was that the design of each badge would have to be such that one wasn’t any “better” than any other. This doesn’t accord with the badge design rubric by Peter Rawsthorne where there is a clear hierarchy from ‘Introductory’ through to ‘Exemplary’. As far as I understand this though, the rubric is more specifically applicable to tasks or achievements which are increasingly more difficult, complex or demanding. Asking myself whether Rawsthorne’s hierarchy applied to OKF Scotland question helped me realise that the answer isn’t straightforwardly interrogative. During my preparations for my lightning talk at OpenDataGla/2 I asked a couple of the participants who took part in the Glasgow Women’s Library/WMUK editathon, Scottish Women on Wikipedia, if they’d come along and say a few words. I hadn’t intended to put the person under any pressure or obligation but for one person, who hates public speaking, this was a terrifying suggestion.

This situation helped me realise that whilst speaking to a room full of people is something of an everyday occurrence for me for this other person it was an absolute nightmare. What I think this means, in terms of badge design for a community, is that if that person had come along and managed to speak they would have experienced the badge as something that they had really gained rather than something they had simply been given, and that therefore the meaning of the badge will be regarded in their relative terms, regardless of the conceptual design. For me this means that there is no particular need in this case to embed a hierarchy of achievement because the actual badge earners will have their own personal take on each badge’s value.

Between starting this post, which is a number of months ago, and now, December 2013, it seems that the OKFN have started the process of refreshing their brand design. In a sense it doesn’t really matter because my general idea was that the design of the openbadges would closely follow the OKFN logo design.

The ones I’ve done so far all have the same basic design shape with a different icon and different text on the banner. I wanted to use the Open Knowledge Foundation’s colour scheme and I tried to get the hexadecimal codes from the OKFN website but in the end it didn’t matter because the palette is limited to the colour options that it provides. We just ended up picking what we thought was the closest.

I haven’t answered all the questions that I set out in this post, and there a number of other areas that need to be covered like issuing, and the content of the metadata but for the moment I just want to use this post to get the conversation going and see if it’s worthwhile pursuing.


P8270006, by Ewan Klein, okfnscot, 27 August 2013, Flickr,, retrieved 27-09-13 (CC-BY 2.0) Play/Pause by Annie Roi, 14 November 2009, Flickr,, retrieved 27-09-13 (CC-BY 2.0) Spirit Level, by marcovdz, 15 February 2010, Flickr,, retrieved 03-10-13 (CC-BY-NC-ND-SA 2.0)
Open Knowledge Foundation Network’s Main logo, Wikipedia,, retrieved 27-09-13 (CC-BY 3.0)

Creative Commons Licence

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The DataTank 4.0

Guest - December 5, 2013 in OKF Belgium, Open Data, Technical

This post was written by Pieter Colpaert, a member of the Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium Chapter.

The DataTank is open source software, just like CKAN, Drupal or Elastic Search, which you can use to transform a dataset into an HTTP API. Today (the 5th of December 2014), we are proud to launch the 4.0 version on which professional support will be provided. The project was started in 2008 by one of the founders of Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium. Today it remains mainly developed by OKFN Belgium, but we are welcoming new contributors from all over the world.

To get an idea of what The DataTank can do, check or our demo server:

With this new version of The DataTank, we hope that hackathon developers will have a tool to set up an API for their developers in no time, that start-ups will be able to combine different Open Datasets from all over the world in one Web service without trouble, that Open Data Portal developers are going to integrate The DataTank with CKAN, and that data owners are going to see a faster return on investment from publishing their data.

The platform is written in PHP using the Laravel framework. If this is a language you speak, feel free to dig in and fork us on github:

Oh, did we mention it also publishes RDF where suitable?

If you want to use The DataTank at your organisation but you’re not a technical person, we can help you! Contact our team at

Global Community Stories #6(b): Ireland, Germany and Updates

Christian Villum - November 29, 2013 in Community Stories, Featured

Ireland: Meetups, OpenSpending projects and prominent media exposure…

In July our Irish group held Open Data Ireland Meetup #9, which was dedicated to ‘Local Government’ and was attended by around 20 people – see follow-up blogs posts among other here and here. In October this was followed up with Open Data Ireland Meetup #10 that focused on “The Way Forward for Open Data in Ireland” (see Storify stream) and just a couple of days ago #11 was held in Dublin and featured, among other, a telecast by Open Knowledge Foundation CEO Laura James.

On the side the Irish group is working on contributing to the Where Does My Money Go project, acting very actively on the Irish front in the Open Government Partnership and reported also that Fingal County Council has became the 1st local authority in Ireland in Open Spending. The next challenge is now to convince and help 33 other local authorities to follow Fingal’s example.

Lastly, the Ireland Open Knowledge Foundation Ambassador Denis Parfenov was prominently featured in The Irish Times as part of a band of Freedom of Information (FOI) advocates putting forward a critique of a proposition to allow adding fees to FOI requests.

Germany: Hackathons, Code for America collaboration, teenage hacker academy, presentations across the world and much, much more…

Our German group is so active we hardly know where to begin – and we’ve had to select only a few of their activities to fit into the Global Community Stories format. Well done Germany! Here we go:

In cooperation with the Museum of Jewish Culture, the German Digital Library, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Wikimedia Germany, Internet and Society Co:llaboratory and iRights, the Germany group is organizing the conference Zugang gestalten! – Mehr Verantwortung für das kulturelle Erbe (Shaping Access! – More responsibility for our cultural heritage) and addressing the shift in their role of cultural heritage institutions, the public expectation towards them and the chances and challenges digitalisation means to them. The conference will take place in Berlin from November 28th – 29th.

Conferences, workshops and talks continue to be important for the mission of project, which the group is also leading. They addressed experts and potential founders at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and attended the International Conference of Information Commissioners to exchange ideas and connect with other professionals in the area. They also organized a community workshop to educate people about FOI and teach campaigners how to use A talk has been submitted to the 30th Chaos Communication Congress.

Over the last month members of OKF Germany board and team furthermore participated as speakers and contributors to a range of open knowledge events, including Wikisym/Opensym and Wikimania in Hong Kong, the Service Experience Camp in Berlin, the Open Access days in Hamburg and of course at this year’s Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva.

In September, piggybacking on the elections in Germany, the group organized a hackathon titled Wahl.Daten.Helfer that invited the community to build their own “polling stations” in their hometown and to reinterpretate information about candidates, results and historic election development. Later that month they organized an open data hack weekend for teenagers: Jugendhackt. The event was co-organised with their partner Young Rewired State and took place in Berlin. The results were simply overwhelming: more than 60 young coders (between 12 and 18 years) and 25 mentors worked in 15 teams developing awesome apps based on open datasets (schools, nature, elections etc.). See photos here, videos here and projects here. If all goes as planned this will repeated in 2014!

In the near future the group has scheduled a hack day on Geodata to take place on Open Data Day next year (Feb 22 2014). Similarly, they will dive into making a Culture Hack day working with The German Museum of Technology and the German National Library – in collaboration with Wikimedia Germany. Open Knowledge Foundation Germany is also part of the international expansion of the successful Code for America Program. Together with Code for America and our main sponsor Google they will introduce the fellowship program to Germany at the beginning of 2014.

Lastly, one of the most important events in the upcoming year is of course the OKFestival 2014 and the Germans are thrilled that it will be held in Berlin! As the annual conference of the entire Open Knowledge Foundation Network, OKFestival is organised by the OKFN central, but the German group will of course contribute and help ensure making this a really great event.

…and in shorter news:

Our new Swedish Ambassador and his group recently organized their first science seminar on Open Design, and in Brazil they shared how they used the OpenSpending API to visualise Brazilian government spending. Open Knowledge Foundation Finland and Brazil have started visualizing their projects using the Hackdash software – see their activities here and here. In France, they’ve been translating School of Data into French, Ecole des Données, and in Scotland they held a very successful Meetup recently, and did a fabulous job of documenting it – catch the livestream videos here and here, read follow-up blog posts here, here and here.

In India, the group is developing a series of projects including OpenEducation, Open Data, Open Science & Research and the Vitayard Open Science Platform. Furthermore they recently participated in a workshop on Open Science and Open Data, held at the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, in the beginning of October.

Many groups also got engaged around the Open Data Index release in October, as mentioned earlier herein. The release was mentioned in ao. The Guardian, The Economist and lots of local media around the world – thanks to localization efforts around our Local Groups: In Taiwan they crafted a Chinese (traditional) version and other groups made French, Egyption, Irish, German and Danish comments.

In the days to come, Open Knowledge Foundation Nepal will organize Open Election Data Week from 24th to 30th Nov 2013 – read more about that here. We’ve also heard news from our Japanese group, that they’re getting ready to launch Spending Stories in Japanese. Watch this space!

Global Community Stories #6 (a): Greece, Bangladesh, Argentina and Canada

Christian Villum - November 27, 2013 in Featured, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Uncategorized

It is once again time to take a trip around the world and hear a bit about some of the great things that are happening in our growing network of Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups. Due to the sheer volume of activities and updates we want to share this month, our Global Community Stories post is coming to you in two instalments. Today, we’ll set our virtual feet down in Greece, Bangladesh, Canada and Argentina and later in the week we will share updates from Germany, Ireland and others.

Bangladesh: Afterthought from OKCon, Wikipedia collaboration, impressive media coverage and lots of events…

After participating in OKCon, the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva in September, our Bangladeshi friends wrote an article about the experience. The article was published as lead story in Bangla newspaper The Daily Prohom Alo (the highest circulated paper & leading bangla IT portal). Well done!

Also on the event side the group has been really active; they celebrated Software Freedom Day (SFD) by organizing a seminar about open source & open knowledge. Shortly after, the group organized a meetup as part of the global celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the GNU open software license. In late October they joined the Online Data Expedition on October 18-20 on Garment Factories around the world. This data expedition was arranged in collaboration with School of Data.

In other news our Ambassador in Bangladesh, Nurunnaby Chowdhury Hasive, was recently elected as Administrator of Bangla Wikipedia, which was covered in among other The Daily Star and C News Voice. Open Knowledge Foundation Bangladesh also partnered with Society for the Popularization of Science, Bangladesh (SPSB) recently and will onwards organize events and other activities together – for instance children science congresses.

Greece: Organizing app-competitions and improving the web presence…

Our Greek friends most recently held their first event as part of the Apps4Greece series in the city of Thessaloniki (see the presentation slides here – and plans are now being made to expand to other cities. Last week all co-organizers of the event participated in a press conference, where also Open Knowledge Foundation’s Sander van der Waal took part and gave a presentation. Several blog posts and publications newspapers documented the event, among other this one from the Karfitsa newspaper. Next the group is working on a complete overhaul of their website and project portfolio, stay tuned!

Argentina: Doing presentations across the country, working with School of Data and helping develop crisis situation software…

Our Argentinean friends did a School of Data presentation in August at Hacks Hackers Buenos Aires in the good company of journalists, programmers and designers from three continents. Later, in September, they held a Open Spending Meetup that was visited by Open Knowledge Foundation old-timer and Knight-Mozilla Fellow Friedrich Lindenberg – which was followed later that month by a presentation at the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology and University of La Plata. Lastly, they presented at the International Conference of Free Software in Technopolis.

The group has also started collaborations with other organizations such as Chequeado; a platform where the public discuss, study and verify president’s political speeches. The collaboration aims to put together a neat database and an application that makes it easier for citizens to engage. Further, on the project side, the group has been working on School of Data with Mexico. They set up workshops that teach how to use open data tools: Every Wednesday a specialist hosts a workshop on tools such as Open Refine, d3.js display, Timeliner, Github, Fusiontable and more. The group is also helping with the Citizen Emergency project: An application that alerts citizens in disaster situations such as during floods. Next step is to help develop the application towards a national implementation.

Canada: Starting the group, hosting meetups, contributing very actively to the Open Data Census…

Back in July, the group held Open Data Canada Meetup #1, which was dedicated to starting up the local group in Canada and was attended by around 30 people. Read some of the follow-up blog posts here and here.

The group has also very actively been contributing to the Open Data Census as part of both the sprint leading up to the G8 meeting in North Ireland in June, but also as part of the bigger sprint leading up to the Open Government Partnership Summit in London in October – shortly before which we released the Open Data Index.

They have also been supporting the research project across Canada by co-organizing a meetup for Québec with Dr. Renée Sieber (McGill University, Montréal) and Dr. Stéphane Roche (Université Laval, Québec City) – read more about that here and here.

Furthermore, they have been supporting the Popolo project to develop open government data specifications, focusing on the legislative branch of government, while remaining useful to a broad set of use cases.

Support has also been given to the use of an Open Agenda about Free-Open-Libre within an Agenda aggregator, the Agenda du Libre by Lastly, the group has promoted the CKAN open source data handling platform, which has subsequently been integrated into the City of Montréal Open Data Portal that launched just a few weeks ago. One of our Canadian Ambassadors, Diane Mercier, is the City of Montréal Open Data Project Manager.

CKAN hackathon: Hello from Ireland!

Denis Parfenov - October 7, 2013 in CKAN, OKF Ireland, Sprint / Hackday

This post was written by Denis Parfenov, our Ireland Ambassador, and Flora Fleischer, a member of the new Local Group for Ireland.

Last Saturday, the ‘Open Data Ireland’ community and the Open Knowledge Foundation Network held a ‘CKAN Hackathon’. This event was kindly sponsored by Fingal County Council, ESRI Ireland and The Irish Organisation for Geographic Information.

Dublin Castle

Developers, designers, journalists, academics, policy makers, creative thinkers, civil servants, entrepreneurs and active citizens all came together to revive open data in Ireland and to establish an epicenter for encouragement and development of open knowledge in Ireland by launching the official Open Knowledge Foundation Ireland Local Group.

Groups were formed around 4 specific tasks:

(1) deploying a Central Open Data Portal that provides the people of Ireland with a single access point to the information collected by their government,
(2) auditing and validating existing public domain data for inclusion in such portal,
(3) preparing the Open Knowledge Foundation Ireland recommendations for inclusion into the first Irish Open Government Partnership National Action Plan and,
(4) creating an educational hub about the power of open data


On the day, Group 1 managed to secure hosting and deploy CKAN 2.1, and link temporarily to a new portal site ( until it redirects to It now comes complete with filestore, datastore, harvester and spatial extensions! Existing and new data sets have been transferred to the new portal. It’s still a work in progress but people in Ireland can now access a list of 275 open data sets about Ireland via the search function.

The second group started early on the day to search, audit and validate all available data pertaining to Ireland. The group searched relentlessly and identified 166 open data sets, 16 open data catalogues and 29 open data APIs available from various websites in and about Ireland. They worked together with Group 1 to determine the metadata requirements, and then proceeded to review and validate the information and usability of each data set. The group explored potential use cases of how the data available through the portal can be combined to find answers to questions that could enhance the lives of the people in Ireland, such as which local school to choose. For people who were new to the Open Data Ireland community this task was a great hands-on way of learning about the issues around open data.


The third group came up with some new recommendations after collectively reviewing the draft report on the consultation for Ireland’s participation in the Open Government Partnership. The group talked through the advantages and challenges around making data public. In their submission to the OGP National Action Plan they recommend the creation of an Open Data Institute Ireland linked to the already well established Open Data Institute in the UK, to catalyse the evolution of an open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value. (See why we need an Open Data Institute in Ireland.)

Thanks go to ODI’s partner, long-term friend and supporter of the Open Data community in Ireland, CTO of ‘Open Data Solutions’ Jason Hare (Raleigh, NC) for attending and supporting the group in preparation of the submission.

The fourth group did a great job at setting up an intuitive and contemporary website to help the average citizen to understand what open data is, what it can do for us and how we can be empowered by it. The site also gives practical tips on how to get involved. The team set up a Google website, and migration to is a work in progress.


The last group made sure that we were capturing this very, very successful CKAN Hackathon for the outside world. The group never failed to fill in and support other groups, providing assistance whenever necessary. A great job was done making it a fun and successful event!

Thanks to everyone who participated in CKAN Hackathon ‘in the room’ or online! Together, we co-founded Open Knowledge Foundation Local Initiative in Ireland on September 28th, 2013!

We now have a flickr site capturing the event in pics and if you’d like to follow-up with what has been happening on Twitter while we were hard at work, you can do that, too, at storify.

The next ‘Open Data Ireland’ meetup will take place in TCube on Thursday, 24th October 2013. Doors open at 18:30

Images: Dublin Castle by Wojtek Gurak, CC-BY-NC; CKAN Hackathon by OKF Ireland, CC-BY-NC-SA

Open Data developments in Asia

Guest - October 3, 2013 in Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

The following guest post is by Waltraut Ritter, a member of Opendata Hong Kong, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Local Group. It is the first of two posts exploring the current state of open data in Asia.

Hong Kong Panoramic

The Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva attracted delegates from 55 countries, indicating that open, public data is indeed becoming a global movement around the world.

How is Open Data adopted in Asia, the largest continent of this planet where 60 per cent of the world’s population live?

Asia has some of the most advanced internet economies, as well as some of the least developed countries with hardly any access to information or information infrastructure, neither analogue nor digital.

At OKCon, 26 participants from 11 Asian countries were present, including Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia. In this blog, I focus on selected East Asian and Pacific countries: New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea (North Asian and Pacific nations); and Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar (South-East Asian nations). Getting reliable data from all 49 Asian countries would require much more research, and these countries are grouped together in the Worldbank Knowledge Economy Index.

Myanmar river life

Despite being grouped together in the Worldbank Knowledge Economy Index (KEI), these countries have vastly different economic rankings. New Zealand achieved the highest Knowledge Economy score, closely followed by Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, whereas Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar score lowest in all KEI categories (ICT, education, economic incentive and institutional regime, innovation). Other key indicators relevant for Open Data development are the Corruption Perception Index (Transparency International), the World Internet Statistics and the Democracy Index (EIU) as a measure for general governance and functioning of government.

According to the 2012 World Internet Statistics, the overall internet penetration in Asia is only 27.5 per cent, but this still means the Asian continent is home to more users than any other, with over 1 billion. Internet penetration across the listed countries ranges from 1 per cent in Myanmar to 88 per cent in New Zealand; again with a wide gap between North and South East Asia (except for Singapore with 75 per cent).

Vietnam i  Camboya 2007

South East Asia has often been described as “information black hole” in scholarly research on national information strategies, with many governments restricting or denying access to information to their citizens, often based on the assumption that government information by default is a secret. Earlier this month, the government of Vietnam enacted the “Decree 72” which limits the use of blogs and social media to “providing or exchanging personal information”, and prohibits them from being used to disseminate news or even information from government sites. The law also bans content which could be “harmful” to national security or which opposes the government. This kind of restriction is based on the perception that governments own the information and can control its use, and that information-empowered citizens and businesses are potentially dangerous.

While North Asian countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia, mostly have Freedom of Information (FOI) laws in place (with the exception of Hong Kong); in South East Asia, FOI laws are more the exception than the rule. Even in the otherwise highly developed information economy of Singapore, there are many areas where the government argues that information needs to be kept confidential in the public interest, which explains why citizens cannot access and analyse data related to the size of assets in the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), a sovereign wealth fund owned by the Government of Singapore.


Sometimes laws are in place, but they are not fully applied. In Thailand, the country’s Official Information Act (OIA) was enacted in 1997, but “the concept of freedom of information is totally new to both Thai state officials and to the people. Thai society thus needs some time to learn more about the Information Law. State officials have to understand the procedures of law enforcement better so that they know how to provide information services and disclose information to meet public requests. Meanwhile, people should recognize their right to know and know how to utilize the Information Act as a means of access to state information. Thai society should recognize information law as an essential part of establishing accountable and transparent government and as a crucial part of eventually building up civil society” (Quote by N. Seriak, Office of Official Information Commission). In 2000, the law was therefore amended to include strategic guidelines on how to promote and develop the acknowledgement of the Act’s content, its utilization, the mechanism and the procedures to utilize the Act to meet people’s right to access information. This example illustrates that the idea of open information also requires a new way of thinking about information, both for government officials and citizens.

New Zealand Beach

Only 4 of the listed 15 countries are full democracies according to the EIU index – New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea; they are also members of the OECD. The majority of countries in Asia fall into the categories of “flawed” democracies (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia), Singapore is a “hybrid system” and at the bottom are authoritarian governments such as Vietnam, Laos (lowest overall score) and Myanmar, which is now currently moving into another phase of political governance. In August this year, Myanmar officially ended censorship, thereby jumping up to 151st out of 179 countries in the World Press Freedom index.

There are few economic studies about the tangible and intangible value of open information, perhaps because the causality is not directly measurable, most of the time. On the other hand, it might be easier to analyse examples on the cost of non-open data, in hindsight of events where data was not available.

This will be the topic of the 2nd part of this blog on Open Data Developments in Asia.

Images: Hong Kong Panoramic by Francisco Martins, CC-BY-NC; Myanmar river life by eGuide Travel, CC-BY; Vietnam y Camboya by Carles Company Soler, CC-BY-SA; Singapore by Arian Zwegers, CC-BY; New Zealand Beach by Abaconda, CC-BY-SA

CKAN Hackathon and Local Group launch, Dublin

Denis Parfenov - September 27, 2013 in CKAN, OKF Ireland, Sprint / Hackday

The following is cross-posted from the Open Government Partnership blog

A CKAN hackathon is taking place on Saturday, 28th September at TCube in Dublin, bringing together IT specialists, political representatives and members of the public with an interest in making data open.

Developers, designers, journalists, academics, policy makers, creative thinkers, civil servants, entrepreneurs and interested parties are invited to the event which aims to provide the people of Ireland with a single access point to the information collected by their government by deploying a Central Open Data Portal. Open, usable and available knowledge will lead to greater transparency for Irish citizens and accountability from Irish representatives.

We strongly believe that comprehensive and meaningful information has the potential to empower better evidence-based decision-making for all of us: about the food we buy and eat, the services we enlist, choices about healthcare and education that we make, the pension plans we decide to invest in, and the public representatives we elect. Better information empowers us to be better consumers, clients, patients, students, investors and active citizens.

The event is co-organised by the ‘Open Data Ireland’ community and the Open Knowledge Foundation with the support of Fingal County Council, ESRI Ireland and The Irish Organisation for Geographic Information (IRLOGI).

The hackathon will review information that is already publicly available and launch a local Open Knowledge Foundation Network Local Group which will encourage the development of open knowledge in Ireland.

You can register for the event here, and follow #okfnIRL for updates on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s activities in Ireland.

The Global Open Knowledge Foundation Network

Laura James - September 24, 2013 in Featured, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

Since 2004, the Open Knowledge Foundation has been connecting people and building communities in open data and open knowledge around the world.

People in the global Open Knowledge Foundation network run meetups and workshops, campaign for open data, train, advise, and create open source tools and materials to help everyone work with data.

The network has grown rapidly and is now present in 40 countries and new local groups are starting on an almost weekly basis. Anyone can join the network – both organisations and individuals, and whatever your interest in open knowledge and open data!

Local groups within the Open Knowledge Foundation network have developed their own projects, communities and funding – some, such as Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, now have a very significant level of activity with their own staff and projects.

Check our map to see if there’s already an Open Knowledge Foundation presence in your area where you could get involved. If there’s not a group already, why not start one?

Each local group within the network is independent and has a local focus but, at the same time, is part of the global community-run network and benefits from the support, sharing and collaboration within that wider network.

Some recent highlights from around the network include:

  • The Brazilian Open Knowledge Foundation group organised an open science event in São Paulo, with over 60 people participating in round tables covering the many aspects of openness in science: education, publications, tools, data, citizenry and research.
  • Japan has 19 cities with Where Does My Money Go sites only a year after the first site was set up in Yokohama, and enthusiastic engineers are forming a community of practice to share know-how and get more cities on board.
  • The Greece Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation has done development work on the Greek Open Data portal, and released the first version of want2know, a platform which lets citizens request data they want open access to, motivated by the Open Data Census.
  • The Spanish Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation organised the first Conference of Data Journalism and Open Data in Spain, titled “When data tells stories”
  • The Ambassador for Morocco was invited on national television to discuss the Moroccan e-gov project with the Minister of Trade, Industry, and New Technologies; they talked about open data, the CKAN open data management system, and the Moroccan Open Data Portal, and as a result the Ambassador was subsequently invited to work with the government to help improve the national portal.

Joining the Network

Over the last year or so we’ve been bringing in some greater structure to our international network to support its growth and make it easier to join. There’s a way to get involved for everyone:


Open Knowledge Foundation Chapters are autonomous and independent non-profit organisations, and are leaders working on open data and open knowledge in their countries. Chapters share their expertise and learning on the ground and with other local groups to ensure they thrive, are sustainable, and can have the greatest impact with their work. If you’re already part of a non-profit organisation working on openness, or a local group looking to incorporate, then get in touch to explore what being a Chapter would involve.

Local Initiatives

Local initiatives are groups working together on open advocacy, campaigning and projects of all kinds in a local context and connected with others around the world through the network.

If you’re part of an existing group working on openness, or you’ve met others in your region who would like to do more with open knowledge, you can apply to become an Open Knowledge Foundation Local Initiative.


Ambassadors are community leaders working to bring together the Open Knowledge community in their area and make a real difference with open information.

If you’re an individual looking to start open activity in a country or region where the Open Knowledge Foundation does not currently have an established presence, become an Open Knowledge Foundation Ambassador. We welcome multiple Ambassadors per region too.

OKF network

Working Groups

As well as local groups, the network includes working groups which focus on specific areas of open data and open knowledge, enabling people with similar interests to gather to discuss, lobby, code, write, promote and explore particular areas of openness.

Creators and Makers

Because we love to make things as well as advocating for openness, there are many concrete projects and activities around the network where you can design, code, and write, including the Open Knowledge Foundation Labs and many other projects about open stuff.

Get in touch with our local groups team on, or join the okfn-discuss mailing list.

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