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Code for Africa & Open Knowledge Launch Open Government Fellowship Pilot Programme: Apply Today

Katelyn Rogers - November 25, 2014 in Open Data, Open Government Data

Open Knowledge and Code for Africa launch pilot Open Government Fellowship Programme. Apply to become a fellow today. This blog announcement is available in French here and Portuguese here.

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Open Knowledge and Code for Africa are pleased to announce the launch of our pilot Open Government Fellowship programme. The six month programme seeks to empower the next generation of leaders in field of open government.


We are looking for candidates that fit the following profile:

  • Currently engaged in the open government and/or related communities . We are looking to support individuals already actively participating in the open government community
  • Understands the role of civil society and citizen based organisations in bringing about positive change through advocacy and campaigning
  • Understands the role and importance of monitoring government commitments on open data as well as on other open government policy related issues
  • Has facilitation skills and enjoys community-building (both online and offline).
  • Is eager to learn from and be connected with an international community of open government experts, advocates and campaigners
  • Currently living and working in Africa. Due to limited resources and our desire to develop a focused and impactful pilot programme, we are limiting applications to those currently living and working in Africa. We hope to expand the programme to the rest of the world starting in 2015.

The primary objective of the Open Government Fellowship programme is to identify, train and support the next generation of open government advocates and community builders. As you will see in the selection criteria, the most heavily weighted item is current engagement in the open government movement at the local, national and/or international level. Selected candidates will be part of a six-month fellowship pilot programme where we expect you to work with us for an average of six days a month, including attending online and offline trainings, organising events, and being an active member of the Open Knowledge and Code for Africa communities.

Fellows will be expected to produce tangible outcomes through during their fellowship but what these outcomes are will be up to the fellows to determine. In the application, we ask fellows to describe their vision for their fellowship or, to put it another way, to lay out what they would like to accomplish. We could imagine fellows working with a specific government department or agency to make a key dataset available, used and useful by the community or organising a series of events addressing a specific topic or challenge citizens are currently facing. We do not wish to be prescriptive, there are countless possibilities for outcomes for the fellowship but successful candidates will demonstrate a vision that has clear, tangible outcomes.

To support fellows in achieving these outcomes, all fellows will receive a stipend of $1,000 per month in addition to a project grant of $3,000 to spend over the course of your fellowship. Finally, a travel stipend is available for each fellow for national and/or international travel related to furthering the objective of their fellowship.

There are up to 3 fellowship positions open for the February to July 2015 pilot programme. Due to resourcing, we will only be accepting fellowship applications from individuals living and working in Africa. Furthermore, in order to ensure that we are able to provide fellows with strong local support during the pilot phase, we will are targeting applicants from the following countries where Code for Africa and/or Open Knowledge already have existing networks: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, Tanzania, and Uganda. We are hoping to roll out the programme in other regions in autumn 2015. If you are interested in the fellowship but not currently located in one of the target countries, please get in touch.

Do you have questions? See more about the Fellowship Programme here and have a looks at this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. If this doesn’t answer your question, email us at Katelyn[dot]Rogers[at]okfn.org

Not sure if you fit the profile? Drop us a line!

Convinced? Apply now to become a Open Government fellow. If you would prefer to submit your application in French or Portuguese, translations of the application form are available in French here and in Portuguese here.

The application will be open until the 15th of December 2014 and the programme will start in February 2015. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Joint Submission to UN Data Revolution Group

Rufus Pollock - October 16, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Data, Open Government Data, Policy

The following is the joint Submission to the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution from the World Wide Web Foundation, Open Knowledge, Fundar and the Open Institute, October 15, 2014. It derives from and builds on the Global Open Data Initiative’s Declaration on Open Data.

To the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution

Societies cannot develop in a fair, just and sustainable manner unless citizens are able to hold governments and other powerful actors to account, and participate in the decisions fundamentally affecting their well-being. Accountability and participation, in turn, are meaningless unless citizens know what their government is doing, and can freely access government data and information, share that information with other citizens, and act on it when necessary.

A true “revolution” through data will be one that enables all of us to hold our governments accountable for fulfilling their obligations, and to play an informed and active role in decisions fundamentally affecting their well-being.

We believe such a revolution requires ambitious commitments to make data open; invest in the ability of all stakeholders to use data effectively; and to commit to protecting the rights to information, free expression, free association and privacy, without which data-driven accountability will wither on the vine.

In addition, opening up government data creates new opportunities for SMEs and entrepreneurs, drives improved efficiency and service delivery innovation within government, and advances scientific progress. The initial costs (including any lost revenue from licenses and access charges) will be repaid many times over by the growth of knowledge and innovative data-driven businesses and services that create jobs, deliver social value and boost GDP.

The Sustainable Development Goals should include measurable, time-bound steps to:

1. Make data open by default

Government data should be open by default, and this principle should ultimately be entrenched in law. Open means that data should be freely available for use, reuse and redistribution by anyone for any purpose and should be provided in a machine-readable form (specifically it should be open data as defined by the Open Definition and in line with the 10 Open Data Principles).

  • Government information management (including procurement requirements and research funding, IT management, and the design of new laws, policies and procedures) should be reformed as necessary to ensure that such systems have built-in features ensuring that open data can be released without additional effort.
  • Non-compliance, or poor data quality, should not be used as an excuse for non-publication of existing data.
  • Governments should adopt flexible intellectual property and copyright policies that encourage unrestricted public reuse and analysis of government data.

2. Put accountability at the core of the data revolution

A data revolution requires more than selective release of the datasets that are easiest or most comfortable for governments to open. It should empower citizens to hold government accountable for the performance of its core functions and obligations. However, research by the Web Foundation and Open Knowledge shows that critical accountability data such as company registers, land record, and government contracts are least likely to be freely available to the public.

At a minimum, governments endorsing the SDGs should commit to the open release by 2018 of all datasets that are fundamental to citizen-state accountability. This should include:

  • data on public revenues, budgets and expenditure;
  • who owns and benefits from companies, charities and trusts;
  • who exercises what rights over key natural resources (land records, mineral licenses, forest concessions etc) and on what terms;
  • public procurement records and government contracts;
  • office holders, elected and un-elected and their declared financial interests and details of campaign contributions;
  • public services, especially health and education: who is in charge, responsible, how they are funded, and data that can be used to assess their performance;
  • constitution, laws, and records of debates by elected representatives;
  • crime data, especially those related to human rights violations such as forced disappearance and human trafficking;
  • census data;
  • the national map and other essential geodata.

    • Governments should create comprehensive indices of existing government data sets, whether published or not, as a foundation for new transparency policies, to empower public scrutiny of information management, and to enable policymakers to identify gaps in existing data creation and collection.

 3. Provide no-cost access to government data

One of the greatest barriers to access to ostensibly publicly-available information is the cost imposed on the public for access–even when the cost is minimal. Most government information is collected for governmental purposes, and the existence of user fees has little to no effect on whether the government gathers the data in the first place.

  • Governments should remove fees for access, which skew the pool of who is willing (or able) to access information and preclude transformative uses of the data that in turn generates business growth and tax revenues.

  • Governments should also minimise the indirect cost of using and re-using data by adopting commonly owned, non-proprietary (or “open”) formats that allow potential users to access the data without the need to pay for a proprietary software license.

  • Such open formats and standards should be commonly adopted across departments and agencies to harmonise the way information is published, reducing the transaction costs of accessing, using and combining data.

4. Put the users first

Experience shows that open data flounders without a strong user community, and the best way to build such a community is by involving users from the very start in designing and developing open data systems.

  • Within government: The different branches of government (including the legislature and judiciary, as well as different agencies and line ministries within the executive) stand to gain important benefits from sharing and combining their data. Successful open data initiatives create buy-in and cultural change within government by establishing cross-departmental working groups or other structures that allow officials the space they need to create reliable, permanent, ambitious open data policies.

  • Beyond government: Civil society groups and businesses should be considered equal stakeholders alongside internal government actors. Agencies leading on open data should involve and consult these stakeholders – including technologists, journalists, NGOs, legislators, other governments, academics and researchers, private industry, and independent members of the public – at every stage in the process.

  • Stakeholders both inside and outside government should be fully involved in identifying priority datasets and designing related initiatives that can help to address key social or economic problems, foster entrepreneurship and create jobs. Government should support and facilitate the critical role of both private sector and public service intermediaries in making data useful.

5. Invest in capacity

Governments should start with initiatives and requirements that are appropriate to their own current capacity to create and release credible data, and that complement the current capacity of key stakeholders to analyze and reuse it. At the same time, in order to unlock the full social, political and economic benefits of open data, all stakeholders should invest in rapidly broadening and deepening capacity.

  • Governments and their development partners need to invest in making data simple to navigate and understand, available in all national languages, and accessible through appropriate channels such as mobile phone platforms where appropriate.

  • Governments and their development partners should support training for officials, SMEs and CSOs to tackle lack of data and web skills, and should make complementary investments in improving the quality and timeliness of government statistics.

6. Improve the quality of official data

Poor quality, coverage and timeliness of government information – including administrative and sectoral data, geospatial data, and survey data – is a major barrier to unlocking the full value of open data.

  • Governments should develop plans to implement the Paris21 2011 Busan Action Plan, which calls for increased resources for statistical and information systems, tackling important gaps and weaknesses (including the lack of gender disaggregation in key datasets), and fully integrating statistics into decision-making.

  • Governments should bring their statistical efforts into line with international data standards and schemas, to facilitate reuse and analysis across various jurisdictions.

  • Private firms and NGOs that collect data which could be used alongside government statistics to solve public problems in areas such as disease control, disaster relief, urban planning, etc. should enter into partnerships to make this data available to government agencies and the public without charge, in fully anonymized form and subject to robust privacy protections.

7. Foster more accountable, transparent and participatory governance

A data revolution cannot succeed in an environment of secrecy, fear and repression of dissent.

  • The SDGs should include robust commitments to uphold fundamental rights to freedom of expression, information and association; foster independent and diverse media; and implement robust safeguards for personal privacy, as outlined in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  • In addition, in line with their commitments in the UN Millennium Declaration (2000) and the Declaration of the Open Government Partnership (2011), the SDGs should include concrete steps to tackle gaps in participation, inclusion, integrity and transparency in governance, creating momentum and legitimacy for reform through public dialogue and consensus.


Colophon

This submission derives and follows on from the Global Open Data Inititiave’s Global Open Data Declaration which was jointly created by Fundar, Open Institute, Open Knowledge and World Wide Web Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation with input from civil society organizations around the world.

The full text of the Declaration can be found here:

http://globalopendatainitiative.org/declaration/

This Index is yours!

Heather Leson - October 9, 2014 in Community, Open Data, Open Data Census, Open Data Census, Open Data Index

How is your country doing with open data? You can make a difference in 5 easy steps to track 10 different datasets. Or, you can help us spread the word on how to contribute to the Open Data Index. This includes the very important translation of some key items into your local language. We’ll keep providing you week-by-week updates on the status of the community-driven project.

We’ve got a demo and some shareable slides to help you on your Index path.

Priority country help wanted

The amazing community provided content for over 70 countries last year. This year we set the bar higher with a goal of 100 countries. If you added details for your country last year, please be sure to add any updates this year. Also, we need some help. Are you from one of these countries? Do you have someone in your network who could potentially help? Please do put them in touch with the index team – index at okfn dot org.

DATASETS WANTED: Armenia, Bolivia, Georgia, Guyana, Haiti, Kosovo, Moldova, Morocco, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Yemen.

Video: Demo and Tips for contributing to the Open Data Index

This is a 40 minute video with some details all about the Open Data Index, including a demo to show you how to add datasets.

Text: Tutorial on How to help build the Open Data Index

We would encourage you to download this, make changes (add country specific details), translate and share back. Please simply share on the Open Data Census Mailing List or Tweet us @okfn.

Thanks again for sharing widely!

Open Definition v2.0 Released – Major Update of Essential Standard for Open Data and Open Content

Rufus Pollock - October 7, 2014 in Featured, News, Open Content, Open Data, Open Definition

Today Open Knowledge and the Open Definition Advisory Council are pleased to announce the release of version 2.0 of the Open Definition. The Definition “sets out principles that define openness in relation to data and content” and plays a key role in supporting the growing open data ecosystem.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the release of open data by dozens of governments including the G8. Recent estimates by McKinsey put the potential benefits of open data at over $1 trillion and others estimates put benefits at more than 1% of global GDP.

However, these benefits are at significant risk both from quality problems such as “open-washing” (non-open data being passed off as open) and from fragmentation of the open data ecosystem due to incompatibility between the growing number of “open” licenses.

The Open Definition eliminates these risks and ensures we realize the full benefits of open by guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility.See this recent post for more about why the Open Definition is so important.

The Open Definition was published in 2005 by Open Knowledge and is maintained today by an expert Advisory Council. This new version of the Open Definition is the most significant revision in the Definition’s nearly ten-year history.

It reflects more than a year of discussion and consultation with the community including input from experts involved in open data, open access, open culture, open education, open government, and open source. Whilst there are no changes to the core principles, the Definition has been completely reworked with a new structure and new text as well as a new process for reviewing licenses (which has been trialled with governments including the UK).

Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council, said:

“The Open Definition describes the principles that define “openness” in relation to data and content, and is used to assess whether a particular licence meets that standard. A key goal of this new version is to make it easier to assess whether the growing number of open licenses actually make the grade. The more we can increase everyone’s confidence in their use of open works, the more they will be able to focus on creating value with open works.”

Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge said:

“Since we created the Open Definition in 2005 it has played a key role in the growing open data and open content communities. It acts as the “gold standard” for open data and content guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility. As a standard, the Open Definition plays a key role in underpinning the “open knowledge economy” with a potential value that runs into the hundreds of billions – or even trillions – worldwide.”

What’s New

In process for more than a year, the new version was collaboratively and openly developed with input from experts involved in open access, open culture, open data, open education, open government, open source and wiki communities. The new version of the definition:

  • Has a complete rewrite of the core principles – preserving their meaning but using simpler language and clarifying key aspects.
  • Introduces a clear separation of the definition of an open license from an open work (with the latter depending on the former). This not only simplifies the conceptual structure but provides a proper definition of open license and makes it easier to “self-assess” licenses for conformance with the Open Definition.
  • The definition of an Open Work within the Open Definition is now a set of three key principles:
    • Open License: The work must be available under an open license (as defined in the following section but this includes freedom to use, build on, modify and share).
    • Access: The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable one-time reproduction cost, preferably downloadable via the Internet without charge
    • Open Format: The work must be provided in a convenient and modifiable form such that there are no unnecessary technological obstacles to the performance of the licensed rights. Specifically, data should be machine-readable, available in bulk, and provided in an open format or, at the very least, can be processed with at least one free/libre/open-source software tool.
  • Includes improved license approval process to make it easier for license creators to check conformance of their license with the Open Definition and to encourage reuse of existing open licenses

More Information

  • For more information about the Open Definition including the updated version visit: http://opendefinition.org/
  • For background on why the Open Definition matters, read the recent article ‘Why the Open Definition Matters’

Authors

This post was written by Herb Lainchbury, Chair of the Open Definition Advisory Council and Rufus Pollock, President and Founder of Open Knowledge

Brazilian Government Develops Toolkit to Guide Institutions in both Planning and Carrying Out Open Data Initatives

Guest - October 7, 2014 in Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a guest post by Nitai Silva of the Brazilian government’s open data team and was originally published on the Open Knowledge Brazil blog here.

Recently Brazilian government released the Kit de Dados Abertos (open data toolkit). The toolkit is made up of documents describing the process, methods and techniques for implementing an open data policy within an institution. Its goal is to both demystify the logic of opening up data and to share with public employees observed best practices that have emerged from a number of Brazilian government initiatives.

The toolkit focuses on the Plano de Dados Abertos – PDA (Open Data Plan) as the guiding instrument where commitments, agenda and policy implementation cycles in the institution are registered. We believe that making each public agency build it’s own PDA is a way to perpetuate the open data policy, making it a state policy and not just a transitory governmental action.

It is organized to facilitate the implementation of the main activities cycles that must be observed in an institution and provides links and manuals to assist in these activities. Emphasis is given to the actors/roles involved in each step and their responsibilities. It also helps to define a central person to monitor and maintain the PDA. The following diagram summarizes the macro steps of implementing an open data policy in an institution:

 

Processo Sistêmico de um PDA

 

Open data theme has been part of the Brazilian government’s agenda for over three years. Over this period, we have accomplished a number of important achievement including passing the Lei de Acesso à Informação – LAI (FOIA) (Access to Information Law), making commitments as part of our Open Government Partnership Action Plan and developing the Infraestrutura Nacional de Dados Abertos (INDA) (Open Data National Infrastructure). However, despite these accomplishments, for many public managers, open data activities remain the exclusive responsibility of the Information Technology department of their respective institution. This gap is, in many ways, the cultural heritage of the hierarchical, departmental model of carrying out public policy and is observed in many institutions.

The launch of the toolkit is the first of a series of actions prepared by the Ministry of Planning to leverage open data initiatives in federal agencies, as was defined in the Brazilian commitments in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The next step is to conduct several tailor made workshops designed to support major agencies in the federal government in the implementation of open data.

Despite it having been built with the aim of expanding the quality and quantity of open data made available by the federal executive branch agencies, we also made a conscious effort to make the toolkit generic enough generic enough for other branches and levels of government.

About the toolkit development:

It is also noteworthy to mention that the toolkit was developed on Github. Although the Github is known as an online and distributed environment for develop software, it has already being used for co-creation of text documents for a long time, even by governments. The toolkit is still hosted there, which allows anyone to make changes and propose improvements. The invitation is open, we welcome and encourage your collaboration.

Finally I would like to thank Augusto Herrmann, Christian Miranda, Caroline Burle and Jamila Venturini for participating in the drafting of this post!

Why the Open Definition Matters for Open Data: Quality, Compatibility and Simplicity

Rufus Pollock - September 30, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Definition, Policy

The Open Definition performs an essential function as a “standard”, ensuring that when you say “open data” and I say “open data” we both mean the same thing. This standardization, in turn, ensures the quality, compatibility and simplicity essential to realizing one of the main practical benefits of “openness”: the greatly increased ability to combine different datasets together to drive innovation, insight and change.

Recent years have seen an explosion in the release of open data by dozens of governments including the G8. Recent estimates by McKinsey put the potential benefits of open data at over $100bn and others estimate benefits at more than 1% of global GDP.

However, these benefits are at significant risk both from quality-dilution and “open-washing”” (non-open data being passed off as open) as well as from fragmentation of the ecosystem as the proliferation of open licenses each with their own slightly different terms and conditions leads to incompatibility.

The Open Definition helps eliminates these risks and ensure we realize the full benefits of open. It acts as the “gold standard” for open content and data guaranteeing quality and preventing incompatibility.

This post explores in more detail why it’s important to have the Open Definition and the clear standard it provides for what “open” means in open data and open content.

Three Reasons

There are three main reasons why the Open Definition matters for open data:

Quality: open data should mean the freedom for anyone to access, modify and share that data. However, without a well-defined standard detailing what that means we could quickly see “open” being diluted as lots of people claim their data is “open” without actually providing the essential freedoms (for example, claiming data is open but actually requiring payment for commercial use). In this sense the Open Definition is about “quality control”.

Compatibility: without an agreed definition it becomes impossible to know if your “open” is the same as my “open”. This means we cannot know whether it’s OK to connect your open data and my open data together since the terms of use may, in fact, be incompatible (at the very least I’ll have to start consulting lawyers just to find out!). The Open Definition helps guarantee compatibility and thus the free ability to mix and combine different open datasets which is one of the key benefits that open data offers.

Simplicity: a big promise of open data is simplicity and ease of use. This is not just in the sense of not having to pay for the data itself, its about not having to hire a lawyer to read the license or contract, not having to think about what you can and can’t do and what it means for, say, your business or for your research. A clear, agreed definition ensures that you do not have to worry about complex limitations on how you can use and share open data.

Let’s flesh these out in a bit more detail:

Quality Control (avoiding “open-washing” and “dilution” of open)

A key promise of open data is that it can freely accessed and used. Without a clear definition of what exactly that means (e.g. used by whom, for what purpose) there is a risk of dilution especially as open data is attractive for data users. For example, you could quickly find people putting out what they call “open data” but only non-commercial organizations can access the data freely.

Thus, without good quality control we risk devaluing open data as a term and concept, as well as excluding key participants and fracturing the community (as we end up with competing and incompatible sets of “open” data).

Compatibility

A single piece of data on its own is rarely useful. Instead data becomes useful when connected or intermixed with other data. If I want to know about the risk of my home getting flooded I need to have geographic data about where my house is located relative to the river and I need to know how often the river floods (and how much).

That’s why “open data”, as defined by the Open Definition, isn’t just about the freedom to access a piece of data, but also about the freedom connect or intermix that dataset with others.

Unfortunately, we cannot take compatibility for granted. Without a standard like the Open Definition it becomes impossible to know if your “open” is the same as my “open”. This means, in turn, that we cannot know whether it’s OK to connect (or mix) your open data and my open data together (without consulting lawyers!) – and it may turn out that we can’t because your open data license is incompatible with my open data license.

Think of power sockets around the world. Imagine if every electrical device had a different plug and needed a different power socket. When I came over to your house I’d need to bring an adapter! Thanks to standardization at least in a given country power-sockets are almost always the same – so I bring my laptop over to your house without a problem. However, when you travel abroad you may have to take adapter with you. What drives this is standardization (or its lack): within your own country everyone has standardized on the same socket type but different countries may not share a standard and hence you need to get an adapter (or run out of power!).

For open data, the risk of incompatibility is growing as more open data is released and more and more open data publishers such as governments write their own “open data licenses” (with the potential for these different licenses to be mutually incompatible).

The Open Definition helps prevent incompatibility by:

Join the Global Open Data Index 2014 Sprint

Mor Rubinstein - September 29, 2014 in Community, Featured, Open Data

In 2012 the Open Knowledge launched the Global Open Data Index to help track the state of open data around the world. We’re now in the process of collecting submissions for the 2014 Open Data Index and we want your help!

Global Open Data Census: Survey

How can you contribute?

The main thing you can do is become a Contributor and add information about the state of open data in your country to the Open Data Index Survey. More details and quickstart guide to contributing here »

We also have other ways you can help:

Become a Mentor: Mentors support the Index in a variety of ways from engaging new contributors, mentoring them and generally promoting the Index in their community. Activities can include running short virtual “office hours” to support and advise other contributors, promoting the Index with civil society organizations – blogging, tweeting etc. To apply to be a Mentor, please fill in this form.

Become a Reviewer: Reviewers are specially selected experts who review submissions and check them to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date and that the Index is generally of high-quality. To apply to be a Reviewer, fill in this form.

Mailing Lists and Twitter

The Open Data Index mailing list is the main communication channel for folks who have questions or want to get in touch: https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-data-census

For twitter, keep an eye on updates via #openindex14

Key dates for your calendar

We will kick off on September 30th, in Mexico City with a virtual and in-situ event at Abre LATAM and ConDatos (including LATAM regional skillshare meeting!). Keep an eye on Twitter to find out more details at #openindex14. Sprints will be taking place throughout October, with a global sprint taking place on 30 October!

More on this to follow shortly, keep an eye on this space.

Why the Open Data Index?

The last few years has seen an explosion of activity around open data and especially open government data. Following initiatives like data.gov and data.gov.uk, numerous local, regional and national bodies have started open government data initiatives and created open data portals (from a handful three years ago there are now nearly 400 open data portals worldwide).

But simply putting a few spreadsheets online under an open license is obviously not enough. Doing open government data well depends on releasing key datasets in the right way.

Moreover, with the proliferation of sites it has become increasingly hard to track what is happening: which countries, or municipalities, are actually releasing open data and which aren’t? Which countries are releasing data that matters? Which countries are releasing data in the right way and in a timely way?

The Global Open Data Index was created to answer these sorts of questions, providing an up-to-date and reliable guide to the state of global open data for policy-makers, researchers, journalists, activists and citizens.

The first initiative of its kind, the Global Open Data Index is regularly updated and provides the most comprehensive snapshot available of the global state of open data. The Index is underpinned by a detailed annual survey of the state of open data run by Open Knowledge in collaboration with open data experts and communities around the world.

Global Open Data Index: survey

A Data Revolution that Works for All of Us

Rufus Pollock - September 24, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Development, Open Government Data, Our Work, Policy

Many of today’s global challenges are not new. Economic inequality, the unfettered power of corporations and markets, the need to cooperate to address global problems and the unsatisfactory levels of accountability in democratic governance – these were as much problems a century ago as they remain today.

What has changed, however – and most markedly – is the role that new forms of information and information technology could potentially play in responding to these challenges.

What’s going on?

The incredible advances in digital technology mean we have an unprecedented ability to create, share and access information. Furthermore, these technologies are increasingly not just the preserve of the rich, but are available to everyone – including the world’s poorest. As a result, we are living in a (veritable) data revolution – never before has so much data – public and personal – been collected, analysed and shared.

However, the benefits of this revolution are far from being shared equally.

On the one hand, some governments and corporations are already using this data to greatly increase their ability to understand – and shape – the world around them. Others, however, including much of civil society, lack the necessary access and capabilities to truly take advantage of this opportunity. Faced with this information inequality, what can we do?

How can we enable people to hold governments and corporations to account for the decisions they make, the money they spend and the contracts they sign? How can we unleash the potential for this information to be used for good – from accelerating research to tackling climate change? And, finally, how can we make sure that personal data collected by governments and corporations is used to empower rather than exploit us?

So how should we respond?

Fundamentally, we need to make sure that the data revolution works for all of us. We believe that key to achieving this is to put “open” at the heart of the digital age. We need an open data revolution.

We must ensure that essential public-interest data is open, freely available to everyone. Conversely, we must ensure that data about me – whether collected by governments, corporations or others – is controlled by and accessible to me. And finally, we have to empower individuals and communities – especially the most disadvantaged – with the capabilities to turn data into the knowledge and insight that can drive the change they seek.

In this rapidly changing information age – where the rules of the game are still up for grabs – we must be active, seizing the opportunities we have, if we are to ensure that the knowledge society we create is an open knowledge society, benefiting the many not the few, built on principles of collaboration not control, sharing not monopoly, and empowerment not exploitation.

Launching a new collaboration in Macedonia with Metamorphosis and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Guest - September 18, 2014 in Open Data

Dona

As part of the The Open Data Civil Society Network Project, School of Data Fellow, Dona Djambaska, who works with the local independent nonprofit, Metamorphosis, explains the value of the programme and what we hope to achieve over the next 24 months.

“The concept of Open Data is still very fresh among Macedonians. Citizens, CSOs and activists are just beginning to realise the meaning and power hidden in data. They are beginning to sense that there is some potential for them to use open data to support their causes, but in many cases they still don’t understand the value of open data, how to advocate for it, how to find it and most importantly – how to use it!

Metamorphosis was really pleased to get this incredible opportunity to work with the UK Foreign Office and our colleagues at Open Knowledge, to help support the open data movement in Macedonia. We know that an active open data ecosystem in Macedonia, and throughout the Balkan region, will support Metamorphosis’s core objectives of improving democracy and increasing quality of life for our citizens.

It’s great to help all these wonderful minds join together and co-build a community where everyone gets to teach and share. This collaboration with Open Knowledge and the UK Foreign Office is a really amazing stepping-stone for us.

We are starting the programme with meet-ups and then moving to more intense (online and offline) communications and awareness raising events. We hope our tailored workshops will increase the skills of local CSOs, journalists, students, activists or curious citizens to use open data in their work – whether they are trying to expose corruption or find new efficiencies in the delivery of government services.

We can already see the community being built, and the network spreading among Macedonian CSOs and hope that this first project will be part of a more regional strategy to support democratic processes across the Balkan region.”

Read our full report on the project: Improving governance and higher quality delivery of government services in Macedonia through open data


Dona Djambaska, Macedonia.

Dona graduated in the field of Environmental Engineering and has been working with the Metamorphosis foundation in Skopje for the past six years assisting on projects in the field of information society.

There she has focused on organising trainings for computer skills, social media, online promotion, photo and video activism. Dona is also an active contributor and member of the Global Voices Online community. She dedicates her spare time to artistic and activism photography.

Open data for Development Training Starts Tomorrow!

Katelyn Rogers - September 16, 2014 in Open Data, Open Government Data

This is a guest post written by Justyna Krol of the UNDP and originally posted on the UNDP blog.
development

>> Is data literacy the key to citizen engagement in anti-corruption efforts?

Access to open data is transforming the way we live of our lives, and the conversation in our region is just beginning.

Governments are opening their data, joining the Open Government Partnership, and trying to work together with the civil society organizations and the private sector to build an open data ecosystem in their countries.

This Wednesday, public officials from fifteen countries in the region will meet in Istanbul for the Open Data for Social and Economic Development Training.

 

In two days of intensive sessions, we will be discussing a number of pressing topics.

On the day one, the focus will be on the arguments for and against implementation of the open data agenda in the region.

We will look at how best to build an open data ecosystem in the country. Three sessions will provide space to discuss country-specific experiences with opening the data, alongside some of the challenges governments in the region might face.

The second day will be devoted to the technical aspects. We will analyze what it means to really open the data, where to start, and how much does it cost. We will test a few useful tools, and discuss the follow-up to the event for individual countries.

For those of you, who are interested in joining the event online, we are going to live stream the first session delivered by the World Bank on Wednesday (9:00 AM EEST).

A presentation by Oleg Petrov and Andrew Stott will be followed by a panel discussion with experts from Moldova, fYR Macedonia, and Kosovo* sharing their experiences in opening governmental data.

To watch this session, join us the hangout on air or simply play this video:

And of course, we’ll be tweeting!

I am proud to say that the event is co-sponsored by the Partnership for Open Data, which also means that we will have with us fantastic experts and trainers from: the World Bank, the Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation. What a treat!

Join us online this Wednesday and Thursday and stay tuned for post-event blog posts and presentations!

 

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