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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.
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>> 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!

 

Code for Germany launched!

Guest - August 6, 2014 in OKF Germany, Open Data

This is a guest blog post by Fiona Krakenbürger, research associate at Open Knowledge Foundation DE and Community Manager at Code for Germany

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In July 2014, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany launched its program “Code for Germany! Prior to the OK Festival in Berlin, we presented the project to the media, international partners, city representatives, members of our Advisory Board and friends from far and wide. It was a honour for us to welcome partners, supporters and members of the program to the stage. Among them were Lynn Fine from Code for America, Gabriella Goméz-Mont from the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost (Digital Champion Germany) and Nicolas Zimmer (Technologiestiftung Berlin).

An essential focus of the launch and of the project was directed towards the community of Civic Tech pioneers and Open Data enthusiasts. We wanted developers and designers who are interested and active in the field of Open Data to get involved and inspired to start Open Knowledge Labs in their city. We started Code for Germany.

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The feedback so far has been amazing. In the past few months, fourteen Labs have sprouted up all across the country, bringing together more than 150 people on a regular basis to work on civic tech, use open data, and make the most of their skills to better their cities. This has all added up to more than 4000 hours of civic hacking and has resulted in multiple apps and projects.

The different OK Labs have been the source of a great variety of projects, tackling different topics and social challenges. For example, the OK Lab in Hamburg has a strong focus on urban development, and have created a map which shows the distribution of playgrounds in the city. An app from the OK Lab Heilbronn depicts the quality of tap water according to the region, and another from the OK Lab Cologne helps users find the closest defibrillator in their area. One more of our favourite developments is called “Kleiner Spatz”, which translates to “Little Sparrow” and helps parents find available child care spaces in their city.

We could go on and on listing our favourite projects, prototypes and ideas emerging from the OK Labs but why not check out the list for yourself to see what amazing things can be built with technology?

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Still, this is just the beginning. We are now going into the next phase: In the coming months we want to strengthen the various communities and establish ties with officials, governments and administrations. We believe that the government of the 21st Century should be open, transparent and accountable. Therefore we want to foster innovation in the field of Open Data, Civic Innovation and Public Services and create fertile collaborations between citizens and governments. Numerous useful visualizations and apps created by the OK Labs have now laid the foundation for these developments.

We are so excited about the upcoming events, projects, partners and inspiring people we have yet to meet. So far, Code for Germany has been a blast! And last (but certainly not least) we would like to express our most heartfelt gratitude towards the community of developers and designers who have contributed so much already. You rock & stay awesome!

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The Business Case for Open Data

Martin Tisne - June 23, 2014 in Business, Open Data

Martin Tisné, Omidyar Network’s director, policy (UK) and Nicholas Gruen, economist and CEO of Lateral Economics, last week unveiled in Canberra the report, Open for Business. It is the first study to quantify and illustrate the potential of Open Data to help achieve the G20’s economic growth target. Martin makes the economic case for open data below.

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The G20 and Open Data: Open for Business

Open data cuts across a number of this year’s G20 priorities and could achieve more than half of the G20’s 2% growth target.

The business case for open data

Economic analysis has confirmed the significant contribution to economic growth and productivity achievable through an open data agenda. Governments, the private sector, individuals and communities all stand to benefit from the innovation and information that will inform investment, drive the creation of new industries, and inform decision making and research. To mark a step change in the way valuable information is created and reused, the G20 should release information as open data.

In May 2014, Omidyar Network commissioned Lateral Economics to undertake economic analysis on the potential of open data to support the G20’s 2% growth target and illustrate how an open data agenda can make a significant contribution to economic growth and productivity. Combining all G20 economies, output could increase by USD 13 trillion cumulatively over the next five years. Implementation of open data policies would thus boost cumulative G20 GDP by around 1.1 percentage points (almost 55%) of the G20’s 2% growth target over five years.

Recommendations

Importantly, open data cuts across a number of this year’s G20 priorities: attracting private infrastructure investment, creating jobs and lifting participation, strengthening tax systems and fighting corruption. This memo suggests an open data thread that runs across all G20 priorities. The more data is opened, the more it can be used, reused, repurposed and built on—in combination with other data—for everyone’s benefit.

We call on G20 economies to sign up to the Open Data Charter.

The G20 should ensure that data released by G20 working groups and themes is in line with agreed open data standards. This will lead to more accountable, efficient, effective governments who are going further to expose inadequacy, fight corruption and spur innovation.

Data is a national resource and open data is a ‘win-win’ policy. It is about making more of existing resources. We know that the cost of opening data is smaller than the economic returns, which could be significant. Methods to respect privacy concerns must be taken into account. If this is done, as the public and private sector share of information grows, there will be increasing positive returns.

The G20 opportunity

This November, leaders of the G20 Member States will meet in Australia to drive forward commitments made in the St Petersburg G20 Leaders Declaration last September and to make firm progress on stimulating growth. Actions across the G20 will include increasing investment, lifting employment and participation, enhancing trade and promoting competition.

The resulting ‘Brisbane Action Plan’ will encapsulate all of these commitments with the aim of raising the level of G20 output by at least 2% above the currently projected level over the next five years. There are major opportunities for cooperative and collective action by G20 governments.

Governments should intensify the release of existing public sector data – both government and publicly funded research data. But much more can be done to promote open data than simply releasing more government data. In appropriate circumstances, governments can mandate public disclosure of private sector data (e.g. in corporate financial reporting).

Recommendations for action

  • G20 governments should adopt the principles of the Open Data Charter to encourage the building of stronger, more interconnected societies that better meet the needs of our citizens and allow innovation and prosperity to flourish.
  • G20 governments should adopt specific open data targets under each G20 theme, as illustrated below, such as releasing open data related to beneficial owners of companies, as well revenues from extractive industries
  • G20 governments should consider harmonizing licensing regimes across the G20
  • G20 governments should adopt metrics for measuring the quantity and quality of open data publication, e.g. using the Open Data Institute’s Open Data Certificates as a bottom-up mechanism for driving the adoption of common standards.

Illustrative G20 examples

Fiscal and monetary policy

Governments possess rich real time data that is not open or accessed by government macro-economic managers. G20 governments should:

  • Open up models that lie behind economic forecasts and help assess alternative policy settings;
  • Publish spending and contractual data to enable comparative shopping by government between government suppliers.

Anti corruption

Open data may directly contribute to reduced corruption by increasing the likelihood corruption will be detected. G20 governments should:

  • Release open data related to beneficial owners of companies as well as revenues from extractive industries,
  • Collaborate on harmonised technical standards that permit the tracing of international money flows – including the tracing of beneficial owners of commercial entities, and the comparison and reconciliation of transactions across borders.

Trade

Obtaining and using trade data from multiple jurisdictions is difficult. Access fees, specific licenses, and non-machine readable formats all involve large transaction costs. G20 governments should:

  • Harmonise open data policies related to trade data.
  • Use standard trade schema and formats.

Employment

Higher quality information on employment conditions would facilitate better matching of employees to organizations, producing greater job-satisfaction and improved productivity. G20 governments should:

  • Open up centralised job vacancy registers to provide new mechanisms for people to find jobs.
  • Provide open statistical information about the demand for skills in particular areas to help those supporting training and education to hone their offerings.

Energy

Open data will help reduce the cost of energy supply and improve energy efficiency. G20 governments should:

  • Provide incentives for energy companies to publish open data from consumers and suppliers to enable cost savings through optimizing energy plans.
  • Release energy performance certifications for buildings
  • Publish real-time energy consumption for government buildings.

Infrastructure

Current infrastructure asset information is fragmented and inefficient. Exposing current asset data would be a significant first step in understanding gaps and providing new insights. G20 governments should:

  • Publish open data on governments’ infrastructure assets and plans to better understand infrastructure gaps, enable greater efficiency and insights in infrastructure development and use and analyse cost/benefits.
  • Publish open infrastructure data, including contracts via Open Contracting Partnership, in a consistent and harmonised way across G20 countries.

Other examples of value to date

  • In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s decision nearly three decades ago to release their data sets to the public resulted in a burst of innovations — including forecasts, mobile applications, websites, research – and a multi-billion dollar weather industry.
  • Open government data in the EU would increase business activity by €40Bn. Indirect benefits (people using data driven services) total up to €140Bn a year[1].
  • Mckinsey research suggests that seven sectors alone could generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value as a result of open data.
  • Releasing as open data in Denmark in 2002 gave €62m benefits 2005-2009 against €2m cost. ROI in 2010: €14m benefit against €0.2m cost[2].
  • Open data exposed C$3.2Bn misuse of charitable status in tax code in Canada[3].
  • Over £200m/year could have been saved by the NHS from the publication of open data on just one class of prescription drugs[4].

[1] https://www.ereg-association.eu/actualities/archive.php?action=show_article&news_id=167

[2] http://www.adresse-info.dk/Portals/2/Benefit/Value_Assessment_Danish_Address_Data_UK_2010-07-07b.pdf

[3] http://eaves.ca/2010/04/14/case-study-open-data-and-the-public-purse/

[4] http://theodi.org/news/prescription-savings-worth-millions-identified-odi-incubated-company

Community Sessions: Video Skillshare and Open Education

Heather Leson - June 9, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFestival, Open Data, Open Education, Technical

Happy June! We have a few Community Sessions to announce. OKFestival is almost a month away. Videos are key for storytelling, so we are hosting a Video Skillshare to help us all learn. The Open Education Working Group will join us to talk about why open data matters in education. Join us for these two community sessions.

Take a Video: Preparing for OKFestival

cameras in baskets Storytelling is key to building Open. Join Sam Muirhead of Cameralibre and the Open Knowledge team to learn some tips and tricks about video. We are preparing for OkFest and hope this skillshare helps everyone.

  • Date:Thursday, June 12, 2014
  • Time: 9:30 EDT/13:30 UTC/14:30 BST/15:30 CST
  • Our guest is Sam Muirhead.
  • Duration: 1 hour (This will be recorded)
  • Register

We’ll cover some topics like: What you need to think about before and during shooting to make sure footage is high quality and relevant, Hard-to-fix but easy-to-avoid mistakes, Tips and tricks for editing a simple interview or event video and some VERY basic technical guidelines eg. what settings to use for recording, exporting, etc.

Sam was kind enough to share some resources:

Why Open Data matters to Education

Open Education is a very active global community. Join Marieke and Octavio to learn more about why open data matters to education. Also, learn about the many facets of open education and how to get involved.

This session builds on the Make it Matter Workshop all about using Open methods in Education. See all previous Making it Matter workshopvideos. We’ll share all about open data in education, learn about the Open Education Working group and hear about work in Brazil and the UK.

About Open Education

  • Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014
  • Time: 8:00 EDT / 12:00 UTC / 13:00 BST/14:00 CEST
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Register

If you have a ideas for upcoming sessions, please ping heather DOT leson AT okfn DOT org.

(Photo by Heather Leson, Venice Biennale. Art by Magdalena Campos-Pons)

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!

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Open-washing” – The difference between opening your data and simply making them available

Christian Villum - March 10, 2014 in Open Data

(This is the English version of the Danish blog post originally posted on the Open Knowledge Foundation Danish site and translated from Danish by Christian Villum, “Openwashing” – Forskellen mellem åbne data og tilgængelige data)

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Last week, the Danish it-magazine Computerworld, in an article entitled “Check-list for digital innovation: These are the things you must know“, emphasised how more and more companies are discovering that giving your users access to your data is a good business strategy. Among other they wrote:

(Translation from Danish) According to Accenture it is becoming clear to many progressive businesses that their data should be treated as any other supply chain: It should flow easily and unhindered through the whole organisation and perhaps even out into the whole eco-system – for instance through fully open API’s.

They then use Google Maps as an example, which firstly isn’t entirely correct, as also pointed out by the Neogeografen, a geodata blogger, who explains how Google Maps isn’t offering raw data, but merely an image of the data. You are not allowed to download and manipulate the data – or run it off your own server.

But secondly I don’t think it’s very appropriate to highlight Google and their Maps project as a golden example of a business that lets its data flow unhindered to the public. It’s true that they are offering some data, but only in a very limited way – and definitely not as open data – and thereby not as progressively as the article suggests.

Surely it’s hard to accuse Google of not being progressive in general. The article states how Google Maps’ data are used by over 800,000 apps and businesses across the globe. So yes, Google has opened its silo a little bit, but only in a very controlled and limited way, which leaves these 800,000 businesses dependent on the continual flow of data from Google and thereby not allowing them to control the very commodities they’re basing their business on. This particular way of releasing data brings me to the problem that we’re facing: Knowing the difference between making data available and making them open.

Open data is characterized by not only being available, but being both legally open (released under an open license that allows full and free reuse conditioned at most to giving credit to it’s source and under same license) and technically available in bulk and in machine readable formats – contrary to the case of Google Maps. It may be that their data are available, but they’re not open. This – among other reasons – is why the global community around the 100% open alternative Open Street Map is growing rapidly and an increasing number of businesses choose to base their services on this open initiative instead.

But why is it important that data are open and not just available? Open data strengthens the society and builds a shared resource, where all users, citizens and businesses are enriched and empowered, not just the data collectors and publishers. “But why would businesses spend money on collecting data and then give them away?” you ask. Opening your data and making a profit are not mutually exclusive. Doing a quick Google search reveals many businesses that both offer open data and drives a business on them – and I believe these are the ones that should be highlighted as particularly progressive in articles such as the one from Computerworld.

One example is the British company OpenCorporates, which offer their growing repository of corporate register data as open data, and thereby cleverly positions themselves as a go-to resource in that field. This approach strengthens their opportunity to offer consultancy services, data analysis and other custom services for both businesses and the public sector. Other businesses are welcome to use the data, even for competitive use or to create other services, but only under the same data license – and thereby providing a derivative resource useful for OpenCorporates. Therein lies the real innovation and sustainability – effectively removing the silos and creating value for society, not just the involved businesses. Open data creates growth and innovation in our society – while Google’s way of offering data probably mostly creates growth for…Google.

We are seeing a rising trend of what can be termed “open-washing” (inspired by “greenwashing“) – meaning data publishers that are claiming their data is open, even when it’s not – but rather just available under limiting terms. If we – at this critical time in the formative period of the data driven society – aren’t critically aware of the difference, we’ll end up putting our vital data streams in siloed infrastructure built and owned by international corporations. But also to give our praise and support to the wrong kind of unsustainable technological development.

To learn more about open data visit the Open Definition and this introduction to the topic by the the Open Knowledge Foundation. To voice your opinion join the mailing list for Open Knowledge Foundation.

What does open data mean to you?

Guest - March 4, 2014 in Open Data

Guest blog post is cross-posted from the Publish What You Fund blog.

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Two and a half months researching Open Data in (a part of) Asia

Guest - February 28, 2014 in Community Stories, Featured Project, OKF Cambodia, OKF Hong Kong, Open Data

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This is the third 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. Read also the first blog post and the second one.

After the first 6 months in East Europe and India, we landed in the Asian continent and had two and a half months to explore South-East Asia, Hong Kong and Japan. Starting first planning meetings and workshops in the Mekong Region, we rapidly understood there are not numerous organisations working on Open Knowledge there, compared to the previous visited countries.

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The Mekong Basin Region and its lack of Open Data momentum

In none of the countries we passed by in South-East Asia (Thailand, Cambodia & Laos) we could find a strong will from the public administration to promote Open Data (OD) or Open Government (OG) initiatives. However, each government has its own different experience. Let’s take a look at this in detail:

In Thailand, we got in contact with Opendream, a company focused on developing web and mobile apps around social issues, mostly using and released as Open Source. Organising our workshop in their offices brought us closer to the singular Thai Open Data history. A plan for releasing data to the public domain through an Open Data platform (which was built by Opendream members) had already been initiated under the mandate of the previous Prime Minister, but surprisingly dismissed few months afterwards when the power changed hands. At the time of our visit, this first attempt was not available anymore on the web and there was no plan to do a second one. Considering other kind of organisations than the public sector, we discovered Thai Netizen Network, a small group of advocates working on intellectual property. We met Arthit Suriyawongkul, its founder, who is also one of the activists working on the Thai adaptation of the Creative Commons license. According to him, the Open movement in Thailand can be summarized in a few individuals who might be connected via social networks but don’t represent in any case an active and regular meeting group.

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In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia which was our next stop, Open Data is neither the priority of the government. But there, we could meet several organisations, mostly NGOs, and also gathered numerous students, journalists and human rights advocates as attendees at our events. This reflects a big interest in both data visualisation and data journalism. Our 3 workshops were respectively organised at the national high school for media practitioners (the DMC of the Royal University), with the German GIZ (the Public Agency for International Cooperation) and with Transparency International Cambodia. One of the organisations we particularly consider relevant to mention is Open Development Cambodia (ODC), which manages the only online platform in Cambodia where local data is being aggregated and shared. The elaborate map visualisations of this NGO are the proof that the civil society is active and that making use of data is already a know tool to bring awareness and to address specific issues Cambodia has to face. ODC’s team is working hard on it and together with the newly created OKFN local group, they are the ones leading the efforts. Not to forget is the great event they organised for the international Open Data Day this year.

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What about Laos? The neighbouring country has an even more difficult situation than Thailand and we could not discover any initiative there which can be categorized as open, neither from the public administration nor from the civil society. In Vientiane, we met the IT-team behind the data portal of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental agency between Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, created to preserve the Mekong basin region and improve its water management. The data portal is a platform gathering and analysing data on (among others) water quality through various maps and reports. Sadly, due to national policies and the strict rules defined by the collaboration between these four countries, the data is not available as open but some fees and copyright apply for download and re-use.

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A different story : Hong Kong and Japan

South-East Asia can definitely not reflect all Asia and what we discovered during the rest of our journey was the antipode of the first three countries mentioned. We headed further East and arrived in Hong Kong, where we were already in contact since we left Berlin with two active organisations: DimSumLabs (hackerspace) and Open Data Hong Kong (ODHK). DimSumLabs offered us its space and ODHK its warm support to run our session in the big metropole. As they both have built a great community of activists and enthusiasts, the topic of Open Data and Open Cultures in general is large known and there was no need to present our usual beginners-targeted workshop. Instead of that, we prepared new contents and did a recap of the most exciting projects we had discovered so far. It resulted in a very interesting discussion about the status of Hong Kong as “Special Administration Region” of China. The city still remains under China´s rules (has no Freedom of Information Act) but its autonomy allows a “healthy” environment for OD/OG initiatives. The existence of the Open Data platform and Open Data challenges are a proof of it.

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On the same line, Japan was a productive stop for our research. First, we visited the Mozilla factory, created last year in the centre of Tokyo. A fantastic open space for everyone to learn and work on the web, equipped with tools such as 3D printers and greatly designed with Open Source furnitures available for download and re-use. On our meeting, we discovered also about their new project called MozBus, a refurbished camping van turned into a nomadic web factory that can provide internet infrastructure at remote areas after natural disasters. The International Open Data Day (22nd February 2014) happened during our stay in this last stop in Asia and we participated in the event organised in Kyoto. There, volunteers from public and private sector and members of the OpenStreetMap Foundation scheduled an one-day workshop to teach citizens with different backgrounds and ages how to use OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia, with the main purpose to document and report historical buildings of the city. In addition, this event was also a good place to research about the status of OD/OG initiatives in Japan. If the government has worked on a strategy for many years (with focus on how can OD/OG make disaster management more efficient) and seems to be in the list of the much advanced countries; the national Open Data platform, launched in beta, dates from last December and there are, generally speaking, still improvements needed, particularly regarding the licenses applied for spending and budgeting data.

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But that is not all what is happening in Asia

Although we would really have loved to, it was not possible for us to be all over the continent and discover all the projects and initiatives currently going on. Countries as Indonesia, Philippines or Taiwan present an advanced status regarding Open Data and we would definitely have had a lot to document if our route would have passed there. We invite you to read this sum-up about the Open Data situation in Asia (put together by a folk on the OKFN-Discuss mailing list after last year’s OKCon) to get a more detailed idea on the different contexts the Asian continent shows. It’s a very good read!

After Asia, keeping heading East, we are now reaching South-America and this is here where the last part of our one-year research begins. We have now four months to go through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Peru and the first contacts we could establish are really promising …. follow us to get updated!

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