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Open Knowledge appoints Pavel Richter as new CEO

Rufus Pollock - April 29, 2015 in Featured, News, open knowledge, Open Knowledge Foundation, Press

I am delighted to announce we have found the newest member of the Open Knowledge team: Pavel Richter joins us as our new CEO!

Pavel Richter

Pavel’s appointment marks a new chapter in the development of Open Knowledge, which, over the last ten years, has grown into one of the leading global organisations working on open data and open knowledge in government, research, and culture.

Pavel has a rich and varied background including extensive time both in business and in the non-profit sector. In particular, Pavel brings his experience from over five years as the Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland: under his leadership, it grew to more than 70 staff, an annual budget of nearly 5 million Euros, and initiated major new projects such as Wikidata. Pavel’s engagement follows an extensive international search, led by a team including members of the Board of Directors as well as a Community Representative.

Personally, I am delighted and excited to welcome Pavel as CEO. This appointment represents an important step in the development of Open Knowledge as an organisation and community. Over the last decade, and especially in the last five years, we have achieved an immense amount.

Going forward one of our most important opportunities – and challenges – will be to forge and catalyse a truly global movement to put openness at the heart of the information age. Pavel’s experience, insight and passion make him more than equal to this task and I am thrilled to be able to work with him, and support him, as he takes on this role.

Open Knowledge Foundation and BBC sign Memorandum of Understanding

Sam Leon - November 27, 2013 in Press, Uncategorized

On Monday of this week, the Open Knowledge Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the BBC. The BBC also signed separate memorandums with the Europeana Foundation, the Open Data Institute and the Mozilla Foundation.

Laura James, CEO of the Open Knowledge Foundation, signs the MoU with James Purnell, BBC Director of Strategy and Digital.

The signing is an important step in cementing the relationship between the Open Knowledge Foundation and one of the world’s largest broadcasting organisations. It also marks a new commitment on the part of the BBC to embrace open data and open standards. James Purnell, Director of Strategy and Digital at the BBC, said that this memorandum signalled that the BBC was “here for audience’s interests and not just the BBC’s” and that through it the BBC plans to find “find new ways to engage audiences”.

The signing ceremony was a formal recognition of the work the five organisations had done together and paved the way for future collaborations, some of which are already in the pipeline. In January 2014, for instance, the Open Knowledge Foundation, alongside the BBC and the Wikimedia community, will be coordinating the first ever “speakerthon”. Using the BBC’s vast radio archive, participants will tag and select snippets of notable individuals’ voices in order to upload them to Wikipedia articles as open content. Developers at the BBC are keen to use the crowdsourced data to tag other parts of the archive and automatically identify where else a given individual is speaking. This initiative is a great demonstration of the kind of benefit open data and open content can have for an organisation like the BBC. It allows them to simultaneously use their rich digital archive to improve existing open resources like Wikipedia, whilst developing new and innovative ways to harness the power of their audiences to improve their own digital assets (in this case through crowdsourced voice identification).

Collaborations like the “speakerthon”, which enable audiences to be contributors as well as consumers of broadcast media, can be a cause for concern for cultural institutions, especially those like the BBC which were born in the heyday of industrial one-way broadcasting. I commend the BBC for taking these first steps to re-configuring the traditional relationship it has with its audiences in allowing them a more participatory role.

That is not to say that the idea of open is somehow alien to the BBC, quite the opposite. The BBC has a long history of supporting technological innovation and using the benefits it bring to improve access to information. Indeed, in its Charter the BBC sets two of its central purposes: “to sustain citizenship and civil society” and “to help to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies”. In signing the memorandum of understanding on Monday, the BBC is affirming that it sees open data, open content and open standards as the key to connecting these two principles that are so deeply entrenched in its DNA.

As Bill Thompson, Head of Partnership Development at the BBC archive, said on Monday the memorandum marks only the first step in a long conversation between the five organisations. The challenge is to turn these words into actions and concrete collaborations that will unlock the potential of the BBC’s vast archive of culturally and historically-significant material.

What kind of collaborations between the BBC and the Open Knowledge Foundation would you like to see? What do you think are the possibilities for audience participation and technological innovation using open data at the BBC? Send us your ideas in the comments.

PRESS RELEASE: BBC signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Open Knowledge Foundation

Announcing Recline.JS: a Javascript library for building data applications in the browser

Rufus Pollock - July 5, 2012 in Featured, LOD2, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Textbooks, Press, Sprint / Hackday, Texts

Today we’re pleased to announce the first public release of Recline.JS, a simple but powerful open-source library for building data applications in pure Javascript.

For those of you who want to get hands on right away, you can:


What Is It?

Recline is a Javascript library of data components incuding grid, graphing and data connectors.

The aim of Recline is to weave together existing open-source components to create an easy to use but powerful platform for building your own data apps.

The views can be embedded in to other apps just like we’ve done for CKAN and the DataHub where it’s used for our data viewer and visualisations.

What makes Recline so versatile is its modularity, meaning you only need to take what you need for the data app you want to build.

Main features:

  • View (and edit) your data in a clean grid / table interface
  • Built in visualizations including graphs, maps and timelines
  • Load data from multiple sources including online CSV and Excel, local CSV, Google Docs, ElasticSearch and the DataHub
  • Bulk update/clean your data using an easy scripting UI
  • Easily extensible with new Backends so you can connect to your database or storage layer
  • Open-source, pure javascript and designed for integration — so it is easy to embed in other sites and applications
  • Built on the simple but powerful Backbone giving a clean and robust design which is easy to extend
  • Properly designed model with clean separation of data and presentation
  • Componentized design means you use only what you need

Who’s Behind It?

Recline has been developed by Rufus Pollock and Max Ogden with substantial contributions from the CKAN team including Adria Mercader and Aron Carroll.


There are a selection of demos now available on the Recline website for you to try out.

Multiview Demo


The Data Explorer




PRESS RELEASE: The world’s biggest open data event

Jonathan Gray - October 19, 2011 in Data Journalism, Events, News, OGDCamp, Open Data, Open Government Data, Press, Talks, WG Open Government Data, Working Groups

The following post is from Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

The Open Government Data Camp 2011 takes place tomorrow in Warsaw. We’re really excited. Our press release is below. We’d be grateful for any help in sending this to relevant colleagues and organisations!

> ## PRESS RELEASE: The world’s biggest open data event

> Hundreds of public servants, NGOs, journalists and developers will gather in a former factory building in Warsaw this week for what will be the world’s biggest ever open data event.

> Over 40 countries around the world will be represented at the camp, from city level projects in Manchester, Montreal or Munich to national initiatives like, as well as supranational institutions like the European Commission and the World Bank.

> Ellen Miller, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Sunlight Foundation, says: “We anticipate that this year’s Camp will convene the open data and transparency movement’s most creative thinkers, doers and advocates, whose conversations will help inspire many enduring solutions for using government data for the public good.”

> Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission and Digital Agenda Commissioner, says: “I am thrilled to see so much open data innovation going on in Europe. There is tremendous potential in this area – from enabling next generation public services, to creating jobs in the digital single market. This year’s Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw will enable key stakeholders from across Europe to exchange ideas and expertise.”

> Chris Taggart, Founder of, says: “Despite the successes of the past few years, the open data community faces considerable obstacles, from proprietary web services to governments who see open data as a threat. Open Government Data Camp will connect people who are serious about overcoming these issues and using open data to help to solve some of the world’s pressing problems.”

> Daniele Silva, part of a grassroots group of over 800 Brazilian hackers and activists, says: “To maximise the value of public data, there is just as much work to de done on the civic society side as there is on the government side. The camp in Warsaw is an opportunity for us to collaborate with groups from around the world to work towards a read/write culture for public data.”

> Nigel Shadboldt, who sits on the UK Government’s Public Sector Transparency Board, says: “Open Government Data creates social and economic value, improves public services, makes Governments more efficient, transparent and accountable. This Conference is about ensuring that more people understand how to make this work, more people can tackle the challenges and obstacles that arise, and more people are inspired to continue the work.”


> ## Notes for editors

> * For further information and interviews contact the organisers at > * The Open Government Data Camp 2011 takes place on 20-21st October in Warsaw, Poland. > * It is organised by over 30 organisations, coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation (UK) and Centrum Cyfrowe (Poland). A full list is available at: > * Further details at: . > * The event has been recently featured on the Guardian Datablog () and O’Reilly Radar ().

Release of to map open data around the world

Jonathan Gray - June 30, 2011 in CKAN, News, OKI Projects, Open Data, Open Government Data, Our Work, Press, Releases, Technical, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data, Working Groups

The following post is from Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

We’re very pleased to announce an alpha version of, a website to help keep track of open data catalogues from around the world. The project is being launched to coincide with our annual conference, OKCon 2011. You can see the site here:

The project was borne out of an extremely useful workshop on data catalogue interoperability in Edinburgh earlier this year, and then with a few further online meetings. It is powered by the CKAN software, which also powers and many other catalogues.

This is just the beginning of what we hope will become an invaluable resource for anyone interested in finding, using or having an overview of data catalogues from around the world. We have lots of ideas about improvements and features that we’d like to add. If you have anything you think we should prioritise, please let us know in comments below, or on the ckan-discuss list!

Below is a press release for the project (and here in Google Docs). If you know anyone who you think might be interested in this, we’d be most grateful for any help in passing it on!

PRESS RELEASE: Mapping open data around the world

BERLIN, 30th June 2011 – Today a broad coalition of stakeholders are launching, a new project to keep track of open data initiatives around the world.

Governments are beginning to recognise that opening up public information can bring about a wide variety of social and economic benefits – such as increasing transparency and efficiency, creating jobs in the new digital economy, and enabling web and mobile developers to create new useful applications and services for citizens.

But it can be difficult to keep up with the pace of developments in this area. Following on from the success of initiatives like the Obama administration’s and the UK government’s, nearly every week there is a new open data initiative from a local, regional or national government somewhere around the world – from Chicago to Torino, Morocco to Moldova.

A group of leading open data experts are helping to keep updated, including representatives from international bodies such as the World Bank, independent bodies such as the W3C and the Sunlight Foundation, and numerous national governments.

Neil Fantom, Manager of the World Bank’s Development Data Group, says: “Open data is public good, but only if you can find it – we’re pleased to see initiatives such as giving greater visibility to public information, allowing easier discovery of related content from different publishers and making open data more valuable for users.”

Beth Noveck, who ran President Obama’s open government programme and is now working with the UK Government says: “This project is a simple but important start to bringing together the community of key open data stakeholders. My hope is that grows into a vibrant place to articulate priorities, find and mash up data across jurisdictions and curate data-driven tools and initiatives that improve the effectiveness of government and the lives of citizens.”

Cathrine Lippert, of the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency says: “ is a brilliant guide to keeping track of all the data that is being opened up around the world. In addition to our own national data catalogue, we can now point data re-users to to locate data resources abroad.”

Andrew Stott, former Director of Digital Engagement at the UK’s Cabinet Office says: “This initiative will not only help data users find data in different jurisdictions but also help those implementing data catalogues to find good practice to emulate elsewhere in the world.”

Notes for editors

The Open Knowledge Foundation ( is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2004. It has played a significant role in supporting open data around the world, particularly in Europe, and helps to run the UK’s national data catalogue, is being launched at the Open Knowledge Foundation’s annual conference, OKCon 2011 ( which brings together developers, designers, civil servants, journalists and NGOS for a week of planning, coding and talks.

For further details please contact Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation on

Guardian piece on open data in science

Jonathan Gray - May 26, 2011 in Open Access, Open Data, Open Science, Open/Closed, Press, WG Open Data in Science, Working Groups

The following post is from Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

The Guardian recently published an interesting article on open data in science, including interviews with OKF Co-Founder Rufus Pollock and other leading voices from the world of open science.

Here’s Rufus:

> “The litmus test of openness is whether you can have access to the data,” says Dr Rufus Pollock, a co-founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, a group that promotes broader access to information and data. “If you have access to the data, then anyone can get it, use it, reuse it and redistribute it… we’ve always built on the work of others, stood on the shoulders of giants and learned from those who have gone before.”

> In the seven years since he started the organisation, Pollock, now in his early 30s, has helped build communities and tools around everything from economics data to Shakespeare’s sonnets. He says that it is increasingly vital for many scientists to adopt an open approach.

> “We have found ourselves in a weird dead end,” he says – where publicly funded science does not produce publicly accessible information. That leads to all kinds of problems, not least controversies such as the leaked climate change emails from the University of East Anglia, which led to claims of bias among the research team.

> But it’s more than just politics at stake – it’s also a fundamental right to share knowledge, rather than hide it. The best example of open science in action, he suggests, is the Human Genome Project, which successfully mapped our DNA and then made the data public. In doing so, it outflanked J Craig Venter’s proprietary attempt to patent the human genome, opening up the very essence of human life for science, rather than handing our biological information over to corporate interests.

> “It was a very large project in one of the most organised and information-rich areas of science, but it faced genuine competition from a closed model,” says Dr Pollock. “It is basically an extraordinary example and it could have gone in a very different way.”

Where does Italy’s money go?

Jonathan Gray - April 19, 2011 in Events, OKI Projects, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open/Closed, Press, Releases, Visualization, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data, Where Does My Money Go, Working Groups

The following post is from Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Over the past 48 hours or so we’ve been busy loading 12 years of Italian spending data into Open Spending. Further details on the project and the data are below.

This project was put together by Stefano Costa, Friedrich Lindenberg, Luca Nicotra, Angelo Centini, Elena Donnari, Diego Galli, and countless other passers by at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia (which I spoke at on Saturday).

If you’re interested in spending data in your country and you’d like to work with us to load it into the Open Spending platform, come and say hello on our wdmmg-discuss mailing list!

Update 2011-04-20: the release was covered in the Guardian (UK), Il Fatto Quotidiano (Italy), Il Post (Italy), La Stampa (Italy), Repubblica (Italy), and Wired (Italy).

English version

  • App:
  • Data:

What is this?

The visualisation is Italian public spending data which has been loaded into Open Spending, a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

What is the Open Spending project?

The Open Spending project aims to make it easier for the public to explore and understand government spending. It came out of Where Does My Money Go?, an award winning project which enables people to see how UK public funds are spent. Open Spending is currently working with groups and individuals in over 20 countries to set up an international database on public spending.

What is the story behind the Italian Open Spending project?

A small group of developers, journalists, civil servants and others collaborated to load the Italian data into the platform on a 48 hour sprint, starting at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, finishing at a conference on open government in Rome.

Where will the project be launched?

The project will be launched at a major conference on open government hosted at the Italian parliament in Rome on April 19th. This will bring together journalists, politicians, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, academics, civic society organisations, and representatives from public bodies to discuss the future of open government data in Italy.

How is Italian government spending data produced?

There are three separate levels of government (i) central administrations (government departments), (ii) regional administrations (20 regions and 2 autonomous provinces), and (iii) and local administrations (over 8,000 munipalities, plus 100+ provinces and mountain communities).

Spending documents and datasets are produced at each of these three layers – and are published on a variety of different governement websites. These are aggregated, analysed and republished by a variety of different public bodies for a variety of different purposes.

Where is the data from and where can I get it from?

The data is from the Regional Public Accounts (RPA) project. The data is already online on a dedicated website, where it is updated annually. You can find this data here.

What is the Regional Public Accounts (RPA) project?

The Regional Public Accounts (RPA) project provides an overview of spending from all of these layers of government from a single place, and consolidates spending flows between these different layers to provide a consistent, harmonised picture of the total public expenditure.

This work is executed by a unit based at the Department for Development and Economic Cohesion, which is supported by 21 units located in each region.

What time period does it cover?

The data that is currently loaded covers the period from 1996 to 2008.

How granular is the data?

To illustrate this with an example: the data will not tell you how many computers were bought for a school, and how much they each cost. But it will tell you how much was spent on personnel, educational support to households, or construction and maintenance in the school sector in a given region, and by which level of government the money was spent.

Versione Italiana

Dove vanno i nostri soldi?

  • Website:
  • Dati:

Cos’è questo progetto?

La visualizzazione della spesa pubblica italiana all’interno del progetto Open Spending dell’Open Knowledge Foundation.

Cos’è il progetto Open Spending?

Il progetto Open Spending mira a rendere piu’ semplice per il pubblico esplorare e comprendere la spesa pubblica. Deriva dal progetto Where Does My Money Go? un progetto vincitori di premi che permette di vedere come sono spesi i fondi pubblici della Gran Bretagna. Open Spending in questo momento sta lavorando con gruppi ed individui in più di 20 paesi per realizzare un database internazione sulla spesa pubblica.

Qual’è la storia del progetto italiano di Open Spending?

Un piccolo gruppo di sviluppatori, giornalisti, impiegati pubblici e altri hanno collaborato a caricare i dati italiani in una piattaforma in una corsa di 48 ore, iniziando al Festival Internazionale di Perugia, e finendo ad una conferenza sulla trasparenza e il governo aperto a Roma.

Dove sarà presentato il progetto?

Il progetto sarà lanciato in una importante conferenza sull’Open Governemnt intitolata “La Politica della Trasparenza e dei Dati Aperti” ospitata dal parlamento italiano a Roma il 19 Aprile. Un evento che radunerà giornalisti, politici, sviluppatori, imprenditori, accademici, organizzazioni della società civile, e rappresentanti del settore pubblico, per discutere del futuro dell’Open Government e dei dati aperti in Italia.

Come sono prodotti i dati sui conti pubblici italiani?

Ci sono tre diversi livelli di governo (i) le amministrazioni centrali (ii) le amministrazioni regionali (20 regioni e 2 provincie autonome) e (iii) le amministrazioni locali (oltre 8000 comuni, oltre 100 provincie e comunità montane).

I documenti di spesa sono prodotti da ognuno dei livelli di governo e sono pubblicati sui siti istituzionali delle varie amministrazioni centrali e locali.

Tali documenti e dati vengono aggregati, analizzati e ripubblicati da molte differenti amminsitrazioni per diveri scopi.

Da dove provengono i dati?

I dati provengono dal progetto Conti Pubblici Territoriali[6]. I dati sono già online su un sito dedicato, dove vengono aggiornati annualmente. Potete trovare questi dati qui.

Cosa sono i Conti Pubblici Territoriali?

Il progetto Conti Pubblici Territoriali (CPT) fornisce una visione d’insieme delle spese di tutti questi livelli di governo, e consolida i flussi di spesa tra questi diversi livelli per fornire un’immagine consistente e secondo una classificazione armonizzata della spesa pubblica italiana.

Questo lavoro è svolto da una unità basata al Dipartimento dello Sviluppo e della Coesione Economica, che è supportato da 21 unità regionali.

Che periodo coprono i dati?

I dati coprono attualmente il periodo dal 1996 al 2008.

Quanto sono granulari i dati?

Per spiegarlo con un esempio: i dati non forniscono dettagli su quanti computer siano stati acquistati per una scuola, o quanto costi ciascuno di essi. Ma diranno quanto viene speso per il personale, per il materiale di supporto all’educazione, o per la costruzione e la manutenzione nel settore scolastico in una data regione, e per ogni livello di governo.

Elektrischer Reporter Video on Open Data

Rufus Pollock - October 26, 2010 in News, OK Germany, Press

This is a post by Rufus Pollock, co-Founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation and a member of the Board.

The “Elektrischer Reporter” team in cooperation with the second channel of German television (ZDF) have just released a great video about Open Data.

I’m interviewed in it along with Daniel Dietrich (OKFN Germany and Open Data Network), Christian Kreutz, and Richard Allan.

Where Does My Money Go? Prototype Launched

Jonathan Gray - December 11, 2009 in OKI Projects, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge Foundation, Press, Releases, Where Does My Money Go

We’re very pleased to announce the first full release of our Where Does My Money Go? prototype. This is now online at:

Tom Watson MP, commented on the new release:

Where Does My Money Go represents another milestone in the UK’s transparency movement. We know that transparency changes individual and institutional behaviour and this new tool will have a big impact on the way the public sector is held to account by UK citizens.

As well as being a great public benefit, Where Does My Money Go is also an immensely complicated tool to code and design. I applaud the team behind the project for their commitment and hard work. They’re leading the way in transparency and making a difference for the country.

Our press release below contains more background information on the new prototype. For all you microbloggers out there, here is a 136 character version of the project announce:

RT @jwyg: New visualisations of #ukgov spending! See @okfn‘s Where Does My Money Go? #wdmmg

WDMMG Screenshot

Press Release

Now more than ever, UK taxpayers will be wondering where public funds are being spent – not least because of the long shadow cast by the financial crisis and last week’s announcements of an estimated £850 billion price tag for bailing out UK banks. Yesterday’s pre-budget report also raises questions about spending cutbacks and how public money is being allocated across different key areas.

However, closing the loop between ordinary citizens and the paper-trail of government receipts is no mean feat. Relevant documents and datasets are scattered around numerous government websites – and, once located, spending figures often require background knowledge to interpret and can be hard put into context. In the UK there is no equivalent to the US Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires official bodies to publish figures on spending in a single place. There were proposals for similar legislation in 2007, but these were never approved.

On Friday 11th December the Open Knowledge Foundation will launch a free interactive online tool for showing where UK public spending goes. The Where Does My Money Go? project allows the public to explore data on UK public spending over the past 6 years in an intuitive way using an array of maps, timelines and graphs. By means of the tool, anyone can make sense of information on public spending in ways which were not previously possible.

For example, while playing around with the tool, we noticed:

  • Total public spending as a percentage of gross domestic product this year increased to levels not seen since the recession of 1992.
  • Healthcare spending in real terms under New Labour has almost doubled since they came to power in 1997. Education spending has increased by 75%.
  • The UK spends more on old age than on education. The amount of money spent to support those in retirement is £87bn compared to the £82bn on the whole of education.
  • £665 was spent in Northern Ireland on housing and amenities for every man, woman and child in 2008-9, compared to £413 in London. Spending per capita in Britain’s capital on housing, transport and public order and safety all exceeded the national average by over 60%.

Notes to editors

The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the way knowledge is shared. The Where Does My Money? project was a winner of the Cabinet Office’s Show Us A Better Way competition. The project benefits from an advisory group which includes leading transparency advocates and information visualisation experts. The prototype was conceived by the Open Knowledge Foundation and developed with data visualisation specialists iconomical, based in Amsterdam. The Foundation is also currently working with the UK Government on the technology behind the new site.

Currently the Where Does My Money Go prototype is based on data from HM Treasury – but the project team is working to collect, aggregate and incorporate much more fine-grained information, including on local spending. On Monday Gordon Brown announced plans to publish much more detailed information on public spending in a more systematic way as part of the Smarter Government initiative.

WDMMG Screenshot
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