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Fantasy Frontbench – giving the public a way to compare politicians

Guest - April 17, 2015 in Open Data

This is a guest blog post by Matt Smith, who is a learning technologist at UCL. He is interested in how technology can be used to empower communities.

Introduction

Fantasy Frontbench is a not-for-profit and openly licensed project aimed at providing the public with an engaging and accessible platform for directly comparing politicians.

A twist on the popular fantasy football concept, the site uses open voting history data from Public Whip and They Work For You. This allows users to create their own fantasy ‘cabinet’ by selecting and sorting politicians on how they have voted in Parliament on key policy issues such as EU integration, Updating Trident, Same-sex marriage and NHS reform.

Once created, users can see how their fantasy frontbench statistically breaks down by gender, educational background, age, experience and voting history. They can then share and debate their selection on social media.

The site is open licensed and we hope to make datasets of user selections available via figshare for academic inquiry.

A wholly state educated frontbench, from our gallery.

A wholly state educated frontbench, from our gallery.

Aim of the project

Our aim is to present political data in a way that is engaging and accessible to those who may traditionally feel intimidated by political media. We wish to empower voters through information and provide them with the opportunity to compare politicians on the issues that most matter to them. We hope the tool will encourage political discourse and increase voter engagement.

Skærmbillede 2015-04-17 kl. 16.41.54

Uses in education

The site features explanations of the electoral system and will hopefully help learners to easily understand how the cabinet is formed, the roles and responsibilities of cabinet ministers and the primary processes of government. Moreover, we hope as learners use the site, it will raise questions surrounding the way in which MPs vote in Parliament and the way in which bills are debated and amended. Finally, we host a gallery page which features a number of frontbenches curated by our team. This allows learners to see how different groups and demographics of politicians would work together. Such frontbenches include an All Female Frontbench, Youngest Frontbench, Most Experienced Frontbench, State Educated Frontbench, and a Pro Same-sex Marriage Frontbench, to name but a few.

Users can see how their frontbench in Parliament has voted on 75 different policy issues.

Users can see how their frontbench in Parliament has voted on 75 different policy issues.

Development

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to develop the site, introducing descriptions of the main political parties, adding graphs which will allow users to track or ‘follow’ how politicians are voting, as well as adding historical frontbenches to the gallery e.g. Tony Blair’s 1997 Frontbench, Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 Frontbench and Winston Churchill’s Wartime Frontbench.

For further information or if you would like to work with us, please contact info@fantasyfrontbench.com or tweet us at [@FantasyFbench](http://twitter.com/FantasyFbench).

Acknowledgements

Fantasy Frontbench is a not-for-profit organisation and is endorsed and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.

Javiera Atenas provided advice on open licensing and open data for the project.

Honouring the memory of leading Open Knowledge community member Subhajit Ganguly

Open Knowledge - April 17, 2015 in Community

It is with great sadness that we have learned that Mr. Subhajit Ganguly, an Open Knowledge Ambassador in India and a leading community member in the entire region, has suddenly and tragically passed away.

Following a short period of illness Subhajit Ganguly, who was only 30 years old, passed away on the morning of April 7, local time, in the hospital in his hometown of Kolkata, India. His demise came as a shock to his family and loved ones, as well as to his colleagues and peers in the global open data and open knowledge community.

Subhajit was known as a relentless advocate for justice and equality, and a strong proponent and community builder around issues such as open data, open science and open education, which were all areas to which he devoted a large part of both his professional and personal time. Most recently he was the main catalyst and organiser of India Open Data Summit and he successfully contributed as project lead for the Indian Local City Census as well as being a submitter and reviewer of datasets in the Global Open Data Index, a global community-driven project that compares the openness of datasets worldwide to ensure another most pressing issue for him: Political transparency and accountability.

Subhajit was also instrumental in building the Open Knowledge India Local Group over the past two years, alongside also volunteering his time to coordinate other groups and initiatives within the open data landscape. Just last summer he attended the Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin to join his fellow community leaders to plan the future of open knowledge and open data in India, regionally in AsiaPAC, and globally.

Ever since the news passed across the globe during the last few days, messages and praise of Subhajit’s being and work have been pouring in from community leaders and members from near and far. He will be tremendously missed, and we join the many voices across the world mourning his loss.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and loved ones. We hope that his work and vision will continue to stand as a significant example to follow for people around the world. May Subhajit rest in peace.

Subhajit (holding the sign) among his Open Knowledge community peers at OK Festival in Berlin, 2014 (Photo: Burt Lum, CC BY-NC-ND)

Subhajit (holding the sign) among his Open Knowledge community peers at OK Festival in Berlin, 2014 (Photo: Burt Lum, CC BY-NC-ND)

OpenCon 2015 is launched

Marieke Guy - April 10, 2015 in Access to Information, Events, Open Access, Open Education

This blog post is cross-posted from the Open Access Working Group blog.

Details of OpenCon 2015 have just been announced!

OpenCon2015: Empowering the Next Generation to Advance Open Access, Open Education and Open Data will take place in on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium and bring together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data.

OpenCon2015

Hosted by the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC, OpenCon 2015 builds on the success of the first-ever OpenCon meeting last year which convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC. More than 80% of these participants received full travel scholarships, provided by sponsorships from leading organizations, including the Max Planck Society, eLife, PLOS, and more than 20 universities.

“OpenCon 2015 will expand on a proven formula of bringing together the brightest young leaders across the Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data movements and connecting them with established leaders in each community,” said Nick Shockey, founding Director of the Right to Research Coalition. “OpenCon is equal parts conference and community. The meeting in Brussels will serve as the centerpiece of a much larger network to foster initiatives and collaboration among the next generation across OpenCon’s three issue areas.“

OpenCon 2015’s three day program will begin with two days of conference-style keynotes, panels, and interactive workshops, drawing both on the expertise of leaders in the Open Access, Open Education and Open Data movements and the experience of participants who have already led successful projects.

The third day will take advantage of the location in Brussels by providing a half-day of advocacy training followed by the opportunity for in-person meetings with relevant policy makers, ranging from the European Parliament, European Commission, embassies, and key NGOs. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the conference’s three issue areas, stronger skills in organizing local and national projects, and connections with policymakers and prominent leaders across the three issue areas.

Speakers at OpenCon 2014 included the Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States for Legislative Affairs, the Chief Commons Officer of Sage Bionetworks, the Associate Director for Data Science for the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and more than 15 students and early career academic professionals leading successful initiatives. OpenCon 2015 will again feature leading experts. Patrick Brown and Michael Eisen, two of the co-founders of PLOS, are confirmed for a joint keynote at the 2015 meeting.

“For the ‘open’ movements to succeed, we must invest in capacity building for the next generation of librarians, researchers, scholars, and educators,said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). “OpenCon is dedicated to creating and empowering a global network of young leaders across these issues, and we are eager to partner with others in the community to support and catalyze these efforts.”

OpenCon seeks to convene the most effective student and early career academic professional advocates—regardless of their ability to pay for travel costs. The majority of participants will receive full travel scholarships. Because of this, attendance is by application only, though limited sponsorship opportunities are available to guarantee a fully funded place at the conference. Applications will open on June 1, 2015.

In 2014, more than 1,700 individuals from 125 countries applied to attend the inaugural OpenCon. This year, an expanded emphasis will be placed on building the community around OpenCon and on satellite events. OpenCon satellite events are independently hosted meetings that mix content from the main conference with live presenters to localize the discussion and bring the energy of an in-person OpenCon event to a larger audience. In 2014, OpenCon satellite events reached hundreds of students and early career academic professionals in nine countries across five continents. A call for partners to host satellite events has now opened and is available at opencon2015.org.

OpenCon 2015 is organized by the Right to Research Coalition, SPARC, and a committee of student and early career researcher organizations from around the world.

Applications for OpenCon 2015 will open on June 1st. For more information about the conference and to sign up for updates, visit opencon2015.org/updates. You can follow OpenCon on Twitter at @Open_Con or using the hashtag #opencon.

OpenCon2015

Document Freedom Day in Kathmandu, Nepal

Kshitiz Khanal - April 9, 2015 in Community, OKF Nepal

On 2015’s Document Freedom Day, Open Knowledge Nepal organized a seminar on Open Standards at CLASS Nepal at Maitighar, Kathmandu.

We intended to pitch openness to a new audience in Nepal and help them learn documentation skills. As we could not hope to teach documentation and spreadsheets in less than a day, we utilized the cohort to teach them small bits of information and skills that they could take home and gather information about their current knowledge and pertinent needs so as to help ourselves plan future events and trainings.

The targeted audience were office bearers and representatives of labor unions in many private and government organizations in Nepal. We also invited some students of Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT). Few of the students are core members of Open Knowledge Nepal team and have also represented us in Open Data Day 2015, Kathmandu. We invited the students to let them know about the audience they will have to work with, in days to come.

It was a lazy March afternoon in Kathmandu and participants were slowly turning in from around 2 pm. Organizers and the students had already begun with chitchats on open, tech, football and other stuffs while waiting for enough participants to begin the event formally. Participants kept coming in ones and twos until the hall was up to its limit (35+) and we started formally just after 3:00 PM (NST).

The event was started by Mr. Durga of CLASS Nepal by welcoming all participants and introducing CLASS Nepal to the participants. He then invited Mr. Lekhnath Pokhrel, representative of UNI-Global Union in the event. He requested all participants to take full advantage of seminar and announced they will be organizing useful events in coming future too. Nikesh Balami, our active member and Open Government lead followed with his presentation on “Open Knowledge, Open Data, Open Standards, and Open Formats.” He started by gathering information about participants’ organizational backgrounds. This lightened the settings as everybody opened up to each other. NIkesh introduced Open Knowledge Nepal and our activities to the hall (see the slides).

dfd_nepal1

Kshitiz Khanal, Open Access lead at Open Knowledge Nepal went next. This session was intended to be an open discussion and skill dissemination on documentation and spreadsheet basics. We started by asking everybody to share their experience, set of skills and the skills they would like to learn in the event.

dfd_nepal2

We were in for a surprise. While we had prepared to teach them pivot tables, our audience were interested to learn more basic skills. Most of our audience were familiar with documentation packages like Microsoft Word, some were using spreadsheets in work, and most of them had to use slides to present their work. We paired our students with our target audience so that one can teach other. Based on the requests, we decided to teach basic spreadsheet actions like sorting and filtering data, performing basic mathematical operations.

dfd_nepal3

We also explained basic presentation philosophy like use pictures in place of words whenever possible, using as less words as possible, and when we do – making them big, rehearsing before presenting. These sound like obvious but these are not commonplace yet because these were not taught anywhere as a part of curriculum to our audience. This was well received. We also had a strange request – how to attach a sound recording in email. We decided to teach how to use google drive. We demonstrated how google drive can be used to store documents and the links can be used to send any type of files by email.

There were few female participants as well. This was a good turnout when compared to most of our and other tech / open events in Kathmandu with nil female participation. One of our female participant said that while she wants to learn more skills, she doesn’t have time to learn at home while taking care of her children, and at office she mostly has her hands full with work.
Most of the work in many offices is documentation, and this day and age makes strong documentation skills almost mandatory. While having freedom in the sense of document freedom entails having access to proper tools, it also necessitates having the proper set of skills to use the tools.

We learned lessons in the status and interest of people like our audience and the level of skill that we need to begin with while preparing modules for other similar events.

See the photo stream here and find further detailed account here on the Open Knowledge Nepal blog.

Community building through the DM2E project

Lieke Ploeger - April 8, 2015 in Community, DM2E, Linked Open Data, Open GLAM

During the past three years, Open Knowledge has been leading the community building work in the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (DM2E) project, a European research project in the area of Digital Humanities led by Humboldt University. Open Knowledge activities included the organisation of a series of events such as Open Data in Cultural Heritage workshops, running two rounds of the Open Humanities Awards and the establishment of OpenGLAM as an active volunteer-led community pushing for increased openness in cultural heritage.

DM2E and the Linked Open Web

dm2e_logoAs one of its core aims, the DM2E project worked on enabling libraries and archives to easily upload their digitised material into Europeana – the online portal that provides access to millions of items from a range of Europe’s leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums. In total, over 20 million manuscript pages from libraries, archives and research institutions were added during the three years of the project. In line with the Europeana Data Exchange Agreement, all contributing institutions agreed to make their metadata openly available under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license (CC-0), which allows for easier reuse.

Since different providers make their data available in different formats, the DM2E consortium developed a toolset that converted metadata from a diverse range of formats into the DM2E model, an application profile of the Europeana Data Model (EDM). The developed software also allows the contextualisation and linking of this cultural heritage data sets, which makes this material suitable for use within the Linked Open Web. An example of this is the Pundit tool, which Net7 developed to enable researchers to add annotations in a digital text and link them to related texts or other resources on the net (read more).

Open Knowledge achievements

Open Knowledge was responsible for the community building and dissemination work within DM2E, which, apart from promoting and documenting the project results for a wide audience, focused on promoting and raising awareness around the importance of open cultural data. The presentation below sums up the achievements made during the project period, including the establishment of OpenGLAM as a community, the organisation of the event series and the Open Humanities Awards, next to the extensive project documentation and dissemination through various channels.

OpenGLAM

OpenGLAM-logoIn order to realise the value of the tools developed in DM2E, as well as to truly integrate the digitised manuscripts into the Linked Data Web, there need to be enough other open resources to connect to and an active community of cultural heritage professionals and developers willing to extend and re-use the work undertaken as part of DM2E. That is why Open Knowledge set up the OpenGLAM community: a global network of people and organisations who are working to open up cultural content and data. OpenGLAM focuses on promoting and furthering free and open access to digital cultural heritage by maintaining an overview of Open Collections, providing documentation on the process and benefits of opening up cultural data, publishing regular news and blog items and organising diverse events.

Since the start in 2012, OpenGLAM has grown into a large, global, active volunteer-led community (and one of the most prominent Open Knowledge working groups to date), supported by a network of organisations such as Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America, Creative Commons and Wikimedia. Apart from the wider community taking part in the OpenGLAM discussion list, there is a focused Working Group of 17 open cultural data activists from all over the world, a high-level Advisory Board providing strategic guidance and four local groups that coordinate OpenGLAM-related activities in their specific countries. Following the end of the DM2E project, the OpenGLAM community will continue to push for openness in digital cultural heritage.

Open Humanities Awards

openhumanitieslogosAs part of the community building efforts, Open Knowledge set up a dedicated contest awards series focused on supporting innovative projects that use open data, open content or open source tools to further teaching and research in the humanities: the Open Humanities Awards. During the two competition rounds that took place between 2013-2014, over 70 applications were received, and 5 winning projects were executed as a result, ranging from an open source Web application which allows people to annotate digitized historical maps (Maphub) to an improved search application for Wittgenstein’s digitised manuscripts (Finderapp WITTfind). Winners published their results on a regular basis through the DM2E blog and presented their findings at conferences in the field, proving that the awards served as a great way to stimulate innovative digital humanities research using open data and content. Details on all winning projects, as well as final reports on their results, are available from this final report.

DM2E event series

Over the course of the project, Open Knowledge organised a total of 18 workshops, focused on promoting best practices in legal and technical aspects of opening up metadata and cultural heritage content, providing demonstration and training with the tools and platforms developed in the project and hackdays and coding sprints. Highlights included the Web as Literature conference at the British Library in 2013, the Open Humanities Hack series and the Open Data in Cultural Heritage workshops, as a result of which several local OpenGLAM groups were started up. A full list of events and their outcomes is available from this final report.

og_fringe_okfest14 Open Data in Cultural Heritage Workshop: Starting the OpenGLAM group for Germany (15 July 2014, Berlin)

It has been a great experience being part of the DM2E consortium: following the project end, the OpenGLAM community will be sustained and build upon, so that we can realise a world in which our shared cultural heritage is open to all regardless of their background, where people are no longer passive consumers of cultural content created by an elite, but contribute, participate, create and share.

More information

Open Data Day 2015 Recap #4: Hacks, Meet Ups and Data Exploration in Africa!

Katelyn Rogers - March 25, 2015 in Featured, Open Data Day, open knowledge

Open Data Day 2015, which took place on February 21, was celebrated in hundreds of communities around the world. In this blog series, we have been highlighting the discussions and outcomes of a small selection of the hacks, data dives and meetups that were organised that day. In this fourth post in the series, we will be looking at a selection of events that took place in Africa, from Tunisia to South Africa and Nigeria to Kenya! If you want to learn more about what transpired in other parts of the world, check out our recaps posts on Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Open Data Day was rocking this year on the African continent, here is just a sample of some of the incredible events that were organised through open community members!

Cameroon

As far as we can tell, the award for largest open data day event in the world goes to the open data community in Yaoundé, Cameroon who managed to pile 2,000 people into the amphitheater at the University of Yaoundé to learn about open data and its potential to improve the lives of citizens in Cameroon. Furthermore, as if 2,000 people in an university amphitheater on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t impressive enough, the event had 5,000 registered participants and incredible online engagement.

ODD Cameroon

The NetSquared Yaoundé community brought together students, open data experts and professors to listen and learn about the importance of open data and specifically the benefits that open data can bring education, economic development, citizen engagement and government transparency and accountability. In a keynote talk, the president of the College of Law and Political Science at the University of Yaoundé emphasised the importance open data for researchers in Cameroon and West Africa as a whole, highlighting that access to open data allows researchers to better understand the challenges they are facing and to developed evidence based and locally specific solutions.

Our hats are off to the open data community in Cameroon, what an exceptional result!

Tanzania

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, open data day was attended by technologists, programmers, hackers, students, activists and NGOs, all of whom came together to grow the local open knowledge community, introduce newcomers to civic hacking and demonstrate the incredible storytelling power of data and data driven projects. Overall, the event was a great success. Several open data projects were presented and a number of open data challenges were identified discussed (for example, the lack of open licence, FOIA, and reluctance of government agencies to share data). Together, participants, shared their strategies to overcome these challenges and brainstormed an effective best path forward.

Participants acknowledged the very real challenge that the open movement is facing in Tanzania as some civil society groups still fail to see the value of coming together to collectively raise a louder voice in demanding open government data. Ultimately, participants determined that the open movement in Tanzania would benefit from increased community building efforts and targeting new partners in order to push the open agenda forward with a larger, more joined-up, base. The participants also determined that there was a need to encourage government officials to attend events like this in the future.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, the open data community organised Benin City’s first open data hackathon with resounding success.

The goal of the event was simple, to raise awareness for open data by using the agricultural sector as an example and demonstrating how data was being used by entrepreneurs in the sector. By the end of the day, organisers hoped that they would generate a pool of ideas on how to stimulate innovation within the agricultural sector through data driven applications and were pleased to report that a number of ideas emerged from the day’s discussion. Keynote presentations were used to introduce key concepts and provide examples of open data. Subsequently, participants were asked to get their hands dirty and actually work with data and think about solutions to challenges within the sector.

Open Data Day participants in Benin City worked with agriculture data from the state’s open data portal – www.data.edostate.gov.ng. The emerging projects are still in development phase and are not yet online but organisers were incredibly excited to see participants working with the data the government has been publishing!

Uganda

Kampala, Uganda was bustling with open data day activities this year, so much so that hackathons were carried out across two weekends!

Open Data Uganda

On February 28th, Reality Check organised an open data day event for journalists, researchers, entrepreneurs, students and technologists. This followed up on data storytelling from the week before. Participants learned about the strengths and weaknesses of tools like videos, pictures, charts as well as about the various tools that are available. Participants learned how to clean and visualise data it in order to use it for effective storytelling. New visualisations were created as well. .. Check it out here.

The participants discussed the progress that had been made over the past year, specifically focusing on what worked and what didn’t, in order to plan better for the year to come. The event was a great success and created such excitement among participants that many of them want to meet and discuss the subject on a monthly basis! In addition, a new google group as well as facebook page were opened to allow people can keep in touch and continue to engage with one another online as well as offline.

Finally, in February in Kampala, open data related activities were not limited to one off hackathons> check out the awesome Code for Africa Bootcamp organised the following week! February was a busy month for open data in Uganda!

Tunisia

In Tunisia, Clibre organised a meetup with a diverse group of participants to celebrate open data day 2015! There were a number of participants with little to no technical knowledge and the goal of the meetup was to expose all participants to the concept of open data and open government as well as to discuss the legal implications of open government in light of the new Tunisian constitution.

ODD Tunisia

Following the presentations and discussion, a number of initiatives using Open Data in Tunisia were presented. M. Nizar Kerkeni, president of the CLibre Association, presented the new open data portal developed for the city of Sayada. At the end of the day, after having had the chance to play around with the new data portal, M. Ramzi Hajjaji from CLibre announced that an official web portal for the city of Monastir would be launched soon, inspired by the portal developed for the city of Sayada.

You can check out a full report of the day (in French) on their website, along with a number of videos (in Arabic)!

Kenya

Kenya ODD

Open Data Day in Mombasa, Kenya was celebrated by organising four separate focus groups in order to explore the potential of open data in the following key areas: security, economy, education & conservation.

The conservation group looked at data on everything from marine and wildlife conservation to the conservation of historic buildings and sites in Mombasa. They looked for various datasets, analysed the data and created various data visualisations documenting pertinent trends. The group exploring the potential of open data on the economy built a prototype for an open tendering system for the government of Kenya, scoping the necessary features and potential impact. The participants exploring open data in education brainstormed various ways in which open data could help parents and students make more informed choices about where they go to school. Finally, in the security group, participants discussed and hacked on ways that they could use open data to combat corruption and fraud.

South Africa

In South Africa, Code for South Africa organised an Data Easter Egg Hunt! If you want to find out more, check out the awesome video they made on the day!

Presenting public finance just got easier

Tryggvi Björgvinsson - March 20, 2015 in CKAN, Open Spending

This blog post is cross-posted from the CKAN blog.

mexico_ckan_openspending

CKAN 2.3 is out! The world-famous data handling software suite which powers data.gov, data.gov.uk and numerous other open data portals across the world has been significantly upgraded. How can this version open up new opportunities for existing and coming deployments? Read on.

One of the new features of this release is the ability to create extensions that get called before and after a new file is uploaded, updated, or deleted on a CKAN instance.

This may not sound like a major improvement but it creates a lot of new opportunities. Now it’s possible to analyse the files (which are called resources in CKAN) and take them to new uses based on that analysis. To showcase how this works, Open Knowledge in collaboration with the Mexican government, the World Bank (via Partnership for Open Data), and the OpenSpending project have created a new CKAN extension which uses this new feature.

It’s actually two extensions. One, called ckanext-budgets listens for creation and updates of resources (i.e. files) in CKAN and when that happens the extension analyses the resource to see if it conforms to the data file part of the Budget Data Package specification. The budget data package specification is a relatively new specification for budget publications, designed for comparability, flexibility, and simplicity. It’s similar to data packages in that it provides metadata around simple tabular files, like a csv file. If the csv file (a resource in CKAN) conforms to the specification (i.e. the columns have the correct titles), then the extension automatically creates the Budget Data Package metadata based on the CKAN resource data and makes the complete Budget Data Package available.

It might sound very technical, but it really is very simple. You add or update a csv file resource in CKAN and it automatically checks if it contains budget data in order to publish it on a standardised form. In other words, CKAN can now automatically produce standardised budget resources which make integration with other systems a lot easier.

The second extension, called ckanext-openspending, shows how easy such an integration around standardised data is. The extension takes the published Budget Data Packages and automatically sends it to OpenSpending. From there OpenSpending does its own thing, analyses the data, aggregates it and makes it very easy to use for those who use OpenSpending’s visualisation library.

So thanks to a perhaps seemingly insignificant extension feature in CKAN 2.3, getting beautiful and understandable visualisations of budget spreadsheets is now only an upload to a CKAN instance away (and can only get easier as the two extensions improve).

To learn even more, see this report about the CKAN and OpenSpending integration efforts.

Open Data Day report #3: Data Fiesta in Latin America and the Caribbean

Mor Rubinstein - March 20, 2015 in Featured, Open Data Day

(This post was co-written by Open Knowledge and Fabrizio Scrollini from ILDA)

argentina

In our follow-up series about Open Data Day 2015, which took place on February 21 across the world, we will now highlight some of the great events that took place across the Latin America and the Caribbean. See our previous post about Asia-Pacific and Europe.

The Americas saw a lot of activity during this Open Data Day. Events, hackathons, formal and informal discussions were some of the activities in which the continent engaged through the day. There is an emerging movement with different levels of experience, maturity and resources but with lots of enthusiasm and great perspectives for the future.

Argentina

ODDARPPL The Argentine Open Data Community came together to participate in a full day of activities in Buenos Aires, organized by Open Knowledge embassador, Yamila Garcia. Different members of the community presented their experience in lighting talks that took place throughout the day. Presenters shared experiences about their work in the federal government, Buenos Aires municipality, media, hacking space and advocacy. In a different room, round tables were set up in order to deliberate and plan on the future of open data in Argentina. Subjects like Innovation and the upcoming elections. Hopefully, Ideas will be taken forward and will help to shape the eco-system of Open Data in Argentina. Read more about the event here.

Brazil

Brazil held 6 events in 6 different cities this Open Data Day. In the small Sao Carlos, there was a roundtable discussion about open data policies. The group tried to convince local authorities about the importance of having open data policies that can help build a more transparent and open political process. In Teresina, the local group took a more hands on approach. The local hacker club organised hackathon and all the outcomes were shared under open knowledge licence. San Paulo was also in a coding mood and orginized a hackathon with the LabHacker, PoliGNU, Thacker and Comptroller General of São Paulo (SP-CGM) to promote the use of dataset and the creation of new apps in the fields of Water, Health and transport (See summary of the event here).

Read more about ODD 2015 in Brazil on the Open Knowledge Brasil blog.

Chile

chileIn Chile, Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente took a different approach and moved open data from the virtual space to the streets. As Felipe Alvarez mentions in his blog post, members of Ciudadano Inteligente got out of the office in Santiago and went to meet the citizens in Valparaíso, the second biggest city in Chile. Their objective was simple – to engage with citizens and to know what data they would like to see open. Some interesting topics came up such as expenditure on conservation efforts and local festivals as well as civil rights issues. In addition, the guys invited participants to join AbreLATAM, the regional un-conference that will take place this year in Santiago, Chile.

Uruguay

uruguayThe Uruguayan community was busy around a cup of fresh coffee plotting on how to use local government data to visualize women’s right issues. For four hours engineers, designers, communication people and policy wonks tried some ideas and look for available open data on this topic. With geographical data available and wikipedia, the team took on the task to visualize streets that are named after notable women in Montevideo. The results were a bit discouraging but expected: only 100 out of 5000 streets in Montevideo are named after women. This result catalysed a small community that worked for two weeks on developing this interactive website that acknowledges and explain the role that these women played in Uruguayan history. No doubt, this was a very productive open data day for this country!

Paraguay

paraguayParaguayans did not have enough with one day so they had a whole week for open data activities! Groups like TEDIC took the streets hand in hand with government officials to paint murals with data. Also the government launched the national open data portal among other initiatives that are fostering the nascent open data scene in Paraguay

Costa Rica

In central America “Ticos” are building their open data community. Abriendo Datos Costa Rica is a nascent initiative which co-organised the Costa Rica open data day reaching out to other civil society stakeholders. The event had a wide variety of participants and topics focusing mostly on what data relevant to society should the government open next. Hopefully, open data day is just the beginning for more activities in the country. You can see some of their pics here.

El Salvador

elsalvador In El Salvador a group of civil society organised a roundtable to discuss uses of open data in journalism. Taking a deep look into journalistics practices in El Salvador and Costa Rica the group discussed how to use open data in their day to day assignments. El Salvador has one of the few open data portals that is run by civil society in the region.

Peru

peruPeru saw an epic event organised by the Community Open Data Peru in Lima, where local specialists share knowledge and developed projects together during the whole day. The event galvanised the local open data community which is now spreading through other communities in Peru. Peruvians are very keen to work in several projects and this event may be big stepping stone for a more sustainable and diverse open data community in Peru.

guatemala2

Guatemala

guatemala In Guatemala Accion Ciudadana organised a day based on exploring the community need and their understanding of open data. Participants identified how open data could help their community in daily and strategic issues. The event showed the different levels of understanding participants had about open data. Social Tic Executive Director Juan Manuel Casanueva delivered a training based on community’s perceptions of Open Data. This was one of the first activities in Guatemala about open data and probably one of the many to come!

Mexico

mexico As usual, the Mexican community know how to party with data. In Mexico city, hundred people came to celebrate open data accompanied by Parilla and beer. Participants could choose to go to one of the four workshops that were offered, participate in a hackathon for sustainability or to discover new findings in a data expedition. In addition, a conversation around the state of openness in Mexico developed after the presentation of the the Mexican local and global index results and participant raised ideas for how to grow the local community.

Panama

In Panama IPANDETEC, organized an awesome day which involved a hackathon, documentary screenings, conferences and workshops. The event was set up in collaboration by the chapters in Panama Floss, Wikimedia, Mozilla, Fedora and Creative Commons, as well as IPANDETEC.

columbia

Colombia

columbia2In Medellin Fundación Gobierno Abierto invited school of data fellows to deliver trainings about scraping data. Furthermore the community also spent time to reflect on the regional and local science of open data, as well as get into developing ideas for further action, advocating for open data all across Colombia, both nationally and locally.

Jamaica

[credit to  Mona School of Business & Management]

[credit to Mona School of Business & Management]

In the Caribbean a great event took place at the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and organized by the Open Caribbean Institute. The day kicked off by Dr. Maurice McNaughton, who delivered a 1 hour workshop data visualization based on online resources from School of Data. Then, fuelled by Coffee and Pizza, the students divided into three team where they started to develop data visualizations in three fields – the 2015-2016 Budget, High school track and field data and Development Alert!, an online tool for increasing transparency and public engagement on projects that impact the environment and public health. One on the visualizations, a dashboard for field and track data is now available online here. Over all, it seems like a great start to many more Open Data Day in the Caribbeans!

Summary

All in all the region is showing a vibrant community evolving, showing different degrees of resources and levels of understanding of open data. This is then complex but also presents an opportunity to engage and support more groups here. We could not support as many as we wanted to but this ODDay shows that open data in the Americas is here to stay. Check out some more detailed reports in Spanish on the open data day activities on the Yo Gobierno website (see also here), in this blog post from DAL and this one from BID.

13 mini Grants were given to organisers in the region, as part of the Open Data Day microgrant partnership thanks to ILDA, the Caribbean Open Institute and The Partnership of Open Data. See you next year with even more exciting events and news!

We’re Hiring at Open Knowledge: Project Managers, Developers and Data Wranglers

Rufus Pollock - March 19, 2015 in Featured, Jobs, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

Open Knowledge are delighted to advertise several new open positions:

  • Project Manager – Open Data
  • Python Developer
  • Frontend Developer
  • Data Wrangler

A brief summary on each post can be found below. Full details and application forms can be found on http://okfn.org/about/jobs/.

 Project Manager – Open Data

We are looking for a professional and dynamic hands-on project manager to manage a portfolio of projects at Open Knowledge – an international, world-leading non-profit working on open data. The project management style will need to fit within our creative and innovative atmosphere, and should help us retain organisational flexibility and agility.

The projects requiring management will vary, but in general will range from £25k/several months/1-2 team members, to £500k+/several years/4-6 team members. Some projects will involve substantial software design and delivery and require good technical understanding and the ability to manage a technology delivery project. In general the project teams are made up of specialists who have a good sense of the area of work and may be able to be the public face of the project; the key role of the project manager is to ensure planning, delivery, tracking and reporting occurs reliably and to a good standard.

Open Knowledge’s partners and clients include national government bodies, NGOs, and organisations such as the World Bank. Projects funded by grants are delivered for philanthropic foundations, the European Commission (eg. through the FP7/H2020 programme) and others.

Find out more or apply »

Python Developer

Working in the fast-growing area of open data, we build open source tools to drive transparency, accountability and data-driven insight. Our flagship product CKAN runs official national data portals from the UK to Brazil, US to Australia and hundreds more around the world. We also build a variety of other open source software to help people access information and turn data into insight.

We’re looking for a python developer to join our team who is smart, quick-to-learn and interested in contributing to a fast-growing and exciting area. You can be based anywhere – we operate as a virtual, online team – and can offer a flexible working structure – we care about delivery, not being 9-5 at your desk!

Find out more or apply »

Data Wrangler

Work on cutting edge data-driven, high impact open knowledge projects with a world-leading non-profit in areas ranging from government finances to health-care.

We are looking for someone with good experience in “small-to-medium” data wrangling (e.g. you’ve been scraping in python for a while, have a deep love for CSV … ). You must be a self-starter, capable of working remotely and taking initiative as well as working effectively in a team with others.

Find out more or apply »

Frontend Developer

We are looking for talented front-end developers to work with us on an ongoing, freelance basis on a variety of open-source data-driven projects ranging from healthcare to illegal logging.

Find out more or apply »

Open Data Day report #2: All of Europe pushing open data

Christian Villum - March 13, 2015 in Events, Featured, Open Data Day, open knowledge

germany1

In our follow-up series about Open Data Day 2015, which tooks place on February 21 across the world, we will now highlight some of the great events that took place across the European continent. To see the first blog post, which covered Asia-Pacific, go here.

Portugal

portugalThis year’s event was the 4th consecutive Open Data Day for the Transparência Hackday Portugal community, all of which have taken a “show-and-tell” approach to ensure an inclusive, community-building programme for the general public. For this year’s event the goals were to invite the general public with an interest in open data to get together, and also become interested in joining hackdays during the rest of the year – as well as showcase the work done at Transparência Hackday Portugal and elsewhere for collective inspiration.

The programme was divided into two parts: in the morning, there was a 2-hour workshop around the subject of linked open data; in the afternoon, there was a set of 3 talks, followed by discussion about the current state of open data in Porto and Portugal, which lead into setting possible next steps.

Overall, the event was successful and productive and attracted a mixed audience of over 20 technologists, programmers, hackers and students. While the group did not engage in hack sessions (as they usually do in other meetups), the event was an energetic moment and formed a great space for interested people to get in touch with the existing community. More over, the linked data workshop turned out to be a great way to get people engaged with the goals and virtues of open data and the necessary steps to get there. A sentiment that was also emphasized in the projects that were showcased during the talks: They provided good topics for discussion, as well as an effective pathway for newcomers to learn of what the Portuguese open data hacker community has been producing.

Austria

AustriaWe got two working groups here at Open Data Day 2015 Vienna. A group of 10 People analyzed and visualized all subsidies given by the City of Salzburg in the year 2012 and 2013. This full and complete dataset will be published in the near future, to bring full transparency into Salzburg’s subsidy regime.

Another group of 15 started a new citizen sensor data project. We built first seven sensor boxes based on Arduino which measure sun­hours, traffic density, noise, NOx and respirable dust, alike. Together with the city wide public sensors owned by the city administration, this new citizen sensor network bring more local and more frequent data to be used in APPs and analysis. It’s planned to present the running citizen sensor dashboard at viennaopen.net (April 2015). See a photo gallery here.

Czech Republic

CzechRepCzech community celebrated Open Data Day with a hands­ome gathering aimed at solving specific data problems. One of the groups worked on improving an API for government contacts, while others discussed the state of openness of Prague’s data. Thanks to the presence of one of the municipal representatives, the working group managed to draft a basic concept for opening the datasets of the Czech capital. The organiser is very happy with the results and would thank brmlab hackerspace, which hosted the event and all the hardworking participants. See photos here.

Denmark

Denmark_photoIn Denmark two seperate events took place. In Aarhus students were competing in creating the most innovative open data solutions at the Open Culture Days, organized among other by the Open Data Aarhus initiative. In the capitol city of Copenhagen 35 open data enthusiasts met for multiple workshops: a dataworkshop on electoral data, introduction to data analysis and an attempt to map different actors involved in the field of open data and “open” in generel. As a pre-­event a group of people went for a data-­walk in the area to learn about Mapillary, the crowdsourced open-source equivalent of Google Street Maps.

Spain

With around 40 participants coming from 9 countries, past 21st of February it we be hold the II OKFN AWARD to open knowledge, open data and transparency. Winners include,for its involvement with citizens and society to Concurso datos abiertos Junta de Castilla y León, best sustainable initiative Open Food Facts, best use of open data for transparency Aragón Open Data, best open science initiative Open science training initiative, best non public initiative for transparency to Openkratio and El BOE nuestro de cada día and for support to entrepreneurship based on open knowledge to Medialab Prado. Our president Rufus Pollock close the event, and last but not least thanks to the main collaborator, Google and the jury members coming from local groups of Argentina, Belgium, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Paraguay, Spain and UK. Read more in this blog post

Germany

germany2In Germany the OK Labs from Code for Germany once again participated in Open Data Day and organized hackathons and workshops in their cities across the country. Leipzig, Münster, Munich, Cologne, Heilbronn (Mannheim), Berlin and Ulm were all among the cities where events took place. Open data enthusiasts in Frankfurt, Jena, Magdeburg and Karlsruhe even used the occasion to launch new OK Labs groups! At all events the community hacked, discussed, welcomed new members and developed numerous projects. You can find an Storify-overview about the Open Data Day in Germany.

Bulgaria

With a varied and very interesting spectrum of participants covering both civil society, servants from government bodies and gov-related businesses (including the Head of Cabinet of Deputy Prime Minister Rumyana Bachvarova) as well as representatives from TechnoLogica (one of the top companies in Bulgaria that are executing e-government public tenders), Open Data Day in Bulgaria was kicked off really well and ran over 2 days. Activities included automatic data pushing to the national CKAN instance and the creation of a data visualization with data from the energy sector. Furthermore there were several discussions during the event as well and talks about topics such as what to be aware of when working for opening government administration data.

The event also got into concrete chats about the ongoing government data project: The Bulgarian government has prioritized 119 datasets to be published in open format and are now working on putting them on the CKAN data portal that volunteers from Obshtestvo.bg developed last year. They also talked about potentially organising a larger event when there is data in the portal, in which they’ll attempt to engage other organisations like the British Council, universities and venture funds.

Lastly, a group created a project on github that reads data from a specified datasource (currently only a file) and submits it to the configured datastore in CKAN. The configuration has a GUI with data validation and it’s meant to be used by local administrations to automate data publishing. The team has agreed to continue working on it and started a facebook group where progress will be posted.

Romania

Also in Romania the organisers, Coalition for Open Data and its partners, ran their event over 2 whole days to celebrate Open Data Day. The event, run by Coalition for Open Data in collaboration with the Romanian Government and supported by State Embassies of United Kingdom and the Netherlands in Romania, was held at the National Library and on the first day included debates about transparency, justice, culture and business, all from an open data perspective.
On the second day a programming activism marathon was organised at the Academy of Economic Studies, Faculty of Cybernetics and Economic Statistics. Participants included developers, activists, journalists as well as many others, who all got together to build applications that promote good governance. Read about the event in more detail on the Open Government blog.

Russia

In Moscow, the international Open Data Day was supported by the OP Information Culture and the Russian branch of Open Knowledge. The event was attended by over 40 people who represented a variety of skills. Among the participants were representatives of the humanities (PR, advertising, journalism etc), as well as developers, programmers and data analysts. Were presented not only reports the presentations, but also stories, announcements of upcoming events in the free form. The activities included presentations, among other on open science, data visualisations, plain language and Leaflet.js. This was followed by a hackathon, which resulted in four prototype applications. Lastly, some of the participants participated in the Open Science Labs project, which focuses on the discoveries of science and is designed to popularize and promote the concept of open science in Russia. To join in, simply go here

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