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Open Government countries ranking 2013 (based on OGP data)

Guest - August 22, 2014 in Open Government Data

This is a guest post by Alberto Abella, head of the Spanish Chapter of Open Knowledge, and originally appeared at gobernamos.com.

Open Government (ogov) is possibly next democracy’s milestone.

Should you care about open government? Possibly, because it guarantees transparency and accountability. But not only IMHO. In 2014 this passive role for the citizens is not enough. The disruptive point about open government is the use of collective intelligence to take smarter political decisions for current and future challenges.

OGP is a global organization with 64 member countries helping each other to implement open government policies. Its members publish and deploy yearly an open goverment plan with specific actions. These plans are reviewed not only by countries’ authorities but also by the civil society. This social dialogue review include an Independent Reporting Mechanism.

Results

Let’s review results for 2013. Raw data for this analysis are published by OGP, and anybody can download them (commitments and achievements).Good!

Find in the graph 2013 results about what countries really implement of their plans.In order to get these results four factors have been taken into account :

First, if the action is specific of an ogov approach, second, if the action really impact on current politics, third if the action is new or is the same from past years. And last but not least, if the action has been really implemented completely, partially, or even withdrawn.

Three medals goes to Slovakia, Moldova and Croatia.

You can find the metric to create this graph here. It is true that metric is far from being perfect, so I expect you comments.

The good performers

Good performers are those countries which provide tiny ambitious plans but they implement quite above average. There are 3 remarkable countries Paraguay, Denmark and Czeck Republic. Data

Pretenders

What about the pretenders? Pretenders are those who provide very ambitious plans but fail in implementation.

The three pretenders are Estonia, Romania and Greece out of those who are in the first 25. Data.

Last but they are the least

These countries does not provide their information on time, so the analysis ranks them at the bottom

USA, UK, South Africa, Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil. Data
Ambition

Over ambition is tempting in politics. Here you can find a classification of the countries’ plans based on the ambition of their actions, in terms of impact, new actions and ogov relevance.


Wait and see 2014.

Revisiting OKFestival 2014

susannekendler - August 19, 2014 in Events, Featured

Hard to believe that a full month has passed since the end of a fantastic OKFestival 2014. While our team is hard at work following up on all the great ideas and impulses from the event, and evaluating what we can learn, we would like to highlight some of the magnificent write-ups and other documentation that has been made in pretty much all of the community around the world.

Over 1000 people from 60 countries came together to enjoy a slice of summer in Berlin. But they also were there to discuss, share, think, create new ideas and to collaborate with a focus to open minds to open action.

We are especially grateful for our fab team of community volunteers who created these storify-collections to mark each day of the event

Here are some reminders for OKFestival 2014 in pictures

Here are some more of our favorite things

A big thank you to all who shared thoughts about OKFestival 2014 on social media, who wrote blog posts and articles about the event, and who helped us spread the word about what we learnt. Here are just some of the reflections we collected:
#OKFest14 – Outcomes, Impressions & Thoughts

And finally, here’s our fantastic short video, which summarizes impressions from OKFestival 2014 perfectly

Let us know if you are taking any new partnerships and ideas formed at OKFestival 2014 forward, we’d love to hear about any follow-up projects!

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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25 Countries in the Same Room: The OKFestival Community Summit

Christian Villum - August 1, 2014 in Community, Featured, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Heather Leson, CC-BY-SA

Two weeks back, over 1,000 people gathered in Berlin to co-create the future of the open knowledge movement. Even before OKFestival had officially kicked off, over 50 people from over 25 countries piled into a crowded, hot room on a glorious Berlin afternoon, to work through the pressing issues, opportunities and challenges facing the Open Knowledge community.

Over the course of three hours we talked about how to develop better peer to peer mentorship across our global network, how to ensure the sustainability of emerging local groups and Chapters & took a close look at what exactly we are – are we a movement, are we an organisation, are we a community?

These questions could never be completely answered in one three hour session but we did make some exceptional progress and observed quite a few common themes emerging – themes also to be witnessed over the course of the following festival as well!

Sharing Knowledge

As a concept, open knowledge is all about sharing knowledge but it seems that, as a community, we still have some way to go in exemplifying that ideal. During the community summit, we discussed how we could share knowledge about fundraising between Open Knowledge and Local Groups, how our Local Groups could better share their experiences and teach each other. We also were introduced to Open Steps, a fantastic initiative by two community members who spent the past year traveling the world and documenting the open knowledge movement along the way. They are now developing a directory that would allow us to map where people are working on open knowledge activities to facilitate partnerships and knowledge sharing beyond already established networks or country lines.

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Christian Villum, CC-BY-SA

Peer mentoring and skillshares

Another significant topic on the agenda was the discussion of how we could better transfer skills and know-how between newcomers and more experienced members of the community. There are already a series of initiatives pursuing these goals, for instance the series of Community Sessions hosted by Open Knowledge Central – as well as the regional calls organized around the world by members of the community. It was clear though that one of the main missing pieces in the puzzle is the facilitation of more day-to-day based mentoring, peer to peer, perhaps only involving 2 people – the mentor and the mentee – and also something that stretches over a longer period rather than being limited to a single session on Skype or a Hangout. Additionally one barrier that was very clear was the fact that people are living far apart, often having many time zones in between them, therefore prompting a need to rely on online tools – not only for communicating, but also to find each other and identify who to talk to. These are challenges that we, as a community of which Open Knowledge Central is also a part, will look much more into over the coming weeks and months. Lots of ideas are already brewing and a handful of community members have dedicated themselves to sketch out a plan for a mentoring program.

Open knowledge in the Global South

A growing portion of the global community are based in what can be referred to as the Global South and therefore have some additional needs and challenges as compared to countries in more structured environments. As it was noted, some members of the community even operate in areas that can be considered downright hostile. Oppressive governments, corrupt civil servants, failing IT-infrastructure, cultures of domestic oppression, language barriers (highlighted by the high level of anglo-fication characterizing the open knowledge field) and even illiteracy are just some of the factors that make up for a very different playing field for some open knowledge advocates, and in such cases peer support, resource/skill sharing and even funding becomes of increasing value and significance. We need to collaborate to localize key documents across languages, provide toolkits in downloadable and remixable online formats, challenge gender roles, move beyond Internet-driven activism and put international pressure on governments that work actively to hinder the free gathering of people in these regions.

OKFestival Community Summit

Photo by Christian Villum, CC-BY-SA

Community Identity & Re-branding

During the discussions we also revisited some of the discussions had earlier in the year around some of the branding/visions/values/strategy-related updates brought about by the central Open Knowledge organisation. It’s clear that more community consultation is needed around changes in such basic foundations, but what appeared during these face to face chats was also an understanding that some of the discontent and frustration put forward by parts of the community was rooted not only in these concrete issues, but also in some of the more deeper challenges of the community and organisation: For instance, how do we perceive ourselves as the community grows and grows at an almost explosive rate? What is our identity? The small family is growing into the thousands and the dynamics that used to be are clearly being replaced by others. Does it need to be that way? Can we avoid it? And if not, how do we cope with it and ensure the same level of transparency across the community and the organisation? We also need to define more clearly what the role of the Local Groups, the Working Groups and the Chapters – the most formal part of the community – is in this new reality of an increasingly larger body of people all associating themselves with our shared cause. This is clearly a conversation that will continue way beyond this community summit, and rightfully so!

We are currently writing up all the notes and will put them on the wiki as soon as we have collated them all. Jump on board and comment if you have thoughts or ideas!

The state of Swedish digital policy: Open Knowledge Sweden at the annual Almedalen Political Summit

Guest - August 1, 2014 in Featured Project, OKF Sweden

This is a guest blog post by Kristina Olausson, Blog writer and editor for Open Knowledge Sweden. You can see the Swedish version it is based on here.

Almedalen 2014

Photo by Socialdemokrater, CC-BY-ND

Part of the team of Open Knowledge Sweden, Kristina Olausson and Mattias Axell, visited the annual politicians week – the Almedalen week at Gotland, Sweden. It is an event in which the political parties, interest groups and the public sector participates. The Almedalen week was initiated by Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1968 and has evolved to become the main political gathering of the year. Even though the outline has changed over time it now follows a rather fixed pattern. Each party has one day of the week dedicated to their events, and the party leader gives a speech in the evening. In parallel to what the parties arrange, there is a huge number of seminars organized by different interest groups, companies and public sector bodies. This year more than 3500 seminars could be found in the program. By participating, Open Knowledge Sweden aimed to follow the current debates on Swedish digital policy and what importance these have in the upcoming Swedish national elections this autumn. During the week we took part in seminars on digitalization, integrity and open data. 

Almedalen 2014

Photo by djurensratt, CC-BY-NC

Since last year a change can be noticed in the attitude towards open data among Swedish public sector bodies and municipalities. It is now more open an positive, less skeptical. The question is no longer if, but how the public sector can make its information easier to use. More public sector bodies (PSBs) than before have started working with open data. However, with regards to the OKFN definition of open data, it should be noted that in these cases it is rather the re-use of public sector information than open data that is discussed. The municipality Skellefteå and the region Västerbotten arranged a seminar on open data and how the possibilities of innovation can be used. They also raised the question about how the responsibility for this process should be devided between the public and private sector as well as other interested parties. Henrik Ishihara, an expert working for Anna-Karin Hatt, the Minister for Information Technology and Energy, said that about 40 percent of all PSBs now work with re-use of public information. Janne Elvelid, former employee of the Committee of Digitization, was more sceptical to the current development and showed that Sweden has actually lost its place among the leading countries on IT. 

Almedalen 2014

Photo by Kristina Olausson, CC-BY-SA

At another seminar organized by Lantmäteriet, who offer map-data, discussed if charges should be put on data and if so, how much. The public sector body itself has now started to work more actively to make their data open. Why then are Swedish PSBs and municipalities lacking behind their European colleagues in this development?  According to many actors the main obstacle in making more data open is the demand on the PSBs to charge for re-use of data. The principle of publicity is an old tradition in Sweden which implies that all public information is available to the public. However, this does not mean that it is for free. What separates Sweden from many other European countries is the fact that many public sector bodies are obliged to charge for re-use of data. It was argued by some actors we met that it will be impossible to create more re-use without removing the rules of charging. In the case of Lantmäteriet, they estimate that the removal of charges on their map-data will cost about 100 million Swedish kronor (about 12 million euro). 

The possibilies of digitazation was another theme of many seminars. Dagens Industri and SAS Institute organized one to discuss how the public sector can use big data (as already done by the private sector) to predict certain patterns in society. This could for example be finding the next flue crisis by analysing Facebook status updates. One challenge put forward in this discussion is the fact that many public services are offered by the 290 Swedish municipalities (kommuner). As there is a strong self-governing principle in Sweden, the municipalities are not collaborating on many of these services which makes it hard for small municipalities to invest in digitalization. Thus, more collaboration is needed not only for municipalities but also for public sector bodies.

Cloud services is a positive possibility of developing the public services as the goal is to have more service online and thus also more information stored in this format. In the mean time, during this development, there is a need to take privacy issues into account. Microsoft arranged a number on seminars on this theme during the week. One that we attended was regarding privacy in schools in combination with cloud services. In Sweden the Salem-case is especially well known. The municipality Salem was criticized by the Data Inspection Authorities because they let their students use Google’s cloud services which was regarded not to have sufficient protection for the pupils’ privacy. How this should be done in practice is still under political discussion, if so very limited. At a seminar by Ernst and Young company representatives of some of our big telephone- and network operators said this has led to they themselves having to make their own priorities on privacy. This might however not be positive as it could lead to companies starting to censor their net services, according to their own liking. This might lead to less transparent processes of handling these issues. Additionally, not all companies are happy to take on this responsibility themselves. The debated judgement from the European Court of Justice in the case Google Spain vs. Mario Costeja González was used as an example by David Mothander, Nordic Policy Advisor at Google

Almedalen 2014

Photo by FORES, CC-BY

He was critical to the judgement, also called the right to be forgotten, states that internet search engine operators are responsible for “the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on web pages published by third parties“. Naturally, it is not surprising that a company like Google does not want to be responsible for such procedures. However it also leads to interesting questions on who should be responsible for protecting the privacy and personal data of individuals. The opportunities of digitization was also discussed at a seminar with representatives of youth party organisations. While the left (and the youth organisation of the Swedish democrats) were most concerned about the surveillance society, the right wing parties wanted better conditions for companies. They instead want the state to take care of the infrastructure (broad band etc.) and the companies should run the development. The interesting aspect of this seminar was foremost that it had such a high density of politicians. Generally the events on the themes we covered did not have that many political representatives in the panels. Thus it has been hard to evaluate the digital politics of the parties with regards to the upcoming elections this autumn.

Almedalen 2014

Photo by Lärarnas Nyheter, CC-BY-NC-ND

Digital policy has not been a central theme to this years election campaigns. However, even though the Swedish politicians were not discussing these issues intensively many interesting ideas were put forward by interest groups and companies. Open Data is still not common among Swedish public sector bodies. Even though some mix up the terms, it is rather re-use of public sector information that is discussed. The positive change that can be noticed is that the representatives of the public sector who participated in this year’s Almedalen week had a more open attitude towards the possibility of re-using their data. Open Knowledge Sweden works to advocate more re-use of information from the public sector and we are positive towards the ongoing shift in Sweden regarding these issues. We believe that more re-use will create huge value for society, both within the public and private sector. The main obstacle is not the technological shift, that some want to point at, but rather the rule of charges that applies to many public sector bodies who collects and offer public information. Unfortunately it seems that politicians are not prioritizing to change the current system. The more probable next step will be that public sector bodies themselves try to find ways of limiting the charges. However, the decision to charge remains with the government.

Except for following the current debates on Swedish digital policy, the Almedalen week was an opportunity to make contact with other actors and advocates of digitalization. There seems to be a general support and interest in making data open for re-use. However, we will probably have to wait until after our national elections this autumn to see real change regarding such issues in Sweden.

Thank you for joining us at Open Knowledge Festival 2014!

Beatrice Martini - July 28, 2014 in Events, Featured, Join us, News, OKFest, OKFestival

Thank you for joining us in Berlin and helping to shape OKFestival and the future of the open knowledge movement!

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We hope that the event provided you with the opportunity to learn, to share and to connect with open knowledge advocates from around the world. While we were excited and inspired by the collaborations and activities we saw springing up over the course of the week, we know that we can always do better and we want to hear from you about what we did well and what you would change. Furthermore, we’d like to encourage all the festival participants to keep sharing – ideas, blogposts, photos, videos, anything which can make the work done last week together resonate with everyone who was there but also everyone who couldn’t join us in person but can still fuel the upcoming projects online!

So, in the spirit of Open Minds to Open Action – let’s call for action!

i) Tell us how it was for you! Firstly, we’d like to ask for your feedback about the event to help us with planning for the future. We’d really appreciate your answers to this survey, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete: okfestival.org/feedback

ii) Content from the festival Next, we’d like to remind you of all the great content created at – and around – the Festival, and to encourage you to check it out and contribute to it.

  • Etherpads Every session had an etherpad, which is an online tool for note-taking. You can find them listed on the Sched page for the corresponding session or you may want to browse the “pad of pads” where they’re all listed.
  • Photos We saw lots of great photos being tweeted from the event and would love to collect as many as possible in the festival Flickr pool so that everyone can find them. So whether you snapped people enjoying ice cream or artists creating graffiti, please do add your images to the group here.
  • Articles & blog posts Again, we’ve seen lots of tweets sharing blog posts about the festival – if you’ve written one or seen one you liked, please add it to this document so we can gather them all in one place and put the links up as a record on the festival website.

Finally, if you’d like to relive some of the festival, you might want to check out our short video celebrating the event. Enjoy!

Thanks once again for your energy, contributions and enthusiasm in making Open Knowledge Festival 2014 our best event yet.

With love, Your OKFestival Team

OKFestival: Day Two Highlights & Wrap Up

Katelyn Rogers - July 25, 2014 in Events, Featured, OKFest, OKFestival

What a Week!

Opening Ceremony OKFestival 14

Between five incredible keynotes, 70+ participatory sessions, an unFestival and countless fringe events, not to mention informal strategizing in the courtyards of the Kulturbrauerei, I am sure that we are all still taking some time to process all the information. Last week, our incredible volunteers put together a Day 1 roundup, highlighting all the exciting conversations that were taking place! Here is just a taste of what happened on Day 2!

We kicked off Day Two with a keynote from Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner responsible for the digital rights agenda, who called on the open movement to put the pressure on national governments to open up data in order to help create jobs and stimulate growth. She highlighted the need to change the mindset of public administrations, to show them that there is a better way, an open way. After a standing ovation from the audience, Eric Hysen had a tough act to follow and was up for the challenge!  He joined us on the OKFestival stage to highlight that open data is not enough and if we truly want to create more innovative societies, we *have* to build the necessary infrastructure. If you missed it, you can read it here.

If you missed the Thursday morning keynotes, you can watch them here:

Following the keynotes, OKFestival participants spread throughout the Kulturbrauerei to share, learn and innovate together in 30 different interactive sessions and at the unFestival. All thirty sessions and the unFestival would be difficult to recap in a single blog post but you can check out the etherpads for all the the sessions here or our Storify of day two!

Here are a few photos of the day:

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Finally, because we were, after all, at a Festival, we ended with a live performance from Juliani, Valsero and The Swag. Thank you Artists Without a Cause!

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Stay tuned, OKFestival official photos and videos are coming soon! In the mean time, if you want to help us tell the OKFestival story, please add your blogs to our list & your photos to our flickr pool.  Thanks for joining us in Berlin last week, it wouldn’t have been the same without each and everyone of you! 

Image Credit: Arte Pilpilean EgonOpenCorporates GalleryBurt Lum, Open Data Research Network , Mark Braggins

Open Knowledge Festival – the story so far…

Theodora Middleton - July 16, 2014 in OKFestival

It is hot hot hot here in Berlin, and the Festival is in full swing! In every corner, little groups are clustered, sharing ideas, plotting, and putting faces to profiles. From graffiti walls to linked budgets, from destroying printers to building a social contract for open data – the only problem is that you can’t be in five places at once!

Last night we proudly announced our School of Data Fellows – 12 amazing individuals from around the world, who will work with civil society and journalists in their regions to bring the power of open data to their work. You can read all about them here.

Today we heard inspiring keynotes from Patrick Alley, founder of Global Witness, and Beatriz Busaniche, founder of Wikimedia Argentina. We also heard from the awesome Ory Okolloh, activist, lawyer and blogger from Kenya, before dispersing into a whirlwind of workshops, talks and connecting.

Here are a few photos from the past couple of days. We’ll bring you more tales from Berlin soon, and you can keep up to date on twitter, storify and through the Festival website.

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New Local Groups in Cameroon, Guernsey, Kenya, Bermuda and New Zealand!

Christian Villum - July 11, 2014 in Featured, OKF Cameroon, OKF Guernsey, OKF Kenya, OKF New Zealand, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

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Once again we can proudly announce the establishment of a new round of Open Knowledge Local Groups, headed by community leaders around the world. This time we welcome Cameroon, Guernsey, Kenya, Bermuda and New Zealand to the family of Local Groups, which brings the global Open Knowledge community tally beyond the 50+ countries mark. In this blog post we would like to introduce the people heading these groups and invite everyone to join the community in these countries.

Cameroon

In Cameroon, the incubating Local Group is headed in unison by Agnes Ebo’o and Jean Brice Tetka. Agnes Ebo’o is the founder of the Citizens Governance Initiatives in Cameroon, a nonprofit association that promotes accountability and citizens’ participation in governance. A pioneer in the promotion of freedom of information and open government in Cameroon, Agnes has been involved in the creation of several regional initiatives that promote open government and the rule of law in Africa. These include the Academy for Constitutional Law and Justice in Africa and the Africa Freedom of Information Centre; a Pan-African NGO and resource centre that promotes the right of access to information across Africa. Agnes is also the Co-founder of the Gulf of Guinea Citizens Network, a network of advocates for participatory, transparent and accountable management of the natural resources in the Gulf of Guinea region of Africa. A lawyer by training, Agnes holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Poitiers, France, and an LLM from the University of Wales Cardiff, UK.

Jean joined Transparency International in February 2014 as Data and Technology Coordinator for the People Engagement Programme working on technological solutions to anti-corruption, data analysis and visualisation. He has a Bachelors degree in Management ICT Studies from the African Institute of Programming and his previous experiences includes three years as a project manager with an anti-corruption organisation, two years as IT manager for a private company and volunteering for several NGOs.

Kenya

Ahmed Maawy is a Shaper with the Global Shapers Community (which is an Initiative of the World Economic Forum) and an Executive Direcotor at The Mombasa Tech Community (CBO). He is a technology expert working with D8A and Appfrica labs, and a Technology Lead at Abayima. Ahmed is also one of the pioneers in the groundbreaking institution that aims to create a world without boundaries, The Amani Institute‘s Post Graduate certificate in Social Innovation Management. Ahmed has spent more than 10 years developing web, mobile, and enterprise software as well as functioning as a project manager for a number of software products and projects. He has worked with corporations and non profits alike, as well as media agencies such as Al Jazeera New Media (on 3 important curation projects covering Somalia, Libya and Gaza) as well as Internews Europe. He has also worked for Ushahidi as a Software Engineer for SwiftRiver, Datadyne as Product Manager for EpiSurveyor (now MagPi), and with Kenya Airways for their Online Marketing strategy, Bookings and Reservations engines, and overall web strategy, to name a few.

Bermuda

Heading up the Open Knowledge efforts in Bermuda by setting up a new Local Group are Andrew Simons and Louis Galipeau. Andrew is Bermudian, born and raised. He attended Stanford University as a Bermuda Government Scholar, and graduated with a BSc in computer science and an MSc in chemical engineering. Before moving home to Bermuda, he worked in the Boston area at EMC, a global technology company. He now works as a catastrophe modeler in the insurance industry. In 2013, Andrew co-founded Bermuda.io, a free online repository of Bermuda public data running on CKAN.

Louis is Canadian and has made Bermuda his home. A self-taught technophile with a diverse background, he has a drive towards the use of new media and technology in art, business, and community efforts. He is involved locally as a core member of TEDxBermuda and works at a law firm as the senior lead applications architect. In 2013, Louis also co-founded Bermuda.io with Andrew.

New Zealand

The Local Group in New Zealand is being booted by Rowan Crawford, a software developer who originally trained as a pharmacist. He maintains New Zealand’s Freedom of Information requests site, fyi.org.nz, and currently focuses on connecting the public to representatives via askaway.org.nz and bringing Code for America-style fellowships to New Zealand.

Guernsey

In Guernsey, Philip Smith is the initiator of the new Local Group. He is a project and programme manager heading CBO Projects, has a background with charity This Is Epic and is one of the founders of The Dandelion Project, a community-driven initiative aiming to create a better place for people by bringing together citizens to share their knowledge and skills. Dandelion has, among other, started a small number of community led projects that involve Guernsey moving forward with open data, for example a bus app for local bus services and an open data portal that will hopefully drive open access to valuable data in Guernsey.

We encourage everyone to get in touch with these new Local Groups – to join, connect and collaborate! Contact information can be found via our global network page.

Photo by Volker Agüeras Gäng, CC-BY.

OpenCorporates invites you to join the launch of #FlashHacks

Guest - July 10, 2014 in Featured Project

This is a guest blog post by OpenCorporates.

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OpenCorporates is now 3 years old. Looking back our first blog on the Open Knowledge (Foundation) blog about reaching 20 million companies, it is heartening to see that we have come a long way. We now have over 70 million companies in 80 jurisdictions worldwide making us the world’s largest open database of companies. The success story of OpenCorporates is not that of a tiny team but that of the whole open data community because it has always been a community effort thanks to the efforts of Open Knowledge and others. From writing scrapers to alerting us when new data is available, deciphering language issues or helping us grow our reach – the open data community has been the driver behind OpenCorporates.

Yet, while our core target of a URL for every single company in the world is making great progress, there’s a bigger goal here – of de-siloing all the government data that relates to companies and connecting it to those companies. In fact, one of the most frequent questions has been “How can I help get data into OpenCorporates?” Now, we have an answer to that. Not just an answer – a brand new platform, that makes it possible for the community to help us get company-related data into OpenCorporates.

To start this new era of crowdscraping – we launched a #FlashHacks campaign which aims to get 10 million datapoints in 10 days. With your help, we are confident we can smash the target.

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Why is this important?

Information about public and private sector is of monumental importance to understanding and changing the world we live in. Transnational corporations can wield unprecedented influence on politics and economy and we have a limited capacity to understand this when we don’t know what these legal entities look like. The influence of these companies can be good or bad and we don’t have a clear picture of this.

Company information is often not available and when it is, it is buried under hard-to-use websites and PDFs. Fortunately, the work of the open data and transparency community has brought a tide of change. With the introduction of Open Government Partnership and G8 Open Data Charter, governments are committing to make this information easily and publicly available. Yet, action on this front remains slow. And that’s why scraping is at the heart of the open data movement! Where would the open data community be if it had not been for bot-writers spending time deciphering formats and writing code to release data?

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We want to use #FlashHacks as a celebration of the commitment of bot-writers and invite others to join us in changing the world through open data.

#FlashHacks at OKFestival

The last day of the campaign coincides with the last day of OKFestival, probably, the biggest gathering of the open data community. So, we will be putting on three #FlashHacks in partnership with Open Knowledge Germany, Code for Africa and Sunlight Foundation.

The OKF Germany #FlashHack will be releasing German data. Sign up here.

The Sunlight Foundation #FlashHack will be releasing political lobbying data. Sign up here.

The Code for Africa #FlashHack will be releasing African data. Sign up here.

How you can join the crowdscraping movement if you can’t make it to OKFest?

  • If you can code in Ruby and/or Python, join http://missions.opencorporates.com and sign up!
  • Have a look at the datasets we have listed on the Campaign page! If there is a dataset you think we should include in this, please put that down here.
  • Sign up to a mission! Send a tweet pledge to say you have taken on a mission.
  • Write the bot and submit on the platform.
  • Tweet your success with the #FlashHacks tag! Don’t forget to upload the FlashHack design as your twitter cover photo and facebook cover photo to get more people involved.

Any problems – you can post on our Google Group.

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