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Launching Open Data Day Coalition Micro-Grant Scheme: Apply Today!

Katelyn Rogers - January 26, 2015 in open knowledge

OPEN DATA DAY 2015 is coming and a coalition of partners have come together to provide a limited number of micro-grants designed to support communities organise ODD activities all over the world !

Open Data Day (ODD) is one of the most exciting events of the year. As a volunteer led event, with no organisation behind it, Open Data Day provides the perfect opportunity for communities all over the world to convene, celebrate and promote open data in ways most relevant to their fellow citizens. This year, Open Data Day will take place on Saturday, the 21st of February 2015 and a coalition of partners have gotten together to help make the event bigger (and hopefully better) than its has ever been before!

While Open Data Day has always been a volunteer led initiative, organising an event often comes with quite a hefty price tag. From hiring a venue, to securing a proper wifi connection, to feeding and caffeinating the volunteer storytellers, data wranglers and developers who donate their Saturday to ensuring that open data empowers citizens in their communities, there are costs associated with convening people! Our Open Data Day Coalition is made of open data, open knowledge and open access organisations who are interested in providing support for communities organising ODD activities. This idea emerged from an event that was organised in Kenya last year, where a small stipend helped local organisers create an amazing event, exposing a number of new people to open data. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve on Open Data Day!

As such, this year, for the first time ever, we are proud to announce the availability of a limited number of micro grants of up to $300 to help communities organise amazing events without incurring prohibitive personal costs. The coalition will also provide in-kind support in the form mentorship and guidance or simply by providing a list of suggested activities proven effective at engaging new communities!

The coalition consists of the following organisations (in alphabetical order): Caribbean Open Institute, Code for Africa, DAL, E-Democracy, ILDA, NDI, Open Access Button, Open Coalition, Open Institute, Open Knowledge, Sunlight Foundation and Wikimedia UK. [Update: We are excited to announce the addition of CodeAcross to the coalition!] Want to join? Read on.

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Applying for a Microgrant!

Any group or organisation from any country can apply. Given the difference focus of our partners, grants in Latin America will be handled and awarded by ILDA. In the Caribbean, the Caribbean Open Institute will handle the process. Finally, The Partnership for Open Data will focus on other low to mid income countries. Of course, in order to ensure that we are able to award the maximum number of grants, we will coordinate this effort!

You can find the application form here. The deadline to apply is February 3rd and we aim to let you know whether your grant was approved ASAP.

Currently, we have one micro grant, provided by The Sunlight Foundation, for a group organising open data day activities in a country of any income level. We would love to provide additional support for groups organising in any country; as such, if you are interested in helping us find (or have!) additional funding (or other forms of in kind support such as an event space!), do get in touch (see below how to join the coalition). We will make sure to spread the word far and wide once we have additional confirmed support!

How to Apply for an Open Data Day Micro Grant

If you are organising an event and would like additional support, apply here. If your grant is approved, you will be asked to provide us with bank transfer details and proof of purchase. If it is not possible for you to make the purchases in advance and be reimbursed, we will be sure to find an alternative solution.

Is this your first Open Data Day event? Fear not! In addition to the grant itself, our coalition of partners is here to provide you with the support you need to ensure that your event is a success. Whether you need help publicising the event, deciding what to do, or some tips on event facilitation, we are here to help!

Requirements

All groups who receive support will be asked to add their event to the map by registering your event here as well as by adding it to list of events on the Open Data Day wiki.

After the event, event organisers will be asked to share a short blog post or video discussing the event! What data did you work with, how many people attended, are you planning on organising additional events? We’d also love to hear about what you learned, what were the challenges and what you would have done differently?

You can publish this in any language but if possible, we would love an English translation that we can share in a larger blog series about Open Data Day. I you would like to have your event included in our summary blog series but are not comfortable writing in English, write to us at local [at] okfn [dot] org and we will help you translate (or connect you with someone who can!).

What To Do Now

The next step is to start organising your event so that you can apply for your micro-grant ASAP! We are aware that we are a bit late getting started and that communities will need time to organise! As such, we aim to let you know whether your grant has been approved ASAP and ideally by the February 6th, 2015. If February 3rd proves to be too tight a deadline, we will extend!

Finally, if you need inspiration for what to do on the day, we are building a menu of suggested activities on the Open Data Day wiki. Go here for inspiration or add your ideas and inspire others! For further inspiration and information, check out the Open Data Day website, which the community will be updating and improving as we move closer to the big day. If you need help, reach out to us at local [at] okfn [dot] org, or check in with one of the other organisations in the coalition.

Interested in joining the coalition?

We have a limited number of grants available and expect a large demand! If you are interested in joining the coalition and have either financial and/or in-kind support available, do get in touch and help us make Open Data Day 2015 the the largest open data hackday our community and the world has ever seen!

BudgetApps: The First All-Russia Contest on Open Finance Data

Ivan Begtin - January 16, 2015 in OKF Russia, Open Data

This is a guest post by Ivan Begtin, Ambassador for Open Knowledge in Russia and co-founder of the Russian Local Group.

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Dear friends, the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 have been marked by an event, which is terrific for all those who are interested in working with open data, participating in challenges for apps developers and generally for all people who are into the Open Data Movement. I’m also sure, by the way, that people who are fond of history will find it particularly fascinating to be involved in this event.

On 23 December 2014, the Russian Ministry of Finance together with NGO Infoculture launched an apps developers’ challenge BudgetApps based on the open data, which have been published by the Ministry of Finance over the past several years. There is a number of various datasets, including budget data, audit organisations registries, public debt, national reserve and many other kinds of data.

Now, it happened so that I have joined the jury. So I won’t be able to participate, but let me provide some details regarding this initiative.

All the published data can be found at the Ministry website. Lots of budget datasets are also available at The Single Web Portal of the Russian Federation Budget System. That includes the budget structure in CSV format, the data itself, reference books and many other instructive details. Data regarding all official institutions are placed here. This resource is particularly interesting, because it contains indicators, budgets, statutes and numerous other characteristics regarding each state organisation or municipal institution in Russia. Such data would be invaluable for anyone who considers creating a regional data-based project.

One of the challenge requirements is that the submitted projects should be based on the data published by the Ministry of Finance. However, it does not mean that participants cannot use data from other sources alongside with the Ministry data. It is actually expected that the apps developers will combine several data sources in their projects.

To my mind, one should not even restrict themselves to machine-readable data, because there are also available human-readable data that can be converted to open data formats by participants.

Many potential participants know how to write parsers on their own. For those who have never had such an experience there are great reference resources, e.g. ScraperWiki that can be helpful for scraping web pages. There are also various libraries for analysing Excel files or extracting spreadsheets from PDF documents (for instance, PDFtables, Abbyy Finereader software or other Abbyy services ).

Moreover, at other web resources of the Ministry of Finance there is a lot of interesting information that can be converted to data, including news items that recently have become especially relevant for the Russian audience.

Historical budgets

There is a huge and powerful direction in the general process of opening data, which has long been missing in Russia. What I mean here is publishing open historical data that are kept in archives as large paper volumes of reference books containing myriads of tables with data. These are virtually necessary when we turn to history referring to facts and creating projects devoted to a certain event.

The time has come at last. Any day now the first scanned budgets of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union will be openly published. A bit later, but also in the near future, the rest of the existing budgets of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic will be published as well.

These scanned copies are being gradually converted to machine-readable formats, such as Excel and CSV data reconstructed from these reference books – both as raw data and as initially processed and ordered data. We created these ordered normalised versions to make it easier for developers to use them in further visualisations and projects. A number of such datasets have already been openly published. It is also worth mentioning that a considerable number of scanned copies of budget reference books (from both the Russian Empire and USSR) have already been published online by Historical Materials, a Russian-language grass-root project launched by a group of statisticians, historians and other enthusiasts.

Here are the historical machine-readable datasets published so far:

I find this part of the challenge particularly inspiring. If I were not part of the jury, I would create my own project based on historical budgets data. Actually, I may well do something like that after the challenge is over (unless somebody does it earlier).

More data?

There is a greater stock of data sources that might be used alongside with the Ministry data. Here are some of them:

These are just a few examples of numerous available data sources. I know that many people also use data from Wikipedia and DBPedia.

What can be done?

First and foremost, there are great opportunities for creating projects aimed at enhancing the understandability of public finance. Among all, these could be visual demos of how the budget (or public debt, or some particular area of finance) is structured.

Second, lots of projects could be launched based on the data on official institutions at bus.gov.ru. For instance, it could be a comparative registry of all hospitals in Russia. Or a project comparing all state universities. Or a map of available public services. Or a visualisation of budgets of Moscow State University (or any other Russian state university for that matter).

As to the historical data, for starters it could be a simple visualisation comparing the current situation to the past. This might be a challenging and fascinating problem to solve.

Why is this important?

BudgetApps is a great way of promoting open data among apps developers, as well as data journalists. There are good reasons for participating. First off, there are many sources of data that provide a good opportunity for talented and creative developers to implement their ambitious ideas. Second, the winners will receive considerable cash prizes. And last, but not least, the most interesting and perspective projects will get a reference at the Ministry of Finance website, which is a good promotion for any worthy project. Considerable amounts of data have become available. It’s time now for a wider audience to become aware of what they are good for.

Open Data Handbook 2015 comeback – and you want to be a part of it!

Mor Rubinstein - January 12, 2015 in Open Data Handbook

There is famous saying that says that outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. We at Open Knowledge tend to agree. This is why we decided to take one of Open Knowledge key resources, the Open Data Handbook, and give it a bit of a face lift in this upcoming year.

The open data handbook has been an important resource for the open knowledge community for years. The handbook introduces and discusses legal, social and technical aspects of open data. It has been used by a wide range of stakeholders from open data beginners to data wizards, from government officials to journalists and civil society activists. It examines the following questions which are relevant to all: what is “open”, why to open up data, and the how to ‘open’ data?

Since it was first written, the handbook is read by thousands of users each month and has been translated into 18 languages (making the most widely translated Open Data resource out there) . However, open data is both a fast moving and a relatively field. As such, it is not surprising that open data initiatives have been launched and open data policies approved, we, as a community, have learned a lot about the opportunities and the pitfalls of open data. The last version of the book is from 2011 and at the time, government open data portals were few and far between and the open government partnership had only just launched. The book represents what we new/thought then but as the open data movement expanded both in terms of numbers and in geographical spread, we have decided that it is high time that we incorporate our learnings into a new version. This version of the Open Data handbook will focus mainly on one main type of open data: open government data, but a number of the sections can be applied to other types of open data. This project is supported by Partnership for Open Data – a collaboration between Open Knowledge, Open Data Institute and the World Bank.

Interactive handbooks!

So much of this knowledge, these stories and the brilliant ideas about what works and what doesn’t work is in this community. Therefore, we believe that the process of creating the updated version of handbook should be, as its always been, a community project. This process can not only strengthen the community through a joint project, but also to help us to learn from peers, listen to members who usually do not participate in daily channels and to create a handbook, rich in content, experience and a wide spectrum of knowledge.

There are a number of ways you can get involved! You can submit your stories or comment on the “alpha” version we are planning to launch in February. The handbook will be part of a larger community owned resource platform and we have

How can you help?

  • Contribute a short open data story – We are looking to different stories about open government data stories in various fields. It can be a success story or even a failure that you think we should all learn about. If you want to contribute a story please fill this form and we will get back in touch with you.

  • Revise the first draft of the book – The current chapters in the open data handbook are being review by Open Knowledge staff – we are updating and producing new . Our goal is to release an ‘alpha’ version of the book the week before open data day, so it can be revised, commented on and added to by the community.

  • Propose a resource – We are putting together a list of open data resources – If you know of other resources about open data, in any language, please give us a shout. At the end of each section, we will have a “further reading” section and we’d love to share as many resources as possible.

  • Send us a short video about open data – In the internet world, a handbook doesn’t have to be text only. Send us a video of you / your organization and answer the following questions:

    Tell us an example of open data having an social and/or economic impact in your city/country/region What is your main obstacle dealing with Open Data?
    How do you / your community engage with open data?
    What do you think is the next big thing for Open Data in 2015?

The videos will be embedded in the handbook and on our YouTube channel!

Who can write to the book? Everyone! While we are editing the book are editing the book, we want your input. Unfortunately, we can’t promise that every story / idea will ultimately be part of the book. If you think that we are missing something, please let us know! We will try to include as much as possible!

If you have any comments or suggestions, please email us at handbook [at] okfn [dot] org

2015 is going to be great for open data, let’s write about it together.

Thank You to Our Outgoing CEO

Rufus Pollock - December 18, 2014 in News

This is a joint blog post by Open Knowledge CEO Laura James and Open Knowledge Founder and President Rufus Pollock.

In September we announced that Laura James, our CEO, is moving on from Open Knowledge and we are hiring a new Executive Director.

From Rufus: I want to express my deep appreciation for everything that Laura has done. She has made an immense contribution to Open Knowledge over the last 3 years and has been central to all we have achieved. As a leader, she has helped take us through a period of incredible growth and change and I wish her every success on her future endeavours. I am delighted that Laura will be continuing to advise and support Open Knowledge, including joining our Advisory Council. I am deeply thankful for everything she has done to support both Open Knowledge and me personally during her time with us.

From Laura: It’s been an honour and a pleasure to work with and support Open Knowledge, and to have the opportunity to work with so many brilliant people and amazing projects around the world. It’s bittersweet to be moving on from such a wonderful organisation, but I know that I am leaving it in great hands, with a smart and dedicated management team and a new leader joining shortly. Open Knowledge will continue to develop and thrive as the catalyst at the heart of the global movement around freeing data and information, ensuring knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

A round-up of Open Knowledge Community events around the world!

Beatrice Martini - December 10, 2014 in Community, Community Stories, Events, Join us, Meetups, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Sprint / Hackday, Workshop

One of the best opportunities that being part of a community offers is the chance to collaborate and make things happen together – and when we want this to happen in sync, what’s better than convening an (in person or online) event?

Just before the end of the year, let’s collect a few highlights from the Open Knowledge Community events you posted about on the Community Stories Tumblr (so nicely curated by Kathleen Luschek of the Public Library of Science – thank you!)!

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Joseph De Guia, Open Knowledge Philippines local group ambassador, TJ Dimacali, journalist and media manager, and Happy Feraren, School of Data Fellow participated in the festival exhibition and lightning talks series spreading the word about the Open Government Data, Lobbying Transparency, Open Education, Open Spending working groups and the School of Data programme. Find out more about it here.

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Open Knowledge El Salvador local ambassador Iris Palma, joined the panel focusing on Open Data and Open Access together with Caroline Burle from W3C (Brazil) and Pilar Saenz from Fundacion Karisma (Colombia). Further information about the event can be found here.

In line with the OKFestival (in Berlin) and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (in San Salvador), Open Knowledge El Salvador, Creative Commons El Salvador and Association of Librarians of El Salvador celebrated the first Open Knowledge Meeting in El Salvador). The event focused on Open Knowledge, Open Data, Creative Commons Licenses, Open Education and the Declaration for Open Knowledge in El Salvador. Congratulations!

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Open Knowledge Greece organized an open workshop to discuss and propose the positions and proposals of the group on the National Action Plan. Please find here all comments and suggestions that were stated in the meeting, published in both Greek and English.

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Open Knowledge France hosted a data expedition in Paris at La Gaité Lyrique during the digital festival Futur en Seine to find, analyse, visualise and tell stories with existing open data on air pollution. All about it on the group’s blog!

These are wonderful examples of what happens when we get together, all you event organizers out there rock! Are you running an Open Knowledge event? We want to hear from you – please submit quick posts about your events to the Community Tumblr (details about how/where here). Let’s share the community’s great work, inspire each other, and spread the open knowledge love far and wide!

Post a link to your favorite 2014 open knowledge event in the comments below:

The Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

Open Knowledge - December 9, 2014 in Featured, Global Open Data Index

Skærmbillede 2014-12-09 kl. 17.36.32

The Global Open Data Index 2014 team is thrilled to announce that the Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

We would not have arrived here without the incredible support from our network and the wider open knowledge community in making sure that so many countries/places are represented in the Index and that the agenda for open data moves forward. We’re already seeing this tool being used for advocacy around the world, and hope that the full and published version will allow you to do the same!

How you can help us spread the news

You can embed a map for your country on your blog or website by following these instructions.

Press materials are available in 6 languages so far (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and French), with more expected. If you want to share where you are please share a link to our press page. If you see any coverage of the Global Open Data Index, please submit them to us via this form so we can track coverage.

We are really grateful for everyone’s help in this great community effort!

Here are some of the results of the Global Open Data Index 2014

The Global Open Data Index ranks countries based on the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas, including government spending, election results, transport timetables, and pollution levels.

The UK tops the 2014 Index retaining its pole position with an overall score of 96%, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. Finland comes in 4th while Australia and New Zealand share the 5th place. Impressive results were seen from India at #10 (up from #27) and Latin American countries like Colombia and Uruguay who came in joint 12th .

Sierra Leone, Mali, Haiti and Guinea rank lowest of the countries assessed, but there are many countries where the governments are less open but that were not assessed because of lack of openness or a sufficiently engaged civil society.

Overall, whilst there is meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 105), the percentage of open datasets across all the surveyed countries remained low at only 11%.

Even amongst the leaders on open government data there is still room for improvement: the US and Germany, for example, do not provide a consolidated, open register of corporations. There was also a disappointing degree of openness around the details of government spending with most countries either failing to provide information at all or limiting the information available – only two countries out of 97 (the UK and Greece) got full marks here. This is noteworthy as in a period of sluggish growth and continuing austerity in many countries, giving citizens and businesses free and open access to this sort of data would seem to be an effective means of saving money and improving government efficiency.

Explore the Global Open Data Index 2014 for yourself!

Introducing Open Education Data

Marieke Guy - December 2, 2014 in Open Education

Open education data is a relatively new area of interest with only dispersed pockets of exploration having taken place worldwide. The phrase ‘open education data’ remains loosely defined but might be used to refer to:

  • all openly available data that could be used for educational purpose
  • open data that is released by education institutions

Understood in the former sense, open education data can be considered a subset of open education resources (OERs) where data sets are made available for use in teaching and learning. These data sets might not be designed for use in education, but can be repurposed and used freely.

In the latter sense, the interest is primarily around the release of data from academic institutions about their performance and that of their students. This could include:

  • Reference data such as the location of academic institutions
  • Internal data such as staff names, resources available, personnel data, identity data, budgets
  • Course data, curriculum data, learning objectives,
  • User-generated data such as learning analytics, assessments, performance data, job placements
  • Benchmarked open data in education that is released across institutions and can lead to change in public policy through transparency and raising awareness.

Last week I gave a talk at the at the LTI NetworkED Seminar series run by the London School of Economics Learning Technology and Innovation Department introducing open education data. The talk ended up being a very broad overview of how we can use open data sets to meet educational needs and the challenges and opportunities this presents, so for example issues around monitoring and privacy. Prior to giving the talk I was interviewed for the LSE blog.

A video of the talk is available on the CLTSupport YouTube Channel and embedded below.

Competition now open – enter your app and win 5,000 euro

Guest - November 28, 2014 in Apps4Europe

This is a cross-post by Ivonne Jansen-Dings, originally published on the Apps4Europe blog, see the original here.

With 10 Business Lounges happening throughout Europe this year, Apps for Europe is trying to find the best open data applications and startups that Europe has to offer. We invite all developers, startups and companies that use open data as a recourse to join our competition and win a spot at the International Business Lounge @ Future Everything in February 2015.

Last year’s winner BikeCityGuide.org has shown the potential of using open data to enhance their company and expand their services. Since the international Business Lounge at Future Everything last year they were able to reach new cities and raise almost 140.000,- in crowdfunding. A true success story!
 
Over the past years many local, regional and national app competitions in Europe have been organized to stimulated developers and companies to build new applications with open data. Apps for Europe has taken it to the next level. By adding Business Lounges to local events we introduce the world of open data development to that of investors, accelerators, incubators and more.
 
Thijs Gitmans, Peak Capital: “The Business Lounge in Amsterdam had a professional and personal approach. I am invited to this kind of meetings often, and the trigger to actually go or cancel last minute 99% of the time has to do with proper, timely and personal communication.”
 
The Apps for Europe competitions will run from 1 September to 31 December 2014, with the final at Future Everything in Manchester, UK, on 26-27 February 2015.

Read more about Apps4Europe here.

Congratulations to the Panton Fellows 2013-2014

Jenny Molloy - November 26, 2014 in Panton Fellows

Samuel Moore, Rosie Graves and Peter Kraker are the 2013-2014 Open Knowledge Panton Fellows – tasked with experimenting, exploring and promoting open practises through their research over the last twelve months. They just posted their final reports so we’d like to heartily congratulate them on an excellent job and summarise their highlights for the Open Knowledge community.

Over the last two years the Panton Fellowships have supported five early career researchers to further the aims of the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science alongside their day to day research. The provision of additional funding goes some way towards this aim, but a key benefit of the programme is boosting the visibility of the Fellow’s work within the open community and introducing them to like-minded researchers and others within the Open Knowledge network.

On stage at the Open Science Panel Vienna (Photo by FWF/APA-Fotoservice/Thomas Preiss)

On stage at the Open Science Panel Vienna (Photo by FWF/APA-Fotoservice/Thomas Preiss)

Peter Kraker (full report) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Know-Centre in Graz and focused his fellowship work on two facets: open and transparent altmetrics and the promotion of open science in Austria and beyond. During his Felowship Peter released the open source visualization Head Start, which gives scholars an overview of a research field based on relational information derived from altmetrics. Head Start continues to grow in functionality, has been incorporated into Open Knowledge Labs and is soon to be made available on a dedicated website funded by the fellowship.

Peter’s ultimate goal is to have an environment where everybody can create their own maps based on open knowledge and share them with the world. You are encouraged to contribute! In addition Peter has been highly active promoting open science, open access, altmetrics and reproducibility in Austria and beyond through events, presentations and prolific blogging, resulting in some great discussions generated on social media. He has also produced a German summary of open science activities every month and is currently involved in kick-starting a German-speaking open science group through the Austrian and German Open Knowledge local groups.

Rosie with an air quality monitor

Rosie Graves (full report) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leicester and used her fellowship to develop an air quality sensing project in a primary school. This wasn’t always an easy ride, the sensor was successfully installed and an enthusiastic set of schoolhildren were on board, but a technical issue meant that data collection was cut short, so Rosie plans to resume in the New Year. Further collaborations on crowdsourcing and school involvement in atmospheric science were even more successful, including a pilot rain gauge measurement project and development of a cheap, open source air quality sensor which is sure to be of interest to other scientists around the Open Knowledge network and beyond. Rosie has enjoyed her Panton Fellowship year and was grateful for the support to pursue outreach and educational work:

“This fellowship has been a great opportunity for me to kick start a citizen science project … It also allowed me to attend conferences to discuss open data in air quality which received positive feedback from many colleagues.”

Samuel Moore (full report) is a doctoral researcher in the Centre for e-Research at King’s College London and successfully commissioned, crowdfunded and (nearly) published an open access book on open research data during his Panton Year: Issues in Open Research Data. The book is still in production but publication is due during November and we encourage everyone to take a look. This was a step towards addressing Sam’s assessment of the nascent state of open data in the humanities:

“The crucial thing now is to continue to reach out to the average researcher, highlighting the benefits that open data offers and ensuring that there is a stock of accessible resources offering practical advice to researchers on how to share their data.”

Another initiative Sam initiated during the fellowship was establishing the forthcoming Journal of Open Humanities Data with Ubiquity Press, which aims to incentivise data sharing through publication credit, which in turn makes data citable through usual academic paper citation practices. Ultimately the journal will help researchers share their data, recommending repositories and best practices in the field, and will also help them track the impact of their data through citations and altmetrics.

We believe it is vital to provide early career researchers with support to try new open approaches to scholarship and hope other organisations will take similar concrete steps to demonstrate the benefits and challenges of open science through positive action.

Finally, we’d like to thank the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) for their generosity in funding the 2013-14 Panton Fellowships.

This blog post a cross-post from the Open Science blog, see the original here.

Pioneering Fellowships Will Help Rewire Africa’s Governments

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

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

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Do you want to help us build African governments and societies that are more accountable and responsive to citizens?

We are looking for the best ideas for harnessing the power of digital technologies & open data, to improve the way that governments & citizens interact.

Code for Africa and Open Knowledge are offering three pilot Open Government Fellowships to give outstanding changemakers the skills, tools and resources necessary to kickstart open government initiatives in their countries.

The six-month fellowships are intended to empower pioneers who are already working in the open data or civic engagement communities, and are designed to augment their existing ‘day jobs’ rather than remove them from their organisations. Successful fellows will therefore only be expected to work part-time on their fellowship projects (which could include new initiatives at their ‘day jobs’), but will receive strategic and material support throughout their fellowship.

This support will include a modest $1,000 per month stipend, a $3,000 seed fund to kickstart projects, a travel budget to attend local and international events, access to workspace in Code for Africa affiliate civic technology labs across the continent, and technology support from Code for Africa developers and data analysts. Fellows will also be able to tap into Open Knowledge’s School of Data networks and resource kits, and its global network of specialist communities, as well as Code for Africa affiliate communities such as Hacks/Hackers.

The deadline for applications is 15 December 2014. The fellowships are scheduled to start in February 2015 and run until July 2015.

We are looking for candidates that fit the following profile:

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

The fellowship will initially be limited to African countries where either Code for Africa or Open Knowledge have extensive resources or deep partnerships. Applicants should therefore be based in one of the following countries: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, Tanzania, and Uganda. We hope to expand the initiative to include additional countries later in 2015.

The selection committee will pay particular attention to applicants’ current engagement in the open government movement at local, national and/or international level. The committee will also be interested in applicants’ ideas around proposed strategic partnerships and pilot projects for their fellowships. Neither Code for Africa nor Open Knowledge are being prescriptive about the proposed focus or scope for projects, but will prefer projects that demonstrate clear visions with tangible outputs. This could include fellows working with a specific government department or agency to make a key dataset available. It could also include helping communities use available data, or organising a series of events addressing a specific topic or challenge citizens are currently facing.

Successful candidates will commit to work on their fellowship activities a minimum of six days a month, including attending online and offline training, organising events, and being an active member both Open Knowledge and Code for Africa communities.

While the pilot fellowships are limited to 16 countries initially, we are exploring ways to expand it to other regions. Get in touch if you would like to work with us to do so.

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

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

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

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

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