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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

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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

Open Knowledge Russia: Experimenting with data expeditions

Guest - March 11, 2015 in Featured, OKF Russia, Open Education, open knowledge, WG Open Education

As part of Open Education Week #openeducationwk activities we are publishing a post on how Open Knowledge Russia have been experimenting with data expeditions. This a follow up post to one that appeared on the Open Education Working Group Website which gave an overview of Open Education projects in Russia.

Anna

Anna Sakoyan

The authors of this post are Anna Sakoyan and Irina Radchenko, who together have founded DataDrivenJournalism.RU.

Irina

Irina Radchenko

Anna is currently working as a journalist and translator for a Russian analytical resource Polit.ru and is also involved in the activities of NGO InfoCulture. You can reach Anna on Twitter on @ansakoy, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. She blogs in English at http://ourchiefweapons.wordpress.com/.

Irina Radchenko is a Associate Professor at ITMO University and Chief Coordinator of Open Knowledge Russia. You can reach Irina on Twitter on @iradche, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. She blogs in Russian at http://iradche.ru//.


1. DataDrivenJournalism.RU project and Russian Data Expeditions

The open educational project DataDrivenJournalism.RU was launched in April 2013 by a group of enthusiasts. Initially it was predominantly a blog, which accumulated translated and originally written manuals on working with data, as well as more general articles about data driven journalism. Its mission was formulated as promoting the use of data (Open Data first of all) in the Russian-language environment and its main objective was to create an online platform to consolidate the Russian-speaking people who were interested in working with data, so that they can exchange their experiences and learn from each other. As the number of the published materials grew, they had to be structured in a searchable way, which resulted in making it look more like a website with special sections for learning materials, interactive educational projects (data expeditions), helpful links, etc.

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On one hand, it operates as an educational resource with a growing collection of tutorials, a glossary and lists of helpful external links, as well as the central platform of its data expeditions; on the other hand, as a blog, it provides a broader context of open data application to various areas of activity, including data driven journalism itself. After almost two years of its existence, DataDrivenJournalism.RU has a team of 10 regular authors (comprised of enthusiasts from Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia, Sweden and UK). More than a hundred posts have been published, including 15 tutorials. It has also launched 4 data expeditions, the most recent in December 2014.

The term data expedition was first coined by Open Knowledge’s School of Data, which launched such peer-learning projects both in online and offline formats. We took this model as the basic principle and tried to apply it to the Russian environment. It turned out to be rather perspective, so we began experimenting with it, in order to make this format a more efficient education tool. In particular, we have tried a very loose organisational approach where the participants only had a general subject in common, but were free to choose their own strategy in working with it; a rather rigid approach with a scenario and tasks; and a model, which included experts who could navigate the participants in the area that they had to explore. These have been discussed in our guest post on Brian Kelly’s blog ‘UK Web Focus’.

Our fourth data expedition was part of a hybrid learning model. Namely, it was the practical part of a two-week’s offline course taught by Irina Radchenko in Kazakhstan. This experience appears to be rather inspiring and instructive.

2. International Data Expedition in Kazakhstan

The fourth Russian-language data expedition (DE4) was a part of a two-week’s course under the auspices of Karaganda State Technological University taught by Irina Radchenko. After the course was over the university participants who sucessfully completed all the tasks within DE4 received a certificate. Most interesting projects were later published at DataDrivenJournalism.RU. One of them is about industry in Kazakhstan by Asylbek Mubarak who also tells (in Russian) about his experience of participating in DE4 and also about the key stages of his work with data. The other, by Roman Ni is about some aspects of Kazakhstan budget.

First off, it was a unique experience of launching a data expedition outside Russia. It was also interesting that DE4 was a part of a hybrid learning format, which combined traditional offline lectures and seminars with a peer-learning approach. The specific of the peer-learning part was that it was open, so that any online user could participate. The problem was that the decision to make it open occurred rather late, so there was not much time to properly promote its announcement. However, there were several people from Russia and Ukraine who registered for participation. Unfortunately none of them participated actively, but hopefully, they managed to make some use of course materials and tasks published in the DE4 Google group.

russia2

This mixed format was rather time-taking, because it required not only preparation for regular lectures, but also a lot of online activity, including interaction with the participants, answering their questions in Google group and checking their online projects. The participants of the offline course seemed enthusiastic about the online part, many found it interesting and intriguing. In the final survey following DE4, most of the respondents emphasised that they liked the online part.

The initial level of the participants was very uneven. Some of them knew how to program and work with data bases, others had hardly ever been exposed to working with data. DE4 main tasks were build in a way that they could be done from scratch based only on the knowledge provided within the course. Meanwhile, there were also more advanced tasks and techniques for those who might find them interesting. Unfortunately, many participants could not complete all the tasks, because they were students and were right in the middle of taking their midterm exams at university.

russia3

Compared to our previous DEs, the percentage of completed tasks was much higher. The DE4 participants were clearly better motivated in terms of demonstrating their performance. Most importantly, some of them were interested in receiving a certificate. Another considerable motivation was participation in offline activities, including face-to-face discussions, as well as interaction during Irina’s lectures and seminars.

russia4

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Technically, like all the previous expeditions, DE4 was centered around a closed Google group, which was used by the organisers to publish materials and tasks and by participants to discuss tasks, ask questions, exchange helpful links and coordinate their working process (as most of them worked in small teams). The chief tools within DE4 were Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Refine and Infogr.am. Participants were also encouraged to suggest or use other tools if they find it appropriate.

42 people registered for participation. 36 of them were those who took the offline course at Karaganda State Technical University. Those were most active, so most of our observations are based on their results and feedback. Also, due to the university base of the course, 50% of the participants were undergraduate students, while the other half included postgraduate students, people with a higher education and PhD. Two thirds of the participants were women. As to age groups, almost a half of the participants were between 16 and 21 years old, but there was also a considerable number of those between 22 and 30 years old and two above 50.

13 per cent of the participants completed all the tasks, including the final report. According to their responses to the final survey, most of them did their practical tasks by small pieces, but regularly. As to online interaction, the majority of respondens said they were quite satisfied with their communication experience. About a half of them though admitted that they did not contribute to online discussions, although found others’ contributions helpful. General feedback was very positive. Many pointed out that they were inspired by the friendly atmosphere and mutual helpfulness. Most said they were going to keep learning how to work with open data on their own. Almost all claimed they would like to participate in other data expeditions.

3. Conclusions

DE4 was an interesting step in the development of the format. In particular, it showed that an open peer-learning format can be an important integral part of a traditional course. It had a ready-made scenario and an instructor, but at the same time it heavily relied on the participants’ mutual help and experience exchange, and also provided a great degree of freedom and flexibility regarding the choice of subjects and tools. It is also yet another contribution to the collection of materials, which might be helpful in future expeditions alongside with the materials from all the previous DEs. It is part of a process of gradual formation of an educational resources base, as well as a supportive social base. As new methods are applied and tested in DEs, the practices that proved best are stored and used, which helps to make this format more flexible and helpful. What is most important is that this model can be applied to almost any educational initiative, because it is easily replicated and based on using free online services.

Open Data Day report #1: Highly inspiring activities across the Asia-Pacific

Christian Villum - March 9, 2015 in Community, Featured, Open Data Day

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Following the global Open Data Day 2015 event, which tooks place on February 21 with hundreds of events across the globe, we will do a blog series to highlight some of all the great activities that took place. In this first post (of four in total) we start by looking at some of the great events that took place across the Asia and Pacific. Three more accounts will bring similar accounts from the Americas, Africa and Europe in the days to come.

Philippines

PhilippinesIn the Philippines, Open Knowledge Philippines and the School of Data local grouping celebrated the International Open Data Day 2015 with back to back events on February 20-21, 2015. The extensive event featured talks by Joel Garcia of Microsoft Philippines, Paul De Paula of Drupal Pilipinas, Dr. Sherwin Ona of De La Salle University and Michael Canares of Web Foundation Open Data Labs, Jakarta – alongside community leaders such as Happy Feraren of BantayPH (who is also one of the 2014 School of Data Fellows) and Open Knowledge Ambassador Joseph De Guia. The keynote speaker was Ivory Ong, Outreach Lead of Open Data Philippines, who rightly said that “we need citizens who are ready to use the data, and we need the government and citizens to work together to make the open data initiative successful.”

Talks were followed by an open data hackathon and a data jam. The hackathon used data sets taken from the government open data portal; General Appropriation Act (GAA) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The students were tasked to develop a web or mobile app that would encourage participation of citizens in the grass root participatory budgeting program of national government. The winning team was able to develop a web application containing a dashboard of the Philippine National Budget and a “Do-It-Yourself” budget allocation.

Nepal

nepal2Another large event took place in Kathmandu, where Open Knowledge Nepal had teamed up with an impressive coalition of partners including open communities such as Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Nepal Community, Mozilla Nepal, Wikimedians of Nepal,CSIT Association of Nepal, Acme Open Source Community (AOSC) and Open Source Ascol Circle (OSAC). The event had several streams of activities including among other a Spending Data Party, CKAN Localization session, a Data Scrapathon, a MakerFest, a Wikipedia Editathon and a community discussion. Each session had teams of facilitators and over 60 people tooks part in the day.

Bangladesh

bangladeshIn Dhaka an event was held by Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN) and Open Knowledge Bangladesh. The event featured a series of distinguished speakers including Jabed Morshed Chowdhury, Joint Secretary of BDOSN and Bangla administrator of Google Developer Group, Nurunnaby Chowdhury Hasive, Ambassador Open Knowledge Bangladesh, Abu Sayed, president of Mukto Ashor, Bayzid Bhuiyan Juwel, General Secretary of Mukto Ashor, Nusrat Jahan, Executive Officer of Janata Bank Limited and Promi Nahid, BdOSN coordinator – who all discussed various topics and issues of open data including what open data is, how it works, where Bangladesh fits in and more. Moreover those interested in working with open data were introduced to various tools of Open Knowledge.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan An community initiative in Tajikistan took place in partnership with the magazine ICT4D under the banner of “A day of open data in Tajikistan”. The event was held at the Centre for Information Technology and Communications in the Office of Education in Dushanbe, and brought together designers, developers, statisticians and others who had ideas for the use of open data, or desires to find interesting projects to contribute to as well as learn how to visualize and analyze data. With participants both experienced and brand new to the topic, the event aimed to ensure that every citizen had the opportunity to learn and help the global community of open data to develop.

Among the activities were basic introductions to open data and discussions about how the local government could contribute to the creation of open data. There were also discussions about the involvement of local non-profit organizations and companies in the use of open data for products and missions, as well as trainings and other hands-on activities to participants actively involved.

India

indiaOpen Knowledge India, with support from the National Council of Education Bengal and the Open Knowledge micro grants, organised the India Open Data Summit on February, 28. It was the first ever Data Summit of this kind held in India and was attended by Open Data enthusiasts from all over India. Talks and workshops were held throughout the day, revolving around Open Science, Open Education, Open Data and Open GLAM in general, but also zooming in on concrete projects, for instance:

  • The Open Education Project, run by Open Knowledge India, which aims to complement the government’s efforts to bring the light of education to everyone. The project seeks to build a platform that would offer the Power of Choice to the children in matters of educational content, and on the matter of open data platforms, [CKAN](http://ckan.org/) was also discussed.
  • Opening up research data of all kinds was another point that was discussed. India has recently passed legislature ensuring that all government funded research results will be in the open.
  • Open governance not only at the national level, but even at the level of local governments, was something that was discussed with seriousness. Everyone agreed that in order to reduce corruption, open governance is the way to go. Encouraging the common man to participate in the process of open governance is another key point that was stressed upon. India is the largest democracy in the world and this democracy is very complex too.Greater use of the power of the crowd in matters of governance can help the democracy a long way by uprooting corruption from the very core.

Overall, the India Open Data Summit, 2015 was a grand success in bringing likeminded individuals together and in giving them a shared platform, where they can join hands to empower themselves. The first major Open Data Summit in India ended with the promise of keeping the ball rolling. Hopefully, in near future we will see many more such events all over India.

Australia

In Australia they had worked for a few weeks in advance to set up a regional Open Data Census instance, which was then launched on Open Data Day. The projects for the day included drafting a Contributor Guide, creating a Google Sheet to allow people to collect census entries prior to entering them online as well as adding Google Analytics to the site – plus of course submission of data sets.

The launch even drew media attention: CIO Magazine published an article where they covered International Open Data Day, the open data movement in Australia, and the importance of open data in helping the community.

You can read about the process of setting up the Open Data Census in this blog post and follow the Australian Regional Open Data Census team on @AuOpenDataIndex.

Cambodia

OpenDataDay 2015, PP The Open Knowledge Cambodia local group in partnership with­ Open Development Cambodia & Destination Justice, co-­organized a full day event with presentations/talks in the morning & translate-a-­thon of the Open Data Handbook into the Khmer language at Development Innovations Cambodia. The event was attended by over 20 participants representing private sector employees, NGO staff, students and researchers.

Watch this space for more Open Data Day reports during the week!

How Open Data Can Change Pakistan

Nouman Nazim - March 9, 2015 in OKF Pakistan, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

This is a cross-post from the brand new Open Knowledge Pakistan Local Group blog. To learn more about (and get in touch with) the new community in Pakistan, go here.

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Pakistan is a small country with a high population density. Within 796,096 square kilometres of its territory, Pakistan has a population of over 180 million people. Such a large population poses immense responsibilities on the government. Majority of the population in Pakistan is uneducated, living in rural areas, with a growing influx of the rural people to the urban areas. Thus we can say that the rate of urbanization in Pakistan is raising rapidly. This is a major challenge to the civic planners and the Government of Pakistan.

Data from World Bank

The wars of the last century made people realize that further violence on such a large scale cannot be afforded and better coordination and communication should be promoted between the nations. So along with many other concepts and new technologies, there was also a school of thought which raised the voice for easing the restrictions on government data.

Open data, as the name suggests, is the concept of making government data available for everyone to use, reuse and reproduce without the conventional restrictions of copyrights, patents and other laws of protection of content. ~Open Definition

There are a lot of advantages of making data open for public and free to be used and reproduced by anyone. First of all is the main reason of knowledge, it increases by sharing. And quite literally governments around the world have tried and tested this method. Many countries of the world are now opting for easing the restrictions on their public administration proceedings, statistics and relevant data related to public affairs. The value created from easing these laws is beyond calculation. Several government organizations collect different types of data for their functioning. This data is made available to the masses, individuals and organizations alike will help in bringing much improvements and innovations in their respective fields. A lot of countries have gone for this stance and they are a testament to the fact that opening up data for reuse and reproduction is beneficial for the state in general.

Pakistan, as a developing country can learn much and more by opening the restrictions on data. There are many areas in which open data can bring a change in the functioning of government. Some of these areas include self-empowerment, improved efficiency of government services, the effect of policies and their impact on the public. If such type of data is open for all then many departments of government can be improved as the data will be available at hand to avoid future mistakes. Releasing data on operations / services of different government departments can help gain insight into the performance of these departments and further developments can be made or new policies crafted.

Education is one of the biggest problems of Pakistan which is hindering her progress as a developing nation. There are numerous cases in the government run schools of Pakistan where absenteeism on the part of teachers is very high and some schools are aptly called ghost schools because they exist only on paper. Now if the data on these schools were made public not only will the public hold the administration accountable but these schools will also function properly in the future. Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute established Pakistan Data Portal to share and disseminate education related data in Pakistan.

Often times it has always been observed that the public money is mishandled by the politicians and bureaucrats due to which Pakistan ranks at 126 in Global Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International. Open data will help us better control such inefficiencies and with the data available to the general public, it will be ensured that the public money is handled maturely, transparently and to high standards of accountability. These are just a few of the many ways in which open data can bring a positive change in Pakistan.

Walkthrough: My experience building Australia’s Regional Open Data Census

Stephen Gates - March 6, 2015 in Featured Project, OKF Australia, Open Data Census

Skærmbillede 2015-03-06 kl. 11.27.11

On International Open Data Day (21 Feb 2015) Australia’s Regional Open Data Census launched. This is the story of the trials and tribulations in launching the census.

Getting Started

Like many open data initiatives come to realise, after filling up a portal with lots of open data, there is a need for quality as well as quantity. I decided to tackle improving the quality of Australia’s open data as part of my Christmas holiday project.

I decided to request a local open data census on 23 Dec (I’d finished my Christmas shopping a day early). While I was waiting for a reply, I read the documentation – it was well written and configuring a web site using Google Sheets seemed easy enough.

The Open Knowledge Local Groups team contacted me early in the new year and introduced me to Pia Waugh and the team at Open Knowledge Australia. Pia helped propose the idea of the census to the leaders of Australia’s state and territory government open data initiatives. I was invited to pitch the census to them at a meeting on 19 Feb – Two days before International Open Data Day.

A plan was hatched

On 29 Jan I was informed by Open Knowledge that the census was ready to be configured. Could I be ready be launch in 25 days time?

Configuring the census was easy. Fill in the blanks, a list of places, some words on the homepage, look at other census and re-use some FAQ, add a logo and some custom CSS. However, deciding on what data to assess brought me to a screaming halt.

Deciding on data

The Global census uses data based on the G8 key datasets definition. The Local census template datasets are focused on local government responsibilities. There was no guidance for countries with three levels of government. How could I get agreement on the datasets and launch in time for Open Data Day?

I decided to make a Google Sheet with tabs for datasets required by the G8, Global Census, Local Census, Open Data Barometer, and Australia’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework. Based on these references I proposed 10 datasets to assess. An email was sent to the open data leaders asking them to collaborate on selecting the datasets.

GitHub is full of friends

When I encountered issues configuring the census, I turned to GitHub. Paul Walsh, one of the team on the OpenDataCensus repository on GitHub, was my guardian on GitHub – steering my issues to the right place, fixing Google Sheet security bugs, deleting a place I created called “Try it out” that I used for testing, and encouraging me to post user stories for new features. If you’re thinking about building your own census, get on GitHub and read what the team has planned and are busy fixing.

The meeting

I presented to the leaders of Australia’s state and territory open data leaders leaders on 19 Feb and they requested more time to add extra datasets to the census. We agreed to put a Beta label on the census and launch on Open Data Day.

Ready for lift off

The following day CIO Magazine emailed asking for, “a quick comment on International Open Data Day, how you see open data movement in Australia, and the importance of open data in helping the community”. I told them and they wrote about it.

The Open Data Institute Queensland and Open Knowledge blogged and tweeted encouraging volunteers to add to the census on Open Data Day.

I set up Gmail and Twitter accounts for the census and requested the census to be added to the big list of censuses.

Open Data Day

No support requests were received from volunteers submitting entries to the census (it is pretty easy). The Open Data Day projects included:

  • drafting a Contributor Guide.
  • creating a Google Sheet to allow people to collect census entries prior to entering them online.
  • Adding Google Analytics to the site.

What next?

We are looking forward to a few improvements including adding the map visualisation from the Global Open Data Index to our regional census. That’s why our Twitter account is @AuOpenDataIndex.

If you’re thinking about creating your own Open Data Census then I can highly recommend the experience and there is great team ready to support you.

Get in touch if you’d like to help with Australia’s Open Data Census.

Stephen Gates lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He has written Open Data strategies and driven their implementation. He is actively involved with the Open Data Institute Queensland contributing to their response to Queensland’s proposed open data law and helping coordinate the localisation of ODI Open Data Certificates. Stephen is also helping organise GovHack 2015 in Brisbane. Australia’s Regional Open Data Census is his first project working with Open Knowledge.

India Open Data Summit 2015

Guest - March 6, 2015 in Community, Events, OKF India

This blog post is cross-posted from the Open Knowledge India blog and the Open Steps blog. It is written by Open Knowledge Ambassador Subhajit Ganguly, who is a physicist and an active member of various open data, open science and Open Access movements.

ODSummit1

Open Knowledge India, with support from the National Council of Education Bengal and the Open Knowledge micro grants, organised the India Open Data Summit on February, 28. It was the first ever Data Summit of this kind held in India and was attended by Open Data enthusiasts from all over India. The event was held at Indumati Sabhagriha, Jadavpur University. Talks and workshops were held throughout the day. The event succeeded in living up to its promise of being a melting point of ideas.

The attendee list included people from all walks of life. Students, teachers, educationists, environmentalists, scientists, government officials, people’s representatives, lawyers, people from the tinseltown — everyone was welcomed with open arms to the event. The Chief Guests included the young and talented movie director Bidula Bhattacharjee, a prominent lawyer from the Kolkata High Court Aninda Chatterjee, educationist Bijan Sarkar and an important political activist Rajib Ghoshal. Each one of them added value to the event, making it into a free flow of ideas. The major speakers from the side of Open Knowledge India included Subhajit Ganguly, Priyanka Sen and Supriya Sen. Praloy Halder, who has been working for the restoration of the Sunderbans Delta, also attended the event. Environment data is a key aspect of the conservation movement in the Sunderbans and it requires special attention.

ODSummit2The talks revolved around Open Science, Open Education, Open Data and Open GLAM. Thinking local and going global was the theme from which the discourse followed. Everything was discussed from an Indian perspective, as many of the challenges faced by India are unique to this part of the world. There were discussions on how the Open Education Project, run by Open Knowledge India, can complement the government’s efforts to bring the light of education to everyone. The push was to build up a platform that would offer the Power of Choice to the children in matters of educational content. More and more use of Open Data platforms like the CKAN was also discussed. Open governance not only at the national level, but even at the level of local governments, was something that was discussed with seriousness. Everyone agreed that in order to reduce corruption, open governance is the way to go. Encouraging the common man to participate in the process of open governance is another key point that was stressed upon. India is the largest democracy in the world and this democracy is very complex too.Greater use of the power of the crowd in matters of governance can help the democracy a long way by uprooting corruption from the very core.

ODSummit3Opening up research data of all kinds was another point that was discussed. India has recently passed legislature ensuring that all government funded research results will be in the open. A workshop was held to educate researchers about the existing ways of disseminating research results. Further enquiries were made into finding newer and better ways of doing this. Every researcher, who had gathered, resolved to enrich the spirit of Open Science and Open Research. Overall, the India Open Data Summit, 2015 was a grand success in bringing likeminded individuals together and in giving them a shared platform, where they can join hands to empower themselves. The first major Open Data Summit in India ended with the promise of keeping the ball rolling. Hopefully, in near future we will see many more such events all over India.

New research project to map the impact of open budget data

Jonathan Gray - March 4, 2015 in Featured, Open Data, Policy, Research

I’m pleased to announce a new research project to examine the impact of open budget data, undertaken as a collaboration between Open Knowledge and the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam, supported by the Global Initiative for Financial Transparency (GIFT).

The project will include an empirical mapping of who is active around open budget data around the world, and what the main issues, opportunities and challenges are according to different actors. On the basis of this mapping it will provide a review of the various definitions and conceptions of open budget data, arguments for why it matters, best practises for publication and engagement, as well as applications and outcomes in different countries around the world.

As well as drawing on Open Knowledge’s extensive experience and expertise around open budget data (through projects such as Open Spending), it will utilise innovative tools and methods developed at the University of Amsterdam to harness evidence from the web, social media and collections of documents to inform and enrich our analysis.

As part of this project we’re launching a collaborative bibliography of existing research and literature on open budget data and associated topics which we hope will become a useful resource for other organisations, advocates, policy-makers, and researchers working in this area. If you have suggestions for items to add, please do get in touch.

This project follows on from other research projects we’ve conducted around this area – including on data standards for fiscal transparency, on technology for transparent and accountable public finance, and on mapping the open spending community.

Financial transparency field network with the Issuecrawler tool based on hyperlink analysis starting from members of Financial Transparency Coalition, 12th January 2015. Open Knowledge and Digital Methods Initiative.

Financial transparency field network with the Issuecrawler tool based on hyperlink analysis starting from members of Financial Transparency Coalition, 12th January 2015. Open Knowledge and Digital Methods Initiative.

New Open Knowledge Local Groups in Macedonia, Pakistan, Portugal and Ukraine

Christian Villum - March 3, 2015 in Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

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It’s once again time for us to proudly announce the establishment of a new batch of Open Knowledge Local Groups, founded by community leaders in Macedonia, Pakistan, Portugal and Ukraine, which we hereby welcome warmly into the ever-growing family of Local Groups. This brings the total number of Local Groups and Chapters up to a whopping 58!

In this blog post we would like to introduce the founders of these new groups and invite everyone to join the community in these countries.

MACEDONIA

In Macedonia, the Local Group has been founded by Bardhyl Jashari, who is the director of Metamorphosis Foundation. His professional interests are mainly in the sphere of new technologies, media, civic activism, e-­government and participation. Previously he worked as Information Program Coordinator of the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia. In both capacities, he has run national and international­scope projects, involving tight cooperation with other international organizations, governmental bodies, the business and the civic sector. He is a member of the National Council for Information Society of Macedonia and National Expert for Macedonia of the UN World Summit Award. In the past he was a member of the Task Force for National Strategy for Information Society Development and served as a commissioner at the Agency for Electronic Communication (2005­-2011). Bardhyl holds a master degree at Paris 12 University­Faculty of Public Administration (France) and an Information System Designer Degree from University of Zagreb (Croatia).

To get in touch with Bardhyl and connect with the community in Macedonia, head here.

PAKISTAN

The new Local Group in Pakistan is founded by Nouman Nazim. Nouman has worked for 7+ years with leading Public Sector as well as Non Government Organizations in Pakistan and performed variety of roles related to Administration, Management, Monitoring etc. He has worn many other hats too in his career including programmer, writer, researcher, manager, marketer and strategist. As a result, he have developed unique abilities to manage multi-disciplinary tasks and projects as well as to navigate complex challenges. He has a Bachelor degree in Information Sciences and is currently persuing a Master’s degree in Computer Science besides working on his own startup outside of class. He believes open data lets us achieve what we could normally never be able to and that it has the potential to positively change millions of lives.

In the Open Knowledge Pakistan Local Group Nouman is supported by Sher Afgun Usmani and Sahigan Rana. Sher has studied Computer sciences and is an entrepreneur, co-founder of Yum Solutions and Urducation (an initiative to promote technical education in Urdu). He has been working for 4+ years in the field of software development. Shaigan holds a MBA degree in Marketing, and is now pursuing a Post-Graduate degree in internet marketing from Iqra University Islamabad, Pakistan. His research focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation and open access to international markets. He is co-founder of printingconcern.com and Yum Solutions. He has an interest and several years experience in internet marketing, content writing, Business development and direct sales.

To get in touch with Nouman, Sher and Shaigan and connect with the community in Pakistan, head here.

PORTUGAL

Open Knowledge Portugal is founded in unison by Ricardo Lafuente and Olaf Veerman.

Ricardo co-founded and facilitates the activities of Transparência Hackday Portugal, Portugal’s open data collective. Coming from a communications design background and an MA in Media Design, he has been busy developing tools and projects spanning the fields of typography, open data, information visualization and web technologies. He also co-founded the Porto office of Journalism++, the data-driven journalism agency, where he takes the role of designer and data architect along with Ana Isabel Carvalho. Ana and Ricardo also run the Manufactura Independente design research studio, focusing on libre culture and open design.

Olaf Veerman leads the Lisbon office of Development Seed and their efforts to contribute to the open data community in Europe, concretely by leading project strategy and implementation through full project cycles. Before joining Development Seed, Olaf lived throughout Latin America where he worked with civil society organizations to create social impact through the use of technology. He came over from Flipside, the Lisbon based organization he founded after returning to Portugal from his last stay in the Southern hemisphere. Olaf is fluent in English, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish.

To get in touch with Ricardo and Olaf – and connect with the community in Portugal, head here.

UKRAINE

Denis Gursky is the founder of the new Open Knowledge Local Group in Ukraine. He is also the found of SocialBoost; a set of innovative instruments incl. the open data movement in Ukraine, that improves civic engagement and makes government more digitalized — thus accountable, transparent and open. He is furthermore a digital communications and civic engagement expert and works on complex strategies for government and the commercial sector. He is one of the leaders of the open government data movement in Ukraine, supported by government and hacktivists, and is currently developing the Official Open Government Data Portal of Ukraine and Open Data Law.

To get in touch with Denis and connect with the community in Ukraine, head here.

Photo by flipside.org, CC BY-SA.

Open Data Camp UK: Bursting out of the Open Data Bubble

Marieke Guy - February 24, 2015 in Events, open knowledge

“But nobody cares about Open Data”

This thought was voiced in many guises during last weekend’s Open Data Camp. Obviously not entirely true, as demonstrated by the 100+ people who had travelled to deepest Hampshire for the first UK camp of its kind, or the many more people involving themselves in Open Data Day activities around the world. However the sentiment that, while many of us are getting extremely excited about the potential of Open Data in areas including government, crime and health, the rest of the planet are ‘just not interested’ was very clear.

As a non-technical person I’m keen to see ways that this gap can be bridged.

Open Data Camp was a 2-day unconference that aimed to let the technical and making sit alongside the story-telling and networking. There was also lots of cake!

Open Data Camp t-shirts

Open Data Camp t-shirts

Open Data Board Game

After a pitch from session leaders we were left with that tricky choice about what to go for. I attended a great session led by Ellen Broad from the Open Data Institute on creating an Open Data board game. Creating a board game is no easy task but has huge potential as a way to reach out to people. Those behind the Open Data Board Game Project are keen to create something informative and collaborative which still retains elements of individual competition.

In the session we spent some time thinking about what data could underpin the game: Should it use data sets that affect most members of the general public (transport, health, crime, education – almost a replication of the national information infrastructure)? Or could there be data set bundles (think environmental related datasets that help you create your own climate co-op or food app)? Or what about sets for different levels of the game (a newbie version, a government data version)?

What became clear quite early on was there was two ways to go with the board game idea: one was creating something that could share the merits of Open Data with new communities, the other was something (complex) that those already interested in Open Data could play. Setting out to create a game that is ‘all things to all people’ is unfortunately likely to fail.

Discussion moved away from the practicalities of board game design to engaging with ‘other people’. The observation was made that while the general public don’t care about Open Data per se they do care about the result it brings. One concrete example given was Uber which connects riders to drivers through apps, now with mainstream use.

One project taking an innovative approach is Numbers that Matter. They are looking to bypass the dominant demographic (white, male, middle class, young) of technology users and focus on communities and explore with them how Open Data will affect their well-being. They’ve set out to make Open Data personal and relevant (serving the individual rather than civic-level participant). Researchers in the project began by visiting members of the general public in their own environment (so taxi drivers, hairdressers,…) and spoke to them about what problems or issues they were facing and what solutions could be delivered. The team also spent time working with neighbourhood watch schemes – these are not only organised but have a ‘way in’ with the community. Another project highlighted that is looking at making Open Data and apps meaningful for people is Citadel on the Move which aims to make it easier for citizens and application developers from across Europe to use Open Data to create the type of innovative mobile applications they want and need.

The discussion about engagement exposed some issues around trust and exploitation; ultimately people want to know where the benefits are for them. These benefits needs to be much clearer and articulated better. Tools like Open Food Facts, a database of food products from the entire world, do this well: “we can help you identify products that contain the ingredient you are allergic to“.

Saturday’s unconference board

Saturday’s unconference board

“Data is interesting in opposition to power”

Keeping with the theme of community engagement I attended a session led by RnR Organisation who support grassroots and minority cultural groups to change, develop and enhance their skills in governance, strategic development, operational and project management, and funding. They used the recent Release of Data fund, which targets the release of specific datasets prioritised by the Open Data User Group, to support the development of a Birmingham Data and Skills Hub. However their training sessions (on areas including data visualization, use of Tablau and Google Fusion tables) have not instilled much interest and on reflection they now realise that they have pitched too high.

Open Data understanding and recognition is clearly part of a broader portfolio of data literacy needs that begins with tools like Excel and Wikipedia. RnR work has identified 3 key needs of 3rd sector orgs: data and analysis skills; data to learn and improve activities; and measurement of impacts.

Among the group some observations were made on the use of data by community groups including the need for timely data (“you need to show people today“) and relevant information driven by community needs (“nobody cares about Open Data but they do care about stopping bad things from happening in their area“). An example cited was of a project to stop the go ahead of a bypass in Hereford, they specifically needed GIS data. One person remarked that “data is interesting in opposition to power“, and we have a role to support here. Other questions raised related to the different needs of communities of geography and communities of interest. Issues like the longevity of data also come in to play: Armchair Auditor is a way to quickly find out where the Isle of Wight council has been spending money, unfortunately a change in formats by the council has resulted in the site being comprimised.

Sessions were illustrated by Drawnalism

Sessions were illustrated by Drawnalism

What is data literacy?

Nicely following on from these discussions a session later in the day looked at data literacy. The idea was inspired by an Open Data 4 Development research project led by Mark Frank and Johanna Walker (University of Southampton) in which they discovered that even technically literate individuals still found Open Data challenging to understand. The session ended up resulting a series of questions: So ‘what exactly is data literacy’? Is it a homogeneous set of expertise (e.g. finding data), or is the context everything? Are there many approaches (such as suggested in the Open Data cook book or is there a definitive guide such as the Open Data Handbook or a step by step way to learn such as through School of Data. Is the main issue asking the right questions? Is there a difference between data literacy and data fluency? Are there two types of specialism: domain specialism and computer expertise? And can you offset a lack of data expertise with better designed data?

The few answers seemed to emerge through analogies. Maybe data literacy is like traditional literacy – it is essential to all, it is everyone’s job to make it happen (a collaboration between parents and teachers). Or maybe it is more like plumbing – having some understanding can help you understand situations but then you often end up bringing in an expert. Then again it could be more like politics or PHSE – it enables you to interact with the world and understand the bigger picture. The main conclusion from the session was that it is the responsibility of everyone in the room to be an advocate and explainer of Open Data!

“Backbone of information for the UK”

The final session I attended was an informative introduction to the National Information infrastructure an iterative framework that lists strategically important data and documents the services that provide access to the data and connect it to other data. It intended as the “backbone of information” for the UK, rather like the rail and road networks cater for transport. The NII team began work by carrying out a data inventory followed by analysis of the quality of the data available. Much decision making has used the concept of “data that is of strategic value to country” – a type of ‘core reference data’. Future work will involve thinking around what plan the country needs to put into play to support this core data. Does being part of the NII protect data? Does the requirement for a particular data set compel release? More recently there has been engagement with the Open Data user group / transparency board / ODI / Open Knowledge and beyond to understand what people are using and why, this may prioritise release.

It seems that at this moment the NII is too insular, it may need to break free from consideration of just publicly owned data and begin to consider privately owned data not owned by the government (e.g. Ordnance Survey data). Also how can best practices be shared? The Local Government Association are creating some templates for use here but there is scope for more activity.

With event organiser Mark Braggins

With event organiser Mark Braggins

Unfortunately I could only attend one day of Open Data Camp and there was way too much for one person to take in anyway! For more highlights read the Open Data Camp blog posts or see summaries of the event on Conferieze and Eventifier. The good news is that with the right funding and good will the Open Data Camp will become an annual roving event.

Where did people come from?

Where did people come from?

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