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The Open Data Census Challenge on Open Data Day 2013

Christian Villum - March 5, 2013 in Events, Network, OKF Germany, Open Data Census, Open Government Data

On the recent Open Data Day we ran the Open Data Census Challenge. The challenge enlisted the help of participants around the world in digging up information on open data in their city and region and contributing it to the newly launched city section of the Open Data Census. The results have been impressive with information about data on more than 20 cities from Uruguay to Germany, US to Brazil. You can see the full results in the City Census dashboard.

Open Data Census challenge data mining in Berlin

Challenge Winner

Part of the challenge was to see which individual or group could dig up the most information. ┬áSeveral groups and individuals across the world picked up the challenge and were hard at work throughout the Open Data Day – not only finding information for the census but also highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of open government data in their home region.

Many discovered that though open data may, in theory, be available, it is often hard to locate – and vary in size, accessibility and transparency. The census aims to map such facts and create a comparable overview of data in cities and countries across the world.

To give a few highlights:

  • In Amsterdam, a team not only researched the city but also the Netherlands as a whole. ┬áThe general conclusion was that the Netherlands scores reasonably well, but it turned out to be very time consuming to actually find the open datasets that were available. Moreover, the Dutch national dataportal data.overheid.nl was found not to have been very well used by civil servants and its search functionality could be improved substantially!

  • In Berlin the The School of Data experimented with what they call “Data Expeditions”, which are ways of learning about data by actively working with it and giving everyone a set role. Great teams have been forming in this format during recent events, and it worked particularly well this time as they picked up the Census Challenge – as people already had a good feel for what data was out there by the time they started. Subsequently lots of datasets were found and added to the census.

  • The Fond Otakara Motejla in Prague took a different and very interesting approach. Rather than organizing a physical event for Open Data Day they focused on a virtual campaign titled “We want open data”. The aims were to remind the Czech government of its commitments in Open Government Partnership and also to promote the notion of open data in general. Using the Census Challenge as a way to involve more people in the campaign, the organizers saw numerous instances of impromptu Census data mining take place during the day.

There were many more contributions from London, Shanghai, Montevideo, Palo Alto and many more. See the census for full details!

More Open Data Census challenge data mining in Berlin

And the Winner is!

Going through the submission registry we were not only overwhelmed by the total number of submissions (close to 100 datasets from across the world), but also with two groups in particular: Berlin and London, who sent in a significant part of the total number of submissions. The race was close, but in the end Berlin took the lead – and can therefore be announced winner of the Open Data Census Challenge on Open Data Day 2013. Congratulations!

All in all the Open Data Census Challenge proved to be a highly motivating and fun activity, and we were thrilled to see so many people take part. A huge thanks to all of you.

More about the Open Data Census

If you want to learn more about the Open Data Census in general you can either visit the official site or read this recent blog post that outlines the current status and future plans for the census.

Montevideo: proud of our data

Lucy Chambers - August 9, 2011 in Exemplars

The following post is by Guillermo Moncecchi of Intendencia de Montevideo in Uruguay.

Here, in Montevideo, we are proud of our data. The Intendencia de Montevideo drives the economic, social and cultural life of the city, producing data. Lots of data. The government has spent years developing its information services, almost all government processes produce digital data. High quality data: we need it to accomplish our government tasks. As we said, we are proud of them: we have high precision cartography, including every street and every address; we have birth, death and marriage data in the city; we have digitized the placement of libraries, polyclinics, city landmarks, light points… we need them for our work. And, as we do a good work, all these data are accurate and are continuously updated.

As we are proud of our data, a day came when we ask ourselves: why not let others use them? We discussed the idea and decided to embrace the open data principles, removing barriers to information access: we decided that our data should be on the public domain. The city Mayor approved the idea and wrote a resolution stating the open data approach: if it is public, it is open. We then started an open data portal and published the first data sets. From then, we have been continuously working on updating the portal. We listen to people asking for data. We try to satisfy them. Moreover, we are trying to include an open data version of our information as a mandatory product of every software we develop, including the open data idea in the software development cycle.

Yes, we lost some money: before open data, we charged individuals and institutions for the access to our cartography base. Today, an application using OpenStreetMap uses the same cartography we use for our daily work. That is: the best cartography available for Montevideo. For free. That means better services for people in Montevideo. We have eased data exchange with other public institutions: want some data? Just go to the site and get it. Not available? Ok, wait a couple of days and look again… you’ll get the data, and everybody will. It’s public, it’s open. We are about to publish our accounting data: where does my money come from, where does my money go. Digitally, in open formats. For everybody. That is how we think about transparency.

We want to build community. We want our data to be used, because we are responsible for them. People have started using our data: in our portal, we have linked applications buil using our data. People have found mistakes within our data: we corrected them. We are not afraid of errors: we want to solve them.

Going to http://datos.gub.uy we are working with Agesic (the Electronic Government and Information Society Agency of the Uruguayan government), trying to aid in the development of the Uruguayan open data portal. The Uruguayan state has information access laws, but
wants more: if it is public is open. We want to help with our data and our experience.

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