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Enter the Partnership for Open Data’s Impact Stories Competition!

Rahul Ghosh - February 20, 2014 in Open Data, Partnership for Open Data

We want to know how opening up data impact those in developing countries. The Partnership for Open Data (POD) is a partnership of institutions to research, support, train and promote open data in the context of low and middle income countries. We invite you to share with us your stories about how open data has positively impacted you, or those around you; technologically, politically, commercially, environmentally, socially, or in any other way.

banner POD

How has Open Data impacted you and your community?

Over the last decade, Open Data initiatives have become increasingly popular with both governments and civil society organisations. Through these initiatives they hope to tap into its potential benefits of innovation, delivery of better services more cost effectively, combating climate change, improving urban planning, and reducing corruption; to name but just a few of the possibilities.

This is the chance to tell your inspiring stories, and get them published.

A grand prize of $1000 (USD) is on offer and there are 2 x $500 (USD) runner up prizes!

This competition is being run by the Open Knowledge Foundation as part of the Partnership for Open Data, a joint initiative of the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Open Data Institute, and The World Bank.

Click to Enter the Competition.

Closing Date: 24th March 2014

Winners will be announced within three weeks of the closing date. Terms and Conditions apply.

U.S. government’s data portal relaunched on CKAN

Irina Bolychevsky - May 23, 2013 in CKAN, Featured, News, Releases

Today, we are excited to announce that our work with the US Federal Government (data.gov) has gone live at catalog.data.gov! You can also read the announcement from the data.gov blog with their description of the new catalog.

Catalog.Data.gov

The Open Knowledge Foundation’s Services team, which deploys CKAN, have been working hard on a new unified catalog to replace the numerous previously existing catalogs of data.gov. All geospatial and raw data is federated into a single portal where data from different portals, sources and catalogs is displayed in a beautiful standardized user interface allowing users to search, filter and facet through thousands of datasets.

This is a key part of the U.S. meeting their newly announced Open Data Policy and marks data.gov’s first major step into open source. All the code is available on Github and data.gov plan to make their CKAN / Drupal set-up reusable for others as part of OGPL.

As one of the first major production sites to launch with the shiny new CKAN 2.0, data.gov takes advantage of the much improved information architecture, templating and distributed scalable authorization model. CKAN provides data.gov with a web interface for over 200 publishing organizations to manage their members, harvest sources and datasets – supporting requirements being outlined in Project Open Data. This means that agencies can maintain their data sources individually, schedule regular refreshes of the metadata into the central repository and manage an approval workflow.

There have been many additions to CKAN’s geospatial functionality, most notably a fast and elegant geospatial search:

Geospatial search filter

We have added robust support for harvesting FGDC and ISO 19139 documents from WAFs, single spatial documents, CSW endpoints, ArcGIS portals, Z39:50 sources, ESRI Geoportal Servers as well as other CKAN catalogs. This is available for re-use as part of our harvesting and spatial extensions.

Most importantly, this is a big move towards greater accessibility and engagement with re-users. Not only is metadata displayed through a browsable web interface (instead of XML files), there is now a comprehensive CKAN API with access to all web functionality including search queries and downloads which respects user and publisher permission settings. Users can preview the data in graphic previews as well as exploring Web Map Services, whilst the dataset page provides context, browsable tags, dataset extent, and maintainers.

Web Map Service

As data.gov invites users to get involved and provide feedback, we would also like to say that we are really excited about CKAN’s future. We have a very active mailing list, new documentation for installing CKAN and ways to contribute to the code for anyone wanting to join the CKAN community.

If you’re launching a CKAN portal soon or have one we don’t know about, let us know and we’ll make sure to add you to our wall of awesome!

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.  Several 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.  The 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.

Let’s defend Open Formats for Public Sector Information in Europe!

Regards Citoyens - December 3, 2012 in Access to Information, Campaigning, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Standards, Open/Closed, Policy, WG EU Open Data, WG Open Government Data

Following some remarks from Richard Swetenham from the European Commission, we made a few changes relative to the trialogue process and the coming steps: the trialogue will start its meetings on 17th December and it is therefore already very useful to call on our governments to support Open Formats!

When we work on building all these amazing democratic transparency collaborative tools all over the world, all of us, Open Data users and producers, struggle with these incredibly frustrating closed or unexploitable formats under which public data is unfortunately so often released: XLS, PDF, DOC, JPG, completely misformatted tables, and so on.

The EU PSI directive revision is a chance to push for a clear Open Formats definition!

As part of Neelie Kroes’s Digital Agenda, the European Commission recently proposed a revision of the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive widening the scope of the existing directive to encourage public bodies to open up the data they produce as part of their own activities.

The revision will be discussed at the European Parliament (EP), and this is the citizen’s chance to advocate for a clear definition of the Open Formats under which public sector information (PSI) should be released.

We believe at Regards Citoyens that having a proper definition of Open Formats within the EU PSI directive revision would be a fantastic help to citizens and contribute to economic innovation. We believe such a definition can be summed-up to in two simple rules inspired by the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenDefinition principles:

  • being platform independant and machine-readable without any legal, financial or technical restriction;
  • being the result of an openly developped process in which all users can actually be part of the specifications evolution.

Those are the principles we advocated in a policy note on Open Formats we published last week and sent individually to all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the committee voting on the revision of the PSI directive last thursday.

Good news: the first rule was adopted! But the second one was not. How did that work?

ITRE vote on Nov 29th: what happened and how?

EP meetingA meeting at the European Parliament
CC-BY-ND EPP Group

The European parliamentary process first involves a main committee in charge of preparing the debates before the plenary session, in our case the Industry, Research and Energy committee (ITRE). Its members met on 29th November around 10am to vote on the PSI revision amongst other files.

MEPs can propose amendments to the revision beforehand, but, to speed up the process, the European Parliament works with what is called “compromise amendments” (CAs): the committee chooses a rapporteur leading the file in its name and each political group gets a “shadow rapporteur” to work together with the main rapporteur. They all study the proposed amendments together and try to sum them up in a few consensual ones called CAs, hence leading MEPs to pull away some amendments when they consider their concerns met. During the committee meeting, both kinds of amendment are voted on in accordance with predefined voting-list indicating the rapporteur’s recommandations.

Regarding Open Formats, everything relied on a proposition to add to the directive‘s 2nd article a paragraph providing a clear definition of what an Open Format actually is. The rapporteurs work led to a pretty good compromise amendment 18, which speaks pretty much for itself:

« An open format is one that is platform independent, machine readable, and made available to the public without legal, technical or financial restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information. »

This amendment was adopted, meaning this change will be proposed as a new amendment to all MEPs during the plenary debate. Given that it has the support of the rapporteur in the name of the responsible committee, it stands a good chance of being carried.

Regarding the open development process condition, MEP Amelia Andersdotter, shadow rapporteur for the European Parliament Greens group, maintained and adapted to this new definition her amendment 65:

« "open format" means that the format’s specification is maintained by a not-for-profit organisation the membership of which is not contingent on membership fees; its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties; the format specification document is available freely; the intellectual property of the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis. »

Even though it also got recommanded for approval by the main rapporteur, unfortunately the ALDE and EPP groups were not ready to support it yet and it got rejected.

Watching the 12 seconds during which the Open Formats issues were voted is a strange experience to anyone not familiar with the European Parliament, since most of the actual debate happens beforehand between the different rapporteurs, the committee meeting mainly consists of a succession of raised hand votes calls, which are occasionally electronically checked. Therefore, there are no public individual votes or records of these discussions available and the vote happens very quickly.

What next? Can we do anything?

Now that the ITRE committee has voted, its report should soon be made available online

As the European institutions work as a tripartite organisation, the text adopted by the ITRE committee will now be transferred to both the European Commission and Council for approval. This includes a trialogue procedure in which a consensus towards a common text must be driven. This is an occasion to call on our respective national governments to push in favor of Open Formats in order toc maintain and improve the definition which the EP already adopted.

The text which comes out of the tripartite debate will be discussed in plenary session, planned at the moment for 11th March 2013. Until noon on the Wednesday preceding the plenary, MEPs will still have the possibility to propose new amendments to be voted on at plenary: they can do so either as a whole political group, or as a group of at least 40 different MEPs from any groups.

Possible next steps to advocate Open Formats could therefore be the following:

  • Call on our national governments to push in favor of Open Formats;
  • Keep up-to-date with documents and procedures from the European Parliament: ParlTrack offers e-mail alerts on the dossier;
  • Whenever the proposition of new amendments towards the plenary debate is opened, we should contact our respective national MEPs from all political groups and urge them to propose amendments requiring Open Formats to be based on an open development process. Having multiple amendments coming from different political groups would certainly help MEPs realize this is not a partisan issue;
  • When the deadline for proposing amendments is reached, we should call on our MEPs by email, phone calls or Tweets to vote for such amendments and possibly against some opposed ones. In order to allow anyone to easily and freely phone their MEPs, we’re thinking about reusing La Quadrature du Net‘s excellent PiPhone tool for EU citizen advocacy.

In any case, contacting MEPs to raise concerns on Open Formats policies can of course always be useful at all times before and after the plenary debates. Policy papers, amendments proposals, vulgarisation documents, blogposts, open-letters, a petititon, tweets, … It can all help!

To conclude, we would like to stress once again that Regards Citoyens is an entirely voluntary organisation without much prior experience with the European Parliament. This means help and expertise is much appreciated! Let’s get all ready to defend Open Formats for European Open Data in a few weeks!


Regards Citoyens — CC-BY-SA

ePSI Platform Conference 2012

Daniel Dietrich - March 23, 2012 in Events, Open Government Data

On Friday the 16th of March, the European Public Service Information (ePSI) Platform conference was held in Rotterdam. More than 300 guests from all over the world gathered for what turned out to be a very busy and interesting day. In 15 sessions 60 speakers gave an overview on a wide variety of open data related issues. From key registries to data journalism, from pricing models to data visualisation and from local data to national data portals. See the full programme.

The conference, called “Taking re-use to the next level“, was opened by a warm welcome by Ms Korrie Louwes, vice-mayor of Rotterdam. See the video recording and the full text of her welcome speech.

The second welcome message came, by video, from EC VP Commissioner Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda. She called upon the conference participants to go out and make the case for open data more strongly. Explaining the proposed EU open data strategy Commissioner Kroes also made clear that it is not enough to just rely on the legislative process, as work needs to be done on cultural change as well. Practical examples of open data re-use, and grass roots support and experiences play an important role here. “Dare to try!“, and thus help make the case for Open Data, and showing every public sector body in the EU that “opening data will pay off“. See full video message by Mrs. Neelie Kroes.

 

 

Plenary I: The revised PSI Directive

The welcoming notes were followed by a panel discussion on the proposed amendment of the PSI Directive with Richard Swetenham (Headof Unit DG INFSO of the European Commission), Chris Taggart (CEO & Co-Founder OpenCorporates), Peter Hecker (Chairman of GEOkomm Germany) and Anton Eliassen (Director National Meteo Institute Norway and former Chair ECOMET Council).

 

Plenary I: The revised PSI Directive from ePSI platform on Vimeo.

 

The discussion was opened by Marc de Vries from the ePSI platform with an overview on the Directive and the proposed amendments. In short the main areas of changes to the PSI Directive as proposed in the European Commission’s “Open Data Strategy” in December 2011 are:

  • All data made available by government institutions must be able to be generally used for commercial and non-commercial purposes;
  • In principle, the costs charged by government institutions may not exceed the costs involved in the individual request for information (marginal costs – in practice usually free of charge);
  • Member States must introduce regulatory supervision to monitor compliance with the aforementioned principles;
  • the scope of the Directive will be extended to include information from libraries, museums and archives.

Plenary 2 – Vistas of Open Data, what are the pockets of new initiatives?

The second panel with Brigitte Zonneveld (Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation), Francois Bancilhon (CEO of Data Publica, France) and Andrew Stott (former Director for Transparency and digital engagement UK Cabinet Office) was moderated by Ton Zijlstra. See the discussion.

 

Plenary II: Vistas of Open Data, what´s ahead from ePSI platform on Vimeo.

 

ePSI Trailblazers 2012

At the end of the second Plenary the winners of the ePSI Trailblazers were awarded on stage. The ePSI trailblazers are innovative ‘trailblazers’, who’ve done something new and exciting re-using PSI. You can visit the ePSI Trailblazers here.

 

 

The two Plenary Sessions were followed 12 sessions in the form of workshops facilitated by speakers and moderators on a variety of topics such as local Open Data initiatives, role of competition authorities, Open Data as business model for the public sector, data journalism, and much more. Check out the video recordings from some of the sessions and pictures from the conference.

 

There is also this very nice video from Elmine Wijnia

ePSI conference 2012: taking re-use to the next level from Elmine Wijnia on Vimeo.

 

Living Labs Global Award 2012 – Two Open Knowledge Foundation Projects Nominated

Velichka Dimitrova - March 8, 2012 in CKAN, Events, News, OKF Projects, Open Economics, Open Spending, WG Economics

Two projects of the Open Knowledge Foundation have been nominated for the Living Labs Global Award 2012: OpenSpending.mobi – Participatory budgeting through augmented reality and CityData – Making Cities Smarter – A central entry point to all your city’s data. Out of nearly 700 submitted showcases, about 15% have been selected to submit an extended version of the showcase. The Winning Showcases will be presented during the Rio Summit on Service Innovation in Rio de Janeiro on 2-3 May, 2012.

The Living Labs Global Award cooperated with cities in Africa, Asia, South and North America and Europe in order to present challenges related to health, mobility, education urban management and sustainable development, affecting more than 125 million people. Winners of the Living Labs Global Award are invited to implement their showcase as a pilot project, providing valuable inputs in product development and public sector procurement.

“Companies, non-governmental organisations and research centres have invested in technologies that change our cities”. The Living Labs Global Award 2012 provides an opportunity to innovators to present their solutions, receive professional and detailed evaluation, and is a distinguished recognition of their efforts in providing sustainable and innovative solutions for cities.

OpenSpending.mobi is nominated in the category Participation in Service Design and Delivery in Sant Cugat del Valles, Spain.

An increasing number of cities invite their citizens to help allocate municipal funds through participatory budgeting. Yet these debates often remain abstract: should more funds be given to schools or hospitals? Should the city pay down debt by selling property or by reducing social benefits?

OpenSpending.mobi aims to make budgeting debates happen where their effects will take place: out in the streets. The project will geo-code local government expenditure, and present funding information as location-based virtual overlays on mobile devices. Both the city government and normal citizens will be able to either propose new projects or rate and comment on those of others.

With a growing set of other Augmented Reality (AR) layers becoming accessible, more and more information will be available to facilitate hyperlocal decision-making. The project could be further expanded to include regular group tours through the city in which digital layers and real-life debate combine into a data-based moving agora.

CityData – Making Cities Smarter is nominated in the category Free Spatial Data for Information & Services in Kristiansand, Norway.

Where do citizens and developers go for information in your city? Perhaps for public transport timetables they have to visit the websites of the local bus and tram companies, for information about bin collections a local council site, for crime data the local police website … and so on.

CityData is a platform that brings geo-coded information from local councils, departments and agencies together in one place. Different agencies can upload links to their data from existing systems either using an intuitive web front end or via a powerful API, into grouped spaces on the platform where they can retain their distinctive branding. It provides facilities for agencies to upload and review data before it goes live. It uses non-proprietary, open-source software, tried and tested on large existing projects such as datagm.org.uk, a data platform for the Greater Manchester area.

Data can be linked on external sites, or held as structured data on the CityData server, in which case a suite of visualisations and maps are available to users as well as an API to query the data. By making data from many different local sources discoverable and searchable, CityData encourages local app developers to build services using multiple data streams – for example, combining geospatial transport and house price data to make suggestions to a user who needs to find a place to live.

Living Labs Award Contact at OKFN: velichka.dimitrova [at] okfn.org

Announcing the ePSI Trailblazers 2012

Daniel Dietrich - February 23, 2012 in Events, Open Data

In the run to the upcoming ePSI Conference 2012 on 16th March in Rotterdam, Netherlands, we are very excited to announce the ePSI Trailblazers 2012.

What are the ePSI Trailblazers?

What if, instead of handing out another award, we could offer you both recognition from your peers and help in improving your work? At the ePSI Conference, you’ll have the chance to present your ideas and get help in making these ideas even better!

The ePSIplatform is looking for PSI re-use innovators – the ‘trailblazers’ – who have done something new and exciting with open data in the past year. Similar to other open data competitions, criteria for selection would include:

  1. Usefulness to the citizens, visitors and public sector
  2. Potential for application to be useful for other governmental bodies, including in other Member States
  3. Appeal of the application from a usability perspective
  4. Inventive and original nature of the application

Selected initiatives can include both well established applications and services, and new/start-up initiatives, proofs-of-concept and demos. Trailblazers will get the opportunity to give a five minute presentation at the EPSI conference to explain what they’ve done and why this is innovative.

However – and this is where trailblazers get more than a simple award – the winners would also be asked to explain in a few minutes what they need to move their initiative forward, and to do even better things with it. This can be as straightforward as getting new seed funding, but may also involve more pragmatic things: help in liaising with other governments, finding new programmers/hackers to help build technical improvements, organizing brainstorming sessions to identify new application areas, identifying new relevant data sets, getting legal assistance, etc. The EPSI team will then try to help them achieve this objective by providing funding or material assistance.

This innovative approach will have a much more pragmatic impact on the recipients: they can present their needs, and we will try to help them in building better services.

Who are the PSI Trailblazers?

Help us to find the ePSI Trailblazers 2012 by filling in this form!

The ePSI Trailblazers will be awarded at the up coming ePSIplatform Conference 2012, 16 March 2012, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

More on the ePSI Conference 2012

For more information on the ePSI Conference 2012 see the provisional programme and don’t miss to register here!

Open Economics Hackday

Velichka Dimitrova - February 1, 2012 in Events, Sprint / Hackday, WG Economics

Open Economics Hackday

Open Economics Hackday at the Barbican, London. Photo by Ilias Bartolini.

The following post is by Velichka Dimitrova coordinator of the Open Economics Working Group.

It is great to see people coming together and doing something cool on a Saturday. The Open Economics Hackday gathered more than thirty people at the Barbican and online, crafting fancy visualisations, wrangling data and being creative together.

The day was devoted to ideas in open economics, as a transparent and collaborative academic discipline, which presents research outputs in a comprehensible way to the general public.

We aimed at building Yourtopia 2, an interactive application showing the development of Italy on several key social progress indicators over time. Building on preceding experience with alternative non-GDP measures of human development (Yourtopia), the new project’s objective is to show how different progress can be in the separate Italian regions, as Italy is traditionally a country with stark regional inequalities.

Although originally used as a term for the gatherings of computer programmers, the Open Economics Hackday was open to people with different backgrounds and various skills. Programmers were creating bits of code, data journalists were gathering and processing data, economists were making sure the project concept addresses key problems in this field of research.

Would you like to help finish the Yourtopia 2 application? Please join the follow-up online meeting this Saturday at 2pm GMT. Confirm your participation by typing in your name on the Etherpad: http://econ.okfnpad.org/hackathon-jan-2011.

ePSIplatform Conference 2012

Daniel Dietrich - January 4, 2012 in Events, Open Government Data

The following post is by the organisers of the ePSIplatform Conference 2012 and is cross-posted from epsiplatform.eu.

16 March 2012, Rotterdam, Netherlands

With the progress the open data movement has made in the past few years, and the announcement of the European Open Data Strategy by the European Commission, we are reaching a new maturity level in the open data arena. We are ready to move to the next level, in terms of adoption by governments, in terms of the number and background of people involved, the mass and volume of data available for re-use, the business and distribution models, the size of the economic value involved, and the technology facilitating these developments.

Come to Rotterdam on March 16, and go ‘level up’!

Are you: A public data holder, an application builder, a data journalist, a policy maker, a competition authority, an open data community member, a data portal owner, an advisor to re-users or policy makers, a long time commercial re-user, a start-up director, representing an NGO, or a researcher on these topics? We cordially invite you to the ePSIplatform.eu 2012 conference!

A few plenary, and many parallel sessions: On a wide variety of topics: changing local policy issues with local open data, data journalism, the internal business case for open data, increasing a sector’s effectiveness with open data (such as international aid), data visualization, open data for participation and self empowerment, licensing, pan-European initiatives, PSI Directive review, data protection and privacy, combining public data and personal data: the Quantified Self, obstacles of PSI r-euse, (financing of) ‘key registries’, checks and balances: redress and compliance.

And of course plenty of time to connect and network!

We’ll let you know how the program and list of speakers is shaping up over time.

Registration is free! Get your ticket now…. see you in Rotterdam!

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