We’re pleased to announce the publication of a new report, Unlocking the potential of aid information. The report, by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Aidinfo, looks at how to make information related to international development (i) legally open, (ii) technically open and (iii) easy to find.

The report and relevant background information can be found at:

It aims to inform the development of a new platform for publishing and sharing aid information:

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) aims to improve the availability and accessibility of aid information by designing common standards for publication of info about aid. It’s is not about creating another database on aid activities, but creating a platform that will enable existing databases – and potential new services – to access this aid information and create compelling application providing more detailed, timely, and accessible information about aid.

The idea of openness is crucial to creating this platform and achieving transparency. Information must be openly available with as few restrictions in how the information is accessed and used as possible. To this end, we need to design a technical architecture that enables information to be published and accessed in an open way.

There are three main recommendations in the report, which are as follows:

  • Recommendation 1 – Aid information should be legally open. The standard should require a core set of standard licenses for pubishing aid information under. It should require that either:
    • (i) information is published under one of a small number of recommended options:
      • Licenses for content: Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution Sharealike license
      • Legal tools for data: Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL), Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) or Creative Commons CC0
    • or that (ii) information is published using a license/legal tool that is compliant with a standard such as the Open Knowledge Definition.
  • Recommendation 2 – Aid information should be technically open. The standard should require that raw data is made available in bulk (not just via an API or web interface) with any relevant schema information and either:
    • (i) in one of a small number of recommended formats:
      • Text: HTML, ODF, TXT, XML
      • Data: CSV, XML, RDF/XML
    • or (ii) in a format:
      • (a) which is machine readable and
      • (b) for which the specification is publicly and freely available and usable
  • Recommendation 3 – Aid information should be easily findable. The standard should require that aid organisations add their knowledge assets to a registry with some basic metadata describing the information.

We are now welcoming comments on the report until Sunday 1st November 2009. To submit comments you can:

  1. Directly annotate the documents with your comments:
  2. Submit your comments for discussion on the open development mailing list.
  3. Email your comments to info at okfn dot org.
Website | + posts

Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.