It is with great excitement that we can announce the establishment of a new round of Open Knowledge Local Groups, headed by new Ambassadors around the world. This time we welcome El Salvador, Hungary, Iran, Malta, Paraguay, Philippines and Romania to the family of Local Groups, which now stretch over 45 countries worldwide. In this blog post we would like to introduce the people heading these groups and invite everyone to join the community in these countries.
Zoltan Varju, our new Ambassador in Hungary, is a computational linguist at Precognox, a company specializing in semantic search and text mining. He is one of the initiators of opendata.hu, a community driven open data hub in Hungary. Zoltan is also the organizer of the Hungarian Natural Language Processing Meetup and the co-organizer of the inkLink data journalism conference. Lastly, he blogs at Kereső Világ, a blog dedicated to (enterprise) search, language technology and text mining.
Silviu Vert is currently pursuing his PhD studies at the Politehnica University in Timisoara, exploring the potential of linked and open data in augmented reality scenarios. In 2013, he and several friends founded the Smart City community, which engages with the local government authorities, tech communities, companies, universities and non-governmental organizations to open up the public data of the city and to build upon it useful services for the citizens. Silviu volunteers in charitable and community service activities as a member of the Lions Clubs network. He was the president of Romania’s National Association of Leo Clubs in 2012-2013 and is a founding member of a new Lions Club in his home city, Timisoara. Until recently, he was a co-organizer of the Google Developer Group Timisoara, a tech community, and an active member of the Timisoara Toastmasters Club, a public speaking organization.
Iris Palma is the new Ambassador of El Salvador and a Salvadorian Economist and Master in Public Policies for the Social Development as well as Alumni Fellow of the Legislative Fellowship Program of the US Department of State. Currently she is a partner in INSERT, an NGO in El Salvador that promotes the benefits of co-working, open data and the benefits of ICT for social and economic development. In addition, she is a teacher of Economics at a private university in San Salvador, has worked as consultant in e-government and open data for both the Organization of the American States and her own country’s government, and as a regional consultant in competitiveness and innovation in Central America. As a writer, she has written some papers about Open Data, e-Government, Open Government and ICT and Competitiveness, among others topics. She believes in open knowledge as foundation for a world where people can create and improve their social, economic and cultural opportunities through ICT and education.
Lastly, she is co-leading the Open Data Portal in El Salvador as well as other tools for open knowledge, public services evaluation, apps repository and entrepreneurship.
Joseph De Guia is doing research on open government data for the Open LGU Research Project for the “Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC).” He was also the country lead researcher/contributor in Philippines for the Open Data Barometer, a global research project of the World Wide Web Foundation supported by IDRC. He has a Masters degree in Information Technology from the Carnegie Mellon University and Computer Science graduate of Mapua Institute of Technology. Joseph has extensive experience in application development, database administration, web development, content management, and project and process modeling. His research work on electronic health records, government enterprise architecture, and GIS applications has been presented in international and local conferences.
The new Local Group in Malta is lead by Charlie Abela, an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Intelligent Computer Systems within the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta. Charlie is a member of the Intelligent Data Management (IDAM) research group and is involved in a number of open data initiatives, including Hack4Malta and is responsible of the opendatamalta.com portal. He hold a MSc in Computer Science from the University of Malta and is pursuing a PhD in the area of Personal Information Management.
Babak Vandad, the new Ambassador in Iran, is a software developer. He has graduated in Computer Science from Shahid Beheshti University and advocates for the open source movement. His main area of interest is data visualization and graphical representation. Babak has been active on delivering IT services for Iranian institutions with open content since 2008.
Maricarmen Sequera is a lawyer specialized in intellectual property, copyright and related rights, biotechnology, and copyleft. Founder of TEDIC Association (Technology,Education, Development, Research and Communications), is currently President of TEDIC. Leader of the Creative Commons Paraguay Initiative, Democracy 2.0, and TESA 2.0 Digital Citizen Programme, and Founder of Hacks Hackers Asunción.
Maricarmen is a free Software consultant and has published several articles on issues about copyright and civil rights on the Internet. She is a member of the Internet Society (ISOC) – Paraguay’s chapter, and also is representative at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN) for TEDIC.
We encourage everyone to get in touch with these new Local Groups – to join, connect and collaborate! Contact information can be found via our global network page.