This blog post is part of our summer series featuring chapter updates from across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the team of Open Knowledge Ireland.
What is OK Ireland and what do we do?
Open Knowledge Ireland is a team of 9 volunteers who envision an information age where everyone, not just a few, has access to and the ability to use the massive amounts of information and data generated by entities such as our government or public service.
We believe everyone should have access to this information and data to be able to make better decisions, receive better services and ensure money is spent in the right places. Our goal is to make taxpayer-supported information openly available, so that it can be used and re-used without the public having to pay for it, again.
In so doing we want to ensure that vital research can happen. We want people to be able to leverage information to hold powerful institutions to account, whether in health care, the charity sector, or through Freedom of Information requests in the public service.
In June we organised and ran an event dedicated to Knowledge Preservation in the 21st century: https://ti.to/open-knowledge-ireland/knowledge-preservation/ . The event was attended by 20 enthusiasts. Kalpana Shankar, Stan Nazarenko and Rufus Pollock shared their visions of how knowledge and information can and should be preserved today and what the current challenges are. (Photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/139932355@N08/sets/72157669330777481)
In August we were delighted to help our friends and colleagues from Open Street Maps to map the Kingdom of Lesotho.
To see a list of our past events click here.
A notable highlight from the last few months has been our work on hospital waiting list data. For a more extensive look at the activities we have initiated, see here.
In May we presented the findings from our Hospital Waiting List Project at the all-Ireland conference ‘Knowledge For Health’ organised by the Institute of Public Health (IPH), which operates on both sides of the island of Ireland. The reason we took on this project is that people with illnesses requiring them to visit a hospital (bad enough in itself!) are currently waiting up to 18 months and more to be seen by specialist doctors and consultants. No one in Europe should have to wait so long for a consultation on what may prove to be a severe or life-threatening illness.
As a way of reducing waiting times to see specialist doctors in hospitals we would like waiting times to be publicly (= ‘openly’) available so that the public, journalists, and social media can hold service providers accountable where waiting times are unusually high. This would also allow experts to use the data and complete sophisticated problem analysis that could work to improve waiting lists.
While advocating for open data, we realise that for the data to be useful and to help answer real questions, users need to be sure that the data is authentic and that it will be accessible tomorrow or ten years from now. We believe that the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) has great potential to facilitate the preservation of the authenticity and accessibility of public data.
IPFS is a peer-to-peer distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files where each file is given a unique fingerprint called a cryptographic hash.
IPFS provides historical versioning (like git) and makes it simple to set up resilient networks for mirroring of data.
At the conference, we demonstrated that the hospital waiting list data could and should be permanently and publicly available via the IPFS. See here for the examples of hospital waiting list data we presented. (https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmT66oHDwzb8dU5vnZt3Ez5aStcWCjbqjNE2pA25ShTjmM/)
What are we working on next?
Plans for the future:
- Hospital Waiting List: OK Ireland continues to work with the Irish government on making Hospital Waiting List data open, to linking it with Wikimedia Data, and applying it on the Open Street Maps. As all of us can and might become ill, we believe that making health data accessible and comprehensive to everyone is the best way to demonstrate the potential value of open data.
We aim to get existing data on waiting times released into Data.gov.ie – to do so it is likely that a tender will have to be announced to get this work under way. We are therefore looking to draft what this work might look like and what a project plan & costs would look like.
- Developing a sustainable fundraising strategy: We are struggling, as are many non-profits, to secure funds. Are there proven methods & tools that the Open Knowledge International Network could share to support us in developing a strategic plan for fundraising? For example, how could we leverage prominent personalities on the global level locally? Where should a strategic fundraising plan focus? And how do we go about sustaining a constant output of fundraising applications?
And our upcoming events:
- During Open Access Week (October 24–30, 2016) Open Knowledge Ireland and the Institute of Public Health (IPH) are co-organising an event which is dedicated to Open Data, Open Access, and Social Justice. The event will take place on Tuesday, 25 October at Pearse Street Library. More information to follow.
If you want to contact us:
If you found the above interesting and/or want to learn more about anything we talked about here, please feel free to email, tweet, or facebook us.
Denis is Entrepreneur, Activist, Open Data Governance Board Member and the Open Knowledge International Ambassador for Ireland. He is passionate about empowering evidence-based decision-making through open knowledge (https://openknowledge.ie) and development of distributed data infrastructures driven by open-source technologies (https://kubrik.io/).