The year is 2017! Some of you (like my fellow Ghanaian citizens) may have just voted in an election that you hope will bring with it the promise of socio-economic growth. You believe that having a better understanding of how government works will foster better engagement and efficiency. Others are exploring new ideas in research that could change the lives of millions if not billions. A new business idea is in the making and you will like to explore a little more about your target demographics. Others may just have realised the magnitude of the refugee crisis across the world and want to do something practical to help. You can see where I am going with this. If your main challenge at the moment is exactly where to go from here, why not start by organising an event on International Open Data Day this year and join hundreds of events around the world?
For the benefit of those of you who are new to Open Data, one definition is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share alike. With this comes another avenue to explore many insights, innovations, collaborations that can enhance the social issues we care about as societies. This year’s Open Data Day will take place on Saturday, 4th March, and with funding from SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos and Article 19, and OKI, we will distribute $12,500 worth of mini-grants to support your event ideas.
I got your attention now, right? So what exactly are mini-grants?
A mini-grant is a grant of between $200-$400 for groups to create Open Data Day events. In past years, we gave grants to groups based on location. This year, we want to take ODD up a notch and focus on problems that open data can solve. This year, there are four categories to the grant – Open Research Data, Open Contracting and tracking public money flows, Open Data for Environment and Open Data for Human Rights.
I hope this has gotten you excited and ready to apply. But if you do so, there are a few important things to be aware of:
- To all grants: We cannot fund government applications, whether federal or local. This is since we support civil society actions. We encourage governments to participate in the event themselves!
- For Human Rights or Environment: groups based in the US cannot apply for funding due to our funder restrictions.
- For Tracking public money flows: only groups from low/medium income countries (based on this OECD DAC list).
Event organisers can only apply once and for just one category, so choose well.
Writing A Successful Application
Now that’s out of the way, here are some tips for a successful grant application. Open Data Day is a great opportunity for outreach to new stakeholders and show-off our great work. However, we want people to work and think about open data as part of their work year round, and not only on one day. Successful applications will be those who will show how open data day is connected to other future activities and not a one off event in the community. Here are some guidelines for successful applications:
- Think of concrete output – Open Data Day is one day, so we don’t expect you to solve global warming in less than 24 hours. Think of tangible outputs like a network map, small prototype or even a video.
- Less is more – We prefer to see one good, well thought through output, then a lot of them who are not realistic to this timeframe.
- Part of a process, not standalone – Show us how ODD fit in the grand scheme of things of your community.
- In the human rights and environment, Priority will be given to:
- Connected to current datasets – Replication is not a must, but we want to see how these projects are connected to other open data projects that are done already and not only reinventing the wheel. In term of human rights, any event that will use HDX will get a priority. In terms of the environment, any event that will use existed datasets (like EU or local open dataset).
- Connected to current OKI Labs projects – If you can’t find a dataset that is connected to your work, we will give priority to groups who will use/test/contribute to one of our OK Labs projects.
What is the timeline for the mini-grants?
Applications are open now through Monday, 13th February 2017 and the selected grantees will be announced on Monday, 20th February 2017. However, it is important to note that all payments will be made to the teams after ODD when they submit their blog reports and a copy of their expenses. Payment before the event will be considered on a case to case basis.
Need some inspiration for you Open Data Day events? OKI Staff curated some ideas for you!
If you are all set and ready to organise an ODD event, apply for a mini-grant HERE.