A look back at the work of Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland in 2016

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland team.

We are the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland (OKF DE), the German chapter of OKI. We advocate for open knowledge, open data, transparency, and civic participation and consider ourselves an active part of German and European civil society.

Our goals

* we provide technical tools that inform citizens about the potential and chances of open data and empower citizens to become active

* we organize educational events and projects and author publications in the domain of science, research, and public relations

* we offer trainings on open data and related technical tools

* we organize groups that discuss sustainable strategies and applications for the usage and advancement of open knowledge

* we build our community and connect relevant individuals with one another

Currently, we have 25 employees (16,5 FTE, 14 female/11 male) and 8 board members (6 male/2 female) in our team. We are pursuing the concept of “Open Salaries.” We have a simple formula to calculate salaries and we share this with the whole team.  Our salaries are based on the public services salaries (TVÖD 12/S1 – Project Assistant, TVÖD 13/S2 – Project Manager, TVÖD 13/S3 – Project Lead and CEO).

Our anticipated annual budget in 2016 of 1.2 million Euros remains relatively consistent compared to 2015 and is a result of our collective efforts to consolidate our programs and focus on fewer priorities. We are aiming for a mixed funding portfolio to avoid dependency on a few big funders. We are currently working on 19 grant-based projects to advance unlimited access to knowledge across different branches of society (politics, culture, economics, science).

Here’s a brief look back over our work and major projects in 2016:

Ask The Jobcentre! (original: Frag Das Jobcenter!)

Project: FragdenStaat.de

Project lead: Arne.Semsrott@okfn.de

The project FragdenStaat ( “Ask Your Government” in English) runs a campaign to demand wider transparency in public jobcentres in Germany. Jobcentres are powerful authorities: not only are they allowed to track unemployed persons who draw unemployment benefits, they also control the personal data of anyone sharing a household with those beneficiaries.

Internal directives and target agreements manage how jobcentres operate, for instance when and why they cover costs for health insurance, and when they penalise beneficiaries. To understand how jobcentres operate, FragdenStaat wants to request all internal directives and target agreements. Help us to request these documents! More information is available here.

Annual Youth Hackathon “Youth hacked” (orginial: “Jugend hackt”)

Project: Jugendhackt.de

Project lead: Maria.Reimer@okfn.de

“Youth Hacked” is a hackathon that brings together young, tech-savvy people to write code, tinker with hardware, and develop ideas that can change society. In mid-October participants between 12 and 18 years old travelled from all around Germany in order to attend the event. Those who couldn’t join physically were able to attend through livestream. It was a busy weekend: 24 projects were developed by 120 youngsters, supported by 42 mentors and volunteers and followed by about 700 visitors. More about the event can be read in this blogpost, and in this news article (both in German).

The “Youth Hacked” event celebrated a premier in Austria and Switzerland. In November, “Youth Hacked Austria” brought young people in Linz together, shortly followed by the first Youth Hacked event in Zurich, Switzerland. Furthermore, we are happy about a  collaboration with Goethe-Institut Ostasien. Together we teamed up and organised a workshop in Seoul titled “Vernetzte Welten” (engl. “Connected Worlds”).

Prototype fund: first round closes with 500+ submissions

Project: PrototypeFund.de

Project lead: Julia.kloiber@okfn.de; Cosmin.Cabuela@okfn.de

The Prototype Fund is a brand new project of Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. It is also the first public-funding programme around civic tech, data literacy, and data security which targets non-profit software projects. We support software developers, hackers and creatives to develop their ideas – from concept to the first pilot. Every project receives 30.000 Euros, including a mentorship programme and knowledge sharing within an interesting network.

Now the first round of a call for submissions is closed. During this round we received more than 500 submissions. This overwhelming interest is a strong message confirming the need for this project which in total will invest 1.2 million Euros into open source projects.

Within three years, 40 open source prototypes will be funded. Latest news are available on the webseite of the Prototype Fund. The project is supported by the BMBF, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

OGP Summit in Paris: We represented German civil society

For years Open Knowledge Foundation Germany has demanded that Germany join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and promote the values of open government.

32 European and Central -Asian countries had joined the partnership, but Germany was not among them. This changed in December 2016. Being mindful of recent political developments, we used the opportunity to represent German civil society during the OGP Summit in Paris which was held between December 7 and 9. Our participation included actions and debates such as:

Save the date: OKF DE Data Summit in 2017

Date & location: April 28-29, 2017 | Berlin

Conference with keynotes, workshops and barcamp/unconference

Topics: open data | digital volunteering | civic tech | mobility concepts | open administration | participation | transparency | freedom of information | connectivity | data for social good | data literacy

This year we are planning a data summit connecting the networks that developed through our project ‘Datenschule’ (engl. School of Data). Within two successful years of Code for Germany we developed many different projects and networks around Germany. Our educational program ‘Datenschule’ connects charitable, and non-profit organisations with our community. The goal is to enable NGOs using data as an information source for their socio-political work.

The data summit is intended to connect the members of our School of Data network even more. Over two days, open data and civic tech enthusiasts, representatives of policy, public administration, entrepreneurs, journalists and non-profit organisations can exchange experiences with one another. The data summit shall be a platform to develop new projects, to deepen data literacy through workshops, and to learn how digital tools can be employed in a modern data-driven society. Our goal: To provide a forum where participants can expand their networks, share experiences, get to know each other and exchange knowledge.

Note by the author

OKF DE is an independent not-for-profit organisation registered in Berlin, Germany in 2011 (under VR 30468 B, to be fully transparent). OKF DE is a pioneering and award-winning civil society organisation engaging in different aspects of the digital age. Their work is independent, non-partisan, interdisciplinary and non-commercial.

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