This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open Research theme.
The International Open Data Day at the University of Kashmir, India, was celebrated as a satellite event titled “OpenCon 2017 Srinagar: Celebrating International Open Data day” on 4th March 2017.
The event was organised for the first time in the valley with the aim of introducing scholars, researchers, students and the teaching community to the availability and benefits of Open Research Data. The concept of open data is not that much common among the research community, although the university promotes and stands for open access. Therefore the organisers emphasised the concept and importance of open data, especially for research and allied areas.
The overwhelming participation by the researchers, scholars, faculty members numbering to more than 150 revealed their keen interest in the theme and curiosity about the availability and use of open data sets in different setups.
The full day event was well divided into different sessions and started with the inaugural session where Dr. Ajaz H.Wani (Scientist-D, Department of Biotechnology) introduced the concept of open data by showcasing some examples of everyday data sets generated and populated in different sectors like Google maps and from the field of Biotechnology. Another address by Mr Ajaz ul Haq (Producer, Electronic Multimedia Research Centre) laid emphasis on the various dimensions of openness and highlighted the importance of understanding the difference between the terms open and free.
In the next session, “OpenCon Webcast: OpenData 101” by Ross Mounce was screened and it educated participants on the basics of open data, the legal and technical aspects of open data and the issue of privacy – why not all data should be opened. The participants and experts present established good network during lunch and exchanged ideas and shared experiences and concerns.
Dr Zahid Ashraf Wani (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) gave a presentation on the Registry of Research Data Repositories and highlighted the availability and usefulness of research data repositories in different subject areas.
Nadim Akhtar Khan (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) introduced the projects available through Open Knowledge Labs. These include: CKAN, Frictionless Data, FutureTDM, Open Data for Development (OD4D), Open Budgets EU, Open Data Handbook, OpenSpending, OpenTrials, School of Data etc. The participants were also encouraged to use data.world for understanding, creating and sharing data sets in real environments.
After the presentations, there was a panel discussion where panelists from different subject areas shared their experiences regarding the availability of research datasets in their respective domains and their observations regarding open data. Dr Abdul Majid Baba, (University librarian & Head, DLIS) emphasised the importance of open access in present research environment. Professor Bashir Ahmad Joo (Department of Management Studies) highlighted the importance of open data in Business and Finance and presented some good examples of open data in the banking sector for ready reference, utilisation and drawing inferences.
Dr Mohammad Tariq Banday (Head of the Department of Electronics and Instrumentation Centre) highlighted the importance of open data for the researchers in the field of science. He emphasised that using and testing open data in local research environments will be more beneficial for quality research. He also talked about the importance of making more data open in subject areas like Electronics and how that will go a long way in strengthening the research domain. Dr Masood Rizvi (Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry) shared experiences in utilising research tools such as ResearchGate for sharing research datasets in open and its influence on establishing quality and the impact of individual research efforts at the global level.
Dr Sumeer Gul (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) emphasised on the importance of basic concepts underpinning open access and highlighted the importance of open access publishing and open archives/repositories for teaching and research community while Mrs Rosy Jan (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) deliberated upon the role of libraries and information centres in promoting open access and open environment for research.
Dr Zahid Ashraf Wani also talked about the importance of open data for economically poor nations and its implications for building more vibrant research communities at the global level. The sharing of research data from poorer regions like ours can be boon in terms of potential collaboration globally and help the region to make most of the infrastructure facilities available in the developed world.
Nadim Akhtar Khan during the concluding remarks after the panel discussions called upon all the participants to make use of open data day deliberations as the basis for giving serious considerations towards understanding, using and sharing open data. The participants were asked to make use of Open Knowledge Labs for further strengthening their understanding of 0pen data and its use.
The feedback from participants about the event made our fatigued day fruitful because most of them became confident about experimenting with open data and creating small groups for discussions and experiences and issues sharing at the local level. We are confident that Open Data Day 2017 is the beginning towards embracing openness and will lead to a vibrant research culture with more transparency and reusing options of existing datasets. The most amazing part of the event was that the MLIS students of final semester showed their keen interest in the deliberations and were actively involved in the discussions.
Despite the fact that the preparations for ODD celebrations started late, the teamwork and tireless efforts of the teaching and non-teaching members of the Department of Library & Information Science, University of Kashmir made the event possible. Our special thanks go to the Honourable Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar for approving the event at such a short notice. Also, our gratitude goes to Director of EMMRC, for providing the auditorium and video coverage of the event.
We would fail in our duties if we won’t thank Lorraine Chuen of SPARC OPEN for providing us a very vibrant OpenCon Platform for organising this event and schedule our event using sched (Event management tool) that saved us lots of efforts and time. We are immensely thankful to SPARC and Open Knowledge Foundation for th mini-grant that was used for meeting different expenditures for holding the event successfully.
For the detailed schedule you can visit: https://opencon2017srinagarcelebratingin.sched.com or http://www.opencon2017.org/opencon_srinagar_2017
Nadim Akhtar Khan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, University of Kashmir, India. His research interests include Open Source Software, Metadata Harvesting and interoperability, Institutional Repositories, Digital Libraries, Multilingual Interfaces and Cultural Heritage.