Since 2015 Open Knowledge International has been part of the consortium of ROUTETOPA (Raising Open, User-friendly, Transparency-Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations,, an EU-funded project that is working round the clock to provide platforms for open data enthusiasts to interact on the subject of open data with data publishers and with other open data users.
The upcoming Accountability Hack 2017 event has adopted ROUTETOPA’s  Social Platform for Open Data for use before, during and after the hackathon. In this blog we share more information about the event and about how you can use this platform. 

This blog has been crossposted from the ROUTETOPA blog (English) and the Accountability Hack blog (Dutch).

On June 9, at Accountability Hack 2017 in The Hague, teams will have eight hours to brainstorm, design and prototype solutions to some of the Netherlands’ most pertinent issues concerning accountability that open data can address. The Open State Foundation is organizing this hackathon for the Court of Audit, Statistics Netherlands and several ministries.

More than 100 developers, data-analysts and journalists are competing to make the best app that promotes accountability of government spending and performance. In total there is a prize amount of €7.500 euros. As many citizens as are available are encouraged to save the date and attend the day-long event which will take place in the building of the Dutch House of Representatives.

Hackathon participants are free to work on projects alone, but are encouraged to form teams with people from different disciplines. Developers, data scientists, policy makers, academics, designers, researchers, librarians, et al will be in attendance on the day. But how will a librarian, for example, find a designer and developer to work on a project with during the Hackathon?

Accountability Hack 2017 event has adopted ROUTETOPA’s  Social Platform for Open Data for use before, during and after the hackathon. On SPOD, participants will be able to discover open data, create and join groups, hold data-driven discussions, share documents and images with team members and create data visualizations very easily from the same platform. Pretty cool!

The Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD)

To get started, go to and sign up with your email address, or using your Facebook credentials. Once logged in, you should have access to the entire Social Platform for Open Data. In it, you can:

  • Edit your profile to reflect what you would like others to know, key among them your field of expertise so teams that need you can reach out to you
  • Add friends in order to directly message them
  • Write updates that will be aggregated with other updates and visible to all in the NewsFeed area
  • Use Agora, named after Greek public spaces, to create and work in project groups.
  • Use co-creation for the more sensitive,  invite-only discussions teams wish to hold at the beginning of the hackathon. Ultimately, teams are required to share as much information on their hackathon projects as possible in Agora.

Why are we encouraging teams to use the Social platform for Open Data during Accountability Hack 2017?

Eight hours is not nearly enough to identify a problem the team should work on, brainstorm through plausible solutions, find data, design and prototype the solution. In fact, without documentation detailing what teams are hoping to achieve and without a common space for teams to work collaboratively, it is virtually impossible to build on the idea presented at a hackathon beyond the day. Additionally, people might be interested in contributing datasets, helpful examples or just subscribing for updates on your project. Having all of these things happening in one place would be more than ideal.

Submit your app via SPOD

We ask all teams to register to SPOD before or during Accountability Hack. We ask all participants to hand in their working prototype at the end of the day via the platform. In the public post you need to state the name of the application, screenshots, link (if available), description of the application, used datasets, further plans and finally what was not possible due to lack of time or data (quality). Only apps that are submitted using SPOD will be eligible for the prizes.

Besides submitting the apps we encourage Accountability Hack attendees to use the platform before, during and after the hackathon to work, explore and collaborate data. Please send any hackathon-specific questions via email to Open State Foundation.

How does SPOD work?

To better illustrate how you can use the Social Platform for Open Data during the hackathon, here are four examples, with videos embedded:

Team updates throughout hackathon via SPOD

Professor X and two Computer students have signed up for and are set to start work on a open elections project. Here’s what this team can do:

  1. The team lead should create a room for the team to work collaboratively from by going to Agora, and clicking on the blue + button, such as the one in the image below.

    A good Agora room is one where the description is as detailed and clearly written as possible.
  2. All other Team members can become part of the project group in Agora by simply clicking on an Agora room, then clicking the ENTER button. It is worth noting that all activities in Agora are public and can be viewed by all SPOD users.
  3. Teams can then hold project specific discussions within their Agora room. Beyond this, here are some great things you can do in your Agora rooms
    1. Search for datasets relevant to your project theme. The Social Platform for Open Data is connected to
    2. Create visualizations, called datalets, with the data that you find within SPOD i.e. create maps, charts or tables and embed this in your responses to team members

If team needs an additional member, copying the URL at the top of the screen and pasting it in a status update in the NewsFeed area ensures everyone logged into SPOD can see it. See example below:

Using SPOD’s What’s New feature

Alex is a nurse looking to attend Having recently learnt about open data online, Alex has an idea for an open health project, would like to to form a team and build on it, but knows no one else at the Hackathon. Here’s what Alex can do:

  1. Use SPOD’s What’s new feature to check for any updates from teams looking for additional members.
  2. Post an update in Newsfeed detailing skills and themes of interest i.e. Health. This update will appear in What’s new. Alex should then look out for comments against her update or inbox messages

Finding and sharing datasets in Agora

Team Z is all set for the hackathon and would like to know how to utilize SPOD maximally during the hackathon for their benefit.

Here’s a great video that shows you all the neat things you can achieve in Agora:

 Closed team collaborations? Create a CoCreation room

Having worked together on a different project before, Team Y is all set and would like to start discussions about their work away from the public eye at first. Although Team Y will need to create a team space in Agora and share at least some information about their project in the course of the day before the hackathon ends, here is how CoCreation rooms in SPOD can be used to serve this purpose:

  1. Teams can create a room for invite-only discussions (known as a knowledge room) ,
  2. or an invite only room to work on a spreadsheet collaboratively (known as a data room). We highly recommend using a data room for invite-only team collaboration.

Watch the CoCreation walkthrough video below:

The walkthrough above is enough to get you started, but there’s lot’s more you can do on the Social Platform for Open Data. If you feel lost, the ? on the top right hand corner of your screen has a detailed guide to using SPOD, be sure to check it out.

For a complete overview, the video below gives a more visual walkthrough of the entire SPOD platform:

You can also ask your questions in this Agora room dedicated to answering your platform questions throughout the day so we, or any other person at the hackathon, can answer you. In case you run into great difficulty that needs our immediate attention,update your status with the word HELP at the beginning and we will respond, write us an email,  tweet at us or Facebook us and we will respond promptly.

Happy exploring!

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Developer Advocate, Open Knowledge Foundation