Open data and research: Let’s get to it!

This blog has been translated from the original post at https://sv.okfn.org/2018/03/23/datos-abiertos-e-investigacion-manos-a-la-obra

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open Research Data theme.

Every year we celebrate opening, promoting using, reusing, disseminating and creating value from open data. This is a simple action that has a great impact for knowledge generation and opportunities for economic, social and cultural development in countries.

Since 2014, in DatosElSalvador we have promoted open data with the vision of contributing to more people and organizations benefiting from open data to generate commercial, social and cultural opportunities. In 2015 we worked with the Transparency Consortium to celebrate Open Data Day for transparency. In 2016, along with the comptroller agencies we hosted Open Data Day to tackle corruption, again with the support of the Consortium. In 2017 we promoted open data for entrepreneurship.

This year, DatosElSalvador, The Next Services and Hub170 joined together to celebrate Open Data Day in el Salvador, with the support of Open Knowledge Interntional we built a unique space to share and experiment with open data and its benefits for research and analysis.

Along with university researchers and civil society organisations, we had a morning full of knowledge and experiences around open research data, definition of roadmaps and technical knowledge to open data and make them available for everyone. We learned about visualization tools, information processing, Creative Commons licensing and especially: opening data!

During the day, we learned about examples of open research data and open academic data, we went through examples of data reuse and learned practically how to open them and visualize them. Every since we started with DatosElSalvador we have tried to use Open Data Day to empower a sector of society with 3 key goals:

  1. More people and organisations opening data! We anxiously wait for the day when strategic sectors of the country’s social, economic and cultural sectors of the country open, reuse and share data to generate a rich, certain, evidence-based and constant knowledge.
  2. More open data! While in DatosElSalvador we work to open data through our portal, we love receiving and spread data from more people and organisations. That’s why when we make data available during Open Data Day we had the goal of feeding the portal and explaining participants how they can use the data available.
  3. More tools to open data! We love it when people talk about open data, but we love even more when they put them to use and learn about tools to use them. That’s wy during the activity we went through different tools and learned to use them.

“Data based research generates more concrete evidence for decision-making” was our motto for Open Data Day in El Salvador. Along with three universities we opened data about economy, education, elections and research, and we organized a panel about the challenges of academic and scientific research and open data. DatosElSalvador is the only open data portal in El Salvador, and we are committed to continue opening data for a community that generates value through their research work.

This event allowed us to identify the new challenges we face as promoters of open data in the country. On one hand we need to foster more meetings to learn about tools and techniques for opening data, as well as good practices for reuse. On the other, we need to encourage data based research by having incentives and/or recommendations for public policies or the generation of more business models. When we defined the topic for this Open Data Day event, we did this with building a baseline in the community on how to create and grow capacities and use the collective inteligence to continue this valuable process of generating knowledge with universities.

We had some strategic allies. Each year we find a topic, community and allies that get together to generate valuable events that allow participants to learn things, not just to know them. The Next Services shared and assessed on techonologies to open and visualise data, and the Hub170 taught us about creative thought and soft skills necessary to build work teams that can do research and create value.

We can’t wait to have a new Open Data Day. In the meantime we renovate our commitment to make of open something valuable!