A screenshot of the Open Knowledge Network call, with some participants visible.

As most of us slowly transition to the holiday mode (myself included) and look into welcoming the new year properly rested and fed, I wanted to take a bit of time before logging off to linger on the amazing work that members of the Open Knowledge Network have done this year and are preparing to do next year. We had a last call of the year last week to celebrate the work done and share the plans and wishes for the year to come. I heard so many achievements it made me think for a while that the world was turning in the right meaningful direction, despite the current (and not so current) news. 

Here are some heart-warming updates:

Open Knowledge Greece has new offices, with a student branch at the International Hellenic University of Thessaloniki. They have a new team, and are launching a new website, with new branding, early next year. They keep working on the EU funded UPCAST project, and have a couple of hackathons lined up for next year.

Open Knowledge Somalia also launched their brand new website this year, and delivered some very successful training on open science. They also worked at a Somali version of the Open Data Handbook. For next year, they are planning some open access initiatives, some activities for Open Data Day, and to be more involved in the Open Street Map community. 

In India, Mohit Garg and his colleagues are busy preparing the launch of their local Open Knowledge chapter, which they are really wishing to announce in 2024. They are also planning some capacity building on Open Scholarship (mainly focusing on Open Data, Open Review), and some training on CKAN too. 

For Open Knowledge Estonia 2023 has been all about events. They were very grateful for the successful OGP parallel event they co-organised with Open Knowledge Finland and the Foundation, which we also remember fondly. Following that they also co-organised a workshop in Helsinki with Open Knowledge Finland and Mel from Nook Studios. For 2024, they are going to focus on improving data quality at the municipal level in Estonia, and will also organise a number of events around the Freedom of Information Act in Finland and Estonia.

Ian Watt from Scotland was unable to join us for the call because he attending a ceremony where he was awarded a civic honour for his work on data and code education (he was admitted as a Burgess of Guild of Aberdeen!). In 2023 they ran for the 4th consecutive year the Scottish Open Data Unconference (SODU) 2023, and Open Data Scotland for the second year. His big wish for next year is to quickly conclude the process of setting up the Scottish Chapter, hopefully already in the first couple of months of the new year!

Open Knowledge Finland has worked on the national Freedom of Information Act renewal, resulting in proposals for FOIA reform. They also recruited a new Executive Director: the wonderful Janne Peltola we met in Zurich and Tallinn. The exciting plan for next year is to run a State of the Open in Finnish regions and municipalities: mapping transparency policies and available datasets in municipalities and regions and supporting their administrators to make them as high-quality as possible. In 2024 they will also run an open science campaign with private institutions, to try and convince them to commit to open science principles: sharing code, methodologies and data, as well as working in a more peer-reviewed way. Janne is also wishing more volunteers will join Open Knowledge Finland in 2024.

In Togo the NGO ACOMB is preparing for national elections in 2024, testing the national digital electoral infrastructure. In parallel they are also working on opening the data on the energy transition and the resilience of mining populations in the extractive zones of Togo.

Open Knowledge Germany proudly launched the Open Data Knowledge Hub this year, as part of their new project „Open Data in den Verwaltungen“ (Open Data in Government Administration). They also celebrated the 10th year anniversary of their widely known (and highly successful) open education program Jugend hackt. For next year they are planning to launch an Open Data Ranking, which would rank the Open Data laws and practices executed in all 16 federated states of Germany. Open Knowledge Germany is also co-organising international Open Data Day together with Open Knowledge Ghana, Jokkolabs Banjul, Open Knowledge Nepal, and the Foundation. Their wish for next year? “We wish everyone generous funders who understand the importance of not only funding innovation but also infrastructure!”

Our Swiss chapter Opendata.ch’s prominent achievement this year was the adoption of the new e-government law, EMBAG, which states that all government data should be open by default (hurray!). In 2023, they also ran their first hackathon with the Swiss government: GovTech Hackathon. In December they have been helping the Swiss open data community with a little holiday online activity – an Advents Calendar, featuring (among other stuff) Frictionless Data. For next year, their focus is going to be pushing for an open API and standard for parliamentary data (see: OpenParlData). They will also support the implementation of OGD master plan, mainly with activities supporting open by default. Last but not least, the focus of their Prototype Fund next year will be digital sufficiency

Open Knowledge Japan has not been super active in the last year as a chapter, but they wish to be more next year. One great update they shared was that the Japanese government has made an important open access policy decision, stating that whatever comes out of publicly funded research should be openly accessible without embargo in the near future. They are also planning some activities for international Open Data Day.

Open Knowledge Russia has been very busy with archiving all open data portals and government websites to preserve all the information. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in Ukraine they are very cautious that information would vanish (as it happened with the national open data portal, which disappeared from one day to the other). Their only wish for next year is peace.

The newly launched Open Knowledge Armenia is launching an Open Data contest to be announced on 25 December. The focus will be cultural heritage and data visualisation. 

Open public spending has been the main focus for our new member from Guatemala, Julio Paniagua in 2023. For next year they will keep working on that, organising some hackathons to use the open spending data in new innovative ways. They are also developing a software for open spending data that they hope to open for researchers next year. Their main focus though will be the new Cybersecurity law in Guatemala – to make sure it does not interfere with open data gathering, making sure all definitions are correct and it does not prevent automatic data scraping.

Our member from Congo Brazzaville is also preparing for elections, they are running an advocacy campaign for the use of biometrics in the 2026 presidential elections. This will be the focus next year too. They are also pushing for electronic voting in elections to reduce electoral fraud, which is the main cause of internal civil wars in Congo Brazzaville.

Poncelet Ileleji, our member from Gambia, said their highlights for 2023 were working closer with the Open Street Map community and meeting us at Festival de Datos in Uruguay (definitely one of the highlights for us too!). They are working with the Open Observatory Network on data governance. Elections are upcoming also in the Gambia, and they are hoping to use that governance. As mentioned before, Jokkolabs Banjul is also one of the official co-organisers of international Open Data Day next year.

South Sudan also joined the Open Knowledge Network lately. They run a digital literacy programme (and were particularly happy to have just received 14 laptops). They also organise Wikimedia projects and Open Street Maps meetups, and recently partnered with the open data portal South Sudan and 211check – South Sudan’s first and only independent fact-checking and information verification flagship project. In January 2024 they will launch an open oral cultural documentation program, which they are very excited about. We can’t wait to see it too!

The Canadian Open Collaboration Hydrology shared their biggest achievements in 2023, which were presenting their work at the American Geophysics Fall Meeting, and joining the Open Knowledge Network. For 2024 they are planning to organise an event on water science for Open Data Day, and start a podcast. 

Our members from the Philippines are currently focusing on AI. Next year they are launching a new initiative, TrACE.AI Data Center for Training and Data Repository for fisherfolks. They will also promote and support the AI for Good, Ethical AI Framework.

If you are interested in connecting with all this wonderful people and hear more of the great initiative they are running, remember you can always join the Open Knowledge Network.

Everyone is welcome to join the Open Knowledge Network. No special skills or background are needed — just an interest in open knowledge. 

First of all, drop us an email: network@okfn.org.

Before you join though, it’s a good idea to get some information and prepare a little bit. Here is the Network Guidelines document, which explains in detail how the Network works and the process for becoming a member.

Have a good end of the year, and a wonderful break for those going on holiday. See y’all in 2024!