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8 stereotypes about migrants that we broke with data at #ddjcamp

- May 10, 2017 in network

They often say data journalism is a more objective kind of journalism. Is it really? We wanted to try it out and use data to combat prejudices that exist about migration. For this, we organised #ddjcamp: a data journalism training + hackathon where 60 journalists, developers and designers gathered from 11 countries. Everybody pitched a story or an angle they would like to focus on when reporting on migration, and this is how the teams were formed. We built the training schedule to provide the necessary skills and resources for participants to conduct a data-driven story about migration. During the camp, the stories evolved in parallel with the skill-building process: from finding the data to communicating it in a journalism piece. The balance between training sessions and hands-on work on projects ensured that the newly acquired knowledge was applied to practice straight away and could be replicated in the future. We also agreed with national European media houses that they would send a young journalist from their newsroom to the training and in return, will publish the story of his/her team. Let us tell you what came out of it.

Stereotype one: ‘Refugees flee in search of a better life’

Reality: The team that worked on this stereotype compared the data on IDP (internally displaced people) and refugees (those who flee the country) with the data on armed conflicts and terrorist attacks in the cities to find a correlation. In their investigation, they draw attention to the unreported case of Yemen, where the escalation of the conflict has created horrible conditions for the civilian population, but it is nearly impossible to flee the country. Read, why this is so in the story published by Texty, Ukraine (EN).

A visualisation sketch for the Texty article by trainer Gianna Gruen

Stereotype two: Just build the borders properly and the refugee crisis will stop

Reality: This team came to the conclusion that despair and war push people to leave their countries of origin. Thus, increasing the security and decreasing the rescue teams only means that more people will die on their way to Europe. Read the story published in Spiegel Online, Germany (EN).

Stereotype three: Refugees are scary

Reality: In Latvia, people are not afraid of migrants from the former Soviet Union. Those outnumber the migrants from the Middle East and Africa. In fact, people are just afraid of the unknown. To read more about this, check out the story published in Delfi, Latvia (LV).

Stereotype four: There are too many refugees for our country

Reality: Refugees who come to Montenegro, actually do not stay there and do not apply for the asylum. Read the full story published in Vijesti, Montenegro (ME).

Stereotype five: Refugees commit more crimes

Reality: Not only do they not commit more crimes, but there is a huge spike in crimes against refugees (established thanks to Die Zeit data)! Read the full story published by Dennik N, Slovakia (SK).

Participants of #ddjcamp visiting data newsroom at Die Zeit with Sascha Venohr

Stereotype six: Migrants are stealing our jobs

Reality: In Italy, it is easier for migrants to get a low-skilled job than a high-skilled job, regardless of the level of their education. This means migrants are taking the jobs that locals do not want. Read the story published in L’Espresso, Italy (IT).

Stereotype seven: Migrants are ‘kebab technicians

Reality: In Denmark, migrants take more and more high-skilled positions thanks to their integration into the education system. Read why in the story published by Mandag Morgen, Denmark (DK).

Stereotype eight: Migrants enjoy nice life and social benefits

Reality: In Armenia, 90% of those who ask for asylum, get rejected. This is more than in neighbouring Azerbaijan and Georgia. Read why in the story published by HETQ, Armenia (EN).

Participants present their projects to each other halfway through the training

Our takeaways for you:

We shared the detailed schedule and training materials and a blog on our website. If you are working in media: bring innovation into your newsroom through hackathons and training. Engage in building the external community. This way, you can harness the power of talented people from different backgrounds and may find future employees. If you are a journalist: get inspired by data as we did. There are plenty resources online to work on your skills, but the best thing is to find a team and engage in a real life project. We wanted #ddjcamp to be this safe space where people can try things out and work together. If you are an NGO: support projects like #ddjcamp – they enhance cross-disciplinary work and create synergies. We would be interested in scaling up the model of #ddjcamp. If you have ideas, please contact us via anastasiya.valeeva(at)gmail.com.   #ddjcamp was a data journalism training that took place in Berlin from 12 to 20 November 2016. The project was organized by European Youth Press – a network of young media makers and run by Nika Aleksejeva and Anastasia Valeeva. The core funding was Erasmus+ grant provided by the German National Agency “Jugend in Aktion”.

Open Belgium 2017 in the eyes of a Russian open data enthusiast

- March 29, 2017 in belgium, community, gender, hackathon, network, OK Belgium, transport policy

When you belong to a worldwide community such as the Open Knowledge Network, travelling to other countries means you can meet like-minded people by just knocking on the door of a local branch. That is exactly what I did last year when I lived in Brussels. I signed up as a volunteer for the Open Belgium 2016, a yearly community-driven conference. It turned into an incredible internship for a couple of months. A year later, I am not living in Belgium anymore, but wanted to visit the team and Open Data Day was a perfect excuse. So I sign up as a volunteer again. And what do I see first upon arrival? A whole bunch of new family members.

Open Knowledge Belgium: Meet the next generation

It’s been a few months since Dries Van Ransbeeck took up the torch of the project coordinator role from Pieter-Jan Pauwels, but you can already see the changes. The office has moved from Ghent to Brussels, with new interns commuting daily from various parts of the country. You can already say that Open Knowledge Belgium is taking another dimension. And it’s the new generation of volunteers that made the Open Belgium happen this year. You can check out the volunteers’ hall of fame here. My task as a volunteer for the Open Belgium was to type ‘like a maniac’  and keep a record of all the discussions. Find below my one-blog-summary of the day.

State of Open Data: Low-hanging fruit is gone

The event traditionally kicked off with the overview of the state of Open Knowledge in the country. Delivered by Toon Vanagt, the chairman of the Open Knowledge Belgium and Inge Van Nieuwerburgh, Board Member and coordinator of scholarly communications, it was rather a positive sum-up of the previous community efforts. The laws are in placethe European Directive on the reuse of data was transposed into Belgian Law (NL, FR), providing strict obligation for administrations to make information available for reuse. Open Knowledge Belgium has a recognised role in the process of open data legislation. The basic datasets are open. Data portals are the new black. The task now is to go further to improve data quality, aiming at the 5-star model of Tim Berners-Lee. This will mean building ontologies for linked open data, long but necessary debates about algorithms and ethics, an ongoing search for a revenue model based on open data, and filling new roles in a data field society such as data curator, data stewards and data analyst. That’s a long, but exciting way to go.

Belgian Transport Authorities: we’ve changed

How long till we get the real-time public transport data? That was the hottest question on the panel with Belgian Public Transit Authorities. Sure, it is a big technical, legal and ethical challenge – a lot needs to be done to make this possible. But it’s also important to appreciate having this dialogue today. This has not always been the case. Indeed, only a few years ago SNCB was very protective of its data. In 2010, it sent a letter to Belgian IT student Yeri Tiete who had developed a timetable app, iRail.be. The letter stated: ‘Your website makes reuse of SNCB data. This violates its intellectual property rights, including copyright and database rights. It also makes you guilty of the criminal offence of counterfeiting’ and urged him to cease the app immediately. Tiete and the online community had to find lawyers to fight back. Their legal basis for defending the use of the data was based on a series of linked cases from the European Court of Justice. The Court then ruled that when information in databases is generated as part of the regular activities of a company, then that data is not protected by database rights because the creation of the information has not required ―substantial investment and hence may be used by third parties without them needing to seek permission. In this context, the very presence of Belgian public transport authorities at the Open Belgium conference gets a whole new meaning. Their explicitly expressed commitment to share the data, support open data initiatives and engage developers for co-creation paves the way for innovation and smart use of their data.

Mind the gender gap! 

The event touched upon various initiatives around open data. Representatives from Wikipedia talked about closing the gender gap. When 9 out of 10 registered users on the website are male, the average editor being a 31 years old man with a degree in higher education, you don’t have to be a data analyst to see the possible biases of the content. To close that gap, Wikipedia has several projects running. One of these projects is ‘Women in Red’, which is an initiative of creating links to non-existing pages about prominent women in relation to their works and biographies; therefore calling for action to create these pages. Another is Art + Feminism edit-a-thon which is a series of community-organized events that aim to teach folks how to edit, update, and add articles on Wikipedia.

And other Stories 

Being a journalist myself, I was particularly interested in the session on who should tell the data stories by Maarten Lambrechts. ‘New kids on the block’ as Maarten puts it: are state agencies and statistical offices competing with journalists over the narrative of data. It is increasingly important for media not to outsource the interpretation of data. “How many toilet apps do we need?” – Is a classic sceptical question regarding hackathons. However, Belgium now sees ‘the return of the hackathon’ – the second wave of interest and support for hackathons. They are becoming more inclusive, focused and thematic, organised around a particular topic such as diseases, a problem such as gender equality or a city, such as Gent. ‘We need as many toilet finders as people need’ – is a positive answer for the hackathon organisers. This is my wrap-up for you. Go check the full list of presentations, notes and visual summaries here. At the closing panel, we sketched the next steps: unlocking legislation, working on open licences, creating policies around linked open data. You may have heard it before, right? But these are all parallel paths, and we are moving, step by step.

Europe in the age of Tr… Transparency

- February 21, 2017 in network, OK Russia, Transparency

For the past few years, the USA has been an example of how governments can manage open government initiatives and open data particularly. They have done this by introducing positions like federal chief information officer and chief data officers. With datasets being opened on a massive scale in a standardised format, it laid the ground for startups and citizen apps to flourish. Now, when referring to the example of the US, it is common to add ‘under Obama’s administration’ with a sigh. Initiatives to halt data collection put the narrative on many sensitive issues such as climate change, women’s rights or racial inequality under threat. Now, more than ever, the EU should take a global lead with its open data initiatives. One of these initiatives just took place last week: developers of civic apps from all over Europe went on a Transparency Tour of Brussels. Participants were the winners of the app competition that was held at TransparencyCamp EU in Amsterdam last June. In the run up to the final event, 30 teams submitted their apps online while another 40 teams were created in a series of diplohacks that Dutch embassies organised in eight countries. If you just asked yourself ‘what is diplohack?’, let me explain.

ConsiliumVote team pitching their app at TCampEU, by EU2016NL

Diplohacks are hackathons where developers meet diplomats – with initial suspicion from both sides. Gradually, both sides understand how they can benefit from this cooperation. As much as the word ‘diplohack’ itself brings two worlds together, the event was foremost an ice breaker between the communities. According to the survey of participants, direct interaction is what both sides enjoyed the most. Diplohacks helped teams to find and understand the data, and also enabled data providers to see the points of improvement like better interface, adding relevant data fields to their datasets, etc.   Experience the diplohack atmosphere by watching this short video: All winners of the app competition were invited last week for the transparency tour at the EU institutions. The winning teams were Citybik.es, which h makes use of bike data; Harta Banilor Publici (Public Spending Map) in Romania; and ConsiliumVote, a visualization tool of the votes in the Council of the EU. Developers were shown the EU institutions from the inside, but the most exciting part of it was a meeting with the EU open data steering committee.

Winners of the app competition at the Council of EU, by Open Knowledge Belgium

Yet again, it proved how important it is to meet face to face and discuss things. Diplomats encouraged coders to use their data more. Tony Agotha, a member of the cabinet of First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, reminded and praised coders for the social relevance of their work. Developers, in turn, provided feedback with both specific comments like making the search on the Financial Transparency website possible across years; and general ideas such as making the platform of the European data portal open sourced so that regional and municipal portals can build on it. Open data is not a favour, it’s a right’ – said one of the developers. To use this right, we need more meetings between publishers and re-users, we need community growth, we need communication of data and ultimately, more data. TransparencyCamp Europe and last week’s events in Brussels were good first steps. However, both EU officials and European citizens using data should keep the dialogue going if we want to take up the opportunity for the EU to lead on open data. Your comments and ideas are welcome. Join the discussion here.    

Hurdles and joys of introducing Data Journalism in post-Soviet universities

- October 13, 2016 in Data Journalism, Events

At the Data Journalism Bootcamp organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a large part of the participants came from the Commonwealth of Independent States: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Interestingly, the students were deans and professors of journalism departments who had to dive into a new field. The idea of the bootcamp was to understand how to start teaching data journalism at their respective universities. As an assistant of data journalism trainer Eva Constantaras, I was responsible for helping the Russian-speaking part of the class follow the densely packed schedule. Here are some of my thoughts and observations on this challenge.
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Journalism professors turning students again during Excel labs © Alexander Parfentsov

Data journalism as the new punk for traditional societies

Data journalism is the new punk’, a metaphor used by Simon Rogers to express that anyone can do it, can take on new meanings when applied to conservative societies. As much as rock music in the 1970s, data journalism seems revolutionary for conservative media and academia.  Going against ‘he said-she said’ narratives, it questions the very power of word that journalists have traditionally been so proud of. Moreover, the whole system of journalism education in many post-Soviet countries is still oriented towards literature and humanities rather than math and statistics. Overcoming this barrier is seen as a major challenge by Irina Sidorskaya, Professor in Journalism, Mass Media and Gender at Belarusian State University.   
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Cornelia Cozonac and myself © Alexander Parfentsov

Data journalism as the new toolset for investigative reporters

The good news is that, it seems, some countries have been advancing on data journalism without recognising it as such. One of the participants of the training was Cornelia Cozonac, president of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Moldova and senior lecturer at the Free International University. Take a look at this investigation of matching contractors of public procurement and political party donors that she supervised – data journalism in its pure form. Or check this ‘Guess the salary’ news app, production of Ukrainian Texty.org.ua and short-lister of Data Journalism Awards 2016. In countries where investigative journalism is strong, and there is available data to work with which sheds light on areas of public interest, there is only one step left for data journalism to flourish. And this step is training journalism students to be data-driven.
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Pitching ideas for data driven stories © Alexander Parfentsov

Data Journalism as the new discipline for journalism students

In western societies, data journalism has ventured from newsrooms to classrooms, brought mostly by people from other backgrounds, like bioengineering or statistics. UNDP raised the issue of the need for wider training challenged this at the Bootcamp by addressing directly academics of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Balkans. Is it too early to expect data journalism to be routinely taught in journalism schools?? In my personal view, as a graduate of a classic journalism school, this move is very much needed. By letting data analysis only be performed by great minds and outliers like Nate Silver, we forget that a journalist’s duty is to think critically and orient their stories for the public interest. To live up to this duty, journalists must be equipped with the training and skills required to understand the data, too.

Top tips on how to embed data journalism in university programmes (crowdsourced from participants at the Data Journalism Bootcamp)

  • Get computer classes to close the skills gap
  • Make public awareness campaign, start with your own professors
  • invite experts to evangelize the matter
  • create pilot classes, winter/summer schools, bootcamps
  • harvest or create opportunities for non-formal education like this resource dedicated to data driven journalism or this training (disclaimer: author of this blogpost is involved in both)
  • get governments interested and accountable as open data providers
  • partner up with leading newsrooms to create a job demand
  • cultivate relationships with your own experts

Belgium in the Open Data Barometer: Half way through

- April 22, 2016 in barometer, Featured, Open Data, Open Data News, ranking

Yesterday the World Wide Web Foundation has released the third edition of the Open Data Barometer. A collaborative research that covers 92 countries and ranks them by three key parameters: readiness (how prepared are governments regarding open data initiatives?), implementation (are governments putting their commitments into practice?) and impact (is open government data being used in ways that result in practical benefits?). Let’s take a closer look at how Belgium did this year. ODB_Belgium So is the glass half full or half empty? Belgium’s score is 52,62 out of 100 points which puts us half way through the open data barometer. Since the current edition is the third one, it allows us to search for trends in the country’s performance. For instance, 2014 was sort of a breakthrough year for many countries, with Belgium jumping from 34,8 points to 47,29, whereas this year it is only 5,33 points higher. Belgium is sharing the 22nd position with Iceland (same as last year). This is still growth, although a detailed look at the data gives some food for thought. Up is down and down is up Throughout all three years that this research is being carried out, Belgium has been performing steadily in terms of readiness – 72, 86 and 80 points out of 100 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Moreover, our state is performing better than average among its neighbors by parameters such as ‘Government Action’, ‘Citizens and Civil Rights’ and ‘Entrepreneurs and Business’. At the same time, the scores for both ‘Readiness’ and ‘Implementations’ have slightly declined from 2014, which leaves ‘Impact’ as the sole parameter on which Belgium has actually progressed (from 30 to 48). This is actually good news, since impact was Belgium’s weakest point – and still is. ‘Political Impact’ is the parameter by which Belgium is performing much weaker than the average in the region of Europe and Central Asia. It received ‘0’ for the question ‘To what extent has open data had a noticeable impact on increasing government efficiency and effectiveness?’ ODB_top_10 The neighborhood You might get jealous of France – and for a good reason. This country can provide you, not only cheese and wine, but a sheer amount of open data too, making it number 3 right next to the USA in the world ranking. Netherlands, on the contrary, lost one position in the ranking, descending to number 7. However, if you look at the top 10, you will find only 5 European countries up there. This might change even more: the new generation of open data adopters is going to challenge traditional stalwarts such as USA and UK. ‘The need to robust the data to drive democracy and development’  which is clear – is one of the key findings of the ODB. First world problems Now, you might call it a first world problem, but only being in the first quarter of the list can be not that great. What can Belgium do to not be stuck in the ranking, slowly backsliding while the other countries are catching up? The unique bilingual setting of Belgium and the subsequent division and subdivision of its authorities are among the main reasons that explain its low impact performance. Whereas in the developing countries, the whole issue of governments opening their data is revolutionary, developed countries seem to suffer from inconsistencies between the readiness of society for open data and its impact. This only proves the other key funding of the survey: the open data community needs to translate open data policy into real implementation. If we lose the moment, ‘open data could fade into a ghost town of abandoned pilots, outdated data portals and unused apps’. The release of data per se is only the beginning of the story, not its end. You need individuals, communities and companies who can use and reuse the open data for good, which does not exclude their businesses by the way. You need general public awareness of open data, the same way it is being informed about the importance of having fresh water and clean air. Open data has to stop being a geeky and nerdy term – it has to come to every house and make the difference on how you see the world. This is what they call impact.    

Belgium in the Open Data Barometer: Half way through

- April 22, 2016 in barometer, Featured, Open Data, Open Data News, ranking

Yesterday the World Wide Web Foundation has released the third edition of the Open Data Barometer. A collaborative research that covers 92 countries and ranks them by three key parameters: readiness (how prepared are governments regarding open data initiatives?), implementation (are governments putting their commitments into practice?) and impact (is open government data being used in ways that result in practical benefits?). Let’s take a closer look at how Belgium did this year. ODB_Belgium So is the glass half full or half empty? Belgium’s score is 52,62 out of 100 points which puts us half way through the open data barometer. Since the current edition is the third one, it allows us to search for trends in the country’s performance. For instance, 2014 was sort of a breakthrough year for many countries, with Belgium jumping from 34,8 points to 47,29, whereas this year it is only 5,33 points higher. Belgium is sharing the 22nd position with Iceland (same as last year). This is still growth, although a detailed look at the data gives some food for thought. Up is down and down is up Throughout all three years that this research is being carried out, Belgium has been performing steadily in terms of readiness – 72, 86 and 80 points out of 100 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Moreover, our state is performing better than average among its neighbors by parameters such as ‘Government Action’, ‘Citizens and Civil Rights’ and ‘Entrepreneurs and Business’. At the same time, the scores for both ‘Readiness’ and ‘Implementations’ have slightly declined from 2014, which leaves ‘Impact’ as the sole parameter on which Belgium has actually progressed (from 30 to 48). This is actually good news, since impact was Belgium’s weakest point – and still is. ‘Political Impact’ is the parameter by which Belgium is performing much weaker than the average in the region of Europe and Central Asia. It received ‘0’ for the question ‘To what extent has open data had a noticeable impact on increasing government efficiency and effectiveness?’ ODB_top_10 The neighborhood You might get jealous of France – and for a good reason. This country can provide you, not only cheese and wine, but a sheer amount of open data too, making it number 3 right next to the USA in the world ranking. Netherlands, on the contrary, lost one position in the ranking, descending to number 7. However, if you look at the top 10, you will find only 5 European countries up there. This might change even more: the new generation of open data adopters is going to challenge traditional stalwarts such as USA and UK. ‘The need to robust the data to drive democracy and development’  which is clear – is one of the key findings of the ODB. First world problems Now, you might call it a first world problem, but only being in the first quarter of the list can be not that great. What can Belgium do to not be stuck in the ranking, slowly backsliding while the other countries are catching up? The unique bilingual setting of Belgium and the subsequent division and subdivision of its authorities are among the main reasons that explain its low impact performance. Whereas in the developing countries, the whole issue of governments opening their data is revolutionary, developed countries seem to suffer from inconsistencies between the readiness of society for open data and its impact. This only proves the other key funding of the survey: the open data community needs to translate open data policy into real implementation. If we lose the moment, ‘open data could fade into a ghost town of abandoned pilots, outdated data portals and unused apps’. The release of data per se is only the beginning of the story, not its end. You need individuals, communities and companies who can use and reuse the open data for good, which does not exclude their businesses by the way. You need general public awareness of open data, the same way it is being informed about the importance of having fresh water and clean air. Open data has to stop being a geeky and nerdy term – it has to come to every house and make the difference on how you see the world. This is what they call impact.    

Belgium in the Open Data Barometer: Half way through

- April 22, 2016 in barometer, Featured, Open Data, Open Data News, ranking

Yesterday the World Wide Web Foundation has released the third edition of the Open Data Barometer. A collaborative research that covers 92 countries and ranks them by three key parameters: readiness (how prepared are governments regarding open data initiatives?), implementation (are governments putting their commitments into practice?) and impact (is open government data being used in ways that result in practical benefits?). Let’s take a closer look at how Belgium did this year. ODB_Belgium So is the glass half full or half empty? Belgium’s score is 52,62 out of 100 points which puts us half way through the open data barometer. Since the current edition is the third one, it allows us to search for trends in the country’s performance. For instance, 2014 was sort of a breakthrough year for many countries, with Belgium jumping from 34,8 points to 47,29, whereas this year it is only 5,33 points higher. Belgium is sharing the 22nd position with Iceland (same as last year). This is still growth, although a detailed look at the data gives some food for thought. Up is down and down is up Throughout all three years that this research is being carried out, Belgium has been performing steadily in terms of readiness – 72, 86 and 80 points out of 100 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Moreover, our state is performing better than average among its neighbors by parameters such as ‘Government Action’, ‘Citizens and Civil Rights’ and ‘Entrepreneurs and Business’. At the same time, the scores for both ‘Readiness’ and ‘Implementations’ have slightly declined from 2014, which leaves ‘Impact’ as the sole parameter on which Belgium has actually progressed (from 30 to 48). This is actually good news, since impact was Belgium’s weakest point – and still is. ‘Political Impact’ is the parameter by which Belgium is performing much weaker than the average in the region of Europe and Central Asia. It received ‘0’ for the question ‘To what extent has open data had a noticeable impact on increasing government efficiency and effectiveness?’ ODB_top_10 The neighborhood You might get jealous of France – and for a good reason. This country can provide you, not only cheese and wine, but a sheer amount of open data too, making it number 3 right next to the USA in the world ranking. Netherlands, on the contrary, lost one position in the ranking, descending to number 7. However, if you look at the top 10, you will find only 5 European countries up there. This might change even more: the new generation of open data adopters is going to challenge traditional stalwarts such as USA and UK. ‘The need to robust the data to drive democracy and development’  which is clear – is one of the key findings of the ODB. First world problems Now, you might call it a first world problem, but only being in the first quarter of the list can be not that great. What can Belgium do to not be stuck in the ranking, slowly backsliding while the other countries are catching up? The unique bilingual setting of Belgium and the subsequent division and subdivision of its authorities are among the main reasons that explain its low impact performance. Whereas in the developing countries, the whole issue of governments opening their data is revolutionary, developed countries seem to suffer from inconsistencies between the readiness of society for open data and its impact. This only proves the other key funding of the survey: the open data community needs to translate open data policy into real implementation. If we lose the moment, ‘open data could fade into a ghost town of abandoned pilots, outdated data portals and unused apps’. The release of data per se is only the beginning of the story, not its end. You need individuals, communities and companies who can use and reuse the open data for good, which does not exclude their businesses by the way. You need general public awareness of open data, the same way it is being informed about the importance of having fresh water and clean air. Open data has to stop being a geeky and nerdy term – it has to come to every house and make the difference on how you see the world. This is what they call impact.    

Belgium in the Open Data Barometer: Half way through

- April 22, 2016 in barometer, Featured, Open Data, Open Data News, ranking

Yesterday the World Wide Web Foundation has released the third edition of the Open Data Barometer. A collaborative research that covers 92 countries and ranks them by three key parameters: readiness (how prepared are governments regarding open data initiatives), implementation (are governments putting their commitments into practice) and impact (is open government data being used in ways that result in practical benefits). Let’s take a closer look on how Belgium did this year. ODB_Belgium So is The Glass Half Full or Half Empty? Belgium’s score is 52,62 out of 100 points which makes us half way through the open data barometer. Since the present edition is the third one, it allows us to search for trends in the country’s performance. For instance, whereas 2014 was sort of a breakthrough for many countries, with Belgium jumping from 34,8 points to 47,29, this year it is only 5,33 points higher. It is sharing the 22nd position with Iceland (as one year ago). This is still the growth, although a detailed look at the data gives some food for thought. Up is Down and Down is Up Throughout all the three years that this research is being carried out, Belgium has been doing steadily good in terms of readiness – 72, 86 an 80 points out of 100 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Moreover, our state it is performing better than average among its neighbors by such parameters as ‘Government Action’, ‘Citizens and Civil Rights’ and ‘Entrepreneurs and Business’. At the same time, the scores for both ‘readiness’ and ‘implementations’ have slightly declined from 2014, which leaves the ‘impact’ the sole parameter on which Belgium has actually progressed (from 30 to 48). This is actually good news, since the impact was the Belgium’s weakest point – and still is. ‘Political Impact’ is the parameter by which Belgium is performing much weaker than the average in the region of Europe and Central Asia. It received ‘0’ for the question ‘To what extent has open data had a noticeable impact on increasing government efficiency and effectiveness?’ ODB_top_10 The Neighborhood You might get jealous towards France – and for a reason. This country can provide you not only cheese and wine, but sheer amount of open data, too, making it number 3 right next to the USA in the world ranking. Netherlands, on the contrary, lost one position in the ranking, descending to number 7. However, if you take the top 10, you will find only 5 European countries there. This might increase even more: the new generation of open data adopters is going to challenge traditional stalwarts such as USA and UK. ‘The need to robust the data to drive democracy and development’  which is clear – is one of the key findings of the ODB. First World Problems Now, you might call it the first world problem, but being in the first quarter of the list can be not that great. What can Belgium do not to be stuck in the ranking, slowly backsliding as long as the other countries are catching up? The unique bilingual setting of Belgium and the subsequent division and subdivision if its authorities are among the main reasons that explain its low impact performance. Whereas in the developing countries, the whole issue of governments opening their data is revolutionary, developed countries seem to suffer from inconsistencies between the readiness of society for the open data and its impact. This only proves the other key funding of the survey: open data community needs to translate open data policy into real implementation. If we lose the moment, ‘open data could fade into a ghost town of abandoned pilots, outdated data portals, and unused apps’. The release of the data per se is only the beginning of the story, not its end. You need individuals, communities and companies who can use and reuse the open data for good, which does not exclude their businesses, by the way. You need general public awareness of the open data, the same way it is being informed about the importance of having fresh water and clean air. Open data has to stop being a geek and nerdy term – it has to come to every house and make the difference on how you see the world. This is what they call impact.    

Diplohack Datad(r)ive Webinar summary

- April 19, 2016 in Featured, hackathon, Open Data

This is the Diplohack Datad(r)ive Webinar Blogpost. About all that you saw (or didn’t) and more.   Diplohack Datad(r)ive Webinar from Open Knowledge Belgium on Vimeo. First and foremost, the webinar was recorded and is available in full on our vimeo. Check the description of the video to jump to the part that you want to see specifically! We follow up with a Summary and some links you shouldn’t miss: Public Procurement Data. Tenders Electronic Database. Public procurement is the procedure through which public authorities are using public money, purchase works, services or supplies from the private sector. This is how around 14% of GDP of the EU is spent. TED – Tenders Electronic Daily – is an online version of the ‘Supplement to the Official Journal’ of the EU. It covers notices from the European Economic Area, Switzerland and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the procurements above threshold: 5,2 m € for works and 135 k € for services and supplies, with some exceptions. This amounts to about 1700 notices each day. Even though below-threshold notices are not obligatory, but many contracting authorities also choose to do so to ensure visibility and transparency of their procurement. The main problem of this data is that it is provided ‘as is’, therefore sometimes with mistakes as given by contracting authorities. Current steps are being taken to clean it up (and if you want to clean up a lot for your project – contact TED ! The data comes from public procurement standard forms, based on EC regulations filled in the forms. The data is provided in CSV format . There are three levels: Contract Award Notices (CAN ) = best level of detalization, Contract Awards (CA) within a CAN, and Contract Notices (CN) for the future. This might be interesting to check for hackers: Who is buying? What are they buying? Who responds and participates? Who is awarded the contract in the end? Which procedure is used, which award criteria? What is the value of the contract? To describe the ‘what’, special CPV classification is used. And if you want to get involved, the European Commission is interested in the results of research in public procurement. Any output based on the data (papers, reports, links to applications) is very appreciated. More information can be found on TED Wiki which is an open wiki hosted by the Commission to support the exchange of ideas, especially between practitioners and academics. Have a look at the presentation, too.
Open Data of the Council of the EU Council together with the European Parliament is the co-legislator in the EU decision-making process. One if the core functions of the Council is to approve or reject any law that is being adopted at the EU level. The Council’s votes are available in open data format at the dedicated page, as well at the EU Open Data Portal. Speaking about the transparency of the work of the EU institutions and making the EU decision making process more available, there are two new datasets which have been published on the 14 of April 2016: metadata of the Council’s public register and metadata of the database on requests for public access to documents (with the exclusion of the personal data of the applicants). How can you access this data? You achieve this via SPARQL queries. The sample SPARQL queries and code for demo app are available on Github repository of the Council of the EU.
EU Open Data Portal
European Union Open Data Portal – single point of access to the data from EU Institutions. There are 59 data providers to the portal: European Commission, Council of the EU, European Parliament, Directorates (DGs) and the European agencies (including JRC, Eurobarometer, Eurostat, Erazmus data), plus extractions of the ’Official Journal’ in xml format). There are numerous ways to find the data: search on the website, discover by category, machine access: via SPARQL or CKAN API. Bear in mind that  only metadata is published: title, description and link to the data sources. And if you have any questions, contact the portal. Feel the difference – there is also European Data Portal which has data from European countries harvested from national data portals and geoportals. This portal is managed by DG Connect.
EU Structural and Investment Funds EU Structural and Investment Funds website has data on EU funding under shared management covering 5 main funds: European Regional Development Funds, European Social Funds, the Cohesion Funds, European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development and Maritime and Fishery Funds. You can filter through the data and create filtered views, and visualisations based on this, as well as opportunity to download the data in a range of formats. You can also combine EU data from different sources and find info on “operations” (beneficiaries of funding).
DG Sante DG Sante has data about food safety, safety of the food chain, animal safety and about health. There are numerous datasets available in two ways: on the dedicated page of DG SANTE and on the Open Data Portal.   For the links for the specific datasets consult the presentation. Questions on data sets can be sent to SANTE-SEMANTIC@ec.europa.eu
dessert And, as this was a lunchtime webinar, here comes the dessert – few more sources of knowledge and inspiration. Project Digiwhist  is a very useful tool to analyse public procurement; Most popular datasets of the EU: The voting dataset for the Council of the EU;
For DG SANTE the most popular ones are about pesticides and active substances. For Publications Office, the most viewed dataset is the one from DGT Translation Memory, and the top list of the datasets is on the front page of the Portal. For the EU Structural and Investment Funds, it is the one about the spent funding from the previous funding period. And here are the examples of apps and use-cases based on the EU open data. Enjoy!  

Diplohack Datad(r)ive Webinar summary

- April 19, 2016 in Featured, hackathon, Open Data

This is the Diplohack Datad(r)ive Webinar Blogpost. About all that you saw (or didn’t) and more.   Diplohack Datad(r)ive Webinar from Open Knowledge Belgium on Vimeo. First and foremost, the webinar was recorded and is available in full on our vimeo. Check the description of the video to jump to the part that you want to see specifically! We follow up with a Summary and some links you shouldn’t miss: Public Procurement Data. Tenders Electronic Database. Public procurement is the procedure through which public authorities are using public money, purchase works, services or supplies from the private sector. This is how around 14% of GDP of the EU is spent. TED – Tenders Electronic Daily – is an online version of the ‘Supplement to the Official Journal’ of the EU. It covers notices from the European Economic Area, Switzerland and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the procurements above threshold: 5,2 m € for works and 135 k € for services and supplies, with some exceptions. This amounts to about 1700 notices each day. Even though below-threshold notices are not obligatory, but many contracting authorities also choose to do so to ensure visibility and transparency of their procurement. The main problem of this data is that it is provided ‘as is’, therefore sometimes with mistakes as given by contracting authorities. Current steps are being taken to clean it up (and if you want to clean up a lot for your project – contact TED ! The data comes from public procurement standard forms, based on EC regulations filled in the forms. The data is provided in CSV format . There are three levels: Contract Award Notices (CAN ) = best level of detalization, Contract Awards (CA) within a CAN, and Contract Notices (CN) for the future. This might be interesting to check for hackers: Who is buying? What are they buying? Who responds and participates? Who is awarded the contract in the end? Which procedure is used, which award criteria? What is the value of the contract? To describe the ‘what’, special CPV classification is used. And if you want to get involved, the European Commission is interested in the results of research in public procurement. Any output based on the data (papers, reports, links to applications) is very appreciated. More information can be found on TED Wiki which is an open wiki hosted by the Commission to support the exchange of ideas, especially between practitioners and academics. Have a look at the presentation, too.
Open Data of the Council of the EU Council together with the European Parliament is the co-legislator in the EU decision-making process. One if the core functions of the Council is to approve or reject any law that is being adopted at the EU level. The Council’s votes are available in open data format at the dedicated page, as well at the EU Open Data Portal. Speaking about the transparency of the work of the EU institutions and making the EU decision making process more available, there are two new datasets which have been published on the 14 of April 2016: metadata of the Council’s public register and metadata of the database on requests for public access to documents (with the exclusion of the personal data of the applicants). How can you access this data? You achieve this via SPARQL queries. The sample SPARQL queries and code for demo app are available on Github repository of the Council of the EU.
EU Open Data Portal European Union Open Data Portal – single point of access to the data from EU Institutions. There are 59 data providers to the portal: European Commission, Council of the EU, European Parliament, Directorates (DGs) and the European agencies (including JRC, Eurobarometer, Eurostat, Erazmus data), plus extractions of the ’Official Journal’ in xml format). There are numerous ways to find the data: search on the website, discover by category, machine access: via SPARQL or CKAN API. Bear in mind that  only metadata is published: title, description and link to the data sources. And if you have any questions, contact the portal. Feel the difference – there is also European Data Portal which has data from European countries harvested from national data portals and geoportals. This portal is managed by DG Connect.
EU Structural and Investment Funds EU Structural and Investment Funds website has data on EU funding under shared management covering 5 main funds: European Regional Development Funds, European Social Funds, the Cohesion Funds, European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development and Maritime and Fishery Funds. You can filter through the data and create filtered views, and visualisations based on this, as well as opportunity to download the data in a range of formats. You can also combine EU data from different sources and find info on “operations” (beneficiaries of funding).
DG Sante DG Sante has data about food safety, safety of the food chain, animal safety and about health. There are numerous datasets available in two ways: on the dedicated page of DG SANTE and on the Open Data Portal.   For the links for the specific datasets consult the presentation. Questions on data sets can be sent to SANTE-SEMANTIC@ec.europa.eu
dessert And, as this was a lunchtime webinar, here comes the dessert – few more sources of knowledge and inspiration. Project Digiwhist  is a very useful tool to analyse public procurement; Most popular datasets of the EU: The voting dataset for the Council of the EU; For DG SANTE the most popular ones are about pesticides and active substances. For Publications Office, the most viewed dataset is the one from DGT Translation Memory, and the top list of the datasets is on the front page of the Portal. For the EU Structural and Investment Funds, it is the one about the spent funding from the previous funding period. And here are the examples of apps and use-cases based on the EU open data. Enjoy!