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Open Summer of Code is growing beyond the Belgian borders!

- August 2, 2018 in belgium, Events, network, OK Belgium, open Summer of code

Authors: Dries van Ransbeek and David Chaves To some of you, Open Summer of Code – also known as osoc – is a name that rings a bell, to others this is a new concept. So, for the latter group: osoc is an originally Belgian summer programme organised by Open Knowledge Belgium which has been around since 2011. Ever since that first summer, osoc has been breathing life into 62 open innovation projects.

More open innovation than ever before

Open Summer of Code is an annual summer programme. Several teams of students have four weeks to give shape to real-life open innovation projects. This July, Open Summer of Code welcomed 74 students who got paid to work on 17 open innovation projects as summer job: a record in osoc’s history. To make this happen, Open Summer of Code partners up with external partners: two examples of this edition were, amongst others, Informatie Vlaanderen and Brussels Mobility. This summer, the 8th edition took place. 17 projects were developed, start to finish, in just one month. Every team consisted of driven multi-disciplinary students and coaches who brainstormed, coded and tested out their applications together. The fruits of their labour were presented at the Demo Day on the 26th of July in Brussels with more than 300 attendees. Find an overview of all osoc18’s projects here: http://2018.summerofcode.be/2018.

Open innovation with Open Source and Open Data

Open Summer of Code builds open source applications based on open data, which is data that can be freely (re)used and can be distributed by everyone. Open data has many different uses and brings about innovation time and again. Every single one of the 17 projects benefits our society as a whole. Toon Vanagt, chairman of Open Knowledge Belgium explains: “At osoc, we aim to illustrate the advantages of open data with clear applications in addition to giving an enriching learning experience to motivated students. We pass on the result of that effort to society transparently through open source. Our students work on these innovation projects in small teams and with a deadline. The goal of osoc is to deliver as much functionality as possible at the end of the month. To reach this goal, the teams are supported by experienced coaches. This year, we can count on the support of 24 partners from both government and business sector. In return for their contribution, they submit projects themselves that can be further developed after Open Summer of Code”.

Open Summer of Code goes international

For the first time, this year, osoc turned as international with a parallel event in Spain. A collaboration between the Open Knowledge Belgium and the Ontology Engineering Group (from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) made possible that during two weeks in July, 8 international students developed 3 innovation projects in the city of Madrid. The three partners for this 1st edition of osoc in Spain were: the innovation department of the pharmaceutical company Lilly, the astronomical observatory of the UPM and the EU project CEF-OASIS. The whole program was celebrated with the support of the open laboratory for innovation project of the Madrid’s council, Medialab-Prado, and similar to the Belgium edition, the outcomes of the project were presented during the Demo Day on the 20th of July with more than 30 external attendees.

What’s next? osoc19 in multiple countries

With its first international edition, Open Summer of Code has put its first steps towards its goal to pursue more international impact. In 2019, it aims to have students making open innovation projects happen across multiple countries. Therefore, it’s looking for local Open Knowledge chapters or other partner organizations who want to take the lead in their country. As Open Knowledge Belgium has 8 years of experience within its team with organizing Open Summer of Code, feel free to drop an email to dries@openknowledge.be to get started and receive more information about setting up your local summer programme. Happy summer of open innovation!

More information about Open Summer of Code and this year’s projects:

Open Knowledge Belgium is preparing for open Summer of Code 2017

- June 2, 2017 in network, OK Belgium

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Belgium team. This post was first published on Open Knowledge Belgium’s website In the last few months, the open community in Belgium has had the chance to gather multiple times. Open Knowledge Belgium organised a couple of events and activities which aimed to bring its passionate community together and facilitate the launch of new projects. Furthermore, as summertime is coming, we currently organising the seventh edition of its yearly open Summer of Code. Let’s go chronologically through what’s going on at Open Knowledge Belgium.

Open Belgium 2017

As the tradition goes, the first Monday after International Open Data Day, Open Knowledge Belgium organises its Open Belgium conference on open knowledge and open data in Belgium.

Open Belgium was made possible by an incredible group of volunteers

This year’s community-driven gathering of open enthusiasts took place in Brussels for the first time and was a big success. More than 250 people with different backgrounds showed up to talk about the current state of and next steps towards more open knowledge and open data in Belgium.

All presentations, notes and visuals of Open Belgium are available on here: http://2017.openbelgium.be/presentations.

Launch of Civic Lab Brussels

It all started during a fruitful discussion with Open Knowledge Germany at Open Belgium. While talking about the 26 OK Labs in Germany, more specifically being intrigued by the air quality project of OK Lab Stuttgart, we got to ask ourselves: why wouldn’t we launch something similar in Brussels/Belgium?

In about the same period of time, some new open initiatives popped up from within our community and several volunteers repeatedly expressed their interest in contributing to Open Knowledge’s mission of building a world in which knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

Eventually, after a wonderful visit to BeCentral — the new digital hub above Brussels’ central station — all pieces of the puzzle got merged into the idea of a Civic Lab: bringing volunteers and open projects together every 2 weeks in an open space.

The goal of Civic Labs Brussels is two-fold: on the one hand, offering volunteers opportunities to contribute to civic projects they care about. On the other hand, providing initiative-takers of open projects with help and advice from fellow citizens.

Open in the case of our Civic Lab means, corresponding to the Open Definition, yet slightly shorter, that anyone can freely contribute to and benefit from the project. No strings attached.

Civic Lab meetups are not only to put open initiatives in the picture and hang out with other civic innovators. They’re also about getting things done and creating impact. Therefore, those gatherings always take place under the same format of short introductory presentations (30 min) — to both new and ongoing projects — followed by action (2 hours), whereby all attendees are totally free to contribute to the project of their choice and can come up with new projects.

Open Summer of Code 2017

Last but not least, Open Knowledge Belgium is preparing for the seventh edition of its annual open Summer of Code. From 3rd until 27th July, 36 programming, design and communications students will be working under the guidance of experienced coaches on 10 different open innovation projects with real-life impact.

If you want to stay updated about open Summer of Code and all other activities, please follow Open Knowledge Belgium on Twitter or subscribe to its newsletter.

Civic Lab Brussels launched!

- May 15, 2017 in network, OK Belgium

Open Knowledge Belgium in collaboration with Wikimedia Belgium has launched Civic Lab Brussels – a biweekly action-oriented gathering of open enthusiasts with different backgrounds and skills who work together on civic projects. This post was first published on Open Knowledge Belgium’s website: https://www.openknowledge.be/2017/05/05/launch-of-civic-lab-brussels/

How did we come up with this idea?

It all started during a fruitful discussion with Open Knowledge Germany at Open Belgium earlier in March. While talking about the 26 OK Labs in Germany, more specifically being intrigued by the air quality project of OK Lab Stuttgart, we got to ask ourselves: why wouldn’t we launch something similar in Brussels/Belgium? In about the same period of time, some new open initiatives popped up from within our community and several volunteers repeatedly expressed their interest in contributing to Open Knowledge’s mission of building a world in which knowledge creates power for the many, not the few. Eventually, after a wonderful visit to BeCentral – the new digital hub above Brussels’ central station – all pieces of the puzzle got merged into the idea of a Civic Lab: bringing volunteers and open projects every 2 weeks together in an open space.

Much more than putting open projects in the picture

The goal of Civic Labs Brussels is two-fold:
  1. on the one hand, offering volunteers opportunities to contribute to civic projects they care about.
  2. On the other hand, providing initiative-takers of open project with help and advice from fellow citizens.
Open in the case of our Civic Lab means, corresponding to the Open Definition, yet slightly shorter so that anyone can freely contribute to and benefit from the project. No strings attached. During our Civic Lab meetups, we didn’t only put open initiatives in the picture and hang out with other civic innovators. We also want to get things done and create impact. Therefore, our meetups always take place under the same format of short introductory presentations (30 min) — to both new and ongoing projects — followed by action (2 hours), whereby all attendees are totally free to contribute to the project of their choice and can come up with new projects — just let the organising team know in advance.

Kickoff Civic Hack Night

At our kickoff meetup, we were pleased to welcome 33 open believers — which corresponds to a show-up rate of 92% (!)— and had 4 projects presented: Thanks to the diversity among attendees, our kickoff meetup turned out to be a big success. This is also where the potential lies for Civic labs: bringing researchers, hackers, civil servants, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives in the same room and inviting them to collaboratively work on open projects.

Civic Labs Brussels Kickoff

What to expect from our next Civic Lab meetups?

During our next open gathering there will be presentations about both running projects —e.g. air quality, OpenStreetMap and open food data — as well new projects in Civic Lab Brussels as, for instance, from Wikimedia Belgium and Dewey. Next, to those project-specific presentations, we’d like to invite researchers and students to come and tell us about their findings from their work related to anything open and international visitors to meet our local community and share their stories. Last but not least, we’re happy to announce that Chris and Umut, both interns at Open Knowledge Belgium, will also present the onboarding process they developed for W4P – open source crowdsourcing platform – during the Civic Lab meetup on 23 May.

BeCentral: location of Civic Labs Brussels

How to get involved: Noteworthy: Civic Lab Brussels has its own Wiki page – https://be.wikimedia.org/wiki/Civic_Lab_Brussels