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Open Data 1-day training on 28 March

- February 25, 2014 in Open Data, Open Government Data, training

The Open Knowledge Foundation will be re-running its one-day Introduction to Open Data on Friday 28 March. Local governments and other organisations are looking at how they can release data they hold – unleashing creativity from local entrepreneurs, researchers, journalists, third-sector organisations and citizens, and helping to build economic activity as well as accountability and trust. The Open Knowledge Foundation’s vision of a world where open data improves lives means its job is to help get data released and used. For example, it built the software that powers the UK government’s widely-copied data portal and many others. Its School of Data works to empower civil society organisations, journalists and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively in their efforts to create more equitable and effective societies. The Introduction to Open Data aims to demystify the subject and give participants an understanding of the whats, whys and hows of the subject. The course is open to anyone who has an interest in Open Data in a professional capacity, and wants an introduction from one of the leading organisations in the field.

What will it cover?

The course will give an overview of the following: What is Open Data; kinds of data; Benefits of Open Data; regulatory requirements; data licensing; data quality and formats; an introduction to Linked Data; planning an Open Data project; data portals; publishing data; community engagement.

Who is it for?

The course is oriented towards organisations, such as local government councillors and officers, considering starting their own Open Data initiative. It could also be useful for organisations planning to work with or campaign for Open Data. It will be useful for those for whom Open Data is a bit of a mystery wanting to get an overview; decision makers who are supportive of the idea of Open Data, but need to understand what it will involve in technical terms; people responsible for the successful implementation of and Open Data project as well as staff who will be using or maintaing it, and anyone else interested in learning more about Open Data.

What do people say about it?

Feedback from the last session in December (above) include:
  • “A great introduction to the world of open data that’s left me keen to find out even more” Saira, ONE)
  • “Excellent overview of the key concepts regarding open data” (Jon Hill, London Borough of Barnet)
  • “Good introduction to the most important aspects of Open Data” (Laura Meggiolaro, International Land Coalition)
Other feedback included “A good overview that contained something for everyone in a diverse audience”; “Great session, great location, great participants!”; “A great introduction to the issue. Engaging delivery, more interesting than I expected!”

What do I need?

No technical or other background is needed – just an interest in learning more about Open Data.

Registration and cost

The price for the day is £250, and an early-bird price of £200 will apply to registrations by 7 March. To register, visit the signup page. If you can’t make the date, the course will be running again on 20 May. If you have any questions about the course, please contact training@okfn.org.

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First impressions from the 1-day introduction to Open Data

- December 16, 2013 in Events, Featured, Open Data

Last week I gave the Open Knowledge Foundation’s first 1-day Introduction to Open Data training course. Participants from a diverse group of organisations joined me at Friends House in London for a day of presentations, discussions and workshops. The course course covers the basic concepts – what does it mean for data to be ‘open’? What are the reasons for Open Data and why is it such a hot topic? – as well as a range of things that organisations planning to release data need to consider. Licensing, collection, data protection, open data portals, community-building and more were all discussed during the day.
[IMG: training]
Participants on the course (author, far left)
The eight participants came from organisations including Barnet council, the BBC, Global Witness and the African Development Bank. What united them was a need to learn more about open data – either with a view to publishing it, or equipping themselves with the tools to campaign more effectively for data release. Thankfully, participants didn’t have to listen to me all day, since their range of experience and knowledge led to lively and fruitful discussions through the day. The course was well-received to judge from the feedback, which included ‘Excellent overview of the key concepts regarding Open Data’; ‘Great session, great location, great participants!’; and my favourite response, ‘A great introduction to the issue. Engaging delivery, more interesting than I expected!’ The course will run again in the new year. No dates are fixed yet but to express an interest in attending, or in running the course in-house for your organisation, contact services@okfn.org.

Please help to translate CKAN 2.2

- December 13, 2013 in Releases

Wondering how to spend the holiday season? How would you like to help to make the next version of CKAN available in more languages? CKAN, the world’s leading open-source data portal software, is available in over 30 languages – mainly because of the work of volunteers helping to translate it. The next release will be CKAN 2.2. The strings to be translated for this version have now been uploaded to Transifex: https://www.transifex.com/projects/p/ckan/resource/2-2/ If you can help with any of the translations, please head over there. If you’re not already on the translation team for your favourite language, you can sign up / log in to Transifex and visit the team page for details of how to join it. The release won’t be finalised until the new year, so you have until 6 January to get it finished. Special kudos to the Danish team, who finished their translation before the announcement was made, only an hour and a quarter after the new strings were uploaded earlier today!

A report from the Ibrahim Governance Weekend

- December 13, 2013 in Events, Open Data Partnership For Development

Early last month I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation‘s annual governance weekend, including the celebrated Ibrahim Forum. The MIF, headed by the eponymous and irrepressible Mo, does amazing work promoting good governance in Africa. It’s perhaps best known for its incredibly comprehensive Governance Index. Despite the terrible score of his native Somalia on his own Governance Index, Mo is much keener on celebrating all that is young and joyful and promising in Africa than telling dismal stories about its problems. Which is why the weekend began on a Friday evening in Addis Ababa stadium, with an exhibition football match between a local side and the continent’s most feared team, TP Mazembe from the DRC — the visitors easily winning 3-1 — followed by a pop concert.
[IMG: Kumi Naidoo speaking]
Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace speaking at the Ibrahim Forum
The more serious part of the weekend was a reception on Saturday evening, including a fun mixture of politics and music, and the forum itself on the Sunday with a series of high-quality panel discussions on directions for African development, governance, integration and security. This year’s meeting was in Addis Ababa, home of the African Union, to coincide with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the AU’s founding (as the OAU) in 1963. The MIF’s aim of good governance is, of course, very much aligned with the aims of the Open Knowledge Foundation. It was good to hear the importance of open data stressed by some of the speakers. Among others Trevor Manuel, minister in charge of the National Planning Commission in South Africa, made the point that the work of building stability must start with reliable, accessible statistics. The OKF will be increasing its involvement in the region through its involvement in the Open Data Partnership for Development, a partnership with the World Bank and the Open Data Institute to increase the amount and impact of Open Data in developing countries. Though it was a flying visit, I did have time for a whistle-stop tour of Addis Ababa. In the National Museum of Ethiopia it was particularly exciting to see Lucy, the famous skeleton of a member of what may have been our earliest upright ancestor species, as well as the earliest known human remains. As H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, said in her address, ‘Welcome home to Ethiopia – wherever in the world you are from, this is your home.’

CKAN for research data management: a round-up from St Andrews

- November 28, 2013 in Deployments, News

A new blog post from Birgit Plietzsch at St Andrews University provides an interesting survey of projects using CKAN for research data management projects. St Andrews themselves have a pilot project in this area, and Dr Plietzsch had solicited input from other projects on the ‘ckan4rdm’ mailing list. The post summarises the responses she received. It’s noticeable that there are now quite a few RDM projects using CKAN in production environments or in pilots, most of them newcomers since the CKAN4RDM workshop earlier this year. Another project in the area that didn’t make it into the St Andrews round-up is EDaWaX, subject of a recent post on this blog. If you’re interested in using CKAN in a research data management setting it is worth joining the ckan4rdm list. (It is a low-traffic list), and maybe sending it a note introducing yourself and your plans in the area.

1-day Open Data training, London, 6 December

- November 6, 2013 in Events, Open Data, Open Government Data, training

The Services team of the Open Knowledge Foundation will be running a public version of its one-day introductory training course on Open Data, on Friday, 6 December in central London. The course is open to anyone who has an interest in Open Data in a professional capacity, and wants an introduction from one of the leading organisations in the field. Places are limited, so to register your interest, please sign up here. Note: If your organisation is interested in in-house training, we have a programme of courses we can offer, including this introductory course as well as a 5-day course for Open Data managers. Contact services@okfn.org for more information.

What will it cover?

The course will give an overview of the following: What is Open Data; kinds of data; Benefits of Open Data; regulatory requirements; data licensing; data quality and formats; an introduction to Linked Data; planning an Open Data project; data portals; publishing data; community engagement.

Who is it for?

The course is oriented towards organisations, such as local government councillors and officers, considering starting their own Open Data initiative. It will be useful for those for whom Open Data is a bit of a mystery wanting to get an overview; decision makers who are supportive of the idea of Open Data, but need to understand what it will involve in technical terms; people responsible for the successful implementation of the project as well as staff who will be using or maintaing it, and anyone else interested in learning more about Open Data. No technical background is

What do I need?

No technical or other background is needed – just an interest in learning more about Open Data.

Background

Local governments and other organisations are looking at how they can release data they hold – unleashing creativity from local entrepreneurs, researchers, journalists, third-sector organisations and citizens, and helping to build economic activity as well as accountability and trust. The Open Knowledge Foundation has unparalleled expertise in the area, having been active in Open Data since 2004. Among many other projects it built the original version of the UK government’s highly successful data portal data.gov.uk, and its School of Data runs courses to enable citizens and civil society organisations to make effective use of data.

Registration and cost

The price for the day is £250. To register your interest in attending, please sign up here. An early-bird price of £200 will apply to registrations by 17 November, and places are limited to 12, so get in touch!

Partner profile: Liip, Switzerland

- October 9, 2013 in Deployments, partners

The Open Knowledge Foundation’s CKAN Professional Partnership Programme means that governments and other users all over the world can get paid support from a certified local provider, and with access to the core development team if necessary. This post is the first of a series on current CKAN partners.
Liip AG is a web development company based in Switzerland, which does large-scale, high-quality projects in a range of areas, including e-commerce, online learning, mobile – and, of course, Open Data. Their first big project as a CKAN Partner is opendata.admin.ch, the federal Open Data portal for Switzerland. The site, which Liip developed together with five government agencies and the Open Government Data consultancy itopia, was officially launched on 16 September at OKCon in Geneva.
[Image: opendata.admin.ch]

Switzerland’s new Open Data portal, opendata.admin.ch

The current site is a pilot, produced for the Federal Archive, and experience from using it will guide the future development of Open Data in Switzerland. It is hoped that it will foster economic growth as well as government transparency and efficiency. A study commissioned by the Federal Archive concluded that open government data in Switzerland had the potential to be worth over a billion Euros a year in economic growth. At present the site has over 1600 datasets, including regional boundaries, demographics, election data, weather data, and more. Much of the data is harvested from a range of government bodies, such as the Federal Statistical Office and the Meteorological Office. To this end Liip wrote a number of custom harvesters to extract the datasets from different existing information systems, using CKAN’s harvesting infrastructure. To make the system easily and robustly scalable when other data providers – such as cities and cantons – join in future, they designed an architecture with a central CKAN installation harvesting from two satellite installations, which themselves harvest from the other systems. As well as the custom harvesters, they also wrote a number of other custom extensions to adjust the look and feel of the site. Like CKAN itself, all their extensions are openly licensed under the Affero Gnu Public License (AGPL), and they have been involved in contributions to the core code, particularly in the area of CKAN’s multilingual capability – essential in a country like Switzerland with four national languages. At the moment Liip is integrating datasets and webservices of two offices of the canton of Zurich into the federal pilot portal, and helping the city of Zurich to migrate their current open government data portal to a state-of-the-art solution using CKAN. opendata.admin.ch marks a significant milestone in Open Data in Switzerland. Only a week before its launch, the National Council (the lower house of Switzerland’s parliament) voted by a large majority in favour of an ‘Open Government Data masterplan’. Hopefully we will be hearing much more of Swiss open data in the future.

Open Data in Bermuda: local developers create Bermuda.io

- September 25, 2013 in Deployments, News

Two developers based in Bermuda have launched a new online CKAN-based repository of Bermuda public open data, Bermuda.io. Louis Galipeau and Andrew Simons (below) took key public documents which were not previously available online, and put them on the site, which they set up for the purpose. Previously, members of the public could consult the documents and data only by looking at hard copies at the Bermuda National Library and Bermuda Archives. With the launch of Bermuda.io, users can now freely view or download them anywhere. Where necessary, documents have been scanned to get an electronic copy. [Photo: Galipeaau and Simons] Galipeau and Simons plan to publish a wide range of public data in both human and machine readable formats. They are currently compiling two decades’ worth of financial statements from all government controlled organizations and public funds. The following have already been published, with records going back 20 years:
  • The annual report of the Auditor General
  • The “Budget Book” (Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Year)
  • The audited financial statements of the Consolidated Fund of The Government of Bermuda
  • The Bermuda Digest of Statistics
  • The Census Report
The developers have started with these documents because they go to the heart of the operations of Government. The Budget Book details planned revenue and spending, while the audited financials of the Consolidated Fund show the actual figures. The Auditor General’s report provides an independent opinion on the government’s financial management. Finally, the Digest of Statistics and the Census report contain economic and demographic data which provide important context. Andrew Simons says the documents will enable people to have more informed discussions and debates. “They answer questions like ‘What’s the revenue from lobster licences each season?’, ‘What school renovations are planned for the following year?’ and ‘How much does a firefighter earn?’” He hopes the site will foster wider civic engagement on the island – and adds that it would not have been possible without CKAN. The developers welcome feedback and suggestions on the site. Anyone interested can follow the project blog or Twitter account.

Going to OKCon? Come to the CKAN workshop!

- September 9, 2013 in Events

If you’re going to next week’s OKCon in Geneva, don’t miss the CKAN workshop on Monday afternoon. Whether you’re not sure what an Open Data portal is but think you might need one, or you need help with an installation, or you’re a coder who wants to develop your own extension, or you want to get involved in this open source project in a range of ways, this workshop is for you.
[Photo: CKAN workshop]

CKAN workshop at OKFest 2012 (photo: Juha Huuskonen)

CKAN product manager Irina Bolychevsky and developer Adrià Mercader will lead the workshop, and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up or for any queries, e-mail <ckan@okcon.org>. If you would like to come to OKCon but haven’t registered yet, there’s still time – but hurry!

Welcome to the new-look Datahub

- July 1, 2013 in Deployments, News

Yesterday the Datahub was updated to run CKAN 2.0.1, the latest version of CKAN. This means that Datahub users can take advantage of the shiny new features in CKAN 2.0, such as the ability to follow datasets and groups, activity streams, dashboards, improved UI, and more. The Datahub has also had a makeover with a custom theme. We think it looks rather swish.

What is it?

The Datahub is a free, public platform for cataloguing and publishing data (of course, using CKAN). Its ‘groups’ can be used to bring together collections of data in a particular area, or even for lightweight data publishing by small organisations. As with a wiki, the ability of any user to edit metadata (e.g. to fix broken links) helps keep it relevant and up-to-date.

New features

Using CKAN 2.0 brings major improvements to the Datahub, such as:
  • Improved, clearer interface for adding new datasets.
  • Activity streams, letting users follow datasets and groups of interest. For instance, you could make a Datahub Group for data you publish on another website. People could use it to search your data and get notifications when you publish new or updated data.
For a full list of what’s new in CKAN 2.0, see this post. Note: at present, CKAN 2.0′s “Organizations” are not available on the Datahub. Organizations are about controlling authorisation, whereas the Datahub is about collaborative editing by anyone. (If you want control, you probably want your own CKAN!) However, we’re looking at ways to make Organizations available to selected users in the future.

Using the Datahub

If you haven’t used the Datahub before, it’s easy to sign up and start registering data, which can be published anywhere on the Internet. (Data can’t be stored directly on the Datahub at the moment.) You may find the CKAN User Guide handy, and you can practice adding datasets, groups etc on the CKAN Demo.

Backup and more help

The upgrade shouldn’t cause any problems, but just in case, the old version of the site is still available, in read-only mode, at http://old.datahub.io. It will stay there for a month in case of any problems. (If, for some reason, you need the old site to be up for longer than a month, please get in touch.) If there are features or extensions you’d like to see enabled on the Datahub, why not discuss them on the mailing lists?