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OKI Agile: Scrum and sprints in open data

- June 22, 2017 in agile, Our Work, scrum

This is the third in a series of blogs on how we are using the Agile methodology at Open Knowledge International. Originating from software development, the Agile manifesto describes a set of principles that prioritise agility in work processes: for example through continuous development, self-organised teams with frequent interactions and quick responses to change ( In this blogging series we go into the different ways Agile can be used to work better in teams and to create more efficiency in how to deliver projects. The first posts dealt with user stories and methodologies: this time we go into using scrum and sprints to manage delivery of projects. Throughout my time as a project manager of open data projects in The Public Knowledge Workshop in Israel and in Open Knowledge International, I have used various tools and methods to manage delivery of software and content development. I have used Trello, Asana and even a Google spreadsheet, but at the end of the day I am always going back to Github to run all of the project tasks, assisted by Waffle. Many people that I spoke to are afraid of using GitHub for project management. To be fair, I am still afraid of Git, but GitHub is a different concept: It is not a code language, it is a repo site, and it has got really good functions and a very friendly user interface to use for it. So do not fear the Octocat!

Why Github?

  • As an open source community facing products, our code is always managed on Github. Adding another platform to deal with non-code tasks just adding more complications and syncing.
  • It is open to the community to contribute and see the progress and does not need permissions management (like Trello).
  • Unlike what people think – it is really easy to learn how to use Github web version, and it’s labels and milestones feature are helpful for delivery.

Why Waffle?

  • It syncs with Github and allows to show the tasks as Kanban.  
  • It allows to write estimates that hours of work for each task.
So far, working on Github for the project showed the following:
  1. Better cooperation between different streams of work
    Having one platform helps the team to understand what each function in the project is doing.  I believe that the coder should understand the content strategy and the community lead should understand the technical constraints while working on a project  It gives back better feedback and ideas for improving the product.
  2. Better documentation
    Having all in one place allows to create better documentation for the future.

So what did we do for GODI (the Global Open Data index) 2016?

  • Firstly, I have gathered all the tasks from the Trello and moved it to the Github.
  • I created tags that allow to differentiate between different types of tasks – content, design, code and community.
  • I added milestones and sorted out all tasks to fit their respective milestones of the project. I also created a “backlog” for all tasks that are not prioritise for the project but need to be done one day in the future. Each milestone got a deadline that responds to the project general deadlines.
  • I made sure that all the team members are part of the repository.
  • I organised Waffle to create columns – we use the default Waffle ones: Backlog, Ready, In Progress and Done.
Using one system and changing the work culture means that I needed to be strict on how the team communicates. It is sometimes unpleasant and needed me to be the “bad cop” but it is a crucial part of the process of enforcing a new way of working.  It means repetitive reminders to document issues on the issue tracker, ignoring issues that are not on GitHub and commenting on the Github when issues are not well documented. Now, after all is in one system, we can move to the daily management of tasks.


  • Before the sprint call
    • Make sure all issues are clear –  Before each sprint, the scrum master (in this case, also the project manager), make sure that all issues are clear and not vague. The SM will also add tasks that they think are needed to this sprint.
    • Organise issues – In this stage, prior to the sprint call, use the Waffle to move tasks to represent where you as a project manager think they are currently.
  • During the sprint call:
    • Explain to the team the main details about the sprint:  
      • Length of the milestone or how many weeks this milestone will take
      • Length of the sprint
      • Team members – who are they? Are they working part time or not?
      • Objectives for the sprint these derive from the milestone
      • Potential risks and mitigation
      • Go through the issues: yes, you did it before, but going through the issues with the team helps you as PM or SM to understand where the team is, what blocks them and creates a true representation of the tasks for the delivery team.
      • Give time estimates Waffle allows to give rough time estimates between 1-100 hours. Use it to forecast work for the project.
      • Create new tasksspeaking together gets the creative juices going. This will lead to creation of new issues. This is a good thing. Make sure they are labeled correctly.
      • Make sure that everyone understand their tasks: In the last 10 minutes of the sprint, repeat the division of work and who is doing what.
    • After the sprint call and during the sprint:
      • Make sure to have regular stand ups I have 30 minute stand ups, to allow the team to have more time to share issues. However, make sure not to have more than 30 minutes. If an issue demands more time to discuss, this means it needs its own dedicated call to untangle it, so set a call with the relevant team members for that issue.
      • Create issues as they arise – Don’t wait for the stand up or sprint kick-off call to create issues. Encourage the team and the community to create issues as well.
      • Always have a look at the issue trackerMaking sure all issues are there is a key action in agile work. I start everyday with checking the issues to make sure that I don’t miss critical work.
      • Hyper communicate – Since we are a remote team, it is best to repeat a message than not say it at all. I use Slack to make sure that the team knows that a new issue arise or if there is an outside blocker. I will repeat it on the team stand ups to make sure all team members are up-to-date.

    What data do we need? The story of the Cadasta GODI fellowship

    - June 9, 2017 in Global Open Data Index

    This blogpost was written by Lindsay Ferris and Mor Rubinstein   There is a lot of data out there, but which data users needs to solve their issues? How can we, as an external body, know which data is vital so we can measure it?  Moreover, what to do when data is published in so many levels – local, regional and federal that is so hard to find? Every year we are thinking about these questions in order to improve the Global Open Data Index (GODI), and make it more relevant to civil society. Having the relevant data characteristics is crucial for data use since without specific data it is hard to analysed and learn. After the publication of the GODI 2015, Cadasta Foundation approached us to discuss the results of GODI in the land ownership category.  Throughout this initial, lively discussion, we noticed that a systematic understanding of land data in general, and land ownership data in particular, was missing. An idea emerged: What if we will We decided to bridge these gaps to build a systematic understanding of land ownership data for the 2016 GODI. And so came to life the idea of the GODI fellowship. It was simple – Cadasta will have a fellow for a period of 6 months to explore the publication of data that is relevant to land ownership issues. The fellowship would be funded by Cadasta and the fellow would be an integral part of the team. OKI would give in-kind support of guidance and research. The fellowship goals were:
    • Global policy analysis of open data in the field of land and resource rights
    • Better definition for the land ownership dataset in the Global Open Data Index for 2016;
    • Mapping stakeholders and partners for the Global Open Data Index (for submissions);
    • Recommendations for a thematic Index;
    • A working paper or a series of blog posts about open data in land and resource ownership.
    Throughout the fellowship, Lindsay conducted interviews with land experts, NGOs and government officials as well as on-going desk research on the land data publication practices across different contexts. She established 4 key outputs:
    1. Outlining the challenges of opening land ownership data. Blog post here.
    2. Mapping the different types of land data and their availability. Overview here.
    3. Assessing the privacy and security risks of opening certain types of land data. See our work here:
    4.Identifying user needs and creating user personas for open land data.  User personas here.   Throughout the GODI process, our aim is to advocate for datasets that different stakeholders actually need and that make sense within the context in which they are published. For example, one of the main challenges in land ownership is that data is not always recorded or gathered by the federal level, and is collect in cities and regions. One of the primary users of land ownership data are other government agencies. Having a grasp of this type of knowledge helped us better define the land ownership dataset for the GODI. Ultimately, we developed a thoughtful definition based on these reflections and recommendations.   For us at OKI, having someone dedicated in an organisation that is an expert in a data category was immensely helpful. It makes the index categories more relevant for real life use  and help us to measure the categories better. It helps us to make sure our assumptions and foundation for the research are good. For Cadasta, having a person dedicate on open data helped to create a knowledge based and resources that help them look at the open data better. It was a win – win for both sides. In fact, The work Lindsay was doing was very valuable for Cadasra that Lindsay time was extended at Cassata and she worked on writing a case study about open data and land in Sao Paulo and Land Debate final report and a paper on Open Data in Land Governance for the 2017 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference. Going forward in the future of open data assessment, we believe that having this expert input in the design of the survey is crucial. Having only an open data lense can lead us to bias and wrong measurements. In our vision, we see the GODI tool as community owned assessment, that can help all fields to promote, find and use the data that is relevant for them. Interested of thinking the future of your field through open data? Write to us on the forum –

    Our learning from the Open Data Day mini grants scheme

    - May 17, 2017 in Open Data Day

    2017 was the third year of OKI Open Data Day Mini-grants scheme. Although we are working on it for a while, we never had the time or capacity to write our learnings from the last two schemes. This year, we decided to take more time to learn about the project and improve it. So we decided to look at the data and share our learnings, so the open data day community can use it in the future. This year, we used some of our Hewlett grant to team up with groups all over the world who are doing open data day events. We were also lucky to find more funding thanks to Hivos, Article 19, Foreign Commonwealth Office and SPARC. Each partner organisation had their own criteria for the giving the mini-grants. This blog post refers only to the OKI scheme – Open Data for Environment and Open Data for Human Rights. We did include some figures about the other grants, but we can not write about their rationale for how to distribute the money.

    How did we decide on the themes for the scheme?

    In past years, we awarded the mini-grants without any clear geographical or thematic criteria. We simply selected events that looked interesting to us or that we thought can spark discussion around open data in places where it is not done. We also gave priority to our network members as recipients. This year, we decided to be more systematic and to test some assumptions. We set up a staff-wide call to discuss the scheme and how it will be built. We decided that Open Data Day is a great opportunity to see how data can be used, and we wanted to limit it to specific topics so we can see this use. Themes like education and health were thrown into the air, but we decided to focus on the environment and human rights – two fields where we saw some use of open data, but not a lot of examples. We tried to gather all that we know on a doc, that then became a staff-wide collaborative work. We also set other criteria in the meeting. We wanted to see small tangible events rather than big ideas that can not be implemented in one day. We also wanted to see the actual use or promotion of use, rather than a general presentation of open data. After speaking to David Eaves, Open Data Day spiritual father, we decided to add also a Newbie fund, to support events in places where open data is a new thing. See all of the details that we gathered here.  

    What themes did people apply to?

      (Note that FCO joined the grant after the submissions phase closed, and therefore there is no dedicated track for their grant)    

    Who applied for the grant?

    In the 2.5 weeks, we got 204 applications, the majority from the Global South. Just to compare, in the 2016 scheme, we got 61 applications, the majority of them from the Global North. This means that this year we had 3 times more applications to deal with.. As you can see in the map (made by our talented developer advocate Serah Rono), more than half of the applications (104 if we want to be precise) came from the African continent. Our staff members Serah Rono, David Opoku and Stephen Abbott Pugh, have good networks in Africa and promoted the applications in them. We believe that the aggressive outreach that the three did and the fact that other individuals who champion open data in Africa helped us to promote it are the reason for the increase in applications from there. In both of our the tracks – human rights and environment, around 25% of the applications we got were from groups who didn’t work with open data or group that didn’t suggest an activity on the theme  – 15 in human rights track and 13 in the environment track.  

    How did we choose who will get the grant?

    4 of our staff members – Serah, David, Oscar and Mor gave a score to each application -1  – the application did not meet the criteria
    0  –  the submission met the criteria but did offer anything unique not
    1 – The submission met the criteria and offered a new perspective on data use on the topic. We tried to make the bias as little as possible by having a diverse committee from different genders and locations.  We decided not take into consideration where the application is coming from geographically and gender sex of the applicant. In our final list, when we had two applications from the same country, we tried to give the money only to one group.  

    What should we have paid attention to?

    Gender. Our friends from SPARC checked that they distribute the grant equitably between men and women. We tried to have We then decided to investigate even further the gender of the applicant. Since we didn’t qualify for the applicant’s gender in the application form, we determined their genders through their names and validate it through a google search. Out of 202 applications, 140 were made by men, and only one applicant was a joint gender application. (See visualisation). We don’t know why more men apply than women to the grants and it will be good to hear if other organisations had the same experience with this topic. If so, it is important to see why women are not applying for these opportunities.  

    Who received the grant?

    Unlike previous years, this year we took the time to reply to all the applicants about their status as fast as we could. However, we realised that answering back takes longer t Also, we published all winners in a blog post before open data and tried to keep the process as transparent as we can. See our announcement blog post here. However, during the last couple of month, some groups could not organise the event, and they asked us to give the money to someone else. These groups were from Costa Rica, Morocco, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Brazil. We decided, therefore, to give the grant to another group, Open Knowledge Philippines, for their annual Open Data Day event. Newbie category Since some of the groups that applied had no experience in open data, we wanted to try and give the grant to two of these so we can build capacity and see how open data can become part of their work. However, since we announce the winner a week before open data day, we didn’t have enough time to work with them so the event will be meaningful. We are currently looking at how we can cooperate with them in the future.  

    What were the outcomes?

    All of the learning from the grant recipients are on our blog where you can see different types of data use and the challenges that the community is facing in getting quality data to work with. Some of our recipients started to inquire more about OK network and how to participate and create more events. We would like to hear more from you about how to improve the next open data day by writing on the open data day mailing list.

    The Global Open Data Index – an update and the road ahead

    - March 23, 2017 in Global Open Data Index, Open Data Index

    The Global Open Data Index is a civil society collaborative effort to track the state of open government data around the world. The survey is designed to assess the openness of specific government datasets according to the Open Definition. Through this initiative, we want to provide a civil society audit of how governments actually publish data with input and review from citizens and organisations. This post describe our future timeline for the project.  Here at Open Knowledge International, we see the Global Open Data Index (aka GODI) as a community effort. Without community contributions and feedback there is no index. This is why it is important for us to keep the community involved in the index as much as we can (see our active forum!). However, in the last couple of months, lots has been going on with GODI. In fact so much was happening that we neglected our duty to report back to our community. So based on your feedback, here is what is going on with GODI 2016:  

    New Project Management

    Katelyn Rogers, who managed the project until January 2017, is now leading the School of Data program. I have stepped in to manage the Index until its launch this year. I am an old veteran to GODI, being its research and community lead for 2014 and 2015, so this is a natural fit for me and the project. This is done with my work as the International Community Coordinator and the Capacity team lead, but fear not, GODI is a priority!   This change in project management allowed us to take some time and modify the way we manage the project internally. We moved all of our current and past tasks: code content and research to the public Github account. You can see our progress on the project here-  

    Project timeline

    Now, after the handover is done, it is easier for us to decide on the road forward for GODI (in coordination with colleagues at the World Wide Web Foundation, which publishes the Open Data Barometer). We are happy to share with you the future timeline and approach of the Index:
    • Finalising review: In the last 6 weeks, we have been reviewing the different index categories of 94 places. Like last year, we took the thematic reviewer approach, in which each reviewer checked all the countries under one category. We finished the review by March 20th, and we are now running quality assurance for the reviewed submissions, mainly looking for false positives of datasets that have been defined as complying with the Open Definition.
    • Building the GODI site: This year we paid a lot of attention to the development of our methodology and changed the survey site to reflect it and allow easy customization (see Brook’s blog). We are now finalising the result site so it will have even better user experience than past years.
    • Launch! The critical piece of information that many of you wanted! We will launch the Index on May 2nd, 2017! And what a launch it is going to be!
      Last year we gave a 3 weeks period for government and civil society to review and suggest corrections for our assessment of the Index on the survey app, before publishing the permanent index results. This was not obvious to many, and we got many requests for corrections or clarifications after publishing the final GODI.
      This year, we will publish the index results, and data publishers and civil society will have the opportunity to contest the results publicly through our forum for 30 days. We will follow the discussions to decide if we should change some results or not. The GODI team believes that if we are aspiring to be a tool for not only measuring but also for learning open data publication, we need to allow civil society and government to engage around the results in the open. We already see the great engagement of some governments in the review process of GODI (See Mexico and Australia), and we would like to take this even one step further, making this a tool that can help and improve open data publication around the world.
    • Report: After fixing the Index result, we will publish a report on our learnings from GODI 2016. This is the first time that we will write a report on the Global Open Data Index findings, and we hope that this will help us not only in creating better GODI in the future but also to promote and publish better datasets.
      Have any question? Want to know more about the upcoming GODI? Have ideas for improvements? Start a topic in the forum:  

    Why you should take 10 minutes to look at the Open Data Roadmap this Open Data Day

    - February 28, 2017 in community, IODC, Open Data Day, Roadmap

    March 4th is Open Data Day! Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data all over the world. For the seventh time in history, groups from around the world will create local events on the day where they will use open data in their communities.   For me, Open Data Day is a special day. This is not because I am busy organising it, but because I am always inspired by the different activities that we can all pull off as a community one weekend every year. Let’s be fair, while International Pancake day, which is celebrated today, is delicious, Open Data Day is important. It shows our strength as a community and brings new people to the discussions.

    Open Data Day in Peru 2016

    We all know, however, that open data is not only a one-day thing. It is a 365-day effort. Don’t get me wrong, even if you have done one event this year, and it is Open Data Day, you are fabulous! I do think, however, that this is a time to mention others in the community working all year round to try and make progress on different international topics. Whether that progress is being made through promoting the International Open Data Charter or working on standards for contracting or creating the world’s biggest open data portal for humanitarian crises. In the regional level, we see great examples of initiatives like AbreLatam/ConDatos or the African Open Data Conference.     Open Data Day, whether done locally or on a global-scale, is a good time to reflect on what happens in other places, or how you (yes, you!), can help and shape this open data ecosystem where we work. In my belief, if it’s open, everyone should have a right to express their opinions. Lucky for us, there is a tool that tries to look at the community’s burning topics and set the way forward. It is called the International Open Data Conference Roadmap, and it is waiting for you to interact with and shape further. Before you leave this post and read something else, I know what you might be thinking. It goes somewhere along the lines of “Mor, but who cares about my opinion when it comes to such high-level strategy?” Well, the whole community cares! I wrote this blog about the IODC just a year and a bit ago, and look, now I can actually help and shape this event. And who am I really? I am not a CEO of anything or a government official. I don’t think that only the noisy people (like me…) should be the individuals who are shaping the future. This is why your written opinion matters to us, the authors of the roadmap. Without it, this whole movement will stay in place, and without people understanding and working with the roadmap, we will not go anywhere.   I am aware that this post might come too late for some of you: your schedule for Open Data Day is full,  you need more time to get organised, etc. Got 30 minutes? Here is my suggested activity with the report and I would love to get comments on it on our forum! Got only 10 minutes? Pick a topic from the roadmap, the one that you feel most connected to, read about, a write a comment about it on our forum.

    Activity suggestion: International Open Data Roadmap – what are we missing?

    Time: 30 minutes Accessories: Laptops, post-its, pens, good mood.   Number of participants: 2-15 Activity: Step 1: Read the Roadmap main actions to the group :
    Open Data principles– Broaden political commitment to open data principles Standards –  Identify and adopt user-centric open standards Capacity building – Build capacity to produce and effectively use open data Innovation – Strengthen networks to address common challenges Measurement – Make action on open data movement more evidence-based SDG– Use open data to support the sustainable development agenda   Step 2: Choose one action – If you have more than 4 people, divide the big groups into groups of up to 4 people.   Step 3: Read about the actions and what the mean in the report (pages 33-43). Discuss in the group about the meaning of the action. Do you understand it? If not what are you missing to understand it better? If yes, do you agree with it?   Step 4: On a post-it , write what do you think can help us to act and complete the actions or what are missing.   Step 5: Take a picture of your post it, upload it to the forum, with an explanation about it. You are also welcome to share it with on Twitter by using the hashtag: #IODCRoadmap.   I will run this session on the London Open Data Day Do-a-thon, if you are around, ping me at or my Twitter – @morchickit Have a great open data day event! Don’t forget to tweet about it #opendataday and send us your posts!

    Divide, rant and conquer: Addressing the difficulty of 2016 and the future of open government at #OGP16

    - December 20, 2016 in community, Events, OGP, Open Government Partnership, open-government

    Mor Rubinstein reports on one of the Civil Society Morning workshop sessions during the Open Government Partnership Summit. The structure of the session involved ‘ranting’ in turns with fellow attendees. As 2016 draws to a close and a new year begins, the session serves as a useful reminder of the cathartic and productive processes of ranting and listening as necessary steps toward progress. About a month ago, I got an exciting email from the Open Government Partnership support unit in which I was invited to host a workshop during the civil society morning of the OGP Summit in Paris with Zuzana Wienk about the future of the open government movement.
    img_20161207_121154401Session in action!
    To be honest, 2016 was a very challenging year for open government, and in many ways, this movement often feels just unrealistic. Maybe citizens don’t really care about the facts anymore, but about their emotions. And those emotions are usually a combination of fear and hate of the other, the unknown and change. I was really upset and started to rant about it. A LOT. So when I got the opportunity to actually host a session, I thought – What if I could actually take other people’s rants into a productive space? How can we get all of the negative out, look it in the eye without being afraid of it, and then move from there to somewhere better?

    What if I could actually take other people’s rants into a productive space? How can we get all of the negativity out, look it in the eye without being afraid of it, and then move from there to somewhere better?

    Thanks to Google, I found the method of “Rant for a productive meeting”. Briefly, the principals are simple – divide the room into pairs, allow the couples to meet with one another for a minute. After that let the pairs rant in turns. For three minutes one person speaks and rants and the other person will listen and will prompt for reactions. In the next three minutes, the partners swap roles. After this rant period, a new question is raised into the room: “Now what?” Allow the participants to write (on a post-it of course) their thoughts and ideas on how to move forward. As the last step – share! So we had around 16 participants from different regions in the session. You can find their thoughts just below. If you think any of ideas worth pursuing or discussing, just start a discussion about it on our forum here.
    img_20161207_123820014Here they are in raw – ideas from our session
    Here are the Open Government Future ideas that came out from the rant session (to make it an easier read, we divided them into themes):

    Civil society

    • Linking and leveraging with other initiatives to achieve greater results.
    • Now, what? Civic monitoring not only related to National Actions Plans, sustained with a small percentage of funding.
    • We need to call out Open Washing
    • Be proactive to share data CSOs
    • More educational programs – Civic educations
    • Better coordination of national society.
    • How to sustain in the long term a municipal civil society monitoring ecosystem?
      • Solution: Every local context has project funded with public money.
      • Every (almost) project funded have correction issues.
      • Use a little part of the budget to the project to fund civic monitoring actions.


    • Empowering individuals legislatures / elected officials.
    • Dependencies of politicians & businesses
    • Government to engage the youth to support government openness.
    • Share knowledge within government institutions to avoid duplication – reinventing the wheel.
    • Engagement of the EU institutions

    Relationships between government and citizens

    • Rebirth of the Socratic dialogue
    • Democratic participation digital tools (e.g.,. Parliament hackathons)


    • Opinions != Facts
    • We need fact checking

    Process of OGP

    • For OGP, the first five years have been about quantity, next five years should be about quality.
    • Now, what? Locally based processes. Cities involved in subnational OGP is not enough.
    • OGP needs to connect more deliberately with international processes (SDG, FFD, etc.)
    • Use innovative ways to share data
    • Clarify engagement and action opportunities for civil society with OGP and for opposition parties.
    • OGP needs to “Speak” to the citizens, adapting its communications tools and vocabulary / bridging the civil society and citizens gap.
    • A strategic planning event with CSO steering committee participation in a near future OGP, what’s next?
    • Learn from other’s experience and build on lessons learnt.
    • We need to make OGP sexier! (Link with other related agendas, better comms, better citizen language).
    • Clear and coordinate M&E framework to track changes over time
    • Integrating OGP into the national development agenda.
    • OGP agenda should transcend political transitions or change of government or agenda of a country e.g. – Brexit, Trump.
    I hope that out of these ideas, we can get a better and vibrant open government community in 2017!

    Credit: Open Government Partnership/Photograph by Evan Abramson

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of #OGP16 Summit

    - December 15, 2016 in Civic Space, civil society, Events, Inclusive Society, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government

    This blog originally appeared on Medium and is reposted with permission. This post is a reflection of a long and intense week in Paris for the Open Government Partnership summit. I feel after this week like I have seen so much, but missed out on a lot of things (including a couple of meals!). All in all, it was wonderful, once again, to see the Open Government community gathering around for good conversation, and maybe some follow-up actions. However, since this post is written by me, I have also some concerns that I would like to share with the rest of the community, so hold on — this is going to be a fun ride.

    The Good

    It is not secret that I care about the topic of gender in the open gov and the open data space. It was good to see that since my post from 11 months ago, things are starting to change in the field. More conversations about gender and open gov are starting to happen — from the workshops of The Web Foundation and Avina on OGP commitments to open gov, to the session that ran on behalf of Open Heroines, where we read Open Gender monologues. Indeed, the gender (and maybe even diversity) is on the table, and there is no way back now. Nevertheless, Manels (All-male panels), were still spotted during the conference, and I think that we can do SO much better by abolishing them altogether in the next OGP in 2018.

    I think that the next rational step for OGP would be to have a working group on social inclusion ,  so we can make sure that everyone —women, youth, LGBTQ, indigenous people and minorities —are joining the table to discuss open government. I was happy to hear that many agree that open government is a process to everyone, not just a few — so now it’s the time to act on it!

    However, more than my worries about the fact that the government didn’t send any minister, I am more concerned about the fact that the UK civil society didn’t make any fuss of this. That there is somewhat silence on the topic. It reminded me the article about over politeness in the open data movement by Tom Steinberg , and it makes me ponder what is next for civil society in the UK.

    The Ugly

    In short — the schedule of the whole summit was crazy. There is an old Hebrew proverb that says that there are so many trees that you can not see the forest anymore. This reflects how I felt at this conference — there were so many topics and sessions that I felt lost. So lost, that I sometimes gave up and just set in the main coffee space.

    Also, I felt that an important event that should have run longer was cut short. This whole conference we have been bringing up the closing of civic space, but when the moment of truth comes, we cut our own civil society day in 4 hours, so now we are left with a civil society morning. In my eyes, this is, de facto, a closer of civic space, or at least an attempt to minimise it. The civil society day is an important event to the community that allows us to get in touch together in an informal way. Even though I think the OGP team organised a great morning, I believe that adding more hours to it would be more efficient in the long run.

    Some of the ideas from my session on the civil society morning about the future of the open government.

    Here is some of my feedback for the next OGP summit — 

    1. Mark the number of people who can join a session. Lots of sessions were closed after 5 minutes because there was not availaible sitting spaces in the room. Knowing the capacity of the room can help for early planing
    2. Allow specific time for lunch — both IODC and the OGP summit scheduled sessions on lunch. Lunch is not only a good methodic break, but also a network place, so it needs to get a generous amount of time just for the action of lunch.
    3. Make sure sessions start and end at the same time. When sessions are starting at different times it is really hard to move between them or to remember when they start and end.
    4. Quality, not quantity — This on is my personal preference, and I know that other people think differently. I think we should have fewer sessions, but more time to each session, than a lot of small sessions on so many different topics. Focus can help us as a movement to get better results.
    5. Civil society day, not a morning — and maybe bring back the government day too. This is important to give both group support and networking that they need.

    The hope

    You didn’t think I will let you leave with a negative feeling, right? So my hope in this movement is the people in it. During this week I had wonderful open and honest conversations with many people, some of them were old friends, some of them were new. I felt great about those conversations because even though stuff are not perfect, we can be honest about our imperfections and try to move past by them and try to make this movement better, so we can make democracy better.
    So even in these days when it looks like the world is going away from open government, remember that this is a movement with great people in it. As much as it sounds like a big cliché, we, the people who work in it, can shape its future, so it’s time to act. Time to work together.

    See you in the next OGP summit, and in the meanwhile, keep the discussion on the web!

    Join Open Data from Around the World session at the Paris OGP summit

    - November 22, 2016 in Events, OGP, Open Government Data, Open Government Partnership

    Open Government Data from around the world session is back at the OGP summit, this time with a twist! Come and join as active participants and share open data updates from your country on Thursday, December 8th on 12 pm! What is Open Government Data from around the world session? In this one hour session, we are trying to connect the open data community and to get as many updates as we can from all over the world. It is a rapid session, where each participant can speak for 2 minutes and give a quick update about their country status. This year, celebrating 5 years of OGP, we will also ask you to share the good, the bad and the ugly of OGP in your country. There is no session without your participation, so we encourage you to sign up and take part of it! There is no right or wrong, just a time limit and you must have an update about a country (i.e geographical place). Government officials, CSOs and others are welcome to present! We can host potentially up to 60 different speakers! Why should I come to this session?
    • Learn about other initiatives in the world in one hour!
    • It is fun and informal
    • Great place to network
    • Good place to get your OGD initiative known
    What will come out of this session? Daniel and Mor will tweet and use Facebook Live during the event, and will summarise it to you in a blog post, so we can keep collaborating after the OGP summit So how can I participate? Learn more about this session in this doc ––j9lNhyEHSUcYTdSL4Kit-sUuvlCdQxOugCevlg/edit#heading=h.jstk65wkq7f0 If you have more questions, just reach out to us – Daniel Dietrich –   and Mor Rubinstein –

    MyData 2016 – What we learned about personal data and where to go from here?

    - October 18, 2016 in network, OK Finland, Open Knowledge

    This piece is the final installment of a three-part series of posts from MyData 2016 – an international conference that focused on human-centric personal information management. The conference was co-hosted by the Open Knowledge Finland chapter of the Open Knowledge Network. Part 1 looked at what personal data has to do with open data and Part 2 looked at how access to personal data is linked to wider social issues. The MyData2016 conference came to an end a couple of weeks ago, and we are now even past the International Open Data Conference, but given the discussions that emerged, it is clear this is only the beginning of something bigger. While MyData is still a vague concept, the conference started many processes that might evolve into something tangible.  During the conference I met participants that enlightened me about the MyData concept, reminding that conference is more than panels and workshops, but also about the human connection. pablo-my-data As I described in my first blog post in the series, I was keen to understand what the connection was between MyData and open data. Now, two weeks later and hours of going over the materials, I still have more questions than answers. Open Data is a techno-legal definition of data; MyData is still less clear. The borders between ‘My Data’, private data, and public data are sometimes blurry and undefined, and there is a need for regulation and open debate about these issues. However, the open data world gives inspiration to the MyData world, and MyData conference was an excellent opportunity for the two communities to learn from one another and think ahead.

    “The borders between ‘My Data’, private data, and public data are sometimes blurry and undefined, and there is a need for regulation and open debate about these issues.”

    What is MyData? One of the terms that were thrown in the air was “The Internet of Me.”  At first, this sounds to me a very millennial description (which brings, for me at least, a bad connotation). Lucie Burgess, from The Digital Catapult, shed a different light on the term. This, in her view, means that we put people, not companies or technical terms, at the center of the internet. To me, it reminded me of Evgeny Morozov’s concept of ‘Internet-centric’ – when we give the term ‘The internet’ life of its own. When we give the internet life, we sometimes forget that humans are creating it actively, and other parts of the net are passive, like the data that we provide to companies just by using their services. We forget that the internet is what it is because of us. The ‘Internet of Me’ puts the ordinary citizen at the heart of that beast we call ”the internet”. It is a  decentralized shift, the idea that we can control our data, our information. Lucie about Internet of me:   Credit: Pouyan MohseniniaCredit: Pouyan Mohseninia What does it mean though when it comes to different types of data? Here is an example from one of the main promises in the field of MyData – the health sector. Health data is one of the most delicate data types out there. Having MyData as a way to make data sharing in the health sector safer and more responsible can assist many to unlock the promise of big and small health datasets to make not only services in the field better but also to improve research and human lives. Health data raise some important questions – Who owns the data in official health registries? What is the line between MyData and public data? The way is still long, but the conference (and the Ultrahack) helped to shape some new thinking about the topic and look for new use cases. Here is Antti Tuomi-Nikula, from THL, the Finnish Ministry of health and welfare, speaking about the potential of MyData and the answers we still need to answer:   The question of the border between personal and public data is also a concern to governments. In the last decade, many governments at different levels of jurisdiction are going through efforts to improve their services by using data for better policies. However, government personnel, in particular, local government personnel, often do not have the knowledge or capacity to have a better data infrastructure and release public data in an open way. MyData therefore, looks like a dream solution in this case. I was excited to see how the local municipalities in Finland are already examining and learning about this concept, taking into considerations the challenges this brings. Here is Jarkko Oksala, CIO of the city of Tampere, the second biggest city in Finland speaking about MyData, and what the open Data community should do in the future:   On the one hand, the MyData concept is the ability to allow one to take control of their data, make it open to be used when they want to. When it comes to the open data community, MyData gives us all another opportunity – to learn. Open Data and MyData are frameworks and tools, not the ends. It was good to see how people come to expand their horizons and acquire new tools to achieve some of our other goals. ultrahack3Ultrahack in action. Credit Salla Thure One of the great side events that help to facilitate these learnings was the UltraHack, a three-day hack that tried to make the very vague concept of open data into actual use. Interesting enough, a lot of the hackathon work involved some open data as well. Open Knowledge in Finland is an expert in organizing hackathons, and the vibrant, energetic spirit was there for the whole three days. These spirits also attracted visitors from Estonia, who crossed the bay and came to learn about hackathons and the different types of data. It was very surprising for me to see that Estonians see Finland as a place to learn from since I assumed that because Estonia is known for its progressive e-gov services, it would similarly excel at creating an open data empire. I guess that the truth is much more complicated than this, and I was very lucky to learn about the situation there. We are also excited to have our first Open Knowledge event in Estonia a couple of weeks ago to discuss setting up a group there. This would not come to life without the meetings we had in Helsinki. Here is Maarja-Leena Saar speaking about this topic with me:  
    The Open Knowledge community indeed came to learn. I met School of Data Fellow Vadym  Hudyma from Ukraine, who works with the Engine room about privacy and responsible data. Vadym brought up many important points, like the fact that we should stop looking at the binary of consent of giving personal data, and how we need to remember the people behind the data points we gather.

    “We discussed what we want to do with our data and the question of privacy and the willingness too of people to share and to create open data from private data.”

    I also met members from Open Knowledge chapters in Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany.  They came to share their experiences but, also to learn about the different opportunities of MyData. For me, it is always good to catch up with chapters and see their point of view on various topics. Here are some useful insights I got from Walter Palmetshofer from OKF DE, who started to think about MyData concept already in 2011. We discussed what we want to do with our data and the question of privacy and the willingness too, of people to share and to create open data from private data. More of my conversation with Walter here   All in all, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to go and learn at MyData 2016. It gave me a different perspective on my usual work on open data and open government and allowed me to explore the internet for me. This is, I hope, just the beginning, and I would like to see what other members of the network have to say about this topic. A big thank you to the members of Open Knowledge Finland and in particular Salla Thure, who hosted me so well and helped me to find my way around the conference. Special thanks also to Jo Barratt, Open Knowledge International’s own audio guru for editing my interviews. Watch this space for his audio blog post from the GODAN summit!

    Gearing up for the launch of the Global Open Data Index survey

    - October 12, 2016 in community, Global Open Data Index, Open Data Index

    The Global Open Data Index (GODI) is one of our core projects at Open Knowledge International. The index measures and benchmarks the openness of government data around the world, and presents this information in a way that is easy to understand and easy to use.   screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-12-45-09 It’s been a couple months since we updated the community on what’s up with the Global Open Data Index. We decided it was time to let everyone know what has kept us busy in the last months.   We changed the methodology for how we’ll measure the submissions for this year. If you want to read more about these changes, we previously wrote a blog post with more details here. The key takeaway is that we are changing some of the questions to make them more understandable and easier to fill even if the submitter is not an advanced user of open data.   We want this edition of the index to be the best yet; because of this, we redesigned the UI and UX of the survey. We expect this redesign will make every participant as happy as us and will invite more people to contribute no matter their expertise in open data to participate.   In order to be successful and have even more submissions than last year we rely on our fantastic Community. Right now we are contacting everyone who has submitted to the index in previous years and finding the people and organizations that want to assess their government’s openness in new countries, even if we didn’t have information from them before.
    We expect to launch the survey by November which we know is right around the corner, but we want to make sure we have as many people as possible participating. So if for any reason we haven’t contacted you and you are interested in submitting or reviewing information for this year’s index in your country, please drop me a line at and I’ll make sure you are able to assess your country’s openness.