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Paris Peace Forum Hackathon: A new chance to talk about open data

- November 27, 2018 in Events, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government, paris peace forum

A few weeks ago we had the chance to attend the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum. The goal of this new initiative is to exchange and discuss concrete global governance solutions. More than 10,000 people attended, 65 Heads of State and Government were present, and 10 international organizations leaders convened for those three days at La Grande Halle de La Villette.   In parallel, the Paris Peace Forum hosted a hackathon to find new approaches to different challenges proposed by four different organizations. Hosted by the awesome Datactivist team, during these three days we worked on: Transparency of international organizations budgets, Transparency of major international event budgets, Transparency of public procurement procedures and Communication of financial data to the public. We had an attendance of about 80 participants, both experts in different topics, students from France and people interested in collaborating on building solutions. The approach was simple: Let’s look at the problems and see what kind of data will be useful. Day one The first day of the hackathon we got to hear the challenges that each organization had for us. Then we form teams based on the interests of the participants. This left us with smaller teams that would get to work on their projects along with the mentors. On that first day we also had the presence of two Heads of State to talk about innovation and technology. The first day concluded with a few ideas of what we wanted to do as well as a better understanding of the data that we could use. Day two Day two was the most intense. The teams got to decide what their solution would be and build it, or at least get to a minimum viable product. This was no simple task. Some teams had a hard time deciding what kind of solution they wanted to build. Some teams made user personas and user stories, some authors looked at data and built their solutions from there and some others started from a very specific set of problems related to their challenge. By the end of this day the teams had to present their projects to the other teams as well as to the mentors with at least some advances on their final projects. ​Day three Day three was a day full of excitement, but also for the mentors since we had to take one final project to present on the main stage of the Paris Peace Forum. During the morning the teams tweaked and fixed their projects and prepared their pitches, then presented to the mentors. Selecting only one final project for each of the challenges was a challenge by itself. But in the end we ended up with four really great projects:
  • Contract Fit selected by Open State Foundation
  • Tackling Climate Change – selected by the World Bank
  • LA PORTE – selected by the Open Contracting Partnership
  • Know your chances – selected by ETALAB
Each of these teams presented their projects at the main stage of the Paris Peace Forum. You can see the video here. This was a really interesting first edition of a hackathon in such a high level event covering such important topics. I was really happy to see so much engagement from both participants and mentors. It was also great to see the amazing job that our hosts made at putting all this together. We expect to see this exercise of innovation become a crucial part of future instances of the Peace Forum.  

Open Washing: digging deeper into the tough questions

- October 25, 2018 in IODC, iodc18, Open Data, openwashing

This blog was written by James McKinney, Oscar Montiel and Ana Brandusescu For the second time in history, the International Open Data Conference (IODC) opened a space for us to talk about #openwashing. The insights from IODC16 have been brilliantly summarised by Ana Brandusescu, also a host of this year’s session. On this occasion, we dug deeper into some of the issues and causes of open washing. We expect and hope this to be a discussion we can have more than once every couple of years at a conference, so we invite you all to contact the authors and let us know your thoughts! In order to discuss open washing in a very limited time, we framed the discussion around Heimstädt’s paper from 2017. To go beyond data publication, we asked participants to think about four key questions:
  1. How does a particular context encourage or discourage open washing?
  2. How does openness serve, or not serve, non-technical communities?
  3. How is a lack of openness tied to culture?
  4. What is our role as civil society organization/infomediary or government in tackling open washing?
This last question was key to try and frame open washing as something beyond blaming one group or another as the sole culprit of this practice. To accommodate the large number of Spanish and English speakers, we split into two language groups. Here, we summarize the key points of each discussion.

English group

Lack of power

Participants described scenarios in which publishers lacked the power to publish (whether by design or not). For example, an international non-profit organization (INGO) receives donor funding to hire a local researcher. The INGO has an open data policy, but when you request the data collected by the researcher, the INGO refers you to the donor (citing intellectual property clauses of the funding agreement), who then refers you to the researcher (wishing to respect the embargo on an upcoming article). In short, the INGO has an open data policy, but it lacks the power to publish this data and others like it. In this and many other cases, the open data program limited itself to data the organization owns, without looking more comprehensively at how the organization manages intellectual property rights to data it finances, purchases, licenses, etc. Such scenarios become open washing when, whether deliberately or through negligence, a government fails to secure the necessary intellectual property rights to publish data of high value or of high interest. This risk is acute for state-owned enterprises, public-private partnerships, procured services and privatized services. Common examples relate to address data. For example, Canada Post’s postal code data is the country’s most requested dataset, but Canada’s Directive on Open Government doesn’t apply to Canada Post, as it’s a state-owned enterprise. Similarly, when the United Kingdom privatized the Royal Mail, it didn’t retain the postcode data as a public dataset. Besides limits to the application of open data policies, another way in which organizations lack power is with respect to their enforcement. To be effective, policies must have consequences for noncompliance. (See, for example, Canada’s Directive on Open Government.) One more way in which power is limited is less legal and more social. Few organizations take responsibility for failing to respect their open data principles, but acknowledging failure is a first step toward improvement. Similarly, few actors call out their own and/or others’ failures, which leads to a situation in which failures are silent and unaddressed. Opportunities:
  • Open data programs should consider the intellectual property management of not only the data an organization owns, but also the data it finances, purchases, licenses, etc.
  • Open data programs should extend to all of government, including state-owned enterprises, public-private partnerships, procured services and privatized services.
  • To be enforceable, open data policies must have consequences for noncompliance.

Lack of knowledge or capacity

Participants also described scenarios in which publishers lacked the knowledge or capacity to publish effectively. Data is frequently made open but not made useful, for lack of care for who might use it. For example, open by default policies can incentivize ‘dumping’ as much data as possible into a catalog, but opening data shouldn’t be ‘like taking trash out.’ In addition, few publishers measure quality or prioritize datasets for release with stakeholder input, in order to improve the utility of datasets. In many cases, public servants have good intentions and are working with limited resources to overcome these challenges, in which case they aren’t open washing. However, their efforts may be ‘washed’ by others. For example, a minister might over-sell the work, out of a desire to claim success after putting in substantial effort. Or, a ranking or an initiative like the Open Government Partnership might celebrate the work, despite its shortcomings – giving a ‘star’ for openness, without a real change in openness. Opportunities: Make rankings more resistant to open washing. For example, governments can read the assessment methodology of the Open Data Barometer and ‘game’ a high score. Is there a way to identify, measure and/or account for open washing within such methodologies? Are there any inspiring methods from, for example, fighting bid rigging?

Other opportunities

While the discussion focused on the areas above, participants shared other ideas to address open washing, including to:
  • Make it a common practice to disclose the reason a dataset is not released, so that it is harder for governments to quietly withhold a dataset from publication.
  • Balance advocacy with collaboration. For example, if a department is open washing, make it uncomfortable in public, while nurturing a working relationship with supportive staff in private, in order to push for true openness. That said, advocacy has risks, which may not be worth the reward in all cases of open washing.
 

Spanish group

Political discourse

Participants described how, in their countries, the discourse around openness came from the top-down and was led by political parties. In many cases, a political party formed government and branded its work and ways of working as ‘open’. This caused their efforts to be perceived as partisan, and therefore at greater risk of being reversed when an opposing party formed government.  This also meant that public servants, especially in middle and lower-level positions, didn’t see the possible outcomes of openness in their activities as an important part of their regular work, but as extra, politically-motivated work within their already busy schedules. Opportunities: Make openness a non-partisan issue. Encourage a bottom-up discourse.

Implementation challenges

Participants described many challenges in implementing openness:
  • A lack of technical skills and resources.
  • A focus on quantity over quality.
  • Governments seeing openness as an effort that one or two agencies can deliver, instead of as an effort that requires all agencies to change how they work.
  • Governments opening data only in ways and formats with which they are already familiar, and working only with people they already know and trust.
  • A fear of being judged.
Opportunities: Co-design data formats.  Author standardized manuals for collecting and publishing data.

The value of data

A final point was the lack of a broad appreciation that data is useful and important. As long as people inside and outside government don’t see its value, there will be little motivation to open data and to properly govern and manage it. Opportunities: Research government processes and protocols for data governance and management.  

Wrapping up

At IODC18, we created a space to discuss open washing. We advanced the conversation on some factors contributing to it, and identified some opportunities to address it. However, we could only touch lightly on a few of the many facets of open washing. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on these discussions and on open washing in general! You can contact us via Twitter or email:

A short story about Open Washing

- August 20, 2018 in IODC, iodc18, Open Data, Open Government Data, openwashing

Great news! The International Open Data Conference (IODC) accepted my proposal about Open Washing. The moment I heard this I wanted to write something to invite everyone to our session. It will be a follow-up to the exchange we had during IODC in 2015. First a couple disclaimers: This text is not exactly about data. Open Washing is not an easy conversation to have. It’s not a comfortable topic for anyone, whether you work in government or civil society. Sometimes we decide to avoid it (I’m looking at you, OGP Summit!). To prepare this new session I went through the history of our initial conversation. I noticed that my awesome co-host, Ana Brandusescu summarised everything here. I invite you to read that blogpost and then come back. Or keep reading and then read the other post. Either way, don’t miss Ana’s post. What comes next is a story. I hope this story will illustrate why these uncomfortable conversations are important. Second disclaimer: everything in this story is true. It is a fact that these things happened. Some of them are still happening. It is not a happy story, and I’m sorry if some people might feel offended by me telling it. There was once a country that had a pretty young democracy. That country was ruled by one political party for 70 years and then, 18 years ago decided it was enough. Six years ago, that political party came back. They won the presidential election. How this happened is questionable but goes beyond the reach of this story right now. When this political party regained power the technocrats thought this was good news. Some international media outlets thought the new president would even “save” the country. The word “save” may sound like too much but there was a big wave of violence that had built from previous years. Economic development was slow and social issues were boiling. There was a big relationship of this to corruption in many levels of government. In this context, there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The president’s office decided to make open government a priority. Open data would be a tool to promote proactive transparency and economic development. They signed all the international commitments they could. They chaired international spaces for everything transparency related. They set up a team with young and highly prepared professionals to turn all this into reality. But then, the tunnel seemed to extend and the light seemed dimmer. In spite of these commitments some things that weren’t supposed to happen, happened. Different journalistic researches found out what seemed like acts of corruption. A government contractor gave the president 7 million dollar house during the campaign. The government awarded about 450 million USD in irregular contracts. Most of these contracts didn’t even result in actual execution of works or delivery of goods. They spied on people from the civil society groups that collaborated with them. 45 journalists, who play a big role in this story, were murdered in the last 6 years. For doing their job. For asking questions that may be uncomfortable for some people. There is a lot more to the story but I will leave it here. That doesn’t mean it ends here. It’s still happening. It seems like this political party doesn’t care about using open washing anymore. They don’t care anymore because they’re leaving. But we should care because we stay. We need to talk and discuss this in the open. The story of this country, my country, is very particular and surreal but holds a lot of lessons. This is probably the worst invitation you’ve ever received. But I know there are a lot of lessons and knowledge out there. So if you are around, come to our session during IODC. If you’re not, talk about this issue where you live. Or reach out to others who might be interested. It probably won’t be comfortable but you will for sure bring a new perspective to your work. This is also an invitation to try it.

CKANconUS and Code for America Summit: some thoughts about the important questions

- June 20, 2018 in ckan, code for america, Events, OK US, USA

It’s been a few weeks after CKANConUS and the seventh Code for America Summit took place in Oakland. As always, it was a great place to meet old friends and new faces of technologists, policy experts, government innovators in the U.S. In this blogpost I share some of the experience of attending these two conferences and a few thoughts I’ve been ruminating about the discussions that happened, and more importantly, those that didn’t happen. CKAN is an open source open data portal platform that Open Knowledge International developed several years ago. It has been used and reused by many governments and civil society organizations around the world. For CKANconUS, the OK US group, led by Joel Natividad organized a one day event with different users and implementers of CKAN around the United States. We had the California based LA Counts, gathering data from the 88 cities in the County of Los Angeles; the California Data Collaborative working to improve water management decisions. We also had some interesting presentations from the GreenInfo Network and the California Natural Resources Agency. And we had the chance to hear about the awesome process of the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center to choose CKAN as its platform and how they maintain the project (presentation included LEGOs in every slide). On the more technical side, David Read, Ian Ward and our own Adrià Mercader talked about the new versions of CKAN, the Express Loader and the Technical Roadmap for CKAN, 11 years after its development started. You can view the slides by Adrià Mercader on the CKAN Technical Roadmap overview here. We closed with some great lightning talks about datamirror.org to ensure access to federal research data and Human Centered Design and what Amanda Damewood learned about working in government in improving these processes. The next two days in the Code for America Summit were full of interesting talks about building tools, innovating in our processes and making government work for people in a better way. There were some interesting keynote speakers as well as breakout sessions where we discussed the process to build certain projects and how we can rethink how we engage in our communities. I would like highlight two mainstage talks about collaboration (or the difficulty of such) between government and civil society. The first is a talk and panel about disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston and cities in Florida, where some key points were raised about the importance of having accurate, verifiable and usable information in these cases, as well as the importance of having a network of people who are willing to help their peers. The second is the presentation Code for Asheville presented, regarding their issues with homelessness and police data. This isn’t necessarily what you would call a success story but Sabrah n’haRaven made a great point about working with social issues: “Trust effective communities to understand their own problems”. This may sound like a given in the work we do when working with data and building things with it, but it’s something that we need to keep in mind. Using this line of thought, it seems crucial to keep these conversations going. We need to understand our communities, be aware that there are policies that go against the rights of people to live a fulfilling life and we need to change that. I hope for the next CfA Summit and CKANConUS we can try to find some answers to these questions collectively.

CKANconUS and Code for America Summit: some thoughts about the important questions

- June 20, 2018 in ckan, code for america, Events, OK US, USA

It’s been a few weeks after CKANConUS and the seventh Code for America Summit took place in Oakland. As always, it was a great place to meet old friends and new faces of technologists, policy experts, government innovators in the U.S. In this blogpost I share some of the experience of attending these two conferences and a few thoughts I’ve been ruminating about the discussions that happened, and more importantly, those that didn’t happen. CKAN is an open source open data portal platform that Open Knowledge International developed several years ago. It has been used and reused by many governments and civil society organizations around the world. For CKANconUS, the OK US group, led by Joel Natividad organized a one day event with different users and implementers of CKAN around the United States. We had the California based LA Counts, gathering data from the 88 cities in the County of Los Angeles; the California Data Collaborative working to improve water management decisions. We also had some interesting presentations from the GreenInfo Network and the California Natural Resources Agency. And we had the chance to hear about the awesome process of the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center to choose CKAN as its platform and how they maintain the project (presentation included LEGOs in every slide). On the more technical side, David Read, Ian Ward and our own Adrià Mercader talked about the new versions of CKAN, the Express Loader and the Technical Roadmap for CKAN, 11 years after its development started. You can view the slides by Adrià Mercader on the CKAN Technical Roadmap overview here. We closed with some great lightning talks about datamirror.org to ensure access to federal research data and Human Centered Design and what Amanda Damewood learned about working in government in improving these processes. The next two days in the Code for America Summit were full of interesting talks about building tools, innovating in our processes and making government work for people in a better way. There were some interesting keynote speakers as well as breakout sessions where we discussed the process to build certain projects and how we can rethink how we engage in our communities. I would like highlight two mainstage talks about collaboration (or the difficulty of such) between government and civil society. The first is a talk and panel about disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston and cities in Florida, where some key points were raised about the importance of having accurate, verifiable and usable information in these cases, as well as the importance of having a network of people who are willing to help their peers. The second is the presentation Code for Asheville presented, regarding their issues with homelessness and police data. This isn’t necessarily what you would call a success story but Sabrah n’haRaven made a great point about working with social issues: “Trust effective communities to understand their own problems”. This may sound like a given in the work we do when working with data and building things with it, but it’s something that we need to keep in mind. Using this line of thought, it seems crucial to keep these conversations going. We need to understand our communities, be aware that there are policies that go against the rights of people to live a fulfilling life and we need to change that. I hope for the next CfA Summit and CKANConUS we can try to find some answers to these questions collectively.

Announcing the 2018 International Open Data Day mini-grant winners!

- February 20, 2018 in Open Data Day, open data day 2018

Open Data Day is an important date for a broad community that works for a more open world, where information can benefit more people.  To support the efforts made by different groups and organizations on this day, we have developed the  Open Data Day mini-grants, where, along with other organizations interested in having a more open world, we provide funds to events in different parts of the world. This is the fourth year we’ve organized the mini-grants, and with 214 applications, it’s the year with more applications ever, which shows the interest keeps growing. Without further ado, we present the mini-grant supported events for this year and their organizers.
  1. Transparência Hackday Portugal / Open Knowledge Portugal will bring together citizens, government officials and business contributors to local open mapping efforts, by showcasing both official and grassroots projects and promoting the intermingling of all parties involved. Amount: $400
  2. Association 61 with the local MamPrawoWiedziec.pl network will organize a webinar for local activists on how to create maps based on public data to summarize the work of their local governments before the upcoming in Poland elections. Amount: $400
  3. Ger Community Mapping Center, OSM-Colorado. The Ger Community Mapping Center (GCMC) Open Data Day mapathon, in conjunction with OSM-Colorado, works to bridge the broad gap between Mongolia and the United States by engaging the OSM community and student population in Denver, CO with the community mapping non-profit organization GCMC in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a sister city of Denver. Amount: $200
  4. The YouthMappers Chapter at INES Ruhengeri will create Open Data for the Kangondo slum in Rwanda. Amount: $320
  5. Tanzania Development Trust/Crowd2Map are hosting an event to raise understanding of the benefits of Open Data to local government officials, academics and community organisations from across Tanzania and increase their knowledge and skills in accessing and generating OD including into OpenStreetMap of their communities. Amount: $400
  6. Open Knowledge Finland (OKFI) and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Finland community will seek to increase the awareness of open maps and open mapping, to engage people in mapping activities for global (HOT-OSM) and local (OSM) use and to expand the existing mapping community. Amount: $400
  7. School of Data Côte d’Ivoire’s event has the goal of showing how to visualize geographical data published in Côte d’Ivoire EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) report. Amount: $400
  8. Namibia Open Data & Namibia University of Science & Technology. The goal of their open data day is create awareness on the importance of open data, and encourage to participants to co-create solutions through a hackathon that aims to leverage on technology to combat road accidents in Namibia. They expect participants to develop applications that map, where most road accidents happen and solutions that keep drivers focused on the road. Amount: $400
  9. Code for DC in the United States will engage volunteers with open data mapping projects through the re-launch of their Campaign Finance project and the promotion of other open data sets. Amount: $400
  10. UNDP Uganda sees to increase the awareness of use of open data for development planning and disaster risk assessment. Amount: $400
  11. YEKA Street MGA in Nicaragua will complete the project of categorization and inventory of houses with vernacular construction systems in the northern area of the country, with the help of the “Asociacion Mujeres Constructoras de Condega”. Amount: $350
  1. Open Switch Africa will work to encourage Open Educational Resources adoption and Open Research Data in the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Amount: $400
  2. EvidenceBase are going to structure, publish, and explore the previously unanalyzed subset of PubMed Central journal comments evaluating clinical trials. Amount: $400
  3. Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Development, Inc. Their proposed Open Data Day aims to pioneer a discussion amongst research and academic institutions in the Philippines, working on a bigger goal of bridging gaps between education and resources especially felt by minor and sector-representative institutions and research organizations in accessing quality information. Amount: $400
  4. Datos El Salvador will open as much data as possible from academic research, students and teachers to build the first ever open data deposit of research in El Salvador. They will eventually publish this data in their portal. Amount: $400
  5. Datalat’s main goal is to bring the open data community together and create links with other communities interested in open science and open mapping, especially academics and students. This will be a key activity to engage people for the 1st OpenCon Ecuador coming in July.  Amount: $400
  6. Epicentro Inefable AC (Mexico) will bring open data information to the university community. Its use and applications to foster the use of open data in research and development, based on the 2030 Agenda. Amount: $400
  7. Early Career Researchers from Mwanza, Tanzania will create awareness about Health Data Research in the Mwanza community. Amount: $400
  8. Open Access Nepal will  conduct an Open Science and Open Research Data training for PhD students in collaboration with Nepal Health Research Council. Amount: $400
  9. Open Knowledge Ethiopia defined the main goal of their event to promoting open research data among early career researchers and open data advocates in Ethiopia. Amount: $400
  10. ODI Madrid will develop training activities about open data applied to scientific resources involved in the whole scientific life cycle: papers, reviews, data, etc (Spain). Amount: $400
  1. InspireIT is organizing an event in Nigeria to empower young girls to make informed decisions about their sexual health and well being. Amount: $300
  2. Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) in Nigeria seeks to have more young women leverage on technology to make their businesses thrive.  Amount: $400
  3. OKLab Cologne / hack.institute will organize an OpenData Barcamp and a Hackathon and Kids Coding Track with the topics “Mobility, Air Quality and Voice-Bot’s” in Germany. Amount: $400
  4. Vivirenlafinca Foundation Colombia seeks to sensitize, disseminate and improve the relationships between the rural and urban habitats. Amount: $400
  5. Datos.PH will organize an event to dive into open research data to help design local development policy interventions across sex (male and female) and age groups. Amount: $400
  6. Artigo 19 seeks to Improve the quality and quantity of Open Data related to femicides in Brazil. Amount: $400
  7. Open Education Italia will find and reuse data to describe and to promote the gender balance in cultural and educational local policies in Italy. Amount: $400
  1. iWatch Africa in Ghana seeks to create awareness and train student journalist on the use of data journalism tools and new media to track government budget. Amount: $400
  2. Iniciativa Social para la Democracia in El Salvador will organize an event to present the Diagnosis of transparency in procurement of the Salvadorian State. Amount: $400
  3. Girolabs will show the uses of the Open Contracting Data Standard implemented in Paraguay, and two thesis degrees of students about OCDS. Amount: $400
  4. Escueladedatos.org / SocialTic will organize an event to teach people about Open Contracting and Follow the Money by looking at the results of at least 4 projects supported last year in Guatemala and make it relatable for more people to understand the importance, get inspired to act on or to contribute with new projects on these topics. Amount: $300
  5. SocialTIC’s ODD in Mexico City aims, like every year, to increase, diversity, showcase and strengthen the capacities of open data enthusiasts, specialists and newcomers in a fun, didactic and inspiring 200 person event. Amount: $400
  6. Open Knowledge Bangladesh will look into the public money that is used in different government initiatives in Bangladesh. Amount: $370
  7. Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative (PLSI) want to promote the use of open data in tracking audited funds for development projects in Nigerian local communities as a way to foster public accountability and improved service delivery. Amount: $350
  8. EldoHub will organize an event to come up with data driven ideas which will disrupt corruption and ensure transparency and accountability in the use of public funds/resources in Kenya. Amount: $390
  9. OrderPaper NG wants to create a community of empowered grassroots individuals to track implementation of constituency projects in Nigeria. Amount: $400
  10. Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar will organize a conference at the French Institute of Madagascar regarding open data concerning the public finances in Madagascar. Amount: $220
  11. Demos will continue with their event from last year and unify data from different sources in Argentina and Uruguay to tackle floodings in different cities in these countries.  Amount: $400
  12. OpenStreetMap Foundation Colombia seeks to build  tools to fight against learned helplessness in Territorial Management in Colombia. Amount: $400
  13. Transparency International – Cameroon seeks to raise awareness of stakeholders on Open Contracting Data Standard as a mean to reduce corruption in the public contracting sector in Cameroon. Amount: $400
  14. Africa Freedom of Information Centre in Uganda wants to increase public access to and participation in public contracting through application of the portal askyourgov.ug. Amount: $400
  15. Open Development Cambodia (ODC) will organize an event to increase transparency on land investment contracts and related Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in Cambodia, thereby decreasing knowledge gaps between perspective investors, government, and citizens (especially vulnerable groups). Amount: $400
  16. Convoca in Peru wants to motivate the participants to develop initiatives that from analyzing the contracts of the works involved in the Lava Jato case, promote a legal, ethical and economically efficient public procurement in all areas from local to national management. Amount: $400
  17. Open Knowledge Colombia will develop a hackathon, called Hackeando el PAE, focused on following and visualizing public money associated with School Feeding National Program of Colombia through a co-creation process where different social actors will be involved. Amount: $400
Together with all the funders [SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Mapbox] for this years’ ODD mini-grants, Open Knowledge International wants to thank the community for all your applications. We encourage you all you register your event on the ODD website. For those who were not successful on this occasion, we encourage you to participate next time the scheme is available. For the winners, we say congratulations and we look forward to  working with you and sharing your successful event with the community!

A new track for Open Data Day mini-grants: Open Data for Equal Development

- January 30, 2018 in Open Data Day, open data day 2018

As we get closer to Open Data Day 2018, we keep working to make this year’s events really awesome. To achieve this we have some good news for you: We now will support one more track of Open Data Day events! The new track is Open Data for Equal Development and it’s sponsored by OKI through the Hewlett Foundation. We define equal development as ending the structural barriers that make it harder for some groups in societies to access their rights, goods or services. We know this is a really broad spectrum of subjects but that’s by design, we don’t want to narrow it down for you. This track will support events that promote solutions or showcase the need to improve in terms of health, women’s and reproductive rights, humanitarian crises, inclusive societies and cohesive communities, ethnic and cultural diversity, LGBT rights,etc. We think data can help look into solutions in these subjects and help provide more equality and equity in societies. With this new track, we expect to support an even broader group of participants from different parts of the world. If this track is not the one you want to focus your event on, remember there are three other tracks we will support.  Remember to submit your application in the form before February 4 and good luck!

Announcing the Open Data Day 2018 mini-grants scheme

- January 22, 2018 in Featured, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

If data is freed into the open, but no one uses it, can we consider it open data? This is one of the questions we need to ask ourselves is we want to promote data use. And what better day to promote data use than Open Data Day (ODD)?

So what is Open Data Day?

ODD is the yearly event where we gather to reach out to new people and build new solutions to issues in our communities using open data. 2018 marks the 8th edition of ODD. In these eight years, the community has grown and evolved greatly. Last year we registered more than 300 events around the world! To make sure some of those events had everything they needed to be great for their communities, we had the support of Hivos, Article19, SPARC and Hewlett to provide mini-grants for their organizing. This effort resulted in more than 200 applications for mini-grants that followed one of the four tracks we supported last year. This year we want to have an even bigger pool por events (we already have almost 40 events registered on opendataday.org). To achieve this, we have partnered again with Hivos to support Follow the Money and Open Contracting events. SPARC to support Open Science and Open Research Data events, and introducing a new, exciting partnership with Mapbox to support events with Open Mapping at their core.

Cool, so what are the mini-grants?

A mini-grant is a small fund of between $200-$400 for groups to organize Open Data Day events. Since last year, we gave these grants to the events that would focus on specific issues around open data. These year, as we have already mentioned we have three tracks: Follow the Money and Open Contracting, Open Science and Open Research Data Open Mapping. There are some important things  to be aware of:
  1. To all grants: We cannot fund government applications, whether national or local. This is since we support civil society actions. We encourage governments to find their local groups and engage with them!
  2. For  Tracking public money flows: groups from developing countries will have priority.
Event organisers can only apply once and for just one category, so choose well.

What is the timeline for the mini-grants?

Applications are open starting today (January the 22nd) through Sunday February 4th 2017 and the selected grantees will be announced on Monday, 19th February 2017. However, it is important to note that all payments will be made to the teams after ODD when they submit their blog reports and a copy of their expenses. If you need to have the payment processed before March 3, we will consider on a case by case basis.

Are you all set?

If you are all set to organize you ODD event, apply for a mini-grant HERE.    

Open Data Day – 3 March 2018: you are invited!

- December 11, 2017 in odd2018, Open Data Day

2018 is almost here, and that means that on Saturday 3 March, we’ll be celebrating Open Data Day (ODD). As always, this is a bottom-up initiative, where we expect to gain momentum and highlight the different uses that Open Data can have in different contexts. We know that some people in the community are already planning their events, so we invite everyone to register their events on the website by filling up this form (you can also find it at the Open Data Day website). If you want to get an idea of what Open Data Day is like, have a look at this summary of Open Data Day 2017 events. We are updating the content, since we’re defining the topics that we’ll support next year, but in the meantime, if you have any leads on fulfilling the mini-grants for ODD events, please let us know. As we update the contents, we also need to translate them, so if you have some spare time and knowledge of a language additional to English, you can collaborate on translating! Last but not least, we want to hear from you, so we will host a group call at the beginning of the year to hear about the learnings and experiences of groups that organised Open Data Day in 2017. If you want to hear more about it, you can follow the mailing list or follow our social channels, where we’ll keep you updated.   

The Open Data Survey: Measuring what matters to you

- November 21, 2017 in godi, Open Data Census, Open Data Index, open data survey

I once heard a brilliant government official say that in government you only measure what matters to you. This resonated with me back when I was a public servant and it makes even more sense now that I have participated over the last few years in the Global Open Data Index (GODI), one of Open Knowledge International (OKI)’s main projects. We developed GODI to address the question how much government information is published as open data. The index uses a league table that ranks countries from most to least open, based on their results for fifteen key datasets. In addition the survey compares the openness of key datasets worldwide, and lists which countries have, for example, the most open budgets, company registers or election data. But national open government data is only one aspect of the open data ecosystem. The Open Data Survey, the tool that powers GODI, allows to collect information on any aspect of open data.  Many organisations have repurposed the survey throughout the years to foreground information that these organisations find important, urgent or that help them reach their goals. In this blogpost I will highlight a few use cases of the Open Data Survey. In a follow-up post I will explain how you can start using the survey to measure what is important for you, whether with OKI hosting an instance for you or by deploying your own survey.

The Open Data Census

Our first example is the Open Data Census, a tool usually run by our local groups and chapters to understand how their local governments are performing in data publication. We have a record of about 40 different censuses assessing local and regional open data in many different countries. The census is the only tool to assess open data on a city level.

Example of a city-level census, comparing Argentinian cities with one another

Users of the Open Data Census include Open Knowledge Argentina, Open Knowledge Brazil and the Sunlight Foundation who assessed the openness of U.S. cities as part of its Open Cities programme. The Census results did not only highlight top performing cities in the United States, but also enabled Sunlight Foundation to do further policy analysis and understand why some cities perform better than others. Similar to the Global Open Data Index, the census measures the openness of around fifteen different datasets. But it is also fully customisable, allowing any organisation to assess various aspects of open data – from open data policies, through to publication of good quality data, or whether a local government engages with citizens to identify and publish the most relevant data.  

Code for America’s digital services survey

Code for America repurposed our Open Data Survey to assess the state of digital services in U.S. cities. As part of their Digital Front Door initiative, Code for America used a fork of the survey to assess if the government websites were “meeting Code for America’s criteria for good digital services, and prioritize opportunities for improvements”. With more than 40 cities assessed, this was probably one of the biggest alternative uses for the survey and a great example how to assess aspects such as design of websites (which is an important element for open data publication).

Assessing WASH resilience

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub, a 2015 School of Data fellow, used the survey to produce a public local information resource centred around Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) needs, to guide policy-making in the Philippines and advance disaster risk preparedness of local authorities. The website is currently a proof-of-concept, designed for information managers from government and CSOs who take care of data gathering and sharing during emergency situations. The website also visualises the evolution of key indicators related to water and sanitation, helping local authorities and information managers to make better-informed decisions.

Interface of the WASH Resilience survey

It uses two types of league tables, including a ranking of WASH data quality and availability of the 225 cities and provinces of the Philippines. The contents are now outdated but this example shows how the Open Data Survey can be repurposed to not only assess the availability of open data in a specific sector, but also to link this assessment to follow-up actions with government.

Measure what matters to you

To conclude, the Open Data Survey is a versatile tool and can be used to rank, compare, and highlight very different aspects of (open) data. I hope abovementioned use cases sparked your interest and ideas how to use the Open Data Survey. Stay tuned – in a follow-up blogpost we will explain how to customise the survey in order to make it fit your needs.