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OK Greece releases Key Performance Indicators Application… and other 2017 updates

- May 5, 2017 in Chapters, Greece, network, OK Greece

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Greece team Open Knowledge Greece (OK Greece) consists of a dynamic team of community members who are not only interested in open data, linked data technologies and coding; but are committed to applying scientific results to everyday community activities. This post documents the Chapter’s activities for the 1st quarter of the current year; specifically the period between January to April 2017. Quarter 1 has been a very creative and productive period for OK Greece with many of the Chapter’s activities achieving great results.  One of our main successful achievements has been the release of the KPIs application. Key Performance Indicators or KPIs are a type of performance measurement, a set of quantifiable measures used to gauge an organisation’s or company’s performance over time. These metrics can be used to determine an organisation’s progress in achieving its strategic and operational goals and also to compare an organisation’s finances and performance against other organisations of the same scope. Regarding Public Administration Organizations, such as Local City Councils, Municipalities, or other higher-level authorities; KPIs can provide useful information about an organisation’s performance. KPIs are also a compressed form of information. This is because a huge volume of fiscal data can be summarised in a standardised way, offering a quick overview and better understanding and study over an authority’s effectiveness and performance, as it is reflected by the published fiscal data. It should be noted that KPIs has been developed within the framework of EU Project Openbudgets.eu.

Other events and activities

OK Greece partnered with the Library and Information Center of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to organise a day’s conference, titled Opening our Data Today: Open Governance, Transparency, Participation, as part of the March 2017 International Open Data Day celebrations (ODD 2017). Members of the academic community and professionals supported the openness of research data, stressing that open data can promote science and improve the control of research results. They also noted that the openness of government data contributes to democracy and transparency. On its side, OK Greece emphasised on the need for opening, even more, datasets, other than just working with the available open data. Moreover, OK Greece members presented the OpenBudgets.eu EU Horizon 2020 Project, speaking about the crucial role of linked data in the field of Financial Management and Control of Public Agencies. We also collaborated with the Library and Information Center of the Aristotle University for the “Creating and Verifying Links of Authority Records of the National Library of Greece at Wikidata” workshop. The workshop gave participants the opportunity to be informed about the recent developments in the Semantic Web and in particular about the role of Libraries as a focal point in the development of the Data Web. OK Greece presented its efforts within the Wikidata project and Alignment applications, while participants validated a great number of links, included in the National Library of Greece’s LOD Authority Records at Wikidata. Another important activity of OK Greece was its participation in the“Fake News” in Social Media as Reality Shapers event held by the European Parliament on 8th March. More specifically, OK Greece members and Head of School of Data Greece, Professor of Media Technologies Andreas Veglis travelled to Brussels to speak about the rising trend of “Fake News” in the media and especially on the web.  Mr Veglis gave a speech before MEPs, journalists and professionals, mapping the field of “mocking news”, proposing solutions and emphasising the importance of open data in the fact-checking process.

From left, Andreas Veglis, Head of School of Data Greece /Head at the School of Journalism & Mass Media Communications, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Lidia Ucher, Journalist, Spain; Clara Jiménez, Journalist, Spain; Stelios Kouloglou, Moderator, MEP; Paul Horner, Internet satirical, United States and Michel Christophe, Independent Educator in Critical Thinking, Media Education, France

Veglis gave a speech before MEPs, journalists and professionals, mapping the field of “mocking news”, proposing solutions and emphasising the importance of open data in the fact-checking process. Moreover, OK Greece attended the 9th International Week Dedicated to Maths, held last March by the Hellenic Mathematical Society. We presented on the following: “Analysis of Fiscal Data and Indicators with the implementation of Statistical Learning Algorithms on Semantic Budget Data of OpenBudgets.eu for Municipality” and “Semantic Representation and Implementation of Statistical Learning Algorithms on the Greek NSRF Fiscal Data”.

Kleanthis Koupidis(OK GR COO) and Evangelos Chondrokostas(OK GR Data Scientist) [first and second from right] talk about semantic and data mining techniques to identify possible red flags in NSRF fiscal data.

Both presentations described the Semantic technologies that were used to improve the quality of fiscal data of Greek Municipalities and National Strategic Reference Framework of Greece and the data mining techniques that were implemented to extract useful information from these data. Finally, we collaborated with the Journalists’ Union of Macedonia & Thrace  (esiemth) and the Media Informatics Lab of the School of Journalism & Mass Media Communication (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) in April to organize a two-day Data Journalism Hackathon, entitled “Hackathon Data Journalism: Red Flags in NSRF Programs”, addressing journalists and journalism students. In this framework, OK Greece launched its new Red Flags online application. The Red Flags application uses data from anapyxi.gov.gr, the official website of the Greek Ministry of Development and Competitiveness, which provides detailed information on the implementation process of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) projects, analysing all data available for potential “red flags”. Journalists, who participated in the hackathon, worked in paired groups, investigating possible “red flags” in different NSRF projects. They had the opportunity to conduct a journalistic investigation for some ten days before they present their outcomes on the second day of the hackathon.

Forthcoming

  • Collaboration with Open Knowledge International on Frictionless Data project. We will be  developing a set of tools, standards, and best practices built in open source programming language.
  • Session in Re:publica, regarding Open Data, transparency and technical tools to better understand the world we live in.
The forthcoming months are expected to be fruitful in events and collaborations as well. Τhe GitHub Open Knowledge Greece is strongly active, and other initiatives are commencing with the aim of attracting new members into the open knowledge community. In addition, the chapter endeavours to attain funding from additional research and innovation projects, as there are not fixed incomes and most activities are currently performed on a voluntary basis. Finally, OK Greece has launched a new promotional activity, sending a weekly newsletter to its subscribers, so that all people interested in our vision and activities can join our mailing list.  To read more about Open Knowledge Greece visit their website. Learn more about the Open Knowledge Network by visiting the Open Knowledge International website.  

Network update from OK Japan: Corporate transparency and taxpayers’ money ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

- January 19, 2017 in Chapters, Chapters updates, godi, japan, network, OK Japan, Open Spending

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Japan team. The OK Japan chapter has been active in the open data space in activities such as the promotion of open data use and policy discussions. Since we formed the team in 2012, our members have been instrumental in promoting International Open Data Day in Japan and OpenSpending/ Where Does My Money Go. We published use cases and other notable developments in the space through our blog. Our members also took part in many different government boards, advised or worked with municipalities and departments on open data implementation. Below is some news about us and open data developments in Japan.

Transparency discussed

Late October, Open Knowledge Japan has co-organized, with OpenCorporates Japan an event discussing corporate ID and transparency issues, including the Panama Papers. The keynote talk was given by Chris Taggart, CEO and founder of OpenCorporates, who was visiting Tokyo that time.

okjapanChris Taggart and Japanese experts discussing transparency issues in Tokyo

Work meeting held for Global Open Data Census

We hosted an informal meeting inviting key government officials to work on the Global Open Data Census. The Census scores and Japan’s ranking have been discussed in the open data policy circle.

Relevance of open knowledge for Japan

Aside from what we did lately, there are recent news reports that make open knowledge issues very relevant in the country. Related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we have been learning about many allegations of shady processes. For example, some large sums of tax money reported going from our government to an unnamed “consultant” so that Tokyo could become the host city for the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo has also been involved in other transparency issues – the governor resigned this year after criticisms related to his spending and lack of clear explanations on those, and was given a vote of no-confidence. The new governor uncovered additional problems with the ongoing project of relocating the Tsukiji market, the largest fish market in Tokyo, including potential underground water contamination.

tokyo_tower_special_lightup_invitation_for_2020_olympic_games_on_march_2013Image Credit: Tokyo Tower Special Lightup <Invitation for 2020 Olympic Games> (Shibakouen, Tokyo, Japan) (CC BY)

In the early part of 2017, we will be working towards International Open Data Day 2017. Japan has been one of the most active countries in terms of the number of localities participating in IODD in the past few years (with more than 60 cities participating in 2016!). Some of the issues we will be discussing through this and other occasions include the above-mentioned data plans that the national and prefectural governments will create, as well wider use of Open Spending Next that some of our members have started learning.

Network update from OK Japan: Corporate transparency and taxpayers’ money ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

- January 19, 2017 in Chapters, Chapters updates, godi, japan, network, OK Japan, Open Spending

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Japan team. The OK Japan chapter has been active in the open data space in activities such as the promotion of open data use and policy discussions. Since we formed the team in 2012, our members have been instrumental in promoting International Open Data Day in Japan and OpenSpending/ Where Does My Money Go. We published use cases and other notable developments in the space through our blog. Our members also took part in many different government boards, advised or worked with municipalities and departments on open data implementation. Below is some news about us and open data developments in Japan.

Transparency discussed

Late October, Open Knowledge Japan has co-organized, with OpenCorporates Japan an event discussing corporate ID and transparency issues, including the Panama Papers. The keynote talk was given by Chris Taggart, CEO and founder of OpenCorporates, who was visiting Tokyo that time.

okjapanChris Taggart and Japanese experts discussing transparency issues in Tokyo

Work meeting held for Global Open Data Census

We hosted an informal meeting inviting key government officials to work on the Global Open Data Census. The Census scores and Japan’s ranking have been discussed in the open data policy circle.

Relevance of open knowledge for Japan

Aside from what we did lately, there are recent news reports that make open knowledge issues very relevant in the country. Related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we have been learning about many allegations of shady processes. For example, some large sums of tax money reported going from our government to an unnamed “consultant” so that Tokyo could become the host city for the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo has also been involved in other transparency issues – the governor resigned this year after criticisms related to his spending and lack of clear explanations on those, and was given a vote of no-confidence. The new governor uncovered additional problems with the ongoing project of relocating the Tsukiji market, the largest fish market in Tokyo, including potential underground water contamination.

tokyo_tower_special_lightup_invitation_for_2020_olympic_games_on_march_2013Image Credit: by t-mizo Tokyo Tower Special Lightup <Invitation for 2020 Olympic Games> (Shibakouen, Tokyo, Japan) (CC BY 2.0)

In the early part of 2017, we will be working towards International Open Data Day 2017. Japan has been one of the most active countries in terms of the number of localities participating in IODD in the past few years (with more than 60 cities participating in 2016!). Some of the issues we will be discussing through this and other occasions include the above-mentioned data plans that the national and prefectural governments will create, as well wider use of Open Spending Next that some of our members have started learning.

Open Knowledge Switzerland Summer 2016 Update

- August 24, 2016 in Chapter updates, Chapters, network, OK Switzerland, Open Data

The first half of 2016 was a very busy one for the Open Knowledge Swiss chapter, Opendata.ch. Just between April to June the chapter had 3 Hackathons, 15 talks, 3 meetups and 10 workshops. In this blog post we highlight some of these activities to update the Open Knowledge Community about our chapter’s work.   Main projects Our directors worked on relaunching the federal Open Government Data portal and its new online handbook. We gathered and published datasets and ran workshops in support of various hackdays – and we migrated and improved our web infrastructure with better support of the open Transport API (handling up to 1.7 Mio requests per day!).   FOJ_1238Main events We held our annual conference in June, ran energy-themed hackdays in April and ran an OpenGLAM hackathon in July. Additionally, we supported two smaller regional hackathons in the spring, and a meetup on occasion of Open Data Day.   Challenges Like other organisations in this space, our main challenge is redefining our manifesto and restructuring our operations to become a smoother running chapter that is more responsive to the needs of our members and community. This restructuring continues to be a challenge that we are learning from – and need to learn more about.   2nd_Swiss_Open_Cultural_Data_Hackathon,_openingSuccesses Our media presence and public identity continues to be stronger than ever. We are involved in a wide range of political and inter-organizational activities in support of diverse areas of openness, and in general we are finding that our collective voice is stronger and our messages better received everywhere we go.   Governance We have had several retreats with the board to discuss changes in the governance and to welcome new directors: Catherine Pugin (ta-swiss.ch, datastory.ch), Martin Grandjean (martingrandjean.ch) and Alexandre Cotting (hevs.ch) We are primarily working on a better overall organizational structure to support our community and working groups: starting and igniting new initiatives will be the next step. Among them will be the launch of business-oriented advocacy group called “Swiss Data Alliance”.   DSC_0437 Looking ahead We will soon announce a national program on food data, which includes hackdays and a funded follow-up/incubation phase for prototypes produced. And we are busy setting up a hackathon at the end of September with international scope and support called Hack for Ageing Well. Follow #H4AW for more info. We are excited about upcoming cross-border events like #H4AW and Jugend Hackt, opening doors to development and research collaborations. Reach out through the Open Knowledge forums and we’ll do our best to connect you into the Swiss community!

Open Knowledge Brazil summer 2016 update

- August 22, 2016 in brasil, Brazil, Chapters, network, network updates, OK Brazil, Open Spending

This blog post is part of our summer chapters updates and was written by the team of OK Brazil.  Brazil is not only about the Olympics. A lot has been going on in the Brazilian chapter of the Open Knowledge Network as well. Here we highlight the significant chapter developments, including some new faces and some exciting plans. Personnel One of the most crucial changes in the chapter is in the area of human resources.  Ariel Kogan, an OK Brazil longtime member, took over as CEO from Tom (Everton) Zanella Alvarenga. We wish Tom much luck in his new path and would like to thank him for the work he has done for the chapter so far.
Also, We also have a new addition to our chapter, Elza Albuquerque who joined us as our communication officer.  Lastly, we have a new advisory board. You can meet our new board in this link.   Open Spending News
Where did my money go website already has the executive budget data for four Brazilian cities: São Paulo (SP), Belo Horizonte (MG), in order toCuritiba (PR) and Recife (PE). The Brazilian Open Spending team is looking for more information about the others so they can add them to the platform. We also welcome a new developer to the OpenSpending team, Lucas Ansei. He will be responsible for the next system implementations.   Our latest publications
OKBrasil

Open Knowledge Brasil planning sessions Credit: Open Knowledge Brasil – Rede pelo Conhecimento Livre Facebook

Global events
– Trip to Estonia, digital government laboratory. In July, Ariel Kogan and Thiago Rondon (Open Spending coordinator and Adviser for Open Knowledge Brazil)  travelled to Estonia to learn about their experience with e-government, e-vote, data security and administration. The trip was supported by Fundacion Avina, in the context of EuVoto (I vote) project.
– OKBr participation in the Berlin International Open Knowledge leadership course by Rufus Pollock. The participation in this meeting was also possible thanks to Fundacion Avina support. Transparency Check our accounts and balance – – Copy of Bank StatementTrial Balance   Final words… Lastly, OK Brasil is in the process of planning ahead. We initiated a new strategic planning process for the chapter for 2016-2018. The goal is to validate what was built in previous stages in order to increase new contributions to present the first OKBr planning document from 2016 to 2018. Have a look at the Open Knowledge Brazil retrospective and next steps and let us know what you think. We are looking forward to hearing from the global community and connecting more with what others are up to.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more live updates!

Open Knowledge Belgium Spring – Summer Update

- August 4, 2016 in belgium, Chapters, network

With only one full-time employee, the Belgian Open Knowledge ship is only a small one to sail. Nonetheless, Pieter-Jan Pauwels has proven to be a worthy captain. The rest of the crew consists of a bunch of student positions, interns, volunteers and of course, the Open Knowledge Belgium board. Even though Open Knowledge Belgium is such a small team, we’re quite proud of what we’ve achieved the past few months. Let’s start with Diplohack Brussels. In April we co-organised the first Diplohack Brussels in the Council of the European Union, together with the Dutch Presidency of the EU. The 24-hour hackathon focused on creating more transparency within the Brussels Bubble with the Council of the European Union introducing their Council vote Open Dataset.   Then, we got to present a crowdsourcing project we’ve been working on for quite some time. W4P (“We For Progress”) is an crowdsourcing tool that allows you to build your own crowdsourcing platform! This project was funded by CHEST Project, a European consortium of partners working around streamlining funding for small to medium scale social innovation projects. At the moment open Summer of code 2016 takes place. That’s a four-week programme that allows students to work on open innovation projects. While having a student job for the summer, they learn more about coding and other hard skills, and gain more soft skills such as working in a team and giving pitches. We act as a sort of match maker between companies and students. Organisations come to us with open source projects and meanwhile we recruit students and put the right student on the right project. Only skilled and enthusiastic students who are willing to learn, may enter #oSoc.   According to us, open Summer of code is one of the most important projects for Open Knowledge Belgium. We educate students and companies about open source and open innovation at one hand, and provide students with real-life experience. Experience that can make a difference when you’re looking for your first job. It’s also one of our projects that doesn’t have any governmental funding. It’s our sixth edition so far, but we’re thinking about rebranding it next year. Open Summer of code is no longer only about code: It’s about so much more. Beside front- and back-enders, we need students who are skilled in UI/UX design, business development, marketing and communication. Also, we don’t only deliver pure code, we aim for complete projects. Going from brainstorming and coding to marketing and presenting, you need to be a jack of all trades, not only a king of code. By rebranding, we hope to attract more diverse profiles and spread the open knowledge word among other publics too. open Summer of code 2016 – After Movie from Open Knowledge Belgium on Vimeo. We’re curious what the future will bring. The Belgian government tries to implement more open data and open knowledge, but those are still baby steps. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and thus a lot of room for Open Knowledge Belgium to grow. At the moment, we have five working groups about themes such as mobility and tourism, but we got a few requests for working groups about new themes such as university (college) data and open badges. Yup, the Belgian chapter most certainly has a bright future ahead of it – one where our little raft might turn into a nice ship.

2 Weeks Left Until OKFestival! Online Schedule, Calls for Participation, Evening Events and Free Hackathons

- September 5, 2012 in Chapters, Events, Featured, OGDCamp, OKCon, OKF Finland, OKFest

OKFestival 2012 by Juha Huuskonen

A Special Gift for Festival Participants…

For the 600+ brave souls already registered for the world’s first-ever Open Knowledge Festival, here’s our first-ever participant bulletin! The gems and secrets below have been built from the weekly-curated, community-written summaries we’ve been sharing behind the scenes with our teams of Guest Programme Planners around the globe – and with less than two weeks left until we all meet in Helsinki, we hope they will leave you feeling as excited as we all are for what’s yet to come. Haven’t joined the movement yet? Tickets are almost sold out, but you can grab the last few online. Still unacquainted with the OKFestival movement? Confused about all the fuss? We’ve also published an introductory summary which explains the festival and how it combines OGDCamp and OKCon. Now, on to the exciting bits:

An Interactive Online Schedule

Thanks to the tireless work of over 100 OKFest organisers and Guest Programme Planners, the entire OKFestival Schedule is now online. This year’s programme is amazingly diverse, with over 13 guest-planned Topic Streams from “Transparency and Accountability” to “Openness in Sustainability”. A summary for each of the Topic Streams active during the OKFestival week is also online, and we are finalising our morning INSPIRE Plenaries, which will gather all OKFest participants together for an inspiring introduction to the day before topic stream programming starts. An increasingly prestigious list of Keynote Speakers, from Hans Rosling to Anneli Jäätteenmäki to Farida Vis to Carl-Christian Buhr to Carlos Rossel, have finalised their participation and will honour us all with their ideas.

Crowdsourced Evening Events

Evening events and receptions during the OKFest week are now being finalised and planned collaboratively by participants, and we want you to get involved! Current events being planned include an OKFest Welcome Reception, a Helsinki Hacks & Hackers meetup, a craft beer festival, a Helsinki bar hop, the Open Sauna Evening, a Proactum Meetup for “Open Source-minded people”, and a series of Thematic Dinners based on the Harvard Berkman Centre model. Get involved by hosting a thematic dinner or another event on the group planning pad.

Active Calls for Participation & Free Public Hackathons

With the 2012 theme of Open Knowledge in Action”, getting involved is one of the most important parts of the OKFestival experience. This week is about looking at the value that can be generated by opening up knowledge, the ecosystems of organisations that can benefit from such sharing, and the impacts that transparency can have in our societies. With an ever-increasing list of (free!) public hackathons, festival workshops and hands-on workshops, there are many ways to get involved. Here is a snapshot of the many Calls for Participation during the festival week:
  1. DATA JOURNALISM HACKATHON: A day to design and build a functional news application from open government data. Finland’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, invites coders, designers and journalists to its Data Journalism Hackathon. Using data from the World Bank and other groups, you will be able to create a working app or visualization from scratch. Space is limited and registration closes Sept 10th, so please RSVP online.
  2. TAKE ACTION LIGHTNING TALKS: For those working to increase gender equality and diversity in their work, the Wikimedia Foundation is hosting TAKE ACTION, a set of public lightning talks with 12 spots available until Mon, Sept 10th – get involved on the planning pad.
  3. DATA CUISINE WORKSHOP: You’re invited to the world’s first open data cuisine workshop, the “Art of Data Cooking“. Send an email to opendatacooking (AT) pixelache.ac. Capacity is limited.
  4. CULTURE & SCIENCE HACKATHON: Cultural Heritage and Science meet for a joint Culture and Heritage Hackathon on Tues 17th Sept. Join a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, work with newly released datasets, develop a brand new PyBossa app or hack for Louhos research software libraries – plus much more! All ideas welcome – if you have a hackday activity, please share it. Numbers are limited – please use the sign-up form to get involved.
  5. OPEN PEER LEARNING WORKSHOP: Outside of open communities, few people know how to apply “open” tools, practices, and standards to their work. Creative Commons, P2PU, and the Open Knowledge Foundation will introduce the School of Open and the School of Data, followed by a Q&A and a hands-on, creative workshop to prototype “open” challenges and courses. Particpants will take an “open” learning challenge and design their own in culture, education, research, or data. Space is limited – please use sign-up form to RSVP.
  6. OPEN DEVELOPMENT HACKATHONS: On Thurs 20th Sept, Open Dev planners will be hosting the third event in the series of 2012 Development Data Challenges – a hackathon. As this is an open (and free!) event, coders and interested folk are invited to create new ideas for making aid and development data more accessible. There will also be an exciting opportunity to hack land data, hosted by the folk at the Land Coalition, and to join in with the Helsingin Sanomat hackathon on Fri 21 Sept. All hackathons are explained further on the OKFestival site. Space is limited – email opendevelopment (AT) okfestival.org to RSVP.
  7. OKFEST HELSINKI PHOTOWALK: On the Sunday before OKFest, you will also get the chance to see the most of Helsinki through your own lens during the OKFest photo walk. Organisers Peter and Irmeli will take you to several beautiful and historical places in Helsinki. The day will start with an interactive lecture on the meaning of mindful seeing and noticing within curation, utilization and collaborative (re)construction of open knowledge. Space is limited and registration closes Sept 15th, for more info see the Public Pad. And be sure to bring your camera!
  8. OPEN TRANSPORT WORKSHOP: On 17th Sept, the ePSIplatform team in conjunction with the Open Cities Topic Stream is hosting a sectoral workshop on Transport Data with a focus on fuelling future mobility and smart cities. The workshop is a round table meeting of transport data holders (ao HSL, Trafi, SNCF), open data policy makers (ao DG MOVE) and (new) re-users (ao OSM, iRail, Trafiklab, Samtrafiken, Google Transit). Interested in getting involved? There are still a few seats left – register today!
  9. SURVEY ON OKFEST DIVERSITY: The organisers of the Gender & Diversity Topic Stream session “Exclusive Diversity: A Conversation” have prepared a short Online Survey to get anonymous data on OKFest participants for use in the session. Your contribution would be very much appreciated, and useful for their efforts to make future Open Data “crowds” more inclusive.

The Continuation of a Movement

In an era of global digital communications, significant benefits are gained in all sectors of the society by opening up knowledge, including science, culture, governance and economy. What will happen when hundreds of community-builders, developers, scientists, academics, government and civil society representatives, teachers, students and open data experts descend on the shores of Helsinki to build new things and provoke positive change together? What will happen when participants adventure through Europe on the way to OKFest as Billy Meinke from Hawaii has done, or share their findings with key organisations like Creative Commons as Jane Park has done? What happens when Members of the European Parliament meet those organising citizen movements, when organisers of the Open Government Partnership meet those working towards open education, open hardware and Open Source software? The results are yet unknown, but they’re giving us all a great deal of hope for what’s ahead in Helsinki. Until then, we look forward to meeting you all in a few weeks!
CC BY-NC-SA photo taken by OKFestival’s own Helsinki-based Production Coordinator, Juha Huuskonen. Original photo on Flickr. More photos of OKFestival on Flickr Pool. For more information about OKFestival 2012, go to okfestival.org.

OpenDataMx: Opening Up the Government, one Bit at a Time

- September 4, 2012 in Chapters, Events, External, Featured, Featured Project, Labs, Open Access, Open Content, Open Data, Open Economics, Open Spending, Policy, School of Data, Sprint / Hackday

On August 24-25, another edition of OpenDataMx took place: a 36-hour public data hackathon for the development of creative technological solutions to questions raised by the civil society. This time the event was hosted by the University of Communication in Mexico City. The popularity of the event has grown: a total of 63 participants including coders and designers took part and another 58 representatives from civil society from more than ten different organisations attended the parallel conference. Government institutions participated actively as well: the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, IFAI and the Government of the Oaxaca State. The workshops were about technology, open data and its potential in the search for technological solutions to the problems of civil society. The following proposals resulted from the discussions in the conference:
  • Construct a methodology to collectively generate open data from civil society for reuse in data events as well as to demonstrate benefits of government bodies to adopt the practice of generating their data openly.
  • The collective construction of a common database of information and knowledge on the topic of open data through the wiki of OpenDataMx.
After 36 hours continuous work, each of the 23 teams presented their project, each based on the 30 datasets, provided by both the government and civil society organisations. As currently little open government data is available, the joint work of civil society was essential in order to realise the hackathon. Read the Hackathon news in Spanish on the OpenDataMx blog here. OpenDataMx1 The judging panel responsible for assessing the projects was comprised of recognised experts in technology, open data and its application to civil society needs. The panel consisted of Velichka Dimitrova (Open Knowledge Foundation), Matioc Anca (Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente), Eric Mill (Sunlight Foundation) and Jorge Soto from Citivox. The first three projects were awarded money prizes ($30 000, $20 000 and $10 000 Mexican pesos respectively), allowing the teams to implement their project. An honorary mention was given to the project of the Government of the Oaxaca State and the Finance Ministry (SHCP) about the transparency of public works and citizen participation. The organisers of the hackathon also tried to link all teams to the institution or organisation relevant to their project in order to get support and advise for further steps. The organisers: Fundar, the Centre for Analysis and Investigations, SocialTIC; Colectivo por la Transparencia and the University of Communication would like to thank all participants, judges and speakers for their enthusiasm and valuable support in building the citizen community. OpenDataMX2 Here are some details about the winning projects:
FIRST PLACE Name of the Project: Becalia | becalia.org General Description: A platform, allowing firms and civil society to sponsor students with limited economic means to continue their higher education. Background to the problem: There are very few students who receive a government scholarship for higher education. Additionally, few students decide to continue their education to a higher level, less than 20% in all states. The idea is to support the students who do not have the means and enable the participation of civil society. Technology and tools used: Ruby on Rails, Javascript, CoffeeScript Datasets: PRONABES (Programa Nacional de Becas para la Educación Superior) – National Scholarship Program for Higher Education Team members: Adrián González, Abraham Kuri, Javier Ayala, Eduardo López
SECOND PLACE Name of the Project: Más inversión para movernos mejor (More investment for better movement) | http://berserar.negoapps.com/ General Description: A small website for citizen participation, where users are asked to allocating spending to a type of urban mobility e.g. cars, public transport of bicycles, signalling their preference on where they would like the government to invest. After assigning one’s preferences, the users can compare them with the actual spending of the government and are offered multimedia material informing them about the topic. Background to the problem: There is lack of information on how the government spends the money and the importance of sustainable urban mobility. Technology and tools used: HTML, Javascript, PHP, Codeigniter, Bootstrap, Excel and SQL Datasets: Base de datos del Instituto de Políticas para el Transporte y el Desarrollo -ITDP (Database of the Policy Institute for Transport and Development) http://itdp.mx Team members: Antonio Sandoval, Jorge Cravioto, Said Villegas, Jorge Cáñez
THIRD PLACE Name of the Project: DiputadoMx | http://www.tudiputado.org/ General Description: An application that helps you find your representative by geographical area, political party, gender or commission he or she belongs to. The application is compatible with desktop and mobile technology. Background to the problem: Lack of opportunity for citizens to communicate directly with their representatives. Technology and tools used: 
HTML5, CSS3, JQUERY, PYTHON , GOOGLE APP ENGINE, MONGODB Datasets: Base de datos del IFE del diputados (IFE Database of MPs) Team members: Pedro Aron Barrera Almaraz
HONORARY MENTION: Name of the Project: Obra Pública Abierta (Open Public Works) General Description: Open Public Works is an open government tool, conceptualised and developed by the Government of the Oaxaca State and Ministry of Finance (SHCP). This platform is created in order to make public works more transparent, presenting them in a simpler language and encouraging citizen oversight from the users community. Open Public Works seeks to create state transparency policy of the 3rd generation in the three levels of governance. This open source platform is also meant as a public good that will be delivered to the various state governments to promote nationwide transparency, citizen participation, and accountability in the public works sector. Background to the Problem: There is lack of transparency in the infrastructure funds spending by the state governments. The citizen is not familiar with basic information about public works realised in their community and no mechanisms for independent social audit exist. Moreover, state control bodies lack the ability to control and supervise all public works. Public participation in the control of public resources is essential to solve this situation, where society and government should work together. Additionally, there is no public policy cross all three levels of government for the transparency of this sector. Finally, the public lacks too§ls and incentives to monitor, report and, if necessary, denounce the use of public resources in this very nontransparent government sector. Technology and tools used:  API de Google Maps V.2, PHP,  JavaScript y Jquery Datasets:
 Data set de obra pública de la SHCP y SINFRA/SEFIN del Gobierno de Oaxaca (Datesets of piblic works of SHCP and SINFRA/SEFIN of the Government of Oaxaca). Team Members: Berenice Hernández Sumano, Juan Carlos Ayuso Bautista, Tarick Gracida Sumano, José Antonio García Morales, Lorena Rivero, Roberto Moreno Herrera, Luis Fernando Ostria
For more information: Photos and content thanks to Federico Ramírez and Fundar.

Open Data – Delhi

- August 31, 2012 in Chapters, india, Meetups

This is post 4 of 5 in the Open Data India series, following Lucy and Laura’s visit to India to learn about the challenges and opportunities for open data. Read previous posts from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. Our final stop in India was Delhi. Several people had told us that Delhi was the ‘policy capital’ of India, which seemed a fitting finale to our journey. By the time we arrived, we were excited and intrigued about who the meet-up would draw. Our meet-up was held at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP). Entering a room full of microphones was daunting for a moment! But the warmth of the group shone through, and soon everyone was participating freely in the intense discussion that characterised all of our Indian meet-ups. The group was perhaps the most diverse that we encountered. It included Wikimedians, academics, people from NIC, NIPFP and ICAR, as well as someone from the FOSS community, members of Accountability India, open access advocates and others. We were also pleased that the gender balance was much more equal in Delhi!

The Discussion

The suggestion of holding a meetup had been bubbling under the surface of the Delhi NGO scene for quite a while. Agendas had been drafted but the meetups had never taken place. Building on the discussions in Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai, we were asked whether the purpose of the meeting could be to try and find ‘solutions’ to some of India’s issues surrounding open data. Encouraging the group first to highlight the problems they had encountered, we promised to share our experiences and how we had seen similar issues tackled in other places. So what were the issues?
  • Lack of clarity about whether data released in response to an RTI request can be republished, and how it can be used. A new dimension explored at this meet-up was the possibility that private or personal information may sometimes be released in response to an RTI filing. There was no definitive conclusion as to whether this could happen or what would happen if that were then shared further, but it provoked some interesting discussion.

  • Standards of Data reliability. Many of the people in the room were researchers by profession and used to collecting their own data. They posed the question, “How can we be sure that data released openly is reliable?”. A discussion followed about how the quality of open data could be ensured, particularly when data was often remixed and re-used. The group started elucidating a vision for some kind of recognition system, traceable trackbacks/referencing, and ‘quality assurance stars’ for data released openly.

  • Resistance to the concept of sharing data, even within NGOs. Many people feel a sense of ownership over data they have collected themselves. Some resent the idea that others could benefit from their work, and there is also resistance to sharing data for fear that the researcher’s name could be associated with inaccurate conclusions. Some of the NGOs even encountered resistance when trying to share their own data! People viewed this ‘generosity’ with suspicion, and feared a hidden agenda.

Stories shared

The Wikimedia community in particular had much to contribute based on their own experiences. They shared anecdotes about how politically charged certain topics could become in India – e.g. when a map incorrectly displayed the national borders around India provoked tensions with neighbouring countries. They also detailed some of the more unusual dilemmas they had encountered. What, for example, is the copyright situation if you take a picture of a monument in the street? There was also some interesting discussion about whether data had a ‘release’ period, where, like a work of art or literature, it would pass into the public domain. We speculated that that would depend on contractual agreements and the nature of the data concerned, but if you can shed any more light on the situation regarding this in India (or elsewhere), please do get in touch!

Conversations still to be had…

The discussion left us with many threads to follow up as topics for the next meetup, which we hope Chirag and team will be organising in a couple of months. Keen to get things moving quickly, various options for the next meeting were floated. These included formulating a list of demands from CSOs towards government, discussing open data standards, understanding copyright (formulating a list of questions and attempting to get them answered), dealing with authenticity of data, an introduction to open data in an Indian context and the benefits of open data for education and research. We touched on many of these topics briefly, but two hours was just not long enough to cover them all. Although the conversation was still flowing, we did eventually have to let people get home! It would be great to hear of this group meeting again to explore some of these areas further. Do join the India mailing list to stay in touch.

… And one more meet-up!

We had scheduled the ‘official’ Delhi meet-up on a Thursday evening, but a mid-week meet-up – particularly on the eve of Krishna Janmashtami! – didn’t work for everyone. Some people who had been unable to attend the meet-up told us that they were free over the weekend, so Lucy and I decided to hold an informal ‘open table’ at the United Coffee House on Saturday afternoon. Chatting over a plate of Dilli chaat (sadly not actually bought on the street!), we heard much to excite us about the future of open data in India. There were ideas for an ‘Open Access Week’, plans to start collecting the data submitted in response to RTI requests, questions about promoting data journalism and plenty of enthusiasm, inspiration and fresh ideas. Watching new friends swap numbers after the meeting, we were sorry to be leaving the community that had so warmly welcomed us – but we hope that the conversations will continue both online with us and offline without us. In the next post, Lucy and I will showcase some of the organisations that we met whilst in India, and explore some of the open data projects that we witnessed.

Open Data – Mumbai

- August 28, 2012 in Chapters, Meetups

This is post 3 of 5 of the Open Data India series, following Lucy and Laura’s visit to learn about the challenges and opportunities for open data. Read previous posts from Bangalore and Chennai on the main blog. After joining forces with the DataMeet group in Bangalore and Transparent Chennai’s open data workshop, we were prepared for the challenge of ‘going it alone’ when we decided to arrange an open data meet-up in Mumbai.

Seriously soggy!

In India however we quickly discovered the beauty of the data community, whose extensive networks mean you’re never really alone – even as a newcomer to the city.   Thanks to @prolificd and @Netra, we had an excellent venue for the Mumbai meet-up. The Pinstorm offices have hosted Wikimedia gatherings in the past, and are a great space for fresh thinking and debate. The real challenge proved to be getting around Mumbai itself. As we soon grasped, Mumbai is an enormous city, and suffers from heavy traffic and – as we witnessed! – torrential monsoon rains. Probably for a combination of these reasons, our Mumbai meet-up drew the smallest crowd of the trip and was a very cosy affair.    

The Discussion

Despite (or perhaps because of!) the select group, the evening was productive. Conversation was wide-ranging, and included:

YourTopia India

The original YourTopia calculates which European country best aligns with your values, by allowing you to weight the relative importance of different indicators. An Italian version – YourTopia Italy – has since been created, which compares regions of Italy. Pranav Sidhwani is now working to produce something similar for the different states of India. Pranav pointed out the wider value of YourTopia. Not only is it a valuable tool in and of itself, but it requires several key datasets including e.g. health, education and employment data to be collected. The act of gathering these data sets is a major first step for open data in India. All data gathered will be stored on the Datahub.
  • To get involved with the YourTopia India project, sign up to the YourTopia list.

Licensing

As in Bangalore, the group identified a real problem with a lack of explicit licensing. If material isn’t licensed – whether openly or otherwise – there is serious ambiguity over how it can be used. In Mumbai, we were offered an interesting perspective on the origins of this issue. It was suggested that culturally, copyright has a different history in India [1]. Arguably, the ongoing legacy of this is that people are less likely to consider issues of licensing when publishing or re-using data. Anecdotally, it has been organisations such as Wikimedia who have objected to the re-use of unlicensed material in India. Whatever the history, it remains clear that encouraging people to apply a license – any license – is one of the key changes that will allow re-users to work appropriately and confidently with data.

Understanding Data

As in Bangalore, the group affirmed that many people struggled to interpret basic visualisations such as bar charts and line graphs. However, it was drawn to our attention that under the IT@School initiative, Kerala has seen the world’s largest simultaneous deployment of FOSS based ICT education. I hadn’t come across this project before, and am interested to explore further how early exposure to FOSS software and familiarity with ICT will impact upon this generation. Other topics of conversation at the meet-up included the potential and challenges of open data for cultural heritage, GLAM, science, agriculture, and even for understanding the impact of planetary motion on agricultural outputs. There was much to discuss!

Useful Links

As always, we were introduced to several interesting databases, projects and websites at the meet-up. Here are just a few of the initiatives which were discussed.
  • Visualdata.in – @prolificd’s project, which builds visualisations based on publicly available data sets.
  • MOPSI – Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – a useful site home to a significant amount of data, although in my recent exploration, I struggled to find any information on licensing.
  • Parliamentary Legislative Research – presents analyses of data related to parliament; allows you to track bills, to view key statistics on parliament, to track the attendance of your MP etc. Deploys a non-commercial license; I struggled to find raw data on the site.

Wishlist

Much as in Bangalore, the wishlist included:
  • More data, and better availability of data that has already been collected
  • More data in a machine-readable format
  • Better tools for people who want to work with data
  • More uniformity around the data – what is collected, where it is gathered
All in all it was a great evening. Although the group was small, it was wonderful to meet excellent OKFN volunteers such as Pranav in person, to link up with the Wikimedia community, and to chat to others with a potential interest in open data. To keep this discussion going, please sign up to the India mailing list. [1] For a brief overview of the history of copyright in India, see http://archive.icommons.org/articles/a-very-brief-history-of-copyright-development-in-india.