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Examining public procurement data in Costa Rica: Open Data Day 2020 report

- May 4, 2020 in Costa Rica, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogpost is a report from LEAD University in Costa Rica who received funding from the Open Contracting Partnership to organise an event for data science students to meet public officials behind the National Public Procurement Portal. On the 7th of March 2020, LEAD University organised a Datathon as part of the global celebration of Open Data Day. This activity took place on our campus in San Jose, Costa Rica from 10am to 6pm. The event was attended mainly by first-year students of the data science degree from the same university, although we also had the participation of external guests. The first hour was devoted to three blocks of presentations: 1) Welcome and introduction to the concept of the five stars of open data, 2) Presentation of a dataset that includes public contracts for the last 10 years, 3) Public procurement data use cases (achieving value for money for government; strengthening the transparency, accountability, and integrity of public contracting; enabling the private sector to fairly compete for public contracts; monitoring the effectiveness of service delivery).

A group of technical mentors supported the teams in the use of tools such as R, Python, Power BI, among others. Most teams, including the winning team, were inclined to analyse the use of data to promote the transparency and integrity of public procurement. For the organisers, the datathon turned out to be an effective opportunity to expose students to the challenge of working with open data. One of the great lessons of the day was discovering that the dataset used does not offer ideal conditions for analysis for two reasons: a) the published data dictionaries are very poor and b) the current data do not contain a sufficient level of detail. The adoption of protocols such as the Open Contracting Data Standard is clearly an area of opportunity in the Costa Rican case.

Exploring climate change data in Costa Rica: Open Data Day 2020 report

- April 14, 2020 in Costa Rica, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme This blogpost is a report by ACCESA in Costa Rica who received funding from Resource Watch to help attendants identify and visualise new and unexpected relationships and connections between land-use and territorial planning, on the one hand, and climate change and decarbonisation. ACCESA celebrates Open Data Day 2020 in Costa Rica As part of its pledge to open government and decarbonise the economy, Costa Rica in its third Open Government National Action Plan adopted a commitment for the improvement of the collection and publication of data related to climate change and its financing. Eventually, as part of the implementation of the plan, a National Climate Change Metric System (SINAMECC) was developed by the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) to achieve this goal.  As a follow up to this commitment, we at ACCESA identified that it is important to provide open spaces to let different kinds of users explore the newly published data, learn valuable insights and identify new and unexpected relationships among datasets. That led us to ideate and propose a data expedition to be held in Costa Rica during the Open Data Day 2020 organised by the Ministry of Communication.  Our main objective for this event was to explore the data available in two public platforms: SINAMECC and “SINIA” (“National Environmental Information System”). We also wanted to allow the possibility for members of civil society to interact with officials from the institutions in charge, in order to provide the latter with feedback for the continuous improvement of their data platforms. For this we were lucky to count with the support and direct engagement of government officials from MINAE and representatives from Grupo Inco, the tech company involved in the implementation of SINAMECC. The activity started with a brief introduction to the expedition and some key concepts, then public officials from the MINAE and its Direction of Climate Change presented the data and platforms to the public. After that, teams were formed and the participants were led to explore and analyse the different questions they could try to answer with the data. The number of people participating was around 15, with professional profiles as diverse as environmental engineers, electrical engineers, programmers, activists, students, and archivists. Finally, a section was reserved for attendees to try to come up with their answers and share their findings and recommendations about how to improve the platforms.  ACCESA celebrates Open Data Day 2020 in Costa Rica The event allowed civil society representatives and citizens to familiarise themselves with statistics and other data about climate change. Attendees learned how to interpret the data, and were able to present evidence-based answers to the questions that were presented. Also, by enabling a free exchange between users from the public and the officials in charge, important feedback was gathered regarding the possibilities and limitations of the current platforms and how to improve them. Among the recommendations discussed at the end of the session, we can cite the importance of: a) having a glossary and detailed guidelines explaining the datasets and how to use them; b) providing details on the methodology used to capture the data; c) providing both unaltered data and aggregate data that can be useful for different types of users; d) uploading historical data that can allow users to analyse trends across time; and e) integrating diverse platforms and data sets into thematic data warehouses and decision-making systems. Overall, the event helped to demonstrate the progress that has been made regarding the opening of data about climate change, how people can use this data to answer specific questions, and how collaboratively we can strengthen future efforts (such as the decarbonization commitment included in Costa Rica’s newly-released fourth Open Government Action Plan) to leverage the power of public data for the fight against climate change.

Open Data Day: Open Science events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Costa Rica

- May 14, 2019 in congo, Costa Rica, Open Data Day, open data day 2019, Open Science

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. On Saturday 2nd March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. AfricaTech from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Society for Open Science and Biodiversity Conservation (SCiAC) from Costa Rica received funding through the mini-grant scheme by the Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research project and by the Latin American Initiative for Open Data (ILDA), to organise events under the Open Science theme. This report was written by Stella Agama Mbiyi and Diego Gómez Hoyos.

AfricaTech

We organized in the UCC in Kinshasa on March 2, 2019, the Open Day event 2019. Our event was focused on Open Science in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We had about 50 participants in the event, especially students and some researchers who participated positively in the different sessions and discussions on Open Science in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its implications for sustainable development. 5 Speakers among 4 women presented various concepts related to Open Science to participants. The conference started at 8:00 and ended at 17:30. Several participants made positive comments about the event such as Florent Nday, a Biological student at University of Kinshasa who said: “This is my first time to hear about Open Science, it’s a huge opportunity for us students from developing countries. Because we will have access to a wide range of knowledge easily.” The social science researcher at Kinshasa’s Institute of Social Science, Mr. Jiress Mbumba commented, “It’s time for us Congolese researchers to promote Open Science in the  Democratic Republic of the Congo, we have an interest to share our researches, and findings with everyone to spur the development of science.” The event ended with a dinner offered to all participants.

Society for Open Science and Biodiversity Conservation (SciAc)

The training workshop on Reproducibility in Science as a link between Open Data, Open Science and Open Education, was organized by SCiAC (Society for Open Science and Biodiversity Conservation) in collaboration with the Biology Department of the University of Costa Rica, ProCAT International, Abriendo Datos Costa Rica and CR Wildlife Foundation. The workshop included general presentations on open ecosystems and data management plans during research projects, as well as training in the use of GitHub and R language for data release and data analysis code in a context of Open Science practices. The four speakers in the workshop were Diego Gómez Hoyos and Rocío Seisdedos from SCiAC, Susana Soto from Abriendo Datos Costa Rica and Ariel Mora from the University of Costa Rica. Fifteen people (66% women) from different provinces of Costa Rica (Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Heredia and San José) participated in the activity. In Central America, especially in Costa Rica, considerable advances have been made regarding open data and open government issues. Our workshop has been one of the first efforts to offer researchers tools in order for open science and open education practices. This workshop has been inspired by the project Open Science MOOC and the “Panama Declaration for Open Science”, led by Karisma Foundation and in which SCiAC took part. From this experience we see a great potential and interest of researchers in knowing the tools with which they can share the elements of their research processes. We also recognize that open science practices could have a significant impact on the teaching of scientific practice. Finally, we identify the need to carry out these training activities as a tool that seeks to democratize access to and generation of knowledge in order to face the environmental, social and economic problems faced by our society.

School of Data Fellows: What Are They Up To?

- October 8, 2015 in Costa Rica, ecuador, fellowship, ghana, Macedonia, nepal, Nigeria, philippines

Our brilliant 2015 School of Data Fellows are a busy bunch! We asked them to reflect on the first half of their fellowships; here’s a roundup of just a few of the highlights:
  • Camila has run numerous training events, working with Abriendo Datos Costa Rica and with Costa Rican university students. She has also run two data expeditions and a workshop in Mexico City in the NGO Festival FITS – in total, Camila has trained 177 participants! Camila looks forward to engaging wider audiences of Costa Rican NGOs and journalists in data-literacy training during the remainder of her fellowship.

  • In Macedonia, Goran has been making great progress on the Open Budgets project and work is underway with the Metamorphosis Foundation on upgrading their ‘Follow The Money’ website. He has also been busy finalising contracts with the winners of the Open Data Projects competition and facilitating their kick-off. Goran is also finalising his first skillshare on TimelineJS, which we look forward to!

  • In Nepal, Nirab has responded to the devastation caused by April’s earthquake by supporting all manner of data-related support, working with a host of CSO’s, INGOs, government agents, technologists, journalists and researchers. He has a particular interest in post-disaster transport management and has trained 78 road engineers in OpenStreetMap, who are utilising this knowledge across 36 different districts of Nepal!

  • In Ecuador, Julio has been busy preparing a workshop for Campus Party Ecuador 2015, a fantastic technology festival kicking off later this week. He has also been collaborating recently with Innovation Lab Quito on an exciting upcoming training event in October and also with SocialTIC and the Ecuadorian Journalist Forum on an event planned for November.

  • Nkechi attended the Africa Open Data Conference (AODC) in Tanzania recently, where she did some fantastic networking at the School of Data booth. She also organised an Open Data Workshop for approximately 25 Tanzanian CSOs and journalists at the conference, comprising skill shares on data advocacy, finding and verifying data, the data pipeline, scraping and visualizing. Nkechi looks forward to consolidating her work in strengthening the Nigerian data-literacy community in the coming months of her fellowship.

  • In the Phillipines, Sheena has worked extensively on data skills for effective disaster response, organising successful training events in Northern Mindanao and Leyte with a total of 77 participants. She recently participated in in the Forum on Open Government Data organized by the Knowledge for Development Center, which provided powerful insights regarding School of Data’s role in supporting the Open Data movement. Sheena is focused on extending her network of local NGOs and media actors in the coming months, as she makes progress to her goal of establishing a local School of Data instance.

  • In Ghana, David has hosted several workshops, including a data scraping workshop with Code for Ghana, and another during the Africa Open Data Conference with fellow School of Data and Code for Africa colleagues. He has presented two online skillshares on Data Scraping and R programming which have received very positive feedback! David is currently organising the first H/H Accra meetup. He intends to focus on data journalism for the rest of his fellowship, in anticipation of the national elections that will happen in Ghana next year.

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