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Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative Open Data Event 2018

Deborah Kingboye - April 18, 2018 in development, Nigeria, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog has been reposted from debwritesblog This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The event in this blog was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Equal Development theme. We are living in times where it seems very obvious to want certain situations. One of them is the presence of women in all professional fields. Who would not agree that such representation should be fair and equal with respect to the opposite gender? Perhaps nobody would oppose it in public, but the reality is different. Women are not balanced in all professional environments, and more and more cases are reported that reflect the way they are rewarded for their work is not fair. When it comes to open data it is a different situation. It does not take gender into consideration: instead it serves as an empowerment tool for any individual who is interested in making use of it.

Open data

Open data – data anyone can access, use or share – is transformative infrastructure for a digital economy that is consistently innovating and bringing the benefits of the Web to society. It often goes hand in hand with open working cultures and open business practices. While this culture lends itself to diversity, it is important that those who are involved in open data make sure it addresses everyone’s needs. It is therefore encouraging to see that open data initiatives in African countries are being led by women. From heading up technical teams to leading stakeholder engagement strategies, these leaders are driving open data across the continent.

The Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI) in partnership with The Hewlett Foundation, Open Knowledge International and SPARC organized a day event to celebrate Open data day 2018 on the 3rd March 2018 at the Fountain Heights SecondarySchool, Surulere where the speakers spoke on “Understanding gender inequality  through open  data /knowledge”  and “The role of data and business in a woman’s world” respectively to 70 young women, young men and some teachers.

Key message shared

One of the female speakers noted that the proportion of women using the internet is 12% and that the percentage of women who have access to the internet is 50% lesser to that of the men. In her opinion, advocacy on gender inequality pertaining to the usage of data can be achieved through: 1. Proper orientation. People need to be enlightened on the use of data and it’s far reaching impact in the society. 2. E-learning centers should increase so that more women can gain access to the internet especially in rural areas.

It was also established that data can go a long way in helping one’s business through the use of the internet. She stressed that the internet has made business transactions easier and better unlike the olden days. The following can be accessed through the use of data:

1. Information gathering and study

With data, one can gather meaningful information about a particular business she is into.

2. Globalization

The spread of one’s business to far and near locations without the need of physical contact or a business card which allows your brand to be known abroad.

3. Online Courses

It aids easy flow in education especially for those who don’t have the time to attend physical classes or lecture. Through the internet and the use of data ultimately, one can study professional courses and be awarded a degree.

4. Payment gateway and online transactions

It aids easy flow of payments for service rendered, unlike the olden days where you have to go pay physically to the owner no matter the distance but with the use of data, one can carry out a stress free transaction even without knowing the person she is transacting with.

We had a pre and post evaluation to get a sense of what the young women felt about open data. The results showed that most women who use data do not necessarily check for topics regarding women or check for information that has to do with making businesses thrive. Hence, WELTI would keep advocating for women to leverage technology especially through her flagship program The Business Meets Technology, as this is another way of them getting access to data that would be beneficial to them. WELTI believes that with proper access to data, women are better able to understand what their rights are and work towards being the best they can be.  

About WELTI

Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative WELTI (Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative) is a three year old registered not for profit organization in Nigeria headquartered in Lagos focused on women. We reach out to young women between ages 14-30 on our three pillars of Leadership, Economic and Health (HIV/AIDS and Female general health awareness). The intention is to enable the young women, through our programs, to be CORE (Competent, Organizationally skilled, Responsible and Ethical) women. The women are taught to own their craft and be leaders in their own right irrespective of their gender. We are well aware that we are in a society where gender parity is yet to be achieved so we are doing the best we can as an organization to sensitize the younger women because we are positive that the time is now and change is imminent. In these few years of her existence, WELTI has through her programs, been able to impact, engage, encourage, equip and empower over 1500 young women to get involved in programs that would help them, hone their skills, own their craft and be leaders in their own right. This we have been able to do by working closely with about 50 volunteers. Kindly follow us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. For more Information, also visit our website WELTI.

Open Data Day in Tanzania and Serbia: using open data to educate, inform and create stories

Rehema Mtandika - April 13, 2018 in development, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, Open Mapping, serbia, tanzania

Authors: Rehema Mtandika (She Codes for change) and Katarina Kosmina (SEE ICT) – their biographies can be found below this post. This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Equal Development and Open Mapping themes.

How we approached data

She Codes for Change trained 27 young girls aged 15-19 from Secondary Schools in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on the basic concepts of data visualization, Scratch and photography. We guided them to work on groups to identify social challenges and then use open data to create data-driven animation videos stories to educate the society on the challenge. Our aim was to inspire young girls to understand the concept of open data and innovation, and how to apply them to transform their imaginations into visual products, altogether as the mechanism to solve their societal problems. In the end, each group consisting of 5 members was guided to create their datasets, and worked upon their interested social challenge. The issues worked upon were violence against children, early marriages, gender based violence, school dropout and HIV/AIDS among adolescents. The final products were presented, and then uploaded on the She Codes for Change YouTube channel.

She Codes for Change Team with participants during Open Data Day

SEEICT/Startit is an NGO which has eight Startit centers across Serbia, with the aim of educating, empowering and connecting youth and the tech community in the country. Our plan to organize open mapping events in two smaller towns in Serbia got hindered by a lack of demand and local capacity for this type of activities. Instead, with the help of UNDP in Serbia, we managed to organize a Datathon in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, where teams worked with four mentors on data visualization projects using open datasets. The winning team mapped all elementary and high schools across Belgrade using a dataset from the Ministry of Education. They then scraped data about the locations of betting shops, given that Serbian law forbids betting shops to be closer than 200 meters from schools. This project resulted in a map of Belgrade showing over 70 betting shops which are breaking the law. Additionally, the other three teams also created visualizations which involved: optimizing the placement of police patrols and emergency vehicles for better response to car accidents, mapping bad driving habits across time and municipalities of Serbia, and showing the connectedness of public transportation in Belgrade.

Overcoming obstacles

Since the She Codes for Change proposal was not selected in the first round by the Open Data Team, our team had work on last minute preparations in order to have the logistics in place including sending invitation to schools, push and make follow up with their administrations for the timely permissions for students to attend. Given that it was Startit’s first time organizing a Datathon and that we decided to make it a 12 hour challenge focused on visualization, we had no idea what could come out of it. In fact, we doubted if we would end up with even 1-2 working visualizations. Given the pilot/experimental nature of this event, plus the short time frame we had to plan and execute it, we struggled with social media promotion, using personal contacts and finding other ways to animate the Serbian IT community to join this endeavour. In addition, we knew that the datasets published by the government are often messy, incomplete, and inconsistent. Hence, there was a legitimate fear that the teams would end up spending most of those 12 hours cleaning data instead of analyzing and visualizing it. Fortunately, we had four fantastic mentors and the teams chose their datasets wisely, with only one team extensively struggling with their chosen datasets.

What did we learn?

She Codes for Change’s major lesson is that data finding and visualization is not a complex phenomenon if taught at an early stage. Since students are not taught much in school about data, many students in the training first thought that data is complicated and not important, however, after understanding the basic concepts and worked together to design a product for its visualization, they realized that data can help them and communities to address their challenges and make informed decisions. Similar to the experience of She Codes for Change, as the Startit team, we realized how empowering creating data-based visualizations can be for teams participating in the Datathon – whether they’re high schoolers, students, or IT professionals. An even more striking realisation is the fact that messy government datasets can become stories which are able to inform the participants, reveal illegal activities or public policy options, and inspire new ideas.

How can we make data storytelling in Tanzania and Serbia more sustainable?

The She Codes for Change team has launched weekly Scratch trainings in Mid-March, which incorporates open data to help our beneficiaries to identify the challenges, and use the data/information available to design and produce products to satisfy the market needs. These trainings are carried out on Tuesday and Thursday of every week. Startit’s blog team Startit.rs is currently in the process of writing blog posts about each of the Datathon participating team projects. We hope these stories will not only motivate the wider public to use open datasets, but also think beyond their messiness and incompleteness, as well as combine them with other data in innovative ways. Additionally, we hope future Datathons will continue to inspire data scientists and enthusiasts to use data visualization for storytelling.

Winning project in Startit’s Datathon – Realistic and abstract map of illegally placed betting shops in Belgrade

Data for stories, maps and education

These two initiatives in. Their outputs may have been different as She Codes for Change resulted in data driven animations, while Startit’s Datathon created data visualizations which sought to reveal illegalities, optimize policies or inform a wider audience. She Codes for Change’s goal was achieved and as a result of the training they were able to create five animation videos that are data driven and informative on the gender, education and health matters. The Open Data Day training has also enabled us to create a platform of motivated young girls to create innovative solutions to the community challenges, hence providing an opportunity for them to raise their voices. As the number of open datasets available to the public in Serbia increases, Startit plans to enable teams of young data scientists to use the power of data storytelling to continue informing and educating the wider public on the relevance and impact of data.

Author bio’s

Rehema Mtandika is a Director of Innovation at She Codes for Change. For over three years she has been working with youths and women in areas of gender empowerment through ICT and innovation, youth engagement in the social-economic development, access to quality education, access to data and information, good governance and peace and security. Katarina Kosmina is the Programme Coordinator at SEE ICT, in charge of developing and organizing programs for 8 Startit Centers across Serbia. These programmes range from programming robots for girls or IoT workshops for high schoolers, thematic hackathons, meetups and workshops for individuals in the IT sector, as well as acceleration programs and data or IP clinics for startups. Our goal is to bring quality and free informal education, as well inspire and empower Serbian youth to enter the IT sector and continue expanding their knowledge and skills. Katarina’s passion for open data and data driven decision-making has led to an increased number in programs which aim at raising the level of data literacy in Serbia.

Competition now open – enter your app and win 5,000 euro

Christian Villum - November 28, 2014 in app, Apps4Europe, development

This is a cross-post by Ivonne Jansen-Dings, originally published on the Apps4Europe blog, see the original here. With 10 Business Lounges happening throughout Europe this year, Apps for Europe is trying to find the best open data applications and startups that Europe has to offer. We invite all developers, startups and companies that use open data as a recourse to join our competition and win a spot at the International Business Lounge @ Future Everything in February 2015.
Last year’s winner BikeCityGuide.org has shown the potential of using open data to enhance their company and expand their services. Since the international Business Lounge at Future Everything last year they were able to reach new cities and raise almost 140.000,- in crowdfunding. A true success story!
 
Over the past years many local, regional and national app competitions in Europe have been organized to stimulated developers and companies to build new applications with open data. Apps for Europe has taken it to the next level. By adding Business Lounges to local events we introduce the world of open data development to that of investors, accelerators, incubators and more.
 
Thijs Gitmans, Peak Capital: “The Business Lounge in Amsterdam had a professional and personal approach. I am invited to this kind of meetings often, and the trigger to actually go or cancel last minute 99% of the time has to do with proper, timely and personal communication.”
 
The Apps for Europe competitions will run from 1 September to 31 December 2014, with the final at Future Everything in Manchester, UK, on 26-27 February 2015.
Read more about Apps4Europe here.

Knowledge Creation to Diffusion: The Conflict in India

Michelle Brook - February 28, 2014 in Comment, development, Guest post, incentive structures, india, Open Access, Policy

facebook-cover This is a guest post by Ranjit Goswami, Dean (Academics) and (Officiating) Director of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur, India. Ranjit also volunteer as one of the Indian Country Editors for the Open Data Census. Developing nations, more so India, increasingly face a challenge in prioritizing its goals. One thing that increasingly becomes relevant in this context, in the present age of open knowledge, is the relevance of subscription-journals in dissipation and diffusion of knowledge in a developing society. Young Aaron Swartz from Harvard had made an effort to change it, that did cost him his life; most developed nations have realized research funded by tax-payers money should be made freely available to tax-payers, but awareness on these issues are at quite pathetic levels in India – both at policy level and among members of academic community. Before one looks at the problem, a contextual understanding is needed. Today, a lot of research is done globally, including some of it in India, and its importance in transforming nations and society is increasingly getting its due recognition across nations. Quantum of original application oriented research, applicable specifically to the developing world, is a small part of overall global research. Some of it is done locally in India too, in spite of two obvious constraints developing nations face: (1) lack of funds, and (2) lack of capability and/or capacity.

Tax-funded research should be freely available

This article argues that research outcomes, done in India with Indian tax-payers money, are to be freely available to all Indians, for better diffusion. Unfortunately, the present practice is quite opposite. The lack of diffusion of knowledge becomes evident in absence of any planned efforts, to make the research done in local context available in open platforms. Here when one looks at the academic community in India, due to the older mindset where research score and importance is given only for publishing research papers in journals, often even in journals of questionable quality, faculty members are encouraged to publish in subscription-journals. Open access journals are considered untouchables. Faculty members mostly do not keep a version of the publication to be freely accessible – be it in their own institute’s website, or in other formats online. More than 99% of Indian higher educational institutes do not have any open-access research content in their websites. Simultaneously, a lot of academic scams get reported, more from India, as measuring research contribution is a difficult task. Faculty members often fall prey to short-cuts of institute’s research policy, in this age of mushrooming journals.

Facing academic challenges

India, in its journey to be an to an open knowledge society, faces diverse academic challenges. Experienced faculty members feel, that making their course outlines available in the public domain would lead to others copying from it; whereas younger faculty members see subscription journal publishing as the only way to build a CV. The common ill-founded perception is that top journals would not accept your paper if you make a version of it freely available. All of above act counter-productive to knowledge diffusion in a poor country like India. The Government of India has often talked about open course materials, but in most government funded higher educational institutes, one seldom sees even a course outline in public domain, let alone research output. Question therefore is: For public funded universities and institutes, why should any Indian user have to cough up large sums of money again to access their research output? And it is an open truth that – barring a very few universities and institutes – most Indian colleges, universities and research organizations or even practitioners cannot afford the money required to pay for subscribing most well-known journal databases, or afford individual articles therein. facebook-cover It would not be wrong to say that out of thirty-thousand plus higher educational institutes, not even one per cent has a library access comparable to institutes in developed nations. And academic research output, more in social science areas, need not be used only for academic purposes. Practitioners – farmers, practicing doctors, would-be entrepreneurs, professional managers and many others may benefit from access to this research, but unfortunately almost none of them would be ready or able to shell out $20+ for a few pages by viewing only the abstract, in a country where around 70% of people live below $2 a day income levels.

Ranking is given higher priority than societal benefit

Academic contribution in public domain through open and useful knowledge, therefore, is a neglected area in India. Although, over the last few years, we have seen OECD nations, including China, increasingly encouraging open-access publishing by academic community; in India – in its obsession with university ranks where most institutes fare poorly, we are on reverse gear. Director of one of India’s best institutes have suggested why such obsessions are ill-founded, but the perceptions to practices are quite opposite. It is, therefore, not rare to see a researcher getting additional monetary rewards for publishing in top-category subscription journals, with no attempt whatsoever – be it from researcher, institute or policy-makers – to make a copy of that research available online, free of cost. Irony is, that additional reward money again comes from taxpayers. Unfortunately, existing age-old policies to practices are appreciated by media and policy-makers alike, as the nation desperately wants to show to the world that the nation publishes in subscription journals. Point here is: nothing wrong with producing in journals, encourage it even more for top journals, but also make a copy freely available online to any of the billion-plus Indians who may need that paper.

Incentives to produce usable research

In case of India, more in its publicly funded academic to research institutes, we have neither been able to produce many top category subscription-journal papers, nor have we been able to make whatever research output we generate freely available online. On quality of management research, The Economist, in a recent article stated that faculty members worldwide ‘have too little incentive to produce usable research. Oceans of papers with little genuine insight are published in obscure periodicals that no manager would ever dream of reading.’ This perfectly fits in India too. It is high time we look at real impact of management and social science research, rather than the journal impact factors. Real impact is bigger when papers are openly accessible. Developing and resource deficit nations like India, who need open access the most, thereby further lose out in present knowledge economy. It is time that Government and academic community recognizes the problem, and ensures locally done research is not merely published for academic referencing, but made available for use to any other researcher or practitioner in India, free of cost. Knowledge creation is important. Equally important is diffusion of that knowledge. In India, efforts to resources have been deployed on knowledge creation, without integrative thinking on its diffusion. In the age of Internet and open access, this needs to change. facebook-cover Prof. Ranjit Goswami is Dean (Academics) and (Officiating) Director of Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur – a leading private B-School in India. IMT also has campuses in Ghaziabad, Dubai and Hyderabad. He is on twitter @RanjiGoswami

Project CKAN

Irina Bolychevsky - October 18, 2013 in ckan, development, getting involved, membership, News, Roadmap

Over the last few years CKAN has seen impressive growth in technology, uptake, number of deployments and in the vendor and developer communities. It is now the basis of dozens of major sites around the world, including national data portals in the UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Austria and Norway. Once, almost all core CKAN development was done by the Open Knowledge Foundation; now, there are an increasing number of developers and providers, deploying, customising and working with CKAN. We believe that, as with many open-source projects when they achieve a certain size, the time has come to bring some more structure to the community of CKAN developers and users. By doing so we aim to provide a solid foundation for the future growth of the project, and to more explicitly empower its growing array of stakeholders. We are therefore proposing to create an independent, self-governed CKAN project at the Open Knowledge Foundation, separate from our own CKAN developments and offerings, to guide the future development and direction of the software. The main proposed actions are:
  • To establish a steering group and advisory board to oversee the project and represent the growing number of stakeholders.
  • To establish specific groups or teams to look after specific areas; in particular, a “technical group” to oversee technical development and a “content and outreach group” to oversee materials (including project website) and to drive community and user engagement.
  • To establish a membership model for stakeholders to support the long-term sustainability of the project.
The project will still have its formal institutional home at the Open Knowledge Foundation, and enjoy support and participation from our CKAN team. But it will be autonomous and will have its own independent governance, from a board drawn from major CKAN stakeholders. The Open Knowledge Foundation will continue to contribute at all levels, but this approach will allow others – from government users to suppliers of CKAN services – to have a formal role in the future development and direction of CKAN. Over the next couple of weeks we will be introducing a new structure for development (how to become a core contributor etc) and governance (steering committee and supporting ckan.org as a member) and we would love to hear your ideas and feedback. Please either get in touch or place ideas in this open project ckan document and watch this space for more posts soon!

Charting Progress

Tom Berry - March 20, 2013 in aid, Data Blog, development, impact

When is poverty going to end? How many donors are reaching the 0.7% target? How much does the UK spend on aid?
Image credit: chartingprogress.org

Image credit: chartingprogress.org

We ask these questions every day, and yet it is often difficult to find the answers. The data often isn’t available, and even when it is, finding the answer means diving into row upon row of spreadsheets. Data is often out of date by the time it is published. Help is at hand. Charting Progress is a unique new graph blog that examines key issues in relation to ending poverty in pictures rather than words. It provides a single graph on a regular basis telling the development stories of the day. It provides up-to-date and myth-dispelling data, as it emerges, on the key poverty-related issues being talked about in the media and elsewhere. Over time, it builds a comprehensive bank of data that can be scrutinised, downloaded, and shared on social media. The site, provided by Development Initiatives (an independent organisation that champions the use of information to end poverty), is based on the principle that information is much more powerful if it is presented properly. By providing high design values and simple, intuitive navigation, users can find the information they need quickly and clearly. The site also provides a sneak preview of analysis that DI is undertaking including on its major Investments To End Poverty initiative, which seeks to become the go-to source on all resources for ending poverty. The project will simplify and map out the complex landscape of all resources relevant to poverty eradication and highlight information gaps in data that need to be filled to maximise the efficient allocation of resources. As data emerges on the project, it will be placed on Charting Progress in the first instance before being presented in more comprehensive reports. Initial data planned includes information on all official flows, the breakdown of aid budgets, and private giving. The site will also carry data from our other popular DI programmes including Global Humanitarian Assistance and aidinfo. Finally, Charting Progress provides an opportunity for you to interact with those who have an interest in the same issues. You can comment on each graph, leave observations on the site, and get in touch if you want to know more about any of the issues raise. We also welcome feedback on the product itself so that it is of maximum use to you, the user. flattr this!