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Women’s digital right to the city: Open Data Day 2018 in Bologna

- May 2, 2018 in gender, italy, Open Data Day, open data day 2018

This blog has been reposted from the Open Education Italy blog. 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. The Orlando Association, Open Education Italy and the Digital Agenda Department of the City of Bologna promoted the local Open Data Day in Bologna to raise awareness on the specific informational needs of women in this Italian city. What do a feminist association (active in Bologna since the mid of 70s), Open Education Italy (the newborn Italian branch of the international open education movement) and the civil servants managing and working at the Digital Agenda Department have in common? The easy answer could be: they are all women talking about women with other women. However this time this answer is not the right one. Women and men this time discussed how to find data, how to free data that could be useful but is not open (not yet) and how to use this data to raise awareness about the digital women’s rights to the city. Despite the snow of the beginning of March making a wide participation difficult, the Open Data Day in Bologna was full of ideas, questions and experiments. In the morning researchers, activists and participants discussed about the data and the tools we have and how we can use them. In the afternoon, the workshop was focused on how to treat the data and on the dangerous correlations, the misuse of statistics and about the need of tools and training to monitor through the use of open data activities, work opportunities, gender inequalities in both work conditions and in services delivery and, generally speaking, in power balance among genders. Speakers and participants agreed that is fundamental to continuously raise awareness in the public and the political debate on the specific rights of women. However we all know that awareness drives frustration if you don’t have a voice to recall your right. So the next step of this activities consists in creating empowerment tools and spaces to use the data to obtain actual change in politics and in the city ecosystem. The first result of this activity was reached only four days after the Open Data Day, during the celebration of the International Women’s Day. The City Council of Bologna invited the organisers and participants to present the process and the requests emerged during the discussion at the City Hall. Some of the promoters of the Bologna Open Data Day suspended for a hour their presence at the women’s strike in the central square in front of the City Hall, to enter into the palace to start an open data-driven dialogue with the local decision makers on the women’s digital right to the city. Stay tuned: the Open Day Day could be everyday, as well as the women’s day.  

Curiosities from the Museum of Giovanni Carafa (1778)

- January 31, 2018 in ancient greece, ancient rome, antiquities, etruscan, Hand of Sabazius, italy, lamps, naples, psyche, roman gems

Fantastic depictions of various Roman antiquities from a wonderful catalogue of objects once found in the private museum of 18th-century antiquities collector Giovanni Carafa.

Curiosities from the Museum of Giovanni Carafa (1778)

- January 31, 2018 in ancient greece, ancient rome, antiquities, etruscan, Hand of Sabazius, italy, lamps, naples, psyche, roman gems

Fantastic depictions of various Roman antiquities from a wonderful catalogue of objects once found in the private museum of 18th-century antiquities collector Giovanni Carafa.

Curiosities from the Museum of Giovanni Carafa (1778)

- January 31, 2018 in ancient greece, ancient rome, antiquities, etruscan, Hand of Sabazius, italy, lamps, naples, psyche, roman gems

Fantastic depictions of various Roman antiquities from a wonderful catalogue of objects once found in the private museum of 18th-century antiquities collector Giovanni Carafa.

How students can help EU policies work better thanks to open data and civic technology

- November 30, 2016 in Data, Featured, guestpost, higher education, italy, oer, Open Data, open-education

Post written by Luigi Reggi 

Three small but important steps toward a more participatory EU policy were made in the last few weeks between Brussels and Rome, Italy. They are three episodes of a series of productive encounters between students equipped with open data and civic technology and policy makers managing EU funding.

Civic monitoring of EU funding as a way to assess results

The first episode happened  in Brussels. On November 22, a group of Italian higher education students engaged in a productive discussion with the European Commission – DG Regional and Urban Policy and the EU Committee of the Regions. The debate was focused on the role of open data and public participation to assess the results of the European Cohesion Policy from the point of view of the final beneficiaries. The team MoniTOreali – composed of students from the University of Turin and led by Alba Garavet, responsible for Turin’s  Europe Direct Centre – had the chance to present the results of an intense “civic monitoring” activity focused on one of the most visible EU-funded projects in the city. Its goal is the renovation of the “Giardini Reali”, the historical gardens of Turin’s Royal Palace, one of the city’s landmarks.  With a total funding of less than 2 million euros, the project is hardly one of biggest investments of EU policy in Italy. However, its central position in the urban landscape gives it the potential to shape the way citizens perceive the contribution of the European institutions to the improvement of their neighborhoods. The goal of this monitoring was to find out how the EU money was spent and whether the project delivered the promise or not.
The Royal Gardens in Turin, Italy, funded by European Structural Funds. Photo: MoniTOreali

The Royal Gardens in Turin, Italy, funded by European Structural Funds. Photo: MoniTOreali

What MoniTOreali students found was mixed results. While the project should have been completed by 2012, actually it is still under way due to a series of administrative delays. Its implementation is also influenced by a complex social environment, as conflicting social groups have different views on the future of the gardens and this had the effect of stalling policy decisions. To disentangle this intricate web of relations, the students interviewed experts, citizens and local public administrators. They analyzed the project’s objectives, strengths, weaknesses, history and recent developments in a civic monitoring report, which was published in the independent civic technology platform Monithon, the “Monitoring Marathon” of the European funding in Italy. The students also provided suggestions and ideas on how solve some the project’s issues. But the most interesting aspect of this experience is that Mrs Garavet succeeded in adapting the methodology of A Scuola di OpenCoesione (ASOC) – which was originally created by the Italian Government for high school students – to a higher education course.  She was able to effectively combine her experience as an activist in the Monithon Piemonte civic community with the more formal, six-step ASOC methodology, which also includes sessions on open data, data journalism, EU funding, and field research.  Earlier this year, Chiara Ciociola, the ASOC project manager, actively participated in the teaching activities in Turin to promote a sort of cross-fertilization between the two communities.  More information on the ASOC method and results is included in the book edited by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann. The idea is that an improved version of the course’s syllabus could be adopted and used by other universities in Italy and in Europe to replicate the same practice, contextualising its application. The fact that all European Countries share the same rules when it comes to EU funding can help spread a common approach. It turned out that EU officials loved the idea. The main conclusion of the meeting was that participation in the civic monitoring of EU policy could be a way to bridge the gap between EU institutions and the public. Moreover, the spread of these activities across the EU could also help policymakers evaluate the outcome of interventions from the point of view of the local communities. This is particularly important given that, according to recent developments, EU policies will be more and more focused on actual results in terms of real change for the final beneficiaries. More concretely, the European Commission proposed to use its programme “REGIO P2P” to fund an exchange of civic monitoring practices between EU authorities managing the funds in different Countries.

A new way to communicate policy outputs

The second episode was a stimulating workshop organized by the EU official Tony Lockett at the European Conference on Public Communication. As Lockett describes very well in this report, open data initiatives such as the EU Portal or the DG Regional Policy open data website are probably not enough to get real impact if not combined with effective citizen participation. In particular, Simona De Luca – representing the OpenCoesione team at the Italian government – showed how independent civic monitoring of EU-funded projects, based on the open data published on the governmental portal, can profoundly change the way the policy is communicated to the public.  While most of the “good stories” about EU funding are selected by a few experts at the managing authorities and then told by communication officers, the idea of relying on real stories by citizens for other citizens makes official communication extraordinarily powerful. People’s stories, based on official data but augmented thanks to new information collected with a sound and shared methodology, can represent not only a potential risk for the government – when the projects don’t match the expectations – but also a great way to show how problems can be solved together thanks to a meaningful collaboration between governments and citizens.  
Source: OpenCoesione - The Italian open government strategy on cohesion policy

Source: OpenCoesione – The Italian open government strategy on cohesion policy

The third episode happened last week at the Italian annual meeting with the European Commission on EU Cohesion Policy. The Agency for Cohesion, a national administration responsible for monitoring the implementation of EU Cohesion policy in Italy, for the first time used the stories from the citizens to present the results of EU Structural Funds. In particular, a set of good practices from the 2007-13 period was selected based on the civic monitoring reports included in the Monithon platform.  Most of the projects presented were monitored by the A Scuola di OpenCoesione high school students in different locations. The only exception was a project in Ancona, which was the focus of Action Aid’s School of participation. Although problematic projects were not mentioned at all during the event, the presentation was the first attempt in Italy to represent the results of EU Policy “from the point of view of the citizens”.  A kind of Copernican revolution for official communication that surprised most of the participants.
Current civic monitoring reports as displayed on Monithon.it

Current civic monitoring reports as displayed on Monithon.it

Collaborating with the Open Government ecosystem

These three examples indicate that a process of positive change is under way among European and national administrations that manage EU funds toward a more collaborative management of EU policy.  However, stronger and more stable mechanisms are needed to ensure real participation in the monitoring and evaluation of EU policies. What seems to drive this change is not only the desire for a more open and inclusive public policy, but also the urgent problem of finding out whether the projects funded really deliver or not. It is in the interest of all actors involved to assess the actual performance of the huge amount of money that flows from the EU budget to the European regions and cities, given the common ambitious goals of sustainable growth, innovation, job creation, social inclusion, and education. I believe that this question cannot be answered only with aggregated figures or econometric exercises. It requires a painstaking, bottom-up assessment of each single project involving local communities, journalists, analysts, and public officials at the EU, national and regional levels. This is a complex task that public authorities cannot handle by themselves. They need to be ready and capable to collaborate with the whole open government ecosystem composed in this case of
  • open data producers such as OpenCoesione.gov.it
  • government proactive initiatives such as A Scuola di OpenCoesione, which focus on the crucial element of civic learning
  • data users like the MoniTOreali group developing the right skills and expertise to provide meaningful feedback
  • civic tech initiatives like Monithon
  • intermediaries such as local media or NGOs aggregating and interpreting the feedback from the final beneficiaries
  • policy makers willing to listen and act upon the suggestions from the public.
Monithon calls it a “monitoring marathon”, indeed. If you want to know more about the open government ecosystem of the EU Cohesion Policy in Italy you can read this paper, which develops a conceptual model based on this case.BIO screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-17-02-16Luigi Reggi is a technology policy analyst at the Italian government and a PhD student in Public Administration and Policy at the State University of New York at Albany, USA. He is interested in Open Government Data, collaborative governance and European Cohesion Policy  

Data Roundup, 11 November

- November 11, 2013 in charts, data journalism school, Data Roundup, excel, italy, politicians, strata conference

A chart of Excel charts, the misuse of statistics by politicians, the Data Journalism School edition IV in Italy, a new perspective on depression, a Spanish job board for data addicted around the world, Google data tools in case of natural disasters.

Patrick Hoesly – Pie Chart Art. Seamless Pattern


Tools, Events, Courses If you need a quick guide on which should be the most appropriate chart to use in your everyday data analysis, then check the recently published Jorge Camoes’ Classification of chart types which presents all kind of graphs that can only be made in Excel. Manipulating data for its own sake is, unfortunately, a common practice of our politicians. If you are curious about how do they do it you’d better not miss the Friday lunchtime lecture of the executive director of the Royal Statistical Society Hetan Shah on “How politicians lie with data”. The event is free and takes place at the Open Data Institute in London. In Italy, the Foundation and ISTAT just announced the fourth edition of the Data Journalism School. It’s a three-day introduction to the concepts, methods and best practices of journalism done with statistics. It will be from 17 to 19 December but there are only 18 places available and if you want to be among the participants you’d better register now. After New York, on Monday 11 the Strata Conference moves to London for its European chapter. “Open Data” is one of the eight topics of the event. Find out the program and the keynote speakers! Data Stories Mark Rice-Oxley published on the Guardian Data Blog an interesting point of view on depression. Maps and charts show depressive disorders sorted by country, sex and age group. If you are curious about the charateristics and distribution of the disease, have a look at “Where in the world are people most depressed?”. In San Diego, California, they are testing the Tactical Identification System: a new way to identify individuals through a facial recognition mechanism based on photo-databases. See how it works in this nice infographic of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Data Sources The data revolution we are witnessing is increasingly expanding the number of jobs in this field. If you just graduated from university or you simply want to change your career path, we suggest you to monitor the Big Data Spain Job Board, available in English and Spanish. There are more than 2000 vacancies you may apply for! Read about the power of geo-data and maps in situations of crisis and natural disaster in Adam Mann’s article “Mapping Disasters Like Typhoon Haiyan for First Responders” on Wired MapLab. Mann introduces some important tools Google.org developed to help people whose homes have been hit by hurricanes, earthquakes or floods. flattr this!

Traditional Italian song with Zampogna and Ciaramella (1920)

- May 13, 2013 in Audio, Audio: 1920s, Audio: Traditional, bagpipes, Ciaramella, collections, italy, Zampogna

A Zampogna is an Italian bagpipe, and a Ciaramella is a small woodwind that plays the higher melody line over the Zampogna’s drone. This combination is often used for traditional Christmas music, as in this circa 1920 recording of a “Novena Di Natale” by uncredited performers. MP3 Download Internet Archive Link HELP TO KEEP US AFLOAT The Public Domain Review is a not-for-profit project and we rely on support from our readers to stay afloat. If you like what we do then please do consider making a donation. We welcome all contributions, big or small - everything helps! Become a Patron Small angel : £3.00 GBP - monthly Medium sized hero : £5.00 GBP - monthly Large emperor : £10.00 GBP - monthly Vast deity : £20.00 GBP - monthly Make a one off Donation SIGN UP TO THE NEWSLETTER Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription! Name: E-mail: