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Building a Nordic Anti-Corruption Data Ecosystem

- June 13, 2019 in network, OK Sweden, Sweden

Open Knowledge Sweden (OKSE) jointly with Transparency International Latvia and Transparency International Lithuania continues to promote usage of open data for combating corruption in the Baltic and Nordic countries.   Stockholm, 10 June 2019 – On May 15, 2019 Open Knowledge Sweden (OKSE) jointly with Transparency International Latvia and Transparency International Lithuania started the activities for a new project aimed to empower Nordic and Baltic stakeholders in helping to disclose anti-corruption-related datasets.  The work is  funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers office in Latvia within a project “Building a Nordic Anti-Corruption Data Ecosystem”. The three implementing partners aim to build constructive relationships with national officials and promote the usage of open data for anti-corruption purposes. The following activities will run until autumn 2019:
  • Explorative online surveys to map demand for anti-corruption-related data in 7 Nordic and Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway);
  • Identification of a basic inventory of anti-corruption-related data systems (i.e. those related to individuals and organizations, public resources, laws and regulations) which could be employed for further anti-corruption action at the national and regional level;
  • Workshop with anti-corruption and data-oriented NGOs from the region to develop a shared advocacy strategy for the release of public sector datasets which can be useful to fight political corruption – namely those related to lobbying, MPs’ interest and asset disclosure, political financing, public procurement and beneficial ownership.
Whereas in a previous project the partner organisations looked at the supply-side of anti-corruption data, this project will focus on the demand-side and the emerging impact of Open Government Data (OGD) policies in Nordic and Baltic countries. The project also aims to contribute to the strengthening of NGOs cooperation on common anti-corruption related priority areas. More information

Nominations open for Swedish Open Knowledge Awards 2018

- January 22, 2019 in network, OK awards, OK Sweden, Open Data, Sweden

This blog has been reposted from the OK Sweden blog. Open Knowledge Sweden is aiming to create a tradition to acknowledge people and organizations to foster better, open, democratic, inclusive and innovative society. Open Knowledge should be a mainstream concept and a natural part of our everyday lives. That is why we are organising the 2018 edition of the Swedish Open Knowledge Awards (OKA), the first award event on open knowledge in Sweden, covering categories such as transparency, entrepreneurship, open science, ministry/municipality and business initiative. Each category in which organizations, companies and authorities are tested in, will annually be determining the most exemplary initiative working in favour of open data, open knowledge and transparency. The award winners will set an example of how businesses and organizations have best used open knowledge for innovative solutions, how authorities have been more transparent with the use of open knowledge and how public figures have used their influence for change in that direction, both cultural and legal. Open Knowledge Sweden has held previous OK Awards in collaboration with KTH, Wikimedia, and Dataföreningen. This year, we expect to have more nominations and guests at our event with support from the Open Knowledge community. As OK Sweden, we believe that OKA is providing recognition to change makers that push for innovation as well as transparent and accountable democracy. It also raises the bar every year for all open knowledge stakeholders in Sweden.

OK awards jury

The jury consists of experts and researchers in open knowledge related domains: Britta Duve Hansen is an IT strategist and solution architect at the City of Lund. With backgrounds in mathematics and geographic IT, her core focus today is on Business Intelligence, digitalisation, and Open Data. She believes in transparency, collaboration, and common standards as the key drivers of digital transformation in the public sector. Björn Söderlund is head of development at the Swedish municipality of Lidingö stad and one of the last year’s award winners. Björn has been engaged many years at the local, regional and national level in finding ways of publishing more open data from the public sector to stimulate openness and innovation. He is also involved in national work with the aspects and challenges of information security issues as the municipality’s CISO. Lidingö stad is still one of the public organizations that has published the most number of datasets and believes it remains one of the important future challenges for information use, reuse and development. On the reasons why we should do better he believes that the simple answer is to turn the question around- “Why shouldn’t we?” Halit Koşmaz is the chairman of Open Knowledge Sweden. He is a Master of Science engineer in electro-physics from KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Halit is very pragmatic problem-solver in any context with innovation and heavy wide competence. Halit has extensive experience from master and expert roles within the Telecom, public authorities, financial companies, renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions. Halit has worked in roles as President, Chief Operating Officer, IT and system architect, development engineer, project manager and business developer. He has extensive knowledge in the field of IT security, identity management, payment and credit solutions, PKI, mobile services, as well as ECM/document management. Halit has developed even hardware (laser) for fiber optic network, energy harvesting solution for the roof and nanomaterial for insulation and air-filter. Halit has extensive experience working abroad where he has worked with major international and companies. Halit is a devoted soldier to child pornography on the internet. He has fought in all fronts to keep the internet free from CSEM. Halit has always advocated open data in the public sector, convinced that only open data confers strong democracy. Jessica Bäck is responsible for Sales and Partner Relations at the Internet Foundation in Sweden. She is a board member of the government initiative Hack for Sweden. Jessica is the founder of Teknikklubben, a meeting place for tech-interested transgender kids and a runner-up for the Unionen HBTQ-award 2018. At the Internet Foundation, Jessica has published a series of Internet Guides that have headlined national newspapers and been translated into several languages.

Nomination process

This year, in order to have better judgement of year 2019, Open Knowledge Awards for 2018 will be held on February 27th, 2019. You are welcome to nominate an individual, group, or organization for each category from now on. The schedule of the nomination process as below:
  • Public Nomination: 22 December 2018 to 28 January 2019
  • Nominations Announcement: February 1, 2019
  • Finalist Announcement:  February 15
  • Price Ceremony: February 27, 2019
To nominate entities/people and for more information about the OK Awards for 2018 event: http://okawards.org/nominate-2018. You can read more about the OK Awards on our website www.okawards.org, or read about the previous year’s winners here. Feel free to contact us regarding press, sponsorship or volunteer contribution. Best regards,
Erhan Bayram Project Leader E-mail: erhan@okfn.se
Phone: +46(0)720212408

Shaping the future of Open Knowledge in Nepal

- January 8, 2019 in nepal, network, OK Nepal, Open Knowledge Network

This blog has been reposted from the  Open Knowledge Nepal blog as part of our blog series of Open Knowledge Network updates. Wrapping up 2018, we’d like to take this opportunity to thanks everyone who supported us over the past year. In this cold winter season, we tried to reflect our key works of 2018 over the cup of coffee. 2018 has been the year of collaboration and growth.  As our commitment in last year’s blog, we still will remain focus and dedicate all our energy/resources to improve the state of Open Data in South Asia.   Key highlights of 2018 are:
  1. A celebration of International Open Data Day 2018 in Nepal: We collaborated with Open Nepal community of practice to organize Open Data Day 2018, which is one of the biggest celebrations of open data. Unlike previous years we celebrated this year open data day slight differently. This year the way we celebrated open data was different, in-fact we implemented the core concept of OPEN in real life by hosting it in a publicly accessible place. We also organize the side event “Data-a-thon for Journalist” in collaboration with Central for Data Journalism Nepal to train journalists.
  2. Launching Open Data Nepal: We invested much of our technical and human resource to build and launch a crowdsourced open data portal to make Nepal’s data accessible online. Till now more than 600+ datasets have been harvested from various governmental source and a huge volunteer team of data wranglers is working actively to increase the number of datasets.
  3. Joining Open Nepal community of practice and knowledge hub: With the aim of demonstrating our dedication and enthusiasm towards open data, we joined Open Nepal community of practices and knowledge hub. Currently, 10 different organization are the part of Open Nepal community.
  4. Hack for Nepal Initiative: In collaboration with Code for Nepal, we launched Hack for Nepal initiative and hosted AngelHack Hackathon for the first time in Nepal. This was our first experience of hosting an overnight hackathon, where more than 70 participants compete to build ‘Seamless Technology for Humanitarian Response’.
  5. Improving AskNepal platform: To make the data and information request easier, we joined hands with Code for Nepal to improve the AskNepal platform, which can be used by everyone to request information with different bodies of Nepal Government. AskNepal is run and maintained by Open Knowledge Nepal and Code for Nepal, in partnership with mySociety.
  6. Travelling 3 provinces to train about open data: In collaboration with YUWA, we travelled 6 districts of Nepal to train 126 youths of various background. The aim of project was to create a network of young data leaders who will lead and support the development of their communities through the use of open data as evidence for youth-led and data-driven development.
  7. Participation at UN World Data Forum 2018: With the help of scholarship provided by the Data for Development (D4D) Program in Nepal, we were able to mark our presence at UN World Data Forum 2018, which gave us an opportunity for learning and networking.
  8. Participation in Open Data Training of Trainers Course by The Open Data Institute, UK: The five days rigorous training took place in Nepal from 26th to 30th November 2018 and thanks for the D4D team for bringing the Open Data Institute to Nepal. Throughout this training, we learned to develop an understanding of open data principles and learned to create, deliver and evaluate high-quality interactive training.
Thank you again for your continuous support for our work. Except few events and workshops, our focus was entirely on building a civic-tech platform and ecosystem to encourage the use of open data and In 2019, we look forward to harnessing our capacity to support this moment fully. Our plans for 2019:
  1. Promoting the value of diverse data: Adding up on our effort of opening up government data through our Open Data Nepal portal, we look forward to promote the diverse field of data in Nepal. Our focus will be around WikiData, Citizen Generated Data, Inclusive and Disable Data, Data for SDG and Personal Data (MyData).
  2. Increasing/Improving the women participation: We plan to work continuously to improve the women participants in open data and civic-tech in Nepal. For this, we definitely look forward to join hands with others civil societies organization and institutions.
  3. Opening up more datasets: We will be harvesting more datasets to solve the problem of data scarcity and promote the culture of data-driven decision making in Nepal.
  4. Collaboration with Government and International Organization: Our focus will be on working with government directly through policy and technology lobbying. We will be pushing the government to conduct open data activities and join hands with an international organization for support.
Acknowledgment We would especially like to thank Data for Development (D4D) Program in Nepal for financially supporting most of the key activities of 2018, we are also grateful to the Code for Nepal, Central for Data Journalism Nepal, YUWA and Open Nepal Community, whom we partnered for the successful implementation of activities and projects. To be updated about our activities, please follow us at different medias:

Open data and the fight against corruption in Latvia, Sweden and Finland

- December 7, 2018 in financial transparency, finland, Latvia, network, OK Finland, OK Sweden, Open Data, Sweden

This blog has been crossposted from the Open Knowledge Sweden blog.
Transparency International Latvia, in collaboration with Open Knowledge Sweden and Open Knowledge Finland, has published a new study on open data and anti-corruption policies in Latvia, Sweden and Finland, showing that governments in the three countries could do more to leverage the potential of open data for anti-corruption policies and public accountability.  The study comprises an overview report summarising the overall findings and identifying opportunities for knowledge transfer and regional cooperation as well as specific reports assessing to what extent governments in Latvia, Sweden and Finland have implemented internationally agreed-upon open data principles as part of their anti-corruption regime, providing recommendations for further improvement at the national level.                                 The study is the outcome of a project funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The aim of the project was to gain a better understanding of how Nordic and Baltic countries are performing in terms of integration of anti-corruption and open data agendas, in order to identify opportunities for knowledge transfer and promote further Nordic cooperation in this field. The study assessed whether 10 key anti-corruption datasets in Latvia, Finland and Sweden are in line with international open data standards. The datasets considered in the frame of the study are:
  1. Lobbying register
  2. Company register
  3. Beneficial ownership register
  4. Public officials’ directories
  5. Government Budget
  6. Government spending
  7. Public procurement register
  8. Political Financing register
  9. Parliament’s Voting Records
  10. Land Register
Within this respect, Sweden has made only 3 of 10 key anti-corruption datasets available online and fully in line with open data standards, whereas Finland have achieved to make 8 of these datasets available online, six of which are fully in line with open data standards.  As for Latvia, 5 of them have been found to be available and in line with the standards. When it comes to scoring these three countries with regard to anti-corruption datasets, in Sweden, the situation is more problematic compared to other two countries. It has the lowest score, 5.3 out of 9, while Finland and Latvia have scored 6.1 and 6.0, respectively. Similarly, there are some signals that transparency in Sweden has been worsening in recent years despite its long tradition of efficiency and transparency in the public administration, good governance and rule of law as well as being in the top-10 of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for several years. The problem in Sweden stems from the fact that the government has had to cope with the high decentralization of the Swedish public administration, which seems to have resulted in little awareness of open data policies and practices and their potential for anti-corruption among public officials. Thus, engaging the new agency for digitalisation, Agency for Digital Government (DIGG), and all other authorities involved in open data could be a solution to develop a centralised, simple, and shared open data policy. Sweden should also take legal measures to formally enshrine open data principles in PSI (Public Sector Information) law such as requiring that all publicly released information be made ‘open by default’ and under an ‘open license’. The situation in Finland and Latvia is more promising. In Finland, a vibrant tech-oriented civil society in the country has played a key role in promoting initiatives for the application of open data for public integrity in a number of areas, including lobbying and transparency of government resources. As for Latvia,in recent years, it has made considerable progress in implementing open data policies, and the government has actively sought to release data for increasing public accountability in a number of areas such as public procurement and state-owned enterprises. However, the report finds that much of this data is still not available in open, machine-readable formats – making it difficult for users to download and operate with the data. Overall, in all three countries it seems that there has been little integration of open data in the agenda of anti-corruption authorities, especially with regard to capacity building. Trainings, awareness-raising and guidelines have been implemented for both open data and anti-corruption; nonetheless, these themes seem not to be interlinked within the public sector. The report also emphasizes the lack of government-funded studies and thematic reviews on the use of open data in fighting corruption. This applies both to the national and regional level. On the other hand, there is also a considerable potential for cooperation among Nordic-Baltic countries in the use of open data for public integrity, both in terms of knowledge transfer and implementation of common policies. While Nordic countries are among the most technologically advanced in the world and have shown the way with regard to government openness and trust in public institutions, the Baltic countries are among the fastest-growing economies in Europe, with a great potential for digital innovation and development of open data tools. Such cooperation among the three states would be easier in the presence of networks of “tech-oriented” civil society organisations and technology associations, as well as the framework of cooperation with authorities with the common goal of promoting and developing innovation strategies and tools based in open data.

Open Summer of Code is growing beyond the Belgian borders!

- August 2, 2018 in belgium, Events, network, OK Belgium, open Summer of code

Authors: Dries van Ransbeek and David Chaves To some of you, Open Summer of Code – also known as osoc – is a name that rings a bell, to others this is a new concept. So, for the latter group: osoc is an originally Belgian summer programme organised by Open Knowledge Belgium which has been around since 2011. Ever since that first summer, osoc has been breathing life into 62 open innovation projects.

More open innovation than ever before

Open Summer of Code is an annual summer programme. Several teams of students have four weeks to give shape to real-life open innovation projects. This July, Open Summer of Code welcomed 74 students who got paid to work on 17 open innovation projects as summer job: a record in osoc’s history. To make this happen, Open Summer of Code partners up with external partners: two examples of this edition were, amongst others, Informatie Vlaanderen and Brussels Mobility. This summer, the 8th edition took place. 17 projects were developed, start to finish, in just one month. Every team consisted of driven multi-disciplinary students and coaches who brainstormed, coded and tested out their applications together. The fruits of their labour were presented at the Demo Day on the 26th of July in Brussels with more than 300 attendees. Find an overview of all osoc18’s projects here: http://2018.summerofcode.be/2018.

Open innovation with Open Source and Open Data

Open Summer of Code builds open source applications based on open data, which is data that can be freely (re)used and can be distributed by everyone. Open data has many different uses and brings about innovation time and again. Every single one of the 17 projects benefits our society as a whole. Toon Vanagt, chairman of Open Knowledge Belgium explains: “At osoc, we aim to illustrate the advantages of open data with clear applications in addition to giving an enriching learning experience to motivated students. We pass on the result of that effort to society transparently through open source. Our students work on these innovation projects in small teams and with a deadline. The goal of osoc is to deliver as much functionality as possible at the end of the month. To reach this goal, the teams are supported by experienced coaches. This year, we can count on the support of 24 partners from both government and business sector. In return for their contribution, they submit projects themselves that can be further developed after Open Summer of Code”.

Open Summer of Code goes international

For the first time, this year, osoc turned as international with a parallel event in Spain. A collaboration between the Open Knowledge Belgium and the Ontology Engineering Group (from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) made possible that during two weeks in July, 8 international students developed 3 innovation projects in the city of Madrid. The three partners for this 1st edition of osoc in Spain were: the innovation department of the pharmaceutical company Lilly, the astronomical observatory of the UPM and the EU project CEF-OASIS. The whole program was celebrated with the support of the open laboratory for innovation project of the Madrid’s council, Medialab-Prado, and similar to the Belgium edition, the outcomes of the project were presented during the Demo Day on the 20th of July with more than 30 external attendees.

What’s next? osoc19 in multiple countries

With its first international edition, Open Summer of Code has put its first steps towards its goal to pursue more international impact. In 2019, it aims to have students making open innovation projects happen across multiple countries. Therefore, it’s looking for local Open Knowledge chapters or other partner organizations who want to take the lead in their country. As Open Knowledge Belgium has 8 years of experience within its team with organizing Open Summer of Code, feel free to drop an email to dries@openknowledge.be to get started and receive more information about setting up your local summer programme. Happy summer of open innovation!

More information about Open Summer of Code and this year’s projects:

Czech Open Data Challenge: a showcase of amazing transparency apps

- December 7, 2017 in competition, czech republic, network, network updates, OK Czech, Open Data, Open Knowledge Network

This blog post was written by the Czech Republic Open Knowledge team as part of our blog series of Open Knowledge Network updates.  In the fifth edition of Czech open data challenge, interested parties from the ranks of the public, non-profit organizations and companies were invited to submit applications that use or generate open data. Applications developed between November 2016 and October 2017 could compete. This year, the competition was dominated by transparency apps. Many of the 24 contestants focused on improving the efficiency of public spending or parliamentary watchdog. Others chose to provide convenient access to information about pharmacies or publishing stats about lawyers. In this blog you can find more information about some of this year’s winners. The winner, Hlídač státu (http://www.hlidacstatu.cz, State watchdog), is a strong tool of control over public spending. It connects a registry of contracts with data about donations to political parties and presents it in a comprehensible manner. Michal Blaha, author of Hlídač státu, said that he takes his victory as a commitment. „Open data are making the public administration more democratic and transparent, as they balance the relationship between citizen and officer.” he explained. The second place was awarded to the civic initiative KohoVolit.eu for their Inventura hlasování (Inventory of voting in the Chamber of Deputies in 2013-2017, https://volebnikalkulacka.cz/cs/inventura-hlasovani-2017/). It is a user-friendly way to compare one’s opinions with voting of individual MPs. More than 400.000 people used the app ahead of the latest election. The third place was taken by Databáze prázdných domů (Database of Empty Houses, www.prazdnedomy.cz), which aggregates information about abandoned and decrepit buildings in Czechia. The project aims to save remarkable houses and find new uses for vacant real estate.

Screenshot of prazdnedomy.cz, visualising vacant real estate in Brno, Czech Republic

For the first time in the contest history, the Student prize was awarded to a middle school, Střední škola zemědělská a potravinářská Klatovy. A group of five youngsters led by an enthusiastic teacher spent one weekend at school to create interesting visualisations over real time data of the Czech parliamentary election: http://volby.maleskoly.info/ The Otakar Motejl Fund award for projects which increase government transparency, was given to CityVizor (https://cityvizor.cz/), a joint effort of Ministry of Finance and an alliance of cities. It is a unique example of the government cooperating with local administrations and helps to present city budgets and spending to citizens and allows the municipalities to share IT expenses. A special award went to the Czech Open Street Maps community, for their tireless effort of providing detailed and up-to-date map data. Being openly available, they are an invaluable resource for many successful businesses as well as civic initiatives. Another positive sign is, that political parties themselves start to leverage the power of open data and civic apps. The political party STAN for example built a mobile app which tracks votes and attendance of their MPs. The winners were awarded with prize money (up to 20 000 CZK), security software or trainings in online marketing.

An update from Open Burkina

- September 14, 2017 in community, Energy, network, Open burkina

Energy is fundamental to any development. The National Electricity Company of Burkina Faso (SONABEL) whose task is the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in the Burkinabè population, works hard to enable citizens to benefit from this as an important resource. However, it is clear that SONABEL hardly fulfills this mission: hardly a day goes by without a power failure in Ouagadougou. After multiple complaints, which can be found on social networks, citizens have ended up resigning and passively endure the cuts. A tweet that compares the electricity supply to light effect Among these cuts, there are load-sheddings (the deliberate shutdown of electric power in parts of a system to prevent the failure of the entire system), which are due to an insufficient capacity of SONABEL. Other cuts are due to incidents on the transmission or distribution networks. Regarding load-shedding, SONABEL produces a weekly program, but that is not legible for the citizen. It is therefore difficult for them to know if they should be concerned or not. This decreases the value of the program to the citizens. Load-shedding program as it is published by the electricity company On the other hand there is no data on cuts, such as their numbers or their locations, which make citizen advocacy to improve service delivery more difficult. For better service delivery, the Open Knowledge International local group in Burkina Faso, called Open Burkina, started the reflections since 2015. The idea is to provide citizen support to the efforts of the state. From reflection, a project with three components was born.

Mapping components

Through the mapping, the project intends to represent the load-shedding program on a map to make it more readable. A notification system can be set up to send an email or SMS to the residents of areas affected by load-shedding.

Data Collection Components

In this component, domestic sensors are designed to record cuts and current returns. The data will then be centralized and made available in open data. The sensors are designed with Arduino cards drawing on Waziup and Open IoT projects.

Notifying threshold

In the case of power cuts, a system will be provided that will notify residents of an area at the approach of the consumption threshold that can lead to a load-shedding. These users will be invited to reduce their consumption to avoid reaching the threshold. We hope that this system will help regulate the consumption of electricity and avoid outages due to power cuts. A nurse, using her phone light to receive her patients during a power cut in Ouagadougou. Photograph: Aoua Ouédraogo Our project was presented for a competitive grant for open data innovators in Africa, launched by our partner ODI in June 2017. Despite more than 80 candidate projects of all African countries, we are part of the three winning projects. Thanks to this recognition, the project will have a £ 6000 (~ 4.2 million FCFA) funding to achieve its objectives. The project is expected to last three months, and Open Burkina work closely with SONABEL, the IGB, the ANPTIC, Nos3S and the city of Ouagadougou for its success.  

Fostering open, inclusive, and respectful participation

- August 21, 2017 in community, network, Open Knowledge, Open Knowledge international Local Groups

At Open Knowledge International we have been involved with various projects with other civil society organisations aiming for the release of public interest data, so that anyone can use it for any purpose. More importantly, we focus on putting this data to use, to help it fulfil its potential of working towards fairer and more just societies. Over the last year, we started the first phase of the project Open Data for Tax Justice, because we and our partners believe the time is right to demand for more data to be made openly available to scrutinise the activities of businesses. In an increasingly globalised world, multinational corporations have tools and techniques to their disposal to minimise their overall tax bill, and many believe that this gives them an unfair advantage over ordinary citizens. Furthermore, the extent to which these practices take place is unknown, because taxes that multinational corporations pay in all jurisdictions in which they operate are not reported publicly. By changing that we can have a proper debate about whether the rules are fair, or whether changes will need to be made to share the tax bill in a different way. For us at Open Knowledge International, this is an entry into a new domain. We are not tax experts, but instead we rely on the expertise of our partners. We are open to engaging all experts to help shape and define together how data should be made available, and how it can be put to use to work towards tax systems that can rely on more trust from their citizens. Unsurprisingly, in such a complex and continuously developing field, debates can get very heated. People are obviously very passionate about this, and being passionate open data advocates ourselves, we sympathise. However, we think it is crucial that the passion to strive for a better world should never escalate to personal insults, ad-hominem attacks, or violate basic norms in any other way. Unfortunately, this happened recently with a collaborator on a project. While they made clear they were not affiliated with Open Knowledge International, nevertheless their actions reflected very badly on the overall project and we deeply condemn their actions. Moving forward, we want to make more explicitly clear what behaviour is and is not acceptable within the context of the projects we are part of. To that end, we are publishing project participation guidelines that make clear how we define acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and what you can do if you feel any of these guidelines are being violated. We invite your feedback on these guidelines, as it is important that these norms are shared among our community. So please let us know on our Open Knowledge forum what you think and where you think these guidelines could be improved. Furthermore, we would like to make clear what the communities we are part of, like the one around tax justice, can expect from Open Knowledge International beyond enforcing the basic behavioural norms that we set out in the guidelines linked above. Being in the business of open data, we love facts and aim to record many facts in the databases we build. However, facts can be used to reach different and sometimes even conflicting conclusions. Some partners engage heavily on social media channels like Twitter to debate conflicting interpretations, and other partners choose different channels for their work. Open Knowledge International is not, and will never be, in a position to be the arbiter on all interpretations that partners make about the data that we publish. Our expertise is in building open databases, helping put the data to use, and convening communities around the work that we do. On the subject matter of, for example, tax justice, we are more similar to those of us who are interested and care about the topic, but would rely on the debate being led by experts in the field. Where we spot abuse of the data published in databases we run, or obvious misrepresentation of the data, we will speak out. But we will not monitor or take a stance on all issues that are being debated by our partners and the wider communities around our projects. Finally, we strongly believe that the open knowledge movement is best served by open and diverse participation. We aim for the project participation guidelines to spell out our expectations and hope these will help us move towards developing more inclusive and diverse communities, where everyone who wants to participate respectfully feels welcomed to do so. Do you think these guidelines are a step in the right direction? What else do you feel we should be doing at Open Knowledge International? We look forward to hearing from you in our forum.

Why MyData 2017?

- August 2, 2017 in community, network, OK Finland, Open Knowledge

This is a guest post explaining the focus of the MyData conference in Tallinn and Helsinki later this month. By a famous writing tip, you should always start texts with ‘why?’. Here we are taking that tip, and we actually find many ways to answer the big Why. So, Why MyData 2017? Did you get your data after MyData 2016 conference? No, you did not. There is lots of work to be done, and we need all the companies, governments, individuals and NGO’s on board on Aug 31-Sep 1 in Tallinn and Helsinki. When else would you meet the other over 800 friends at once? Because no. 1: The work did not stop after MyData 2016 The organizers Fing, Aalto University, Open Knowledge Finland, and Tallinn University have been working on the topic also after the conference. Fing continues their MesInfos project, started in 2012, which goes to its second phase in 2017: implementing the MyData approach in France with a long-term pilot involving big corporations, public actors, testers and a platform. Aalto University is the home base of human-centric personal data research in Finland. Many Helsinki-based pieces of research contribute their academic skills to the conference’s Academic workshops. Open Knowledge Finland, apart from giving the conference an organizational kick also fosters a project researching MyData implementation in Finnish public sector, of which we will hear in the conference too. Tallinn University, as the newest addition to the group of organizers, will host the conference day in Tallinn to set the base for and inspire MyData initiatives in Estonian companies, public sector, and academic domain. In addition to the obvious ones, multiple MyData inspired companies to continue on their own. Work continues for example in Alliance meetings, and in some cases, there are people working from the bottom up and acting as change makers in their organization. MyData 2016 went extremely well, 95 % of the feedback was positive, and the complaints were related to organizational issues like the positioning of the knives during lunch time. Total individual visitor count was 670 from 24 countries. All this was for (at the time) niche conference, organized for the first time by a team mainly of part time workers. The key to success was the people who came in offering their insights as presenters or their talents in customer care as volunteers. MyData 2017 is, even more, community driven than the year before – again a big bunch of devoted presenters, and the volunteers have been working already since March in weekly meetings, talkoot. Because no. 2: The Community did not stop existing – it started to grow MyData gained momentum in 2016 – the MyData White paper is mentioned in a ‘Staff Working Document on the free flow of data and emerging issues of the European data economy’, on pages 24-25. The white paper is also now translated from Finnish to English and Portuguese. Internationally, multiple Local Hubs have been founded this year – of which you hear more about in the Global track of the conference – and a MyData Symposium was held in Japan earlier this year. The PIMS (Personal Information Management Systems) community, who met for the fourth time during the 2016 conference, has been requesting more established community around the topic. “Building a global community and sharing ideas” is one goal of MyData 2017, and as a very concrete action, the conference organizing team and PIMS community have agreed to merge their efforts under the umbrella name of MyData. The MyData Global Network Founding Members are reviewing the Declaration of MyData Principles to be presented during MyData 2017. Next round table meeting for the MyData Global Network will be held in Aarhus in November 23.–24. 2017.   Open Knowledge Estonia was founded after last year’s conference. Since MyData was nurtured into its current form inside the Open Knowledge movement, where Open Knowledge Finland still plays the biggest role, MyData people feel very close to other Open Knowledge chapters. See for yourself, how nicely Rufus Pollock explains in this video from MyData 2016 how Open Data and MyData are related. Because no. 3: Estonians are estonishing “Why Tallinn then?” is a question we hear a lot. The closeness of the two cities, also sometimes jointly called Talsinki, makes the choice very natural to the Finns and Estonians, but might seem weird looking from outside. Estonia holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second part of 2017. In an e-Estonia, home of the infamous e-residency, MyData fits naturally in the pool of ideas to be tossed around during that period. Now, having the ‘Free movement of data’ as the fifth freedom within the European Union, in addition to goods, capital, service, and people, has been suggested by Estonians, and MyData way of thinking is a crucial part to advance that. Estonia and Finland co-operate in developing X-road, a data exchange layer for national information systems, between the two countries. In 2017, the Nordic Institute for Interoperability (NIIS) was founded to advance the X-road in other countries as well. Finnish population registry center and their digitalized services esuomi.fi is the main partner of the conference in 2017 Estonia and Finland both as small countries are very good places to test new ideas. Both in Helsinki and Tallinn, we now have ongoing ‘MyData Alliance’ meetups for companies and public organizations who want to advance MyData in their organizations. A goal of MyData in general, “we want to make Finland the Moomin Valley of personal data” will be expanded to “we want to make Finland and Estonia the Moomin Valley of personal data”.  

Updates from Open Knowledge Czech

- July 24, 2017 in network, OKF Czech Republic, Open Data Day

This blog post is part of our summer series featuring updates from local groups across the Open Knowledge Network. This post was submitted by the Czech Republic Open Knowledge team In the Czech Republic, the Open Knowledge local chapter is led by the Otakar Motejl Fund, an NGO focused on government transparency and civic participation. Spring was a very busy time for Czech open data community. We celebrated Open Data Day by bringing together the publishers of government data and their users ranging from businesses, the academia, NGOs etc. A successful hackathon took place in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic and succeeded in spreading inspiration to two other cities. Expanding the enthusiasm from the capital to other regions is a sign of the maturity and wide spread of the openness movement.

Open Data Day – showcasing and discussing data at Open Data Expo

We celebrated Open Data Day by taking a close look at the state of Czech open data. At our Open Data Expo, 12 public offices opened little stalls with their data. That gave them an opportunity to have a chat with actual or potential data users and get feedback and encouragement for further efforts. Nearly 150 people showed up! We also invited numerous speakers to help us get familiar with new trends in open data: news from the 2016 OGP summit or the practical application of open data. The keynote speech was given by Emma Doyle, the Head of Data Policy for the National Health Service England. She presented UK´s best practice in opening data in the health sector and promoted the potential of open data to help with the quality and efficiency of services, accountability and patient choice. Ms. Doyle also participated in two other roundtables tailored for healthcare experts and activists. The first presentation was on the open data model used by the British healthcare system: participants present included stakeholders from the ministry, hospitals and Parliament. The second was a discussion on the comparisons between Emma´s personal experience from the UK and the practices and experiences of guests from Czech businesses and NGOs. The discussion revealed that the main impediment to the growth of open data in the Czech Republic is not that of a technical know- how. But rather, the willingness of stakeholders to change their mindset and see beyond the possibility of someone misusing data and understand and appreciate the potential of open data for the good of Czech Republic.

BrnoHacks – one weekend and 7 new apps for a better life in the city

Between 26th to 28th May, Brno was the epicentre of the biggest Czech open data Hackathon BrnoHacks. After three successful hackathons in Prague (2014 – 2016), we decided to move to Brno, another city with great open data potential. More than 50 programmers, idea makers, data analysts and urbanists met at the South Moravian Innovation Centre (JIC) to create applications and visualisations to address problems of living in Brno, to show the benefits of open data and to encourage the city of Brno in publishing them.   At the hackathon, seven teams focused on projects based on data from the city, O2 and Kiwi.com. The winning project called BrnoBot is a messenger chatbot prototype which integrates multiple data sources. It helps people to find their way around the city and it provides info about the city. The second best team – Who 8 my taxes – dedicated its time to a project that enriched Brno budget data by adding demographic data from the last census and political affiliation of municipality representatives. Data was also turned into interactive visualisations to illustrate money redistribution, utilisation and efficiency of city departments and municipalities. The third place winner Liberty – open demography describes various repetitive patterns in inhabitant’s movement through various city regions, the demographic structure and use of public space a and relaxation areas. You can read more about the seven teams and their projects here.

Openness spark spreads across the country

One of our biggest achievements is that we inspired various groups to run their own open data hackathons. In May, the City of Ostrava, Impact Hub and Keboola invited open data fans to create a new open data portal. At the beginning of June, the Innovation Centre of Usti Region (ICUK) organised mobility open data hackathon aimed at regional data. The winner of this hackathon was a project of a travel ticket in the form of a chip card that allows gathering detailed data from the city transport and thus helps to improve it. Last, but definitely not the least, in September there is going to be the biggest open data hackathon organised by the public sector in the Czech Republic. Seven public institutions will join forces to show how public open data can be used and linked to each other and we are a proud partner.  Contact Michaela, the Coordinator of the Local Group for more information and follow their activities on twitter: @okfncz