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An update from Open Burkina

Teg-wende Idriss TINTO - 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

Sander van der Waal - 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?

Open Knowledge Finland - 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

Michaela Rybičková - 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

Updates from Open Knowledge Portugal

ricardookpt - June 29, 2017 in network, OK Portugal

This blog post is part of our summer series featuring updates from local groups across the Open Knowledge Network and was submitted by Open Knowledge Portugal team. Here is a run-down of our recent activities:

Open Data Day 2017

In March, we joined the international community and organised a local Open Data Day. Unlike the previous two years, we decided to forgo an application to the generous OKI mini-grant scheme since we felt that none of the areas of focus would fit our current practice, and we didn’t want to squander the initiative by shoehorning a subject that we hadn’t developed so far. Instead, we invited speakers from OpenStreetMap Portugal, Wikimedia and the Lisbon City Hall Open Data Initiative to allow us to touch many facets of open culture. The event was divided into two parts: a Mapping Party and a Discussion & Quiz session. The Mapping Party was aimed at OpenStreetMap newbies (most of us!) who wanted to learn how to contribute to the OSM community mapping initiative. The afternoon session was focused on the nitty-gritty of open data, featuring talks from guest such as  Jorge Gustavo Rocha, Jorge Gustavo Rocha [representative from the Lisbon City Council] and André Barbosa [editor and administrator of Wikipedia] and a conversation between speakers and audience. The day ended on a lighter note with a Quiz dedicated to open culture subjects. The event was in our view a great success, having served its main purpose of strengthening the national network around open knowledge and open data and cementing OKI-PT’s role in that field. You can read a machine-translated write-up of the details of the event here; for some reason, the photos are missing from the translated version so you can read the original post here for those fluent in Portuguese.

Other Updates…

As showcased in the Open Data Day post, we also had some interesting developments on our projects; our data-package related project Datacentral was adopted by the folks at Open Knowledge Switzerland for their Open Food initiative. We also launched DadosAbertos.pt, a central location to provide Portuguese-language information about what exactly is open data — a resource that we had been lacking for years. We have also been maintaining Central de Dados, our independent data portal built on Datacentral and the data package standard developed by Open Knowledge Labs, and have been assessing ways to move to a more community-centered management for this resource. We’ve been keeping up as well with our monthly Date With Data meetups, which are dedicated to the collective development of civic tech tools, apps and sites around Portuguese public information and open data. We have also started a new monthly initiative, OKcafé (where the OK naturally stands for Open Knowledge ;-) ) which we intend to build into a meetup which, unlike the Date With Data meetups, is less focused on hands-on development and more about higher-level discussion and exchange between people interested in open data, and who might want to get closer to OKI. We’re hoping to get the interest of people who can help us develop efforts on the side of advocacy and local/national policy related to open data, which is a field that we haven’t had the manpower to develop properly over the recent years. Finally, we took part in a debate, representing Open Knowledge Portugal, about the potential and perils of data mining and machine learning in an initiative promoted by the local Google Developers & Users Group in Porto. Follow OK Portugal’s Twitter page for more information about the team and their projects. For anything specific concerning the team, contact the group leads Ricardo Lafuente and Marta Pinto.

Updates from Open Knowledge Portugal

ricardookpt - June 29, 2017 in network, OK Portugal

This blog post is part of our summer series featuring updates from local groups across the Open Knowledge Network and was submitted by Open Knowledge Portugal team. Here is a run-down of our recent activities:

Open Data Day 2017

In March, we joined the international community and organised a local Open Data Day. Unlike the previous two years, we decided to forgo an application to the generous OKI mini-grant scheme since we felt that none of the areas of focus would fit our current practice, and we didn’t want to squander the initiative by shoehorning a subject that we hadn’t developed so far. Instead, we invited speakers from OpenStreetMap Portugal, Wikimedia and the Lisbon City Hall Open Data Initiative to allow us to touch many facets of open culture. The event was divided into two parts: a Mapping Party and a Discussion & Quiz session. The Mapping Party was aimed at OpenStreetMap newbies (most of us!) who wanted to learn how to contribute to the OSM community mapping initiative. The afternoon session was focused on the nitty-gritty of open data, featuring talks from guest such as  Jorge Gustavo Rocha, Jorge Gustavo Rocha [representative from the Lisbon City Council] and André Barbosa [editor and administrator of Wikipedia] and a conversation between speakers and audience. The day ended on a lighter note with a Quiz dedicated to open culture subjects. The event was in our view a great success, having served its main purpose of strengthening the national network around open knowledge and open data and cementing OKI-PT’s role in that field. You can read a machine-translated write-up of the details of the event here; for some reason, the photos are missing from the translated version so you can read the original post here for those fluent in Portuguese.

Other Updates…

As showcased in the Open Data Day post, we also had some interesting developments on our projects; our data-package related project Datacentral was adopted by the folks at Open Knowledge Switzerland for their Open Food initiative. We also launched DadosAbertos.pt, a central location to provide Portuguese-language information about what exactly is open data — a resource that we had been lacking for years. We have also been maintaining Central de Dados, our independent data portal built on Datacentral and the data package standard developed by Open Knowledge Labs, and have been assessing ways to move to a more community-centered management for this resource. We’ve been keeping up as well with our monthly Date With Data meetups, which are dedicated to the collective development of civic tech tools, apps and sites around Portuguese public information and open data. We have also started a new monthly initiative, OKcafé (where the OK naturally stands for Open Knowledge ;-) ) which we intend to build into a meetup which, unlike the Date With Data meetups, is less focused on hands-on development and more about higher-level discussion and exchange between people interested in open data, and who might want to get closer to OKI. We’re hoping to get the interest of people who can help us develop efforts on the side of advocacy and local/national policy related to open data, which is a field that we haven’t had the manpower to develop properly over the recent years. Finally, we took part in a debate, representing Open Knowledge Portugal, about the potential and perils of data mining and machine learning in an initiative promoted by the local Google Developers & Users Group in Porto. Follow OK Portugal’s Twitter page for more information about the team and their projects. For anything specific concerning the team, contact the group leads Ricardo Lafuente and Marta Pinto.

Hong Kong joins the Global Mosquito Alert fight using Open Data

Open Data Hong Kong - June 14, 2017 in network, OK Hong Kong

Open Science is a key part of the open data ecosystem. Citizen Science is one of the beneficial side-effects of these open and collaborative ways of doing research. Crowdsourcing amateur scientists to carry out science, harnessing untapped resources to tackle problems in new and innovative ways. Open Data Hong Kong (ODHK) members have been involved in a number of such projects. Examples include BauhiniaGenome, Human Genome Hackathons, and last year ZikaHack. This final project has been recognised internationally, with members of the team getting an invite to the UN Environment meeting in Geneva which took place in April.

ODHK team members and other attendees at the UN Environment meeting in Geneva

From this meeting, new “Global Mosquito Alert” alliance of citizen-science organisations and UN Environment is being launched, in an effort to escalate the global fight against mosquito-borne diseases, responsible for killing close to 2.7 million people annually. Off the back of this, the team in Hong Kong is also launching a network of its own: CitizenScience.Asia – bringing together Citizen Science projects and practitioners in Hong Kong and across Asia. The goal of the community is to promote the concept of citizen science and to facilitate dialogues between researchers, citizens and communicators across different projects in the region. Hong Kong has been a perfect testbed for these citizen-driven efforts against mosquito-borne diseases, with some of the highest smartphone usage and coverage in the world, and with increasing incidence of dengue. With the last year seeing the local transmission of dengue in the mid-levels and recent imported cases of Zika. Less than 2% of the territory is covered by FEHD mosquito screening programs, making harnessing citizen power a particularly attractive weapon against the disease.

School children test out the Mosquito Alert app in Hong Kong. Source and thanks to the Chinese Foundation Secondary School.

Coming out of our Zika-hackathon a Cantonese version of the Mosquito Alert app was developed and promoted, getting us interviewed on the TVB Pearl Report. Working with schools, the Chinese Foundation Secondary School has done an amazing job testing the app with their students, presenting their efforts at the HK SciFest 2017 at the Hong Kong Science Museum. The new global initiative, launched under the name ‘Global Mosquito Alert’, brings together thousands of volunteers from around the world to track and control mosquito-borne viruses, including Zika, yellow fever, chikungunya, dengue, malaria and the West Nile virus. All diseases that threaten Hong Kong as mosquito species that can carry many of them are being increasingly detected. It is the first global platform dedicated to citizen science techniques to tackle the monitoring of mosquito populations.

Screenshot of Mosquito Alert, an app that enables citizens to report the sighting of mosquitoes and their breeding sites

Agreement to launch the initiative was reached at a two-day workshop that took place in Geneva last month, organized by UN Environment, the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP), and the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA), as well as our developing citizen science community in Hong Kong, who were the only Asian representatives. Director of Science at UN Environment, Jacqueline McGlade, said:
the Global Mosquito Alert will offer for the first time a shared platform to leverage citizen science for the global surveillance and control of disease-carrying mosquitoes. It is a unique infrastructure that is open for all to use and may be augmented with modular components and implemented on a range of scales to meet local and global research and management needs.

She also added:
The programme will offer the benefit of the millions spent in developing existing mosquito monitoring projects to local citizen science groups around the world.  Opportunities to keep these citizen-led initiatives at the cutting edge of science will now depend on securing major funding to support the ongoing programme development and its promotion to millions of people worldwide.
The consortium includes Mosquito Alert, Spain and Hong Kong; MosquitoWEB, Portugal; Zanzamapp in Italy; Muggenradar in the Netherlands; the Globe Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper, USA/International and the Invasive Mosquito Project also in the USA. The information displayed on Environment Live will allow managers to mitigate risk and reduce health threats while opening up an opportunity for concerned citizens to contribute their mosquito observations and possible solutions.  Citizen data will augment information already available from Government public health sources. Of which in Hong Kong, there is very little. The new consortium has agreed to share current approaches to monitor the spread of key mosquito species and their breeding sites and to measure the nuisance value of the citizen mosquito experience to support health risk management. The post was written by S.C. Edmunds and it was first published on Open Data Hong Kong’s website. Follow Global Mosquito Alert from the ECSA website, and CitizenScience.Asia from its Facebook page. Participating projects from in this new network include DIYbio Hong Kong and their Hong Kong Barcode project, the crowdfunded BauhiniaGenome project, and the continuing efforts of Mosquito Alert in Hong Kong.

Open Knowledge Belgium is preparing for open Summer of Code 2017

Dries van Ransbeeck - June 2, 2017 in network, OK Belgium

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Belgium team. This post was first published on Open Knowledge Belgium’s website In the last few months, the open community in Belgium has had the chance to gather multiple times. Open Knowledge Belgium organised a couple of events and activities which aimed to bring its passionate community together and facilitate the launch of new projects. Furthermore, as summertime is coming, we currently organising the seventh edition of its yearly open Summer of Code. Let’s go chronologically through what’s going on at Open Knowledge Belgium.

Open Belgium 2017

As the tradition goes, the first Monday after International Open Data Day, Open Knowledge Belgium organises its Open Belgium conference on open knowledge and open data in Belgium.

Open Belgium was made possible by an incredible group of volunteers

This year’s community-driven gathering of open enthusiasts took place in Brussels for the first time and was a big success. More than 250 people with different backgrounds showed up to talk about the current state of and next steps towards more open knowledge and open data in Belgium.

All presentations, notes and visuals of Open Belgium are available on here: http://2017.openbelgium.be/presentations.

Launch of Civic Lab Brussels

It all started during a fruitful discussion with Open Knowledge Germany at Open Belgium. While talking about the 26 OK Labs in Germany, more specifically being intrigued by the air quality project of OK Lab Stuttgart, we got to ask ourselves: why wouldn’t we launch something similar in Brussels/Belgium?

In about the same period of time, some new open initiatives popped up from within our community and several volunteers repeatedly expressed their interest in contributing to Open Knowledge’s mission of building a world in which knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.

Eventually, after a wonderful visit to BeCentral — the new digital hub above Brussels’ central station — all pieces of the puzzle got merged into the idea of a Civic Lab: bringing volunteers and open projects together every 2 weeks in an open space.

The goal of Civic Labs Brussels is two-fold: on the one hand, offering volunteers opportunities to contribute to civic projects they care about. On the other hand, providing initiative-takers of open projects with help and advice from fellow citizens.

Open in the case of our Civic Lab means, corresponding to the Open Definition, yet slightly shorter, that anyone can freely contribute to and benefit from the project. No strings attached.

Civic Lab meetups are not only to put open initiatives in the picture and hang out with other civic innovators. They’re also about getting things done and creating impact. Therefore, those gatherings always take place under the same format of short introductory presentations (30 min) — to both new and ongoing projects — followed by action (2 hours), whereby all attendees are totally free to contribute to the project of their choice and can come up with new projects.

Open Summer of Code 2017

Last but not least, Open Knowledge Belgium is preparing for the seventh edition of its annual open Summer of Code. From 3rd until 27th July, 36 programming, design and communications students will be working under the guidance of experienced coaches on 10 different open innovation projects with real-life impact.

If you want to stay updated about open Summer of Code and all other activities, please follow Open Knowledge Belgium on Twitter or subscribe to its newsletter.

Open Data Index in Brazil launched! by FGV and Open Knowledge Brazil

Open Knowledge Brazil - May 25, 2017 in network, Open Data, Open Data Index

Open Knowledge Brazil and Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) – a higher education institution in Brazil worked together to develop the Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index, which is being used by governments as a tool to enhance public management, and bring it even closer to Brazil’s reality. 

About the Open Data Index

The Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index has been used as a tool to set priorities regarding transparency and open data policies, as well as a pressure mechanism used by civil society to encourage governments to enhance their performance, releasing sets of essential data. The indicator is based on data availability and accessibility across 13 key categories, including government spending, election results, public acquisitions, pollution levels, water quality data, land ownership, and climate data, among others. Submissions are peer reviewed and verified by a local team of data experts and reviewers. Points are assigned based on the conclusions reached through this process.

OK Brazil and FGV Partnership 

Through a series of events held in partnership with Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR) and FGV’s Department of Public Policy Analysis (DAPP) launched the Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index (ODI) – a civil society initiative designed to assess the state of open government data worldwide. Three assessments were established for Brazil through a joint effort between the two institutions:
  1. Open Data Index (ODI) for Brazil, at the national level, 
  2. ODI Sao Paulo at the municipal level and
  3. ODI Rio de Janeiro, also at the municipal level
The last two are part of a pioneering initiative, since these are the first regional ODIs in Brazil, in addition to the nationwide assessment. 
This partnership with OKBr and the development of the Open Data Index complement DAPP’s life-long efforts in the areas of political and budget transparency, featuring widely recognised tools such as the Budget Mosaic and Transparent Chamber. We believe that public debate can only be qualified through data transparency, social engagement and dialogue within network society –  Marco Aurelio Ruediger, director of DAPP

The two institutions are working to develop the indicator used by governments across 122 countries as a tool to enhance public management and bring it even closer to Brazil’s reality. The goal is for data disclosure to promote institutional development by encouraging transparency within the government’s foundations, achieved both through constant scrutiny by civil society and improvements implemented by administrators regarding the quality and access to information.
Among the practical results of this new effort for society is the possibility of using results to develop and monitor public policies regarding transparency and open data – Ariel Kogan, CEO of OKBR

Open Data Index for Brazil 

The Open Data Index for Brazil, launched on April 27 in Brasilia, revealed that the country is in 8th place in the world ranking, tied with the United States and Latvia, and it occupies the leadership among its neighbours in Latin America. In total, 15 dimensions related to themes such as public spending, environment and legislation were analysed. However, the overall score of 64% indicates that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Only six — or 40% — dimensions of the index received the total score, that is, they were considered totally open: Public Budget, Electoral Results, National Maps, Socioeconomic Statistics, Laws in Force and Legislative Activity. However, no public databases were found for three dimensions surveyed: Locations, Water Quality and Land Ownership.

Open Data Index for Cities – São Paulo

The ODI São Paulo, launched two days earlier, had a similar result. In the overall assessment, the municipality had a positive result in the index, with 75% of the total score. Within the index analysis dimensions, 7 of the 18 evaluated databases obtained a maximum score: this means that 38% of the databases for the city were considered fully open. On the other hand, the Land Ownership dimension was evaluated with 0%, due to the unavailability of data; and another four had a score lower than 50% (Business Register, Water Quality and Weather Forecast).

Open Data Index for Cities – Rio de Janeiro

The ODI Rio de Janeiro [report in Portuguese], released on May 4, showed a slightly different performance. The city of Rio de Janeiro had a high overall score, reaching 80%. The study indicates, however, that only five dimensions (Election Results, City Maps, Administrative Limits, Criminal Statistics and Public Schools) had the individual score of 100%, with only 27% of the databases being considered fully open. The incompleteness of the dataset appears six times, i.e. there is no availability of certain information which is considered essential. The issue of access restriction appears only in the Business Register dimension. The Land Ownership dimension is also considered critical, since there is no data available for carrying out the ODI assessment. In summary, it is believed that the information can be useful for an open data policy at the municipal and federal level, to provide the paths for the replication of good practices and the correction of points of attention. The benefits of an open data policy are innumerable and include the extension of management efficiency, the creation of an instrument for collecting results from public administration, promoting accountability and social control, engaging civil society with public management and improving the public image, with the potential of becoming an international reference

Open Data Day events, MyData Japan 2017 and other OK Japan updates

Open Knowledge Japan - May 18, 2017 in network, OK Japan

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Japan team.

International Open Data Day

We had a lot of localities joining the International Open Data Day (IODD) – the international website for the IODD shows 42 localities in Japan, but our listing shows 65. OK Japan members helped promote the event via pre-event, social media, and the Japanese website. We saw a lot of discussions, hackathons, and some mapping parties, among others. Many ‘Code For’s’ were involved in hosting the event.

Open Knowledge Japan Award at VLED

Annually, OK Japan joins a group of other organisations celebrating major and noteworthy achievements in open data in Japan, by issuing unsolicited awards to whoever we think deserves the annual award. We are happy to share that this year OK Japan awarded the digitisation project of classic Japanese materials by the National Institute of Japanese Literature and Center for Open Data in the Humanities. Their dataset includes some cooking books from Edo Period, and some recipes are modified and put into modern Japanese language and released in the Edo period recipe section of largest recipe sharing site in Japan, Cookpad.
This year’s awardees (in Japanese) include the legislators who worked on the basic law for government and private sector data use promotion, which now provide legal ground for open data (see below), which is the best award; health-related open data by Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare; and one-stop search on meeting minutes and transcripts of prefectural and major city legislatures by Bitlet and Yasuo Oda, and so many more.

Basic law to promote data use, including open data

The Japanese Parliament passed a law on data use in early December 2016. Under the law, the Japanese government creates a new high-level committee to promote data usage. National and prefectural governments are required under this law to develop their plans to disseminate easily usable data online. Municipal governments and private sector businesses are also expected to make efforts to help the cause. The goal is to gain economic benefits.

MyData Japan 2017

Inspired by the event hosted by OK Finland, MyData 2016, some attendees and others interested in the proper and active use of personal data have decided to hold MyData Japan 2017. The OK Japan Chapter will serve as the host and organiser of this whole-day event, which takes place on 19 May 2017 in Tokyo. Contact Tomoaki Watanabe [tomoaki.watanabe@gmail.com], the coordinator of Open Knowledge Japan for more information regarding their events and activities.