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Open Summer of Code is growing beyond the Belgian borders!

Dries van Ransbeeck - 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:

Open Belgium 2018: “Open Communities – Smart Society”

Julia Thomaschki - February 14, 2018 in Frictionless Data, OK Belgium, Open Belgium

The next edition of Open Belgium, a community driven conference organised by Open Knowledge Belgium, is almost here! In less than 4 weeks, 300 industry, research, government and citizen stakeholders will gather and discuss current trends around Open Knowledge and Open Data in Belgium. Open Belgium is the ideal place to get an update on local, national and global open initiatives as well as to share skills, expertise and ideas with like minded data enthusiasts. It is an event where IT-experts, local authorities, Open Data hackers, researchers and private companies have the chance to catch up on what is new in the field of Open Knowledge in Belgium and beyond. It’s a day where data publishers sit next to users, citizen developers and communities to network and to openly discuss the next steps in Open Knowledge and Open Data. To make sure that you will get the best out of a full day of talks, workshops, panels, discussions and, not to forget, networking opportunities, we post daily blog posts of all that is going to happen on the 12th of March. Check out the full programme here. From Open Knowledge International, Serah Rono (Developer Advocate) and Vitor Baptista (Engineering Lead) will host the hackathon session “Using Frictionless Data software to turn data into insight”. OKI’s Frictionless Data (frictionlessdata.io) initiative is about making it effortless to transport quality data among different tools & platforms for further analysis. In this session, they will introduce Open Belgium community to software that streamlines their data workflow process and make a case for data quality. You will learn how to add metadata and create schema for their data, validate datasets and be part of a vibrant open source, open data community. Do you want to be part of the open community? Attend talks from excellent speakers? Meet other open experts and interested peers? Find inspiration for your projects? Or just keep the discussion going on #OpenBelgium? Be sure to join on the 12h of March in Louvain-la-Neuve: there are still tickets left here.

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.

Civic Lab Brussels launched!

Dries van Ransbeeck - May 15, 2017 in network, OK Belgium

Open Knowledge Belgium in collaboration with Wikimedia Belgium has launched Civic Lab Brussels – a biweekly action-oriented gathering of open enthusiasts with different backgrounds and skills who work together on civic projects. This post was first published on Open Knowledge Belgium’s website: https://www.openknowledge.be/2017/05/05/launch-of-civic-lab-brussels/

How did we come up with this idea?

It all started during a fruitful discussion with Open Knowledge Germany at Open Belgium earlier in March. 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 every 2 weeks together in an open space.

Much more than putting open projects in the picture

The goal of Civic Labs Brussels is two-fold:
  1. on the one hand, offering volunteers opportunities to contribute to civic projects they care about.
  2. On the other hand, providing initiative-takers of open project with help and advice from fellow citizens.
Open in the case of our Civic Lab means, corresponding to the Open Definition, yet slightly shorter so that anyone can freely contribute to and benefit from the project. No strings attached. During our Civic Lab meetups, we didn’t only put open initiatives in the picture and hang out with other civic innovators. We also want to get things done and create impact. Therefore, our meetups 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 — just let the organising team know in advance.

Kickoff Civic Hack Night

At our kickoff meetup, we were pleased to welcome 33 open believers — which corresponds to a show-up rate of 92% (!)— and had 4 projects presented: Thanks to the diversity among attendees, our kickoff meetup turned out to be a big success. This is also where the potential lies for Civic labs: bringing researchers, hackers, civil servants, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives in the same room and inviting them to collaboratively work on open projects.

Civic Labs Brussels Kickoff

What to expect from our next Civic Lab meetups?

During our next open gathering there will be presentations about both running projects —e.g. air quality, OpenStreetMap and open food data — as well new projects in Civic Lab Brussels as, for instance, from Wikimedia Belgium and Dewey. Next, to those project-specific presentations, we’d like to invite researchers and students to come and tell us about their findings from their work related to anything open and international visitors to meet our local community and share their stories. Last but not least, we’re happy to announce that Chris and Umut, both interns at Open Knowledge Belgium, will also present the onboarding process they developed for W4P – open source crowdsourcing platform – during the Civic Lab meetup on 23 May.

BeCentral: location of Civic Labs Brussels

How to get involved: Noteworthy: Civic Lab Brussels has its own Wiki page – https://be.wikimedia.org/wiki/Civic_Lab_Brussels

Open Belgium 2017 in the eyes of a Russian open data enthusiast

Anastasia Valeeva - March 29, 2017 in belgium, community, gender, hackathon, network, OK Belgium, transport policy

When you belong to a worldwide community such as the Open Knowledge Network, travelling to other countries means you can meet like-minded people by just knocking on the door of a local branch. That is exactly what I did last year when I lived in Brussels. I signed up as a volunteer for the Open Belgium 2016, a yearly community-driven conference. It turned into an incredible internship for a couple of months. A year later, I am not living in Belgium anymore, but wanted to visit the team and Open Data Day was a perfect excuse. So I sign up as a volunteer again. And what do I see first upon arrival? A whole bunch of new family members.

Open Knowledge Belgium: Meet the next generation

It’s been a few months since Dries Van Ransbeeck took up the torch of the project coordinator role from Pieter-Jan Pauwels, but you can already see the changes. The office has moved from Ghent to Brussels, with new interns commuting daily from various parts of the country. You can already say that Open Knowledge Belgium is taking another dimension. And it’s the new generation of volunteers that made the Open Belgium happen this year. You can check out the volunteers’ hall of fame here. My task as a volunteer for the Open Belgium was to type ‘like a maniac’  and keep a record of all the discussions. Find below my one-blog-summary of the day.

State of Open Data: Low-hanging fruit is gone

The event traditionally kicked off with the overview of the state of Open Knowledge in the country. Delivered by Toon Vanagt, the chairman of the Open Knowledge Belgium and Inge Van Nieuwerburgh, Board Member and coordinator of scholarly communications, it was rather a positive sum-up of the previous community efforts. The laws are in placethe European Directive on the reuse of data was transposed into Belgian Law (NL, FR), providing strict obligation for administrations to make information available for reuse. Open Knowledge Belgium has a recognised role in the process of open data legislation. The basic datasets are open. Data portals are the new black. The task now is to go further to improve data quality, aiming at the 5-star model of Tim Berners-Lee. This will mean building ontologies for linked open data, long but necessary debates about algorithms and ethics, an ongoing search for a revenue model based on open data, and filling new roles in a data field society such as data curator, data stewards and data analyst. That’s a long, but exciting way to go.

Belgian Transport Authorities: we’ve changed

How long till we get the real-time public transport data? That was the hottest question on the panel with Belgian Public Transit Authorities. Sure, it is a big technical, legal and ethical challenge – a lot needs to be done to make this possible. But it’s also important to appreciate having this dialogue today. This has not always been the case. Indeed, only a few years ago SNCB was very protective of its data. In 2010, it sent a letter to Belgian IT student Yeri Tiete who had developed a timetable app, iRail.be. The letter stated: ‘Your website makes reuse of SNCB data. This violates its intellectual property rights, including copyright and database rights. It also makes you guilty of the criminal offence of counterfeiting’ and urged him to cease the app immediately. Tiete and the online community had to find lawyers to fight back. Their legal basis for defending the use of the data was based on a series of linked cases from the European Court of Justice. The Court then ruled that when information in databases is generated as part of the regular activities of a company, then that data is not protected by database rights because the creation of the information has not required ―substantial investment and hence may be used by third parties without them needing to seek permission. In this context, the very presence of Belgian public transport authorities at the Open Belgium conference gets a whole new meaning. Their explicitly expressed commitment to share the data, support open data initiatives and engage developers for co-creation paves the way for innovation and smart use of their data.

Mind the gender gap! 

The event touched upon various initiatives around open data. Representatives from Wikipedia talked about closing the gender gap. When 9 out of 10 registered users on the website are male, the average editor being a 31 years old man with a degree in higher education, you don’t have to be a data analyst to see the possible biases of the content. To close that gap, Wikipedia has several projects running. One of these projects is ‘Women in Red’, which is an initiative of creating links to non-existing pages about prominent women in relation to their works and biographies; therefore calling for action to create these pages. Another is Art + Feminism edit-a-thon which is a series of community-organized events that aim to teach folks how to edit, update, and add articles on Wikipedia.

And other Stories 

Being a journalist myself, I was particularly interested in the session on who should tell the data stories by Maarten Lambrechts. ‘New kids on the block’ as Maarten puts it: are state agencies and statistical offices competing with journalists over the narrative of data. It is increasingly important for media not to outsource the interpretation of data. “How many toilet apps do we need?” – Is a classic sceptical question regarding hackathons. However, Belgium now sees ‘the return of the hackathon’ – the second wave of interest and support for hackathons. They are becoming more inclusive, focused and thematic, organised around a particular topic such as diseases, a problem such as gender equality or a city, such as Gent. ‘We need as many toilet finders as people need’ – is a positive answer for the hackathon organisers. This is my wrap-up for you. Go check the full list of presentations, notes and visual summaries here. At the closing panel, we sketched the next steps: unlocking legislation, working on open licences, creating policies around linked open data. You may have heard it before, right? But these are all parallel paths, and we are moving, step by step.

OK Belgium welcomes Dries van Ransbeeck as new project coordinator… and other updates from quarter 4

Sarah Dierickx - March 15, 2017 in community, OK Belgium, Open Knowledge

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.

A lot of things has happened over the past few months at Open Knowledge Belgium. First, we welcomed Dries Van Ransbeeck as the new project coordinator. His previous experience ranges from data modelling, civic engagement to crowdsourcing. He also has a keen interest in open innovation and the power of many intrinsically motivated individuals contributing to projects with social and societal impact, serving the interests of the many rather than the happy few.

Dries’ mission is to bring Open Knowledge and Open Data to a level playing field, where people with all sort of backgrounds, technical and non-technical can use, reuse and create knowledge in a sustainable way. Read more on Dries here. We also moved to a new office space in Brussels and welcomed three new interns: Chris, Umut and myself [Sarah] who will be helping the team for the next few months. Below are the latest updates of our activities:

Open Belgium Conference

Our annual conference was held on March 6 in Brussels, with the theme: ‘Open Cities and Smart Data’. There were talks and discussions about how Open Data can contribute to smart urban development, the rise of smart applications and the shift from raising the quantity of data to raising the quality of data. About 300 industries, researchers, government and citizen stakeholders were expected for the conference to discuss various open efforts in Belgium. More will be shared later.

Open Education

An interesting Kickoff meeting about Open Education was held in February to discuss the possibilities of opening up educational data in Belgium. This bottom-up action is needed in order to make things possible and keep the discussion alive. Business owners, data providers, data users and problem owners sat together and discussed the possibilities concerning open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices.

While students and staff want information which is up-to-date and easy to find, most colleges are unwilling to open up their data which is very problematic because opening up educational data to build applications would make things a lot easier for students as well as the colleges themselves. Another issue that was identified is the fact of every educational institution working with a different database.

It was, therefore, interesting to discuss an open data standard for every college or university. We can solve these problems by giving educational institutions more concrete information about what data they have to open up and what the consequences are. Therefore, this working group could contribute to the discussions on the possibilities of Open Education and create extra pressure on colleges and universities to open up their data and provide them with more information.

OpenStreetMap Belgium

The biggest achievement for OSM Belgium in 2016 was co-organizing SOTM (State of the Map) in Brussels, which is the yearly international conference on OpenStreetMap. Our community for OpenStreetMap is growing and thanks to the help of many enthusiastic volunteers, SOTM was a great success. 


For 2017, OSM plans to formalise their organisation by setting up a membership and some very basic governance rules. By doing this, they want to provide some structure and support for future projects. OSM will continue to stay an open community as it always has been. The main goal of OSM is to communicate in a better way about their ongoing projects so as to attract sponsorships for the new year. They’re also collaborating more closely with other organisations which share the same goals.

Open Badges Belgium

We have also recently started a new working group who wants to help spread the use of Open Badges in Belgium. An Open Badge is a digital platform where you can showcase the talents you have acquired and share them with the labour market. They are visual tokens of achievement or other trust relationship given by training centres, companies and selection agencies and are also shareable across the web.

Open Badges are more detailed than a CV as they can be used in all kinds of combinations, creating a constantly evolving picture of a person’s lifelong learning. To learn more about how Open Badges work, watch our introductory video here.

Oasis

Oasis is the acronym for ‘Open Applications for Semantically Interoperable Services’. This is a cooperation between the city of Ghent and the region of Madrid to increase the accessibility of public services and public transport. Both cities work together and publish linked open data to prove that new technologies can lead to economies of scale, such as the creation of cross-country applications.

To read up on Open Knowledge team and our activities please visit www.openknowledge.be or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

 

Diplohack in Brussels – The first hack in the Council of the European Union

Mor Rubinstein - April 5, 2016 in European Union, Hackday, OK Belgium

For the first time in history, we can hack from inside the Council of the European Union building! Join us at #Diplohack in Brussels in the Council of the European Union on the 29-30 of April. logo-diplohack We invite everyone to take part, whether you’re a diplomat, developer, designer, citizen, student, journalist or activist. We will connect different profiles together in teams to use European data for good. The idea is that you create a prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) with this data in just 24 hours that is focused on transparency and decision-making. We will support you in any way possible, explain the data and help you get started. Diplohack, as the hackathon is called, forms part of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union transparency strategy. The Brussels diplohack will run for 24 hours straight and is part of the several Diplohacks across Europe. Those hackathons intend to make the EU more transparent. Tech developers, EU diplomats, journalists, citizen activists, social entrepreneurs, data experts and many more will join forces and think of transparency applications to make decision making in the EU searchable and understandable. Everybody interested in the EU data can enter the hackathon. The winners of the diplohack will be invited to compete in a European final in Amsterdam during the TransparencyCamp Europe Unconference. The Diplohack event is organised the Council of the European Union, the Dutch EU Presidency and Open Knowledge Belgium. Get your free ticket for the #Diplohack! The Diplohack will be preceded by the Webinar with EU data experts to explain more about the data. You can join even if you don’t participate in the Diplohack itself. Register here.
Check http://diplohack.brussels/ or the discuss forum thread more info on the programme and the Eventbrite page for more practical information.
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Diplohack in Brussels – The first hack in the Council of the European Union

Mor Rubinstein - April 5, 2016 in European Union, Hackday, OK Belgium

For the first time in history, we can hack from inside the Council of the European Union building! Join us at #Diplohack in Brussels in the Council of the European Union on the 29-30 of April. logo-diplohack We invite everyone to take part, whether you’re a diplomat, developer, designer, citizen, student, journalist or activist. We will connect different profiles together in teams to use European data for good. The idea is that you create a prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) with this data in just 24 hours that is focused on transparency and decision-making. We will support you in any way possible, explain the data and help you get started. Diplohack, as the hackathon is called, forms part of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union transparency strategy. The Brussels diplohack will run for 24 hours straight and is part of the several Diplohacks across Europe. Those hackathons intend to make the EU more transparent. Tech developers, EU diplomats, journalists, citizen activists, social entrepreneurs, data experts and many more will join forces and think of transparency applications to make decision making in the EU searchable and understandable. Everybody interested in the EU data can enter the hackathon. The winners of the diplohack will be invited to compete in a European final in Amsterdam during the TransparencyCamp Europe Unconference. The Diplohack event is organised the Council of the European Union, the Dutch EU Presidency and Open Knowledge Belgium. Get your free ticket for the #Diplohack! The Diplohack will be preceded by the Webinar with EU data experts to explain more about the data. You can join even if you don’t participate in the Diplohack itself. Register here.
Check http://diplohack.brussels/ or the discuss forum thread more info on the programme and the Eventbrite page for more practical information.
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