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Nature-branded journal goes Open Access-only: Can we celebrate already?

- October 26, 2014 in OKF Brazil, Open Access, Open Access Week

This post is part of our Open Access Week blog series to highlight great work in Open Access communities around the world. It is written by Miguel Said from Open Knowledge Brazil and is a translated version of the original that can be found the Brazilian Open Science Working Group's blog. Open access 2(1)Nature Publishing Group reported recently that in October, its Nature Communications journal will become open access only: all articles published after this date will be available for reading and re-using, free of charge (by default they will be published under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing virtually every type of use). Nature Communications was a hybrid journal, publishing articles with the conventional, proprietary model, or as open access if the author paid a fee; but now it will be exclusively open access. The publishing group that owns Science recently also revealed an open access only journal, Science Advances – but with a default CC-NC license, which prevents commercial usages. So we made it: the greatest bastions of traditional scientific publishing are clearly signaling support for open access. Can we pop the champagne already? This announcement obviously has positive aspects: for example, lives can be saved in poor countries where doctors may have access to the most up-to-date scientific information – information that was previously behind a paywall, unaffordable for most of the Global South. Papers published under open access also tend to achieve more visibility, and that can benefit the research in countries like Brazil, where I live. The overall picture, however, is more complex than it seems at first sight. In both cases, Nature and Science adopt a specific model of open access: the so-called "gold model", where publication in journals is usually subject to a fee paid by authors of approved manuscripts (the article processing charge, or APC). In this model, access to articles is thus open to readers and users, but access to the publication space is closed, in a sense, being only available to the authors who can afford the fee. In the case of Nature Communications, the APC is $5000, certainly among the highest in any journal (in 2010, the largest recorded APC was US $ 3900 – according to the abstract of this article… which I cannot read, as it is behind a paywall). This amounts to two months of the net salary of a professor in state universities in Brazil (those in private universities would have to work even longer, as their pay is generally lower). Who is up for spending 15%+ of their annual income to publish a single article? Nature reported that it will waive the fee for researchers from a list of countries (which does not include Brazil, China, India, Pakistan and Libya, among others), and for researchers from elsewhere on a "case by case" basis – but they did not provide any further objective information about this policy. (I suspect it is better not to count on the generosity of a publisher that charges us $32 to read a single article, or $18 for a single piece of correspondence [!] from its journals.) On the other hand, the global trend seems to be that the institutions with which researchers are affiliated (the universities where they work, or the scientific foundations that fund their research) bear part of these charges, partly because of the value these institutions attach to publishing in high-impact journals. In Brazil, for example, FAPESP (one of the largest research foundations in Latin America) provides a specific line of funding to cover these fees, and also considers them as eligible expenses for project grants and scholarships. As it happens, however, the funds available for this kind of support are limited, and in general they are not awarded automatically; in the example of FAPESP, researchers compete heavily for funding, and one of the main evaluation criteria is – as in so many situations in academic bureaucracy today – the researcher's past publication record:
Analysis criteria [...] a) Applicant's Academic Record a.1) Quality and regularity of scientific and / or technological production. Important elements for this analysis are: list of publications in journals with selective editorial policy; books or book chapters [...]
Because of this reason, the payment of APCs by institutions has a good chance of feeding the so called "cumulative advantage" feedback loop in which researchers that are already publishing in major journals get more money and more chances to publish, while the underfunded remain that way. The advancement of open access via the gold model also involves another risk: the proliferation of predatory publishers. They are the ones that make open access publishing (with payment by authors or institutions) a business where profit is maximized through the drastic reduction of quality standards in peer review – or even the virtual elimination of any review: if you pay, you are published. The risk is that on the one hand, predatory publishing can thrive because it satisfies the productivist demands imposed on researchers (whose careers are continually judged under the light of the publish or perish motto); and on the other hand, that with the gold model the act of publishing is turned into a commodity (to be sold to researchers), marketable under high profit rates - even without the intellectual property-based monopoly that was key to the economic power mustered by traditional scientific publishing houses. In this case, the use of a logic that treats scientific articles strictly as commodities results in pollution and degradation of humankind's body of scientific knowledge, as predatory publishers are fundamentally interested in maximizing profits: the quality of articles is irrelevant, or only a secondary factor. Naturally, I do not mean to imply that Nature has become a predatory publisher; but one should not ignore that there is a risk of a slow corruption of the review process (in order to make publishing more profitable), particularly among those publishing houses that are "serious" but do not have as much market power as Nature. And, as we mentioned, on top of that is the risk of proliferation of bogus journals, in which peer review is a mere facade. In the latter case, unfortunately this is not a hypothetical risk: the shady "business model" of predatory publishing has already been put in place in hundreds of journals. Are there no alternatives to this commodified, market-oriented logic currently in play in scientific publishing? Will this logic (and its serious disadvantages) be always dominant, regardless if the journal is "proprietary" or open access? Well, not necessarily: even within the gold model, there are promising initiatives that do not adhere strictly to this logic – that is the case of the Public Library of Science (PLOS), an open access publishing house that charges for publication, but works as a nonprofit organization; because of that, it has no reason to eliminate quality criteria in the selection of articles in order to obtain more profits from APCs. Perhaps this helps explain the fact that PLOS has a broader and more transparent fee waiver policy for poor researchers (or poor countries) than the one offered by Nature. And finally, it is worth noting that the gold model is not the only open access model: the main alternative is the "green model", based on institutional repositories. This model involves a number of challenges regarding coordination and funding, but it also tends not to follow a strictly market-oriented logic, and to be more responsive to the interests of the academic community. The green model is hardly a substitute for the gold one (even because it is not designed to cover the costs of peer review), but it is important that we join efforts to strengthen it and avoid a situation where the gold model becomes the only way for scientists and scholars in general to release their work under open access. (My comments here are directly related to my PhD thesis on commons and commodification, where these issues are explored in a bit more detail – especially in the Introduction and in Chapter 4, pp. 17-20 and 272-88; unfortunately, it's only available in Portuguese as of now. This post was born out of discussions in the Brazilian Open Science Working Group's mailing list; thanks to Ewout ter Haar for his help with the text.)

Open Knowledge Brazil is a finalist of the Google Impact Challenge | Brazil!

- April 29, 2014 in Featured, News, OKF Brazil

This is a guest post by Everton Zanella Alvarenga, Executive Director of Open Knowledge Brazil.


We are proud to announce we are finalists at the Google Global Impact Challenge | Brazil. Please, vote in our project to help us transform Brazil!

About the project

The Open Knowledge Brazil team works for a world in which knowledge empowers people. We are proud to announce that we are one of the finalists in Google Impact Challenge | Brazil, with the Project Gastos Abertos. We want you to help us build a different story to our country.

Brazilians work for almost half of the year just to pay taxes. After that, they know almost nothing about where their money goes. This is not the Brazil we want. Since we take good care of the spending of our homes, we should also pay attention to the spending of our country. Open Spending is calling for a change in attitude. Let’s play the leading role in the Brazil we want!

Our project deals with something that affects everybody: your pocket. Open Spending will show you how the federal government of Brazil and the state government of São Paulo are spending YOUR money. We’ll do everything through easy and interactive data visualizations.

But we will not stop right there! We know that such a change in attitude doesn’t come overnight. It requires a lot of effort and dedication. It requires awareness.

That’s why we’ll offer courses and tools so anyone will be able to use Open Spending in efficient and striking ways, anywhere. We’ll create the conditions for anyone to bring Open Spending to any city. When everyone changes their realities, we change the country.


Caroline Riley – Carol

Areas of expertise: strategic planning, branding, innovation and sustainability. Caroline has more than 10 years of experience in businesses management, strategic planning and branding in Brazil, Latin America, Europe and United States. Sha has worked in developing, innovating and specific projects such as: Tam, Lan, Telefónica, Vivo, Fast Shop, Bunge, Microsoft, Nestlé and GVces. She graduated at ECA-USP and obtained her MBA at Escola de Negócios de Madrid.

    Everton Zanella Alvarenga – Tom

    Everton Zanella Alvarenga, aka Tom, is the Executive Director of Open Knowledge Brazil. He has been involved in many projects about free knowledge, from building softwares to stimulating access to OER. He has worked as a consultant for Wikimedia Foundation, coordinated the project Wikimedia in Teaching in Brazil, and has worked at Open Knowledge Foundation since 2011, when the Brazilian chapter was suggested. He co-founded Stoa project at the University of São Paulo, which aims to create a public space for sharing and producing knowledge with focus on science and education, and has been supporting many projects in the context of open and free culture.

    Gisele Craveiro

    Since 2005 is University of São Paulo assistant professor, teaching and researching at the School of Arts, Science and Humanities. She and colleagues have founded the Research Group on Public Policies for Access to Information, which since 2006 contributes in the public debate about open access, copyright, FLOSS, Open Data and Open Government. She is member of the Brazilian National Open Data Infrastructure steering committee, representing civil society. She is also in the Open Government Partnership Latin American Civil Society advisor committee. Her national and international projects and publications are mainly focused in open budget, ranging from government transparency portals analysis, data extraction, standardization of budgetary data disclosure on the web, civic application development and open data initiatives impact research.

    Marco Túlio Pires

    Marco Túlio Pires
    Marco Túlio is the coordinator of Escola de Dados (School of Data) in Brazil. Journalist (UFMG) graduated in Electrical Engineering (PUC-Minas), Data Visualization (University of Michigan), Project Management (Georgetown University) and programming, he is advisor of innovation and technology at the Bureau of Social Progress of São Paulo. He learned how to program in Python with the help of MIT and edX platform and has been trying to connect Computer Sciences and Journalism at the emerging area called Data Journalism.

    Thiago Rondon

    Thiago Rondon
    Thiago develops software at Aware and b-datum. He is a big enthusiastic of the Free Software Movement and has won many prizes of programming, such as Desarrollando América Latina, White Camel Awards, Prêmio Mário Covas, and others.

    Skillshares and Stories: Upcoming Community Sessions

    - April 3, 2014 in ckan, community, Events, network, OKF Brazil, OKF Projects, Open Access, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, School of Data

    We’re excited to share with you a few upcoming Community Sessions from the School of Data, CKAN, Open Knowledge Brazil, and Open Access. As we mentioned earlier this week, we aim to connect you to each other. Join us for the following events!
    What is a Community Session: These online events can be in a number of forms: a scheduled IRC chat, a community google hangout, a technical sprint or hackpad editathon. The goal is to connect the community to learn and share their stories and skills.
    We held our first Community Session yesterday. (see our Wiki Community Session notes) The remaining April events will be online via G+. These sessions will be a public Hangout to Air. The video will be available on the Open Knowledge Youtube Channel after the event. Questions are welcome via Twitter and G+. All these sessions are Wednesdays at 10:30 – 11:30 am ET/ 14:30 – 15:30 UTC.

    Mapping with Ketty and Ali: a School of Data Skillshare (April 9, 2014)

    Making a basic map from spreadsheet data: We’ll explore tools like QGIS (a free and Open-source Geographic Information System), Tilemill (a tool to design beautiful interactive web maps) Our guest trainers are Ketty Adoch and Ali Rebaie. To join the Mapping with Ketty and Ali Session on April 9, 2014

    Q & A with Open Knowledge Brazil Chapter featuring Everton(Tom) Zanella Alvarenga (April 16, 2014)

    Around the world, local groups, Chapters, projects, working groups and individuals connect to Open Knowledge. We want to share your stories. In this Community Session, we will feature Everton (Tom) Zanella Alvarenga, Executive Director. Open Knowledge Foundation Brazil is a newish Chapter. Tom will share his experiences growing a chapter and community in Brazil. We aim to connect you to community members around the world. We will also open up the conversation to all things Community. Share your best practices Join us on April 16, 2014 via G+

    Take a CKAN Tour (April 23, 2014)

    This week we will give an overview and tour of CKAN – the leading open source open data platform used by the national governments of the US, UK, Brazil, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Austria and many more. This session will cover why data portals are useful, what they provide and showcase examples and best practices from CKAN’s varied user base! Our special guest is Irina Bolychevsky, Services Director (Open Knowledge Foundation). Learn and share your CKAN stories on April 23, 2014 (Note: We will share more details about the April 30th Open Access session soon!)


    Brazil becomes the Open Knowledge Foundation’s first Full Chapter in Latin America

    - February 18, 2014 in Featured, OKF Brazil, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

    We’re delighted to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation Brazil has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to become a, full, official Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation. You can read the official announcement on our press page, and here their coordinator, Everton Alvarenga, tells us more. In July 2011, during the Open Knowledge Conference in Berlin, the formation of a Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Brazil was proposed. It was exciting to see that global network of people opening up knowledge in several fields: government data, educational resources, scientific knowledge and cultural goods. In Brazil, several groups and individuals had already been doing amazing projects related to open knowledge (or “conhecimento livre”, as we translate it), from volunteers involved in the Wikimedia projects to members of the civil society trying to reform our outdated copyright law, from professors and students advocating for open educational resources to researchers trying to improve the access to scientific knowledge, and from developers and journalists starting to use modern tools to improve data analysis to create stories to developers and activists raising awareness of the importance of government date to be open and giving examples on how to use the available data. 2014-02-01 15.25.52 In the same spirit that guides the global Open Knowledge Foundation Network as a whole, the Brazil Local Group has been working for the last 2 years to form a local network supporting open knowledge, which we call “Rede pelo Conhecimento Livre”. We have brought together a national network aiming to connect all the amazing actors of the free culture movement and open movement in the country. We place a high value on our community roots, emphasizing decentralized collaboration. We firmly believe that all the fantastic groups and individuals building towards openness in Brazil will be stronger together, and our main task is to facilitate this, be it through projects aligned with our mission to open all forms of knowledge or supporting the communities part of our network. To make this possible, the hard work of many people was necessary. We have been participating in and organizing events to promote open knowledge in several ways: at the international and local level, and also in the context of Latin America. We are supporting an active open science working group, and supporting other civil society organization to understand the importance of open data, for example through our visualizations of budget data. Our group has also actively bringing the School of Data to Portuguese speakers and we are planning to continue with several activities in the following years. And there is more: with some of our partners, from academics to other civil society organizations, we have started to work as a hosting organization, making projects to happen in a more dynamic and less bureaucratic way. Being a very young organization, we are still building our governance with a focus on community-driven decision making whenever possible, and we are also working to have a channel for crowd-funded projects to achieve our goals. 2014-02-01 14.01.55 Going forward, we see big challenges and opportunities for Open Knowledge Brazil, the “Rede pelo Conhecimento Livre”. We see the OKF Brazil as a key driver for a truly participatory democracy in the country, with access to knowledge and openness in several sectors as a key to our development. One of main challenges will be to build an organization with sustainable projects and give continuity to several good initiatives from the civil society we have seen that ended in nothing, but we are willing to change that. And you all are very welcome to join our network through your collaboration or new projects we can make together!

    Visualizing How the Brazilian Government Underspends on the Public Good

    - August 22, 2013 in Brazil, federal budgeting, OKF Brazil, OKFN Local, Open Spending, OpenSpending

    This post is authored by Vitor Batista, who works as developer for the Open Knowledge Foundation, and Neil Ashton, Data Roundup Editor for the School of Data blog. It is cross-posted from the PBS Ideas and OpenSpending blogs. Brazilian NGO INESC (Institute of Socio-Economic Studies) and Open Knowledge Foundation Brasil want Brazilians to participate in the allocation of their public spending and ensure that it is used to construct a free, fair, and sustainable society. That’s why we partnered to create Orçamento ao seu Alcance, a site which presents the execution of the Brazilian federal budget in an interactive and intuitive form. We used OpenSpending as our database. This made it easier to focus and develop our visualizations without the need for setting up additional infrastructure for data hosting, and it made the data readily available in an accessible way.

    What’s the project about?

    Millions of Brazilians pay the taxes that fund the federal budget, but few actually understand it. Most are unaware of Brazil’s unjust regressive tax regime and of the scale of the losses to the public through misallocation. The information they need to understand these realities is simply not available in a comprehensible form. By building Orçamento ao seu Alcance, we hope to change that. Orçamento ao seu Alcance’s development focused particularly on the issue of underspending. All Brazilian public bodies spend less money than is allocated to them, to varying degrees. The Ministry of Education, for example, left 16.3% of its budget (about US$ 6.1 billion) unspent in 2012, and the Ministry of Culture only spent 47.5% of its budget in 2012. If Brazilians’ needs were really being met – if every Brazilian who wanted to study had access to good public schools, for example – this underspending would not be a problem. But that is far from the case; in fact less than 1% of schools have an ideal infrastructure (a problem we have explored previously). To explore and highlight the problem, and we created a special-purpose data visualization.

    How we used OpenSpending

    Orçamento ao seu Alcance took data collected by SIGA Brasil, an aggregator for the many systems used by the Brazilian government to organize budget data, and added it to the OpenSpending database. Using OpenSpending freed us from creating our own database and allowed us to use the OpenSpending API to construct visualizations and a full-text search system.
    Visualizing underspending
    We designed our own graph to tackle the problem of underspending. The result is a time series graph that combines bars, lines, and an area. The site constructs such a graph for each budgetary unit, showing how its budget and spending compare for a given year. Orçamento ao seu Alcance: underspending The blue area in the graph represents the total budget – which, as you can see, changes over the year. Each red bar shows how much was spent in a particular month, and the red line tracks total spending. The distance from the red line to the tip of the blue area gives the share of the budget remaining to be spent. The amount remaining in December is money that is underspent. This graph was built using NVD3, a JavaScript library with a collection of reusable charts made on top of D3.js. The data comes from OpenSpending via its Aggregate API.
    Budget treemap
    For the index page, we wanted to show a broad view of the budget across all public bodies. More than that, we wanted to show the amount of money used in each function and subfunction (e.g. Education and Basic Education). To do this, we used the OpenSpending treemap visualization. Orçamento ao seu Alcance: treemap OpenSpending allows you to create a treemap as a “widget” which can be simply dropped into a site. We used a modified version of the widget code with customized colours and a “back” button for improved navigation.
    To help the user find public bodies, we implemented a search box with auto-complete using Twitter Bootstrap‘s typeahead library. Orçamento ao seu Alcance: search To make the search instantaneous for the user, we load all data entries as soon as the user enters the page. The OpenSpending Aggregate API once again helped with this, allowing us to get a list of all public bodies with a simple query.

    Problems we had

    We did run into a few problems using OpenSpending to build the site, though all of them could be overcome. The Aggregate API only allows you to request one financial quantity (one measure) at a time. You can’t request both a budget quantity and a payment at the same time, for example. Our underspending graph ended up using three measures, requiring three requests. This is a performance problem. Because the API caches results, however, it ends up being OK – and there are already plans to support multiple measures in future versions, so this problem will soon be solved. With the treemap visualization, our problem was that widgets are not customizable. They’re made to be dragged and dropped into a blog post or a newspaper article, not integrated into a site with its own design. To change the treemap’s colours and fonts, we had to use a modified version of the widget’s code.


    We’re happy with how Orçamento ao seu Alcance turned out, and OpenSpending contributed a lot to its success. For developers, OpenSpending made it possible to run the site without its own database and to publish its content in a sleek, cacheable form. For the project’s NGO supporters, using OpenSpending makes it possible to update the data without needing to deal with the site’s developers. Everyone is happy. We hope that Orçamento ao seu Alcance will inspire other OpenSpending satellite sites that will help spread budgetary awareness around the globe.

    Global Community Stories #3

    - May 13, 2013 in Featured, OKF Australia, OKF Austria, OKF Belgium, OKF Brazil, OKF Greece, OKF Nepal, OKF Spain, OKF Switzerland, OKFN Local


    Open Data Maker Vienna - April 2013

    For your delectation, we bring you the third installment of Global Community Stories – a round up of the fantastic projects and activities of our Local Groups across the world, including a Wikipedia Editathon for girls in Nepal, a multitude of events in Belgium, Big Data Week across Spain, a Swiss Government pilot project, a multicultural open data event in Edinburgh, and a tiny town in Austria taking the lead in releasing data sets – the race is on!

    Following the incredibly kind donation of to our Open Knowledge community by Wunderkraut, OKF Belgium is preparing to take on maintenance of the site and grow the community that they began. They’ve been busy developing other collaborations too; a meet up with Random Hacks of Kindness is coming up June 1-2, as well as developing Their impressive upcoming events include a fully booked master class on Open Culture data, a presentation at the Flemish government to civil servants, as well as Apps for Flanders on June 14, and a General Assembly in June too. They’ve been keeping an eye on the public sphere too, and are organising a debate on new business models to allow financial sustainability through art following a lawsuit by the Belgian copyright organisation Sabam against ISP for not wanting to cooperate on copyright tax on internet subscriptions.

    In Austria, the OKF community is supporting the fight for a freedom of information act…

     Together with other civil society initiatives, the Austrian Chapter of OKFN is supporting this movement by organising a series of workshops for all stakeholders on the upcoming freedom of information law, reaching out to civil servants, citizens and politicans. They’ll be providing an opportunity for every stakeholder group to discuss and define their point of view, empowering change-makers across the sphere to broaden their influence, and they’ll be looking to develop the debate around freedom of information in a similar way to which the topic of open data was discussed some years ago.

     One little village in Austria deserves a special mention – Engerwitzdorf, a town of only 8000 inhabitants, has released 116 data sets – more than the entire federal government of Austria! They’ve been honoured for their work by being nominated for the Document Freedom Award by the Free Software Foundation Europe – congratulations! OKF Austria will joining in the celebrations through organising Engerwitzdorf’s first OKF MeetUp.

    In Switzerland, government data is being made more accessible…

    In Switzerland, the OKF Swiss Chapter has been developing a pilot project called Open Government Data at the Confederation – or, OGD@ Federation for short. Through the project, a group of government agencies will be attempting to bundle their data together via an open source platform, and they’ll be presenting this on May 22. We’ll keep you updated with how it goes, and for readers in Switzerland, you can register here.

    OKF Spain has been expanding rapidly…

    ..having reached 149 members on their mailing list and recently having organised a successful Big Data Week in Madrid and Barcelona! It doesn’t sound like they’re sitting on their laurels though, as they have another three day event coming up in Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla and Valladolid about data journalism which will include a hackathon, a barcamp and several workshops. They have an impressive line up of speakers too, including James Ball from the Guardian, Manuel Aristarán from the Knight Foundation, and OKF Central’s own Michael Bauer, so if you can, swing by!

    They also undertook the invaluable task of translating into Spanish Laura’s blog post, “Open Knowledge: much more than Open Data” – which has now become “Conocimiento Abierto: Mucho más que Open Data.” This is a wonderful way of getting our message out to a whole new audience – thanks!

    Laura’s post was also a hit with our OKF Greece Chapter, who kindly translated it into Greek. Translations of posts on the into any language at all are very much welcome; if you do any translations, please do let us know so we can publicise it too, and we very much appreciate your efforts!

    OKF Greece have also been busy organising an #OpenHealth event, and also took part in a Wikimedia workshop together with the Greek Wikipedia community. They recently completed the incredibly useful task of translating the Open Spending handbook into Greek, and you can now find the OKF Greece group on Facebook, too!

    In Scotland, Germans and Brits came together…

    Last week, the University of Edinburgh hosted the wonderfully multicultural event of German-British Open Data event. Scholarship holders from the Foundation of German Business came together for the weekend of talks, under the title “Open Data — Better Society?” and you can find a great round up of the talks and conclusions on the OKF Scotland blog.

    OKF Nepal have been focusing on getting girls into ICT…

    OKF Nepal recently teamed up with Wikipedia Nepal to organise a Wikipedia Editathon, which took place on the International Day of Girls in ICT. A truly great initiative, addressing a key issue facing the tech movement. OKFN Nepal’s Prakash Neupane also took to the stage to explain about the Open Knowledge Foundation’s mission, and from the photos it looks like all involved had a wonderful time. We look forward to hearing from the next event!

    Congratulations all, for some incredible activities from across the globe!

    (and keep an eye out for some exciting upcoming events- OKF Brazil are organising an event on Open Science at the beginning of June, and OKF Australia are organising a Beautiful Data GovHack at the end of May !)

    Global Community Stories #2: Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Nepal, Iceland and Belgium

    - April 10, 2013 in Featured, OKF Belgium, OKF Brazil, OKF China, OKF Czech Republic, OKF France, OKF Greece, OKF Iceland, OKF Nepal, OKF Spain, OKFN Local

    We continue our new monthly digest showcasing initiatives from our local communities across the globe, this time proudly featuring Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Nepal, Iceland and Belgium.

    The Open Knowledge Foundation’s many (30+!) Local Group communities stand behind a myriad of different activities every month. As you may also have read in our first edition of the Global Community Stories, this is our monthly wrap-up of some of the most interesting actions and initiatives happening around the world among our colleagues.

    In Brazil, volunteers gather around food facts and Data Journalism Handbook translations…

    In Brazil, the OKFN Brasil community has been engaging the the Open Government Partnership activities, reporting on civil society participation and urging the government for more open participation. The community has also begun to get involved in the Open Food Facts project, which attracted a bit of press attention. An initiative led by Ação Educativa has also started a working group to analyse open data around Brazilian education, with support from the local OKFN group. Ale Abdo, from OKFN Brasil advisory board, has published a guide on how to publish your thesis in LaTeX or ODT with an open license, and an effort to map the timings of lights at pedestrian crossings has begun. On the blog, Natália Mazote voiced interesting reflections on the participation of women in coding, and Thiago Rondon, also from the advisory board, discussed the importance of open hardware. Finally, an association of investigative journalists in Brazil, Abraji, has gathered volunteers to translate the Data Journalism Handbook to Portuguese!

    In Spain, conferences and hackathons take shape…

    In Spain the local OKFN Local Group are organizing the First Conference of Data Journalism and Open Data in Spain, titled: “When data tell stories”, from 24 to 26 May 2013. The event will take place simultaneously in Barcelona (CCCB + School of Communication Blaquerna) and Madrid (MediaLab Prado). Furthermore, they are planning a weekend Hackathon in the near future, which will hopefully take place in Madrid, Seville and Valladolid. There will be prizes for the best Data Journalism projects arising from this challenge within 48 hours – we’ll keep you updated as things develop.

    In Belgium, apps are made and competitions are spreading…

    In collaboration with the City of Ghent, iMinds, Ghent Web Valley and Ghent living lab, OKFN Belgium organized Apps for Ghent for the third time as part of an effort for citizens of the city of Ghent to show that Open Government Data can make the life of citizens easier, better or more fun. This edition welcomed 15 teams that worked on concepts from a smarter government service, to participation and sustainable energy. The local jury awarded Sumocoders with the first prize for “how busy is it now”, a tool that analyses different data sources to estimate which squares are too crowded. Congrats! It is worth noting that Apps for Ghent is not the only Apps for X event initiated by OKFN Belgium. Soon there will be Apps for VDAB, Apps for Flanders, Apps for Geo, Apps for Culture and many more. A full list can be found in their calendar.

    In Nepal, the newly founded group hosted first event and collaborated with fellow organizations…

    The newly incubated OKFN Local Group in Nepal held its first public event on Document Freedom Day, coorganized with OSAC, Central Department of Library Science & Informatics and FOSS Nepal. They also collaborated with Wikimedia Nepal to create WikiWistar, a wiki outreach program. Finally, they translated the Panton Principles (soon to be published) and they were invited to present Open Tourism at a conference organized by ANNFSU P.U. Valley Bagmati Zome Coordination Committee.

    In the Czech Republic, data enthusiasts and data journalists gathered…

    The fifth meetup of Czech open data enthusiasts was held in Brno on 22 March. More than 40 people from various backgrounds gathered to share their ideas and discuss their work. On 25 March, Otakar Motejl Fund together with National Technical Library organised a hands-on data driven journalism workshop. It turned into a very pleasant and inspiring event and the participants (journalists, students, watchdog activists) learned quite a bit about structuring, cleaning a visualizing data. Check out the photos from the meetup.

    In Iceland, CKAN was translated and a new government data license developed…

    Another one of the brand new Local Groups, Iceland, has been busy completing the translation of CKAN 2.0. The Finnish ambassador Finnur Magnusson is also heading a workgroup within the Ministry of Finance to launch the instance as a part of  (hopefully next week). Additionally, the Iceland group have the first version of an approved open data gov license based on the UK one. This is the first government open data license in Iceland (details in Icelandic). The workgroup has followed the Open Data Handbook to the T with great success: 3 months from start to finish for open spending data in a CKAN instance with an open gov license.

    And in other shorter news…

    The Netherlands had a Linked Open Data meetup in Amsterdam, where also Sander van der Waal and Christian Villum from OKF Central took part with a presentation. Austria succesfully organized the ambitious bi-continental Urban Data Challenge that bridged Geneva, Zürich and San Francisco in an event that seeked to harvest the innovative and creative power of communities around the world to explore urban data sets through visualization – and did so with huge success (we’ll report more in a separate blog post). They also got a mention in Wired magazineOKFN Greece co-organized opnHealth this week, an event that hosted the live streaming of selected presentations from TEDxNijmengen, while also presenting a forum for new ideas and applications in the Greek health sector. OKFN Local Group France organized the “Opération Libre” event (Open Operation) on 6 and 7 April in the small village of Brocas – aiming at using open source technologies, open data, crowdsourcing to tackle the issues of rural areas (we’ll follow up on that, stay tuned). In France they also launched the Open Transition Energie project; a website and a datahub group to share, explore and visualize open data and other open resources related to the debate on energy transition in France.

    On the translation front it was not only Brazil that shone, as mentioned earlier. OKFN Local Group China are very close to finishing translating Open Data Handbook into Chinese and thanks to OKFN Greece both OpenSpending and the Data Journalism Handbook was translated into Greek. Well done guys!


    Open Data Portal for Latin America

    - November 6, 2012 in OKF Brazil, OKFN Local, Open Government Data, WG Development, WG Open Government Data

    Sharing governmental information in open, accessible and structured formats could substantially increase transparency and accountability in public policy design and implementation. Furthermore, it enables broad social engagement in the process. Hence, opening data and acknowledging the demands of the population that arise from this is key to promoting social equality and effective public administration. Based on this premise, the project Open Data for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean has been implemented in partnership with W3C Brazil, the European Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), within the scope of the Observatory for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (OSILAC) and the International Development and Research Center of Canada (IDRC). The OD4D has 6 specific objectives:
    • To map out the main initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean for structured economic, social and environmental data sharing and to design a methodological framework to examine the relationship between opening data and the quality of public policies.
    • To study and discuss alternative strategies to foster technical training in governmental agencies and observatories in the region, thus implementing open data repositories for the design, monitoring and assessment of public policies.
    • To support research networks in Latin America and the Caribbean in producing new information and creating innovative applications and services based on open data.
    • To examine the relationship between more inclusive economic development and the opening of data in key economic segments.
    • To raise awareness among the community of public policy makers, public servants and researches of the potential of Open Data and appropriate strategies for its successful implementation.
    • To assess the potential of Open Data strategies in the design and implementation of public policies aimed at promoting economic development and social inclusion in Latin American countries and in the Caribbean.
    The Portuguese version of this post is available on the OKF Brazil blog