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Global Community Stories: January 2015

- February 13, 2015 in community, OKF France, OKF Germany, OKF Spain, OKF Switzerland, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups

20140115_123213 As some might remember, last year we ran a very popular blog post series called Global Community Stories, which highlighted activities in the ever-broadening Local Groups global community. Towards the latter half of the year lots of other projects demanded time and the series came to an unintended halt. With the turn of the year, however, we want to change that and that we why we’re now rebooting the series and plan to make this a monthly activity. Enough talk, let’s start our journey – here are some of the things that happened in January!


In France lots of activities are in motion right now, but one particularly worth noting is the participation in the first Public Domain Festival. It ran from 16th to 31st January in Paris and featured concerts, screenings, workshops, conferences in museums, libraries, hackerspaces and schools. It included over 28 different events which aimed to inform citizens and enable them to create together – as well as to highlight the public domain from all angles and for all ages.


Among other news, the Open Knowledge Chapter in Germany has been awarded a new EU Horizon 2020 research project, titled The Digital Whistleblower: Fiscal Transparency, Risk Assessment and Impact of Good Governance Policies Assessed (DIGIWHIST), to improve transparency in public spending and support whistleblowing. The central objective of DIGIWHIST is to improve trust in governments and efficiency of public spending across Europe by empowering civil society, investigative journalists and civil servants with the information and tools they need to increase transparency in public spending and thus accountability of public officials in all EU and in some neighbouring countries. Read more about the project here.


The Spanish chapter of the Open Knowledge once again organizes a global award for the best initiatives in open knowledge, open data and transparency. The six categories will award those projects and initiatives that have made visible or give practical for the public, industry and economics of open data, open knowledge and transparency. The awards consist of six categories, including the best initiative to encourage entrepreneurship based on open knowledge, the best business based on open knowledge, the best non-public transparency initiative, the best open science initiative, the best public initiative to support Transparency through the Open Data, and the best public open data initiative with involvement of citizens/society. The awards ceremony will take place on February 21 at Media Lab Prado, coinciding with the celebration of the worldwide Open Data Day. The ceremony will feature an address by the president of Open Knowledge, Rufus Pollock, as well as the announcement of the winner of a special initiative: The Anti-Award ‘Padlock’ to the most opaque and closed initiative, whether public or private, elected by registered users via the Award prize page. This second edition of the award features an English page to help institutions and initiatives internationally take part. Today is the deadline for applications, so jump on in and make a submission if you have candidates!


Coinciding with Champions League, Milan joined Swiss groups in Basel and Sierre to kick off the new Sports Working Group with a first hackathon, sparking discussion of transparency on an international level at the yearly conference in Zürich, where the community engaged in diverse talks and launched new projects. A big theme of 2014 was renewed commitments to Swiss openness: a parliamentary <ahref="">motion for Procurement Data, legal provisions to opening <ahref="">weather data, developments in the City of Zürich and Canton of St.Gallen – and the Open Government Data Strategy confirmed by the Federal Council in April and embedded in the action plan. While Open Budget visualisations are now deployed for the canton of Berne and six municipalities, spending data remains a challenge. Student teams participating in a new university course are helping to advance the cause for financial transparency. New open data projects were released, such as and SwissMetNet API, based on just-opened national weather data. But, talk about “hold your horses”: a closed-source city waste removal schedule app led to intense debate with officials over open data policy, the results making waves in the press and open data developers leading by doing. The new year promises at least as much: the next hackathon organised by the new Working Group, together with Wikimedia and the National Library, is canvassing Swiss institutions to provide content, data, and expertise – and inviting global participation. For the full calendar of upcoming events, visit their blog.

Code for Germany launched!

- August 6, 2014 in OKF Germany, Open Data

This is a guest blog post by Fiona Krakenbürger, research associate at Open Knowledge Foundation DE and Community Manager at Code for Germany


In July 2014, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany launched its program “Code for Germany! Prior to the OK Festival in Berlin, we presented the project to the media, international partners, city representatives, members of our Advisory Board and friends from far and wide. It was a honour for us to welcome partners, supporters and members of the program to the stage. Among them were Lynn Fine from Code for America, Gabriella Goméz-Mont from the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost (Digital Champion Germany) and Nicolas Zimmer (Technologiestiftung Berlin).

An essential focus of the launch and of the project was directed towards the community of Civic Tech pioneers and Open Data enthusiasts. We wanted developers and designers who are interested and active in the field of Open Data to get involved and inspired to start Open Knowledge Labs in their city. We started Code for Germany.

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The feedback so far has been amazing. In the past few months, fourteen Labs have sprouted up all across the country, bringing together more than 150 people on a regular basis to work on civic tech, use open data, and make the most of their skills to better their cities. This has all added up to more than 4000 hours of civic hacking and has resulted in multiple apps and projects.

The different OK Labs have been the source of a great variety of projects, tackling different topics and social challenges. For example, the OK Lab in Hamburg has a strong focus on urban development, and have created a map which shows the distribution of playgrounds in the city. An app from the OK Lab Heilbronn depicts the quality of tap water according to the region, and another from the OK Lab Cologne helps users find the closest defibrillator in their area. One more of our favourite developments is called “Kleiner Spatz”, which translates to “Little Sparrow” and helps parents find available child care spaces in their city.

We could go on and on listing our favourite projects, prototypes and ideas emerging from the OK Labs but why not check out the list for yourself to see what amazing things can be built with technology?

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Still, this is just the beginning. We are now going into the next phase: In the coming months we want to strengthen the various communities and establish ties with officials, governments and administrations. We believe that the government of the 21st Century should be open, transparent and accountable. Therefore we want to foster innovation in the field of Open Data, Civic Innovation and Public Services and create fertile collaborations between citizens and governments. Numerous useful visualizations and apps created by the OK Labs have now laid the foundation for these developments.

We are so excited about the upcoming events, projects, partners and inspiring people we have yet to meet. So far, Code for Germany has been a blast! And last (but certainly not least) we would like to express our most heartfelt gratitude towards the community of developers and designers who have contributed so much already. You rock & stay awesome!

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Coding da Vinci – Open GLAM challenge in Germany

- April 3, 2014 in Events, OKF Germany, Open GLAM

The following blog is by Helene Hahn, Open GLAM coordinator at Open Knowledge Germany. It is cross-posted from the Open GLAM blog More and more galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) are digitizing their collections to make them accessible online and to preserve our heritage for future generations. By January 2014, over 30 million objects have been made available via Europeana – among which over 4.5 million records were contributed from German institutions. Through the contribution of open data and content, cultural institutions provide tools for the thinkers and doers of today, no matter what sector they’re working in; in this way, cultural heritage brings not just aesthetic beauty, but also brings wider cultural and economic value beyond initial estimations. Coding da Vinci, the first German open cultural data hackathon will take place in Berlin to bring together both cultural heritage institutions and the hacker & designer community to develop ideas and prototypes for the cultural sector and the public. It will be structured as a 10-week-challenge running from April 26th until July 6th under the motto “Let them play with your toys!”, coined by Jo Pugh of the UK National Archives. All projects will be presented online for everyone to benefit from, and prizes will be awarded to the best projects at the end of the hackathon. The participating GLAMs have contributed a huge range of data for use in the hackathon, including highlights such as urban images (including metadata) of Berlin in the 18th and 19th centuries, scans of shadow boxes containing insects and Jewish address-books from the 1930s in Germany, and much more! In addition, the German Digital Library will provide their API to hackathon participants. We’re also very happy to say that for a limited number of participants, we can offer to cover travel and accommodation expenses – all you have to do is apply now! All prices, challenges and datasets will soon be presented online. This hackathon is organized by: German Digital Library, Service Centre Digitization Berlin, Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, and Wikimedia Germany.

Announcing v3.0 of Froide – the Open-Source Python-Based Freedom of Information Platform

- March 15, 2013 in Access to Information, OKF Germany, Open Government Data

I’m happy to announce version 3 release of Froide, the Open Source, Python-based platform for running Freedom of Information portals. Froide has been in development for nearly two years. It has powered the FOI portal in Germany for over a year and a half and has recently been used to launch an Austrian FoI site. Full instructions for getting started with Froide can be found here, and the source code is online on github here.This latest release comes with the latest version of the Python web framework Django 1.5 and Bootstrap 2.3. All other dependencies have also been upgraded. Some of the major features include: – Ask the State

Froide got started back in spring of 2011 when OKF Germany decided to create an FOI site. Unfortunately at that time the code of WhatDoTheyKnow was not ready to be used elsewhere (Alaveteli didn’t exist at all – plus, it must be said I’m a pythonista and it was ruby app!). I therefore started building an FOI platform based on Python/Django for Germany, internationalized from the ground up. After four months of coding and preparations we launched – the German FOI portal – in August 2011. Since then the software has seen continuous improvements and new features. Several of these additional features have been motivated by specific requirements for Germany, like tracking the cost of a request, uploading postal replies from authorities, hiding requester names from the public and redacting PDFs online. Froide leverages the power of the Django admin that allows community moderators to help with administration tasks and guide requesters on their FOI journey. Just recently got a little brother: the Austrian FOI portal got off the ground and will track the development of the upcoming FOI legislation in Austria.

Challenges Overcome

Over the last two years, the German FOI community have struggled with – and overcome – many FOI oddities: baseless cost threats, lot of anti-digital behaviour, and very creative excuses for why information cannot be released. has send out more than 3000 requests and the Federal FOI statistic for 2012 is at an all time high with more than a third of requests delivered and tracked by One of the most interesting stories was a ban on publishing documents received through FOI: the German parliament had sent over a report on MP corruption but denied the right to publish it on the grounds of copyright. Any citizen could get and read the report by requesting it, but nobody was allowed to share it freely! This Kafkaesque situation made it difficult to spread the word and limited public debate on the topic. But we quickly came up with a solution to this problem: one-click requests for that specific document in your name. We quickly got hundreds of people to make this request and sparked a debate about the topic. Even though the documents have been leaked on the net, the German parliament still refuses to publish them. The matter will soon be resolved in front of a judge, but until then we continue to provide an easy means to request the documents and take a stand for FOI.


Froide and are civic coding projects of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. Check out their other projects. This article would also be incomplete without a shout out here to Alaveteli – the excellent Open Source Ruby on Rails FOI software built by the great folks at MySociety – and to WhatDoTheyKnow, the original FOI site built by MySociety for the UK, which inspired both FragDenStaat and many other sites around the world.

The Open Data Census Challenge on Open Data Day 2013

- March 5, 2013 in Berlin, Events, london, montevideo, network, OKF Germany, Open Data, Open Data Census, Open Government Data, open-government, Palo Alto

On the recent Open Data Day we ran the Open Data Census Challenge. The challenge enlisted the help of participants around the world in digging up information on open data in their city and region and contributing it to the newly launched city section of the Open Data Census. The results have been impressive with information about data on more than 20 cities from Uruguay to Germany, US to Brazil. You can see the full results in the City Census dashboard. Open Data Census challenge data mining in Berlin

Challenge Winner

Part of the challenge was to see which individual or group could dig up the most information.  Several groups and individuals across the world picked up the challenge and were hard at work throughout the Open Data Day – not only finding information for the census but also highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of open government data in their home region. Many discovered that though open data may, in theory, be available, it is often hard to locate – and vary in size, accessibility and transparency. The census aims to map such facts and create a comparable overview of data in cities and countries across the world. To give a few highlights:
  • In Amsterdam, a team not only researched the city but also the Netherlands as a whole.  The general conclusion was that the Netherlands scores reasonably well, but it turned out to be very time consuming to actually find the open datasets that were available. Moreover, the Dutch national dataportal was found not to have been very well used by civil servants and its search functionality could be improved substantially!

  • In Berlin the The School of Data experimented with what they call “Data Expeditions”, which are ways of learning about data by actively working with it and giving everyone a set role. Great teams have been forming in this format during recent events, and it worked particularly well this time as they picked up the Census Challenge – as people already had a good feel for what data was out there by the time they started. Subsequently lots of datasets were found and added to the census.

  • The Fond Otakara Motejla in Prague took a different and very interesting approach. Rather than organizing a physical event for Open Data Day they focused on a virtual campaign titled “We want open data”. The aims were to remind the Czech government of its commitments in Open Government Partnership and also to promote the notion of open data in general. Using the Census Challenge as a way to involve more people in the campaign, the organizers saw numerous instances of impromptu Census data mining take place during the day.

There were many more contributions from London, Shanghai, Montevideo, Palo Alto and many more. See the census for full details! More Open Data Census challenge data mining in Berlin

And the Winner is!

Going through the submission registry we were not only overwhelmed by the total number of submissions (close to 100 datasets from across the world), but also with two groups in particular: Berlin and London, who sent in a significant part of the total number of submissions. The race was close, but in the end Berlin took the lead – and can therefore be announced winner of the Open Data Census Challenge on Open Data Day 2013. Congratulations! All in all the Open Data Census Challenge proved to be a highly motivating and fun activity, and we were thrilled to see so many people take part. A huge thanks to all of you.

More about the Open Data Census

If you want to learn more about the Open Data Census in general you can either visit the official site or read this recent blog post that outlines the current status and future plans for the census.

From Open Data to GovData: why the OGP matters in Germany

- February 19, 2013 in OKF Germany, Open Government Data, Open Standards

The following post is by Maria Schröder and Christian Heise from the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. It is cross-posted (and slightly shortened) from the Open Government Partnership blog. Germany’s official policy on transparency and accountability is lacking commitment and leadership. Disappointed by the political elites, the community is continuously trying to make the case for true open government as a means to achieving digital democracy. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) could be one part of the solution.

The road so far: German government screws up open data

Last year, the German government commissioned a study on Open Government Data. In the summer, the Interior Ministry announced it would take up one of the study’s core recommendations, and started preparing an open government data portal. But weeks before Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich plans to officially unveil the portal, it has become clear that the portal lacks two of the most important things for an open data portal: A coherent and compatible licensing policy, and interesting, politically relevant data sets. In other words: is not going to be an open portal, according to the 10 principles for opening government information. Consequently, the government removed the word “open” from its title. In the words of politicians:
In order to make the portal’s priorities regarding its content even more explicit, the “Open Government Portal Gemrnay” will from now on be operated under the name “GovData – the Data Portal for Germany”

The reaction of the open data community: Dropping the word ‘open’ from the national portal’s name and concept cannot be the solution

The community’s representatives issued a joint declaration on, outlining why the German GovData platform is not acceptable in its currently planned form (even if the government is at least not “open-washing”, a lovely apt term derived from greenwashing). The reasons for community criticism are as follows: a. the chosen license models do not conform to internationally recognized standards b. the portal, as seen so far, is lacking provisions for usability and security c. there are no visible efforts to motivate users to reuse the data provided d. the data provided is boring One week later, more than 300 people from various backgrounds have signed the statement ( – come co-sign!). Considering that the open data community in Germany is still small, the signature rate is quite impressive.

Germany needs the Open Government Partnership, the Open Government Partnership needs Germany

After the first countries joined to the OGP in September 2011, an open working group on OGP Germany consisting of German NGOs and enthusiastic individuals started working to get the German government to join. However, the German government put a unambiguous dampener on the working group’s endeavours, denying the necessity of the OGP for Germany. They claim that co-commitments on a European and national level are more important than on the global level. An open government data initiative between Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein (DACHLi) is meant to distract from these countries’ reluctance to join an international, US-driven knowledge exchange. We believe that the OGP needs Germany, too. Looking at Germany’s role in the EU, a decision by Germany to join would probably have a great effect on neighbouring countries, and could add a lot of value to the initiative, increasing the opportunities for information sharing, public participation, and collaboration. As members of the community, we are tired of being patient. Open (government) data is an essential part of government transparency, efficiency, accountability and citizen participation – topics which hundreds of thousands of Germans find critically important. Given the lack of political will from the government, it is in the community’s hands to connect these dots better. From our point of view, the latest events have re-emphasised that Germany needs to sign the OGP declaration in order to promote true open government from the highest political level. Image: Dodoïste on Wikimedia

Video: Julia Kloiber on Open Data

- October 3, 2012 in Ideas and musings, Interviews, OKF Germany, OKFest, Our Work

Here’s Julia Kloiber from OKFN-DE’s Stadt-Land-Code project, talking at the OKFest about the need for more citizen apps in Germany, the need for greater openness, and how to persuade companies to open up.

Stadt Land Code : An incubator for civic tools in Germany

- September 27, 2012 in OKF Germany, okfn-de, stadt land code

Today is the launch of OKFN-De’s new project ‘Stadt Land <Code>’ (‘City State <Code>’), an incubator to create digital tools for Citizens. This project is aimed at getting developers to create and implement applications to make the life of citizens in Germany easier and better. Stadt Land Code Banner Together, the plan is to create useful applications for civic good. The applications entered should aim to further the cause of citizen participation, government- or administrative-transparency in Germany.

Why does Germany need this?

In the UK and the USA there are a number of well-established applications which do this, e.g. Fix my Street and Everyblock which help citizens to either connect more effectively to one another or to the state. Germany is still trailing behind in this regard, but there is a huge demand for this type of application, while the number of services offered is still rather limited. This is what OKFN-De want to change with Stadt, Land <Code>. In this project, the teams who come up with the best concepts will be supported with seed money and invited to a camp in Berlin to exchange and develop their ideas.

Want to know more about ‘Stadt Land <Code>’?

For more details and how to apply, check out the website: And the ‘Stadt Land <Code>’ video (this version has English subtitles). For the original, see Vimeo: Stadt Land Code Border

Meet the Open Knowledge Foundation in Berlin

- April 27, 2012 in Chapters, Events, Meetups, OKF Germany, Open GLAM, wikimedia

We are excited to announce a number of events in Berlin in the next two weeks! Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S0627-0300 / CC-BY-SA During the re:publica (Germanys biggest Internet-related conference, which is increasingly international) we will host three little Meetups. From May 2nd to 4th we will be waiting for you at the Wikimedia Tent at 6:15 PM CEST. We will have a space to relax, chat and discuss new ideas, cool talks and new projects. To enter, you will need a valid re:publica Ticket. Check out our Wiki for more details. open-glam-crop After the re:publica Hangout, we will meet at the new office of Wikimedia Germany on May 8th at 6.00pm for our regular monthly meetup. We will speak with some people from the newly formed Wikidata-Allstar Team to learn about this new and exciting project. Also OKFN’s Joris Pekel will tell us more about the Open GLAM activities of the Open Knowledge Foundation. Check our Wiki for more details on this too! See you guys in Berlin!

Open GLAM Workshop in Berlin – Register now!

- April 2, 2012 in Chapters, DM2E, Events, News, OKF Germany, OKF Projects, Open GLAM, Our Work, Workshop

  Following on from our Open GLAM workshop in London, in a few weeks we’re hosting a half day workshop in Berlin looking at how to overcome barriers to opening up data in the cultural heritage sector entitled Rechtliche Fragen beim Öffnen von (Meta-) Daten Gedächtnisinstitutionen (Legal Questions Regarding (Meta)data in Cultural Heritage Institutions). We have already confirmed speakers from the Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, Europeana, the Staatsbibliothek, and other cultural heritage institutions.


If you’re interested in participating, please send an email to: joris.pekel [at] or register right now.


Staatsbibliothek Berlin, DE


20th April 2011 13:00 – 17:00


Galleries, libraries, archives and museums around the world are opening up datasets, documents and other digital assets to enable the creation of innovative web and mobile services. This half day, hands-on workshop aims to help decision makers in the cultural heritage sector to navigate the plethora of licensing options for opening up their data and what it means for their business models. The workshop will include:
  • Case studies on successful open data initiatives presented by leading practitioners
  • An open data licensing clinic with lawyers and legal experts, to address issues and questions about common licensing frameworks


  • Daniel Dietrich (OKFN) will open the workshop with a word of welcome and facilitate the rest of the day. He will start the day with an overview of the current situation and why it can be beneficial for institutions to open up and share their data
  • Dr. Jutta Weber (Staatsbibliothek Berlin) will give a presentation about the experiences the Staatsbibliothek has with releasing data under an open license
  • Dr. Paul Klimpel gives a presentation about the legal possibilities when institutions open up their cultural (meta)data
  • Mathias Schindler (Wikimedia) gives an overview of the work Wikimedia has been doing in this area, showcases and examples, as well as where they stand now and future developments
  • John Hendrik Weitzmann (CC) gives an overview of the different licensing models related to opening up data
  • Paul Keller (Europeana) presents the work Europeana is doing and what it means for cultural institutions to join and openly license their metadata
  • We will end the session with a round table discussion
The workshop is organised by Joris Pekel as part of the Open GLAM initiative in association with the Open Knowledge Foundation and in cooperation with Wikimedia DE and Creative Commons. The event is kindly hosted by the Staatsbibliothek Berlin. Please note that all presentations will be in German.