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Updates from Open Knowledge Czech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Openness spark spreads across the country

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

Our learning from the Open Data Day mini grants scheme

Mor Rubinstein - May 17, 2017 in Open Data Day

2017 was the third year of OKI Open Data Day Mini-grants scheme. Although we are working on it for a while, we never had the time or capacity to write our learnings from the last two schemes. This year, we decided to take more time to learn about the project and improve it. So we decided to look at the data and share our learnings, so the open data day community can use it in the future. This year, we used some of our Hewlett grant to team up with groups all over the world who are doing open data day events. We were also lucky to find more funding thanks to Hivos, Article 19, Foreign Commonwealth Office and SPARC. Each partner organisation had their own criteria for the giving the mini-grants. This blog post refers only to the OKI scheme – Open Data for Environment and Open Data for Human Rights. We did include some figures about the other grants, but we can not write about their rationale for how to distribute the money.

How did we decide on the themes for the scheme?

In past years, we awarded the mini-grants without any clear geographical or thematic criteria. We simply selected events that looked interesting to us or that we thought can spark discussion around open data in places where it is not done. We also gave priority to our network members as recipients. This year, we decided to be more systematic and to test some assumptions. We set up a staff-wide call to discuss the scheme and how it will be built. We decided that Open Data Day is a great opportunity to see how data can be used, and we wanted to limit it to specific topics so we can see this use. Themes like education and health were thrown into the air, but we decided to focus on the environment and human rights – two fields where we saw some use of open data, but not a lot of examples. We tried to gather all that we know on a doc, that then became a staff-wide collaborative work. We also set other criteria in the meeting. We wanted to see small tangible events rather than big ideas that can not be implemented in one day. We also wanted to see the actual use or promotion of use, rather than a general presentation of open data. After speaking to David Eaves, Open Data Day spiritual father, we decided to add also a Newbie fund, to support events in places where open data is a new thing. See all of the details that we gathered here.  

What themes did people apply to?

  (Note that FCO joined the grant after the submissions phase closed, and therefore there is no dedicated track for their grant)    

Who applied for the grant?

In the 2.5 weeks, we got 204 applications, the majority from the Global South. Just to compare, in the 2016 scheme, we got 61 applications, the majority of them from the Global North. This means that this year we had 3 times more applications to deal with.. As you can see in the map (made by our talented developer advocate Serah Rono), more than half of the applications (104 if we want to be precise) came from the African continent. Our staff members Serah Rono, David Opoku and Stephen Abbott Pugh, have good networks in Africa and promoted the applications in them. We believe that the aggressive outreach that the three did and the fact that other individuals who champion open data in Africa helped us to promote it are the reason for the increase in applications from there. In both of our the tracks – human rights and environment, around 25% of the applications we got were from groups who didn’t work with open data or group that didn’t suggest an activity on the theme  – 15 in human rights track and 13 in the environment track.  

How did we choose who will get the grant?

4 of our staff members – Serah, David, Oscar and Mor gave a score to each application -1  – the application did not meet the criteria
0  –  the submission met the criteria but did offer anything unique not
1 – The submission met the criteria and offered a new perspective on data use on the topic. We tried to make the bias as little as possible by having a diverse committee from different genders and locations.  We decided not take into consideration where the application is coming from geographically and gender sex of the applicant. In our final list, when we had two applications from the same country, we tried to give the money only to one group.  

What should we have paid attention to?

Gender. Our friends from SPARC checked that they distribute the grant equitably between men and women. We tried to have We then decided to investigate even further the gender of the applicant. Since we didn’t qualify for the applicant’s gender in the application form, we determined their genders through their names and validate it through a google search. Out of 202 applications, 140 were made by men, and only one applicant was a joint gender application. (See visualisation). We don’t know why more men apply than women to the grants and it will be good to hear if other organisations had the same experience with this topic. If so, it is important to see why women are not applying for these opportunities.  

Who received the grant?

Unlike previous years, this year we took the time to reply to all the applicants about their status as fast as we could. However, we realised that answering back takes longer t Also, we published all winners in a blog post before open data and tried to keep the process as transparent as we can. See our announcement blog post here. However, during the last couple of month, some groups could not organise the event, and they asked us to give the money to someone else. These groups were from Costa Rica, Morocco, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Brazil. We decided, therefore, to give the grant to another group, Open Knowledge Philippines, for their annual Open Data Day event. Newbie category Since some of the groups that applied had no experience in open data, we wanted to try and give the grant to two of these so we can build capacity and see how open data can become part of their work. However, since we announce the winner a week before open data day, we didn’t have enough time to work with them so the event will be meaningful. We are currently looking at how we can cooperate with them in the future.  

What were the outcomes?

All of the learning from the grant recipients are on our blog where you can see different types of data use and the challenges that the community is facing in getting quality data to work with. Some of our recipients started to inquire more about OK network and how to participate and create more events. We would like to hear more from you about how to improve the next open data day by writing on the open data day mailing list.

Open Data Day Buenos Aires – building open agenda for Argentina

Open Knowledge Argentina - May 12, 2017 in argentina, OK Argentina, Open Data Day, SDG

Open data is not familiar with weekends! However, on Saturday, March 4th, 2017, public officials, civil society organisations, civic hackers and many interested citizens came together in Vicente López to share projects and ideas around open data. In this event, the community also began to discuss the present and future of open data in Argentina. This year we focused the event on the topic of open data in local governments. We did so in different ways: Panels, roundtables, lightning talk and the development of the “Open Data Agenda 2017” of Argentina. We started in the morning with a panel to think and debate the different ways of advocating for an Open State. We wanted to overcome the notion that open government only serves the executive branch, and that it is relevant to the judicial and legislative branches as well. In this panel, we had Gonzalo Iglesias, the national director of public data and information, Karina Banfi, National deputy for the province of Buenos Aires and Mariano Heller, the secretary of the council of judiciary. The Panel was moderated by  Agustin Frizzera, the director of Democracia en Red. In mid-morning, we held another panel on how open data can strengthen citizenship. Data can help to inform and to approve the way we make decisions, and in the case of the private sector, it can help to generate economic development. This panel included Agustina de Luca, Transparency manager in the foundation Directorio Legislativo, and Paula Moreno Frers, who works at content development at  Here Technologies, a company that uses open data to improve their maps. Agustina stressed in the panel the importance of open data to achieve the objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The event did not ignore the growth of local open data portal in the past year. In this sense, the third panel had participants from Pilar, Tigre, Cordoba and Villa Maria. The panellists share their best practices in local open government and open data. Likewise, they presented the challenges in opening up internally and externally. On the one hand, it is important to have legitimacy from within the system to have a process to open up data. On the other hand, when being external facing, it is also important to have a stable portal that promotes re-use of data by the society. This includes useful visualisations, good search engines and relevant information. After lunch, we had round tables to define Argentina’s open agenda for 2017. We discussed subjects such as: –  The importance of opening data in national and local government –  What data is important to citizens  – The development of open source software as a way to promote transparency  -The possibility to create data journalism from open data – The linkage between open data and SDG  -Gender equality – How to build economic development from data At the end of the day, we had lightning talks with experts in the field that presented different open data projects. For example – the local open data index in Argentina for 2017, a ranking for the local open data portals in Argentina, the transparency portal of the river Cuardo and the projects datos abiertos melendez and “Aquí estamos, mapa del #8M”.

A lookback on Open Data Day 2017

Lieke Ploeger - May 11, 2017 in Open Data Day

With Open Data Day 2017 now two months behind us, it is time to look back and reflect on all that has been happening around the world during this year’s celebration of open data. First of all, it was great to see that a record amount of 346 events were registered this year! Many events have been happening in the Global South, an impressive number of events took place in Japan and more events were held across the US than in previous years. As for press coverage, wrote three articles reporting on these developments that are worth reading, and The Guardian ran a feature story around Open Data Day on five countries where open data is gaining momentum, including Burkina Faso, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria and Indonesia. The event was also celebrated online: even so much that our hashtag #opendataday was trending on 4 March! Some tweet highlights are captured in these Storify summaries: part 1 and part 2. On Youtube, you can find lots of videos of Open Data Day events, such as the one below from New Zealand. Throughout the past months the grant winners have been reporting on their events through our blog. Here is a list of the reports per country and category, so you can easily check up on what has happened:

Open contracting and tracking public money flows

Funded by FCO:

Open data for environment

Open data for human rights

Funded by FCO:

Open science

We are happy that Open Data Day 2017 was such a success, and invite you to share your experiences on this year’s event with others through the forum, so we can learn from each other and make ODD2018 even better!

Open Data Day in Burkina Faso: What is the environmental impact of the extractive industry?

Noufou Kindo - May 10, 2017 in Open Data Day

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Environment theme. This blog has been translated from the French original at Open Data Day took place through more than 300 other events in many places around the world: in Burkina Faso, the event was celebrated by the community on 11 March. This year, the open data community of Burkina Faso strongly advocates for the opening of data about environment and mining, and in this perspective, the topic of the day was “Open Data: environmental impact of the extractive industry”. In Burkina Faso, the initiative attracted many people in Ouagadougou, all of them coming with different backgrounds and willing to learn, exchange and share experiences around extractive data. Idriss T. Tinto, a member of Open Burkina, stated that ‘Open Data Day was initiated by Open Knowledge International. The current Minister of ICT, Hadja Fatimata Ouattara / Sanon, was present at the very first edition of this event in 2013. This year, Open Burkina opted to work specifically on data related to the environment.” The objective is to lead on the development of an action plan to collect data and then make it accessible and available to everyone. The goal is also to establish a data collection from the field in order to compare them with data used in some studies that have already been carried out. Malick Lingani, co-organizer of the Open Data Day in Burkina Faso, explained the day’s aims at identifying data that have an environmental impact on both industrial and artisanal mines in Burkina Faso, and that can be publicly available and published as open data.

Group photo before the start of the work

An action plan will be established today as a deliverable on this objective. The Open Data community in Burkina is also working on the development of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan in Burkina Faso. The Open Data movement in Burkina is not just about opening up new data. The initiative allows us to work on both the re-use of data and their social impact“, said the co-founder of the BEOG-NEERE Association. According to the head of the Open Data Burkina Initiative (BODI), Abdoul Malick Tapsoba, the mining industry in Burkina Faso has a direct impact on the environment, “but what kind of data can prove it?” he wonders. He adds that one of the main aims as a first step would be to identify this data, mapping the actors, and elaborate on what can be done with it. He argues that this initiative is in line with the objectives of the Open Government Partnership, which aims among other priorities, at improving transparency on the management of public affairs. As a reminder, Burkina Faso joined the Open Government Partnership on December 7, 2016, which was a great step for the open data community. The Minister in charge of reforming the Administration was appointed to lead the OGP in Burkina. It is worth noting that the open data community of Burkina Faso is composed of several structures including Open Burkina, Open Knowledge International, Burkina Open Data Initiative (BODI), Ouaga Lab, the BEOG-NEERE Association and the Geek Developer Network (GDN). Members of this community often come together to share experiences, develop applications, release and share data, create visualisations and publish analyses using open data.  

The birth of Open Data at Lagos State University

Adisa Bolutife Oluyinka - May 4, 2017 in Open Data Day

Technarium hackerspace celebrates Open Data Day in Vilnius, Lithuania

Egle Marija Ramanauskaite - April 27, 2017 in Open Data Day

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open Research theme. Open Data Day was celebrated for the first time at Technarium hackerspace (Vilnius) this year, with not one but two amazing events! The morning part – Open Data Hackathon – kicked off with the Vilnius City Council, who brought some pizzas & told us all about the open data work they do. Vilnius has recently become a hotspot of open data in Lithuania, as the council elected in 2015 has made it one of its top priorities. Council representatives demonstrated the Open Vilnius website, open data repository on GitHub, as well as the recently created portal, which was “fired up” in one weekend by one of the advisors of the mayor – Povilas Poderskis, an open data & IT expert. The portal has an exciting background story, as it was inspired by a 2.8 mln euros worth project for a national open repository, but was created in a few hours by Povilas entirely voluntarily, by purchasing a server and installing CKAN open source software. The portal now serves as an “unofficial national open data repository”, but is used by an increasing number of institutions under their own initiative or by encouragement from the Vilnius City Council. According to Povilas Poderskis, the main goal of encouraging institutions to open up their data is transparency:
Open data ensures that mistakes, misuse and corruption are revealed sooner rather than later, persons responsible for abuse of power lose their positions, thus bringing positive change that affects everyone. – Povilas Poderskis

The city council representatives shared some success stories of open data use at a national level, including Lithuanian Road Administration, National Health Insurance Fund and others, and Vilnius-specific issues, such as opening up the kindergarten registry so citizens can better plan their applications, and Tvarkau Vilnių – an app that allows you to submit problems you see around the city, which are then displayed on a public map and passed to appropriate institutions. Then a group of hackers took the challenge of hacking the open city data for the rest of the afternoon and came up with a couple of creative visualizations & tools, including an application that connects streets names with the areas of the city they’re in (very handy!), analysis of registered cats and dogs (suspiciously, about twice as many dogs are registered than cats, suggesting cat owners might be skipping this responsibility!) and other tools which are still in progress and will be reported on via Technarium blog!

Participants at the event

In the evening we held a separate event – Café Scientifique: Opening up YOUR research data – aimed at researchers of various disciplines. We had two fantastic speakers: Michael Crusoe, one of the founders of the Common Workflow Language (CWL) project, and Vida Mildažienė, a biochemist at Vytautas Magnus University. Michael gave an engaging talk about the general purpose of communicating the scientific process clearly, and how having a shared specification make it easier for scientists to share their workflows, especially in data-intensive fields, such as bioinformatics, and highlighted the importance of doing so to enable greater reproducibility & usability of research data.

Michael Crusoe, co-founder of the Common Workflow Language (CWL) project leading a presentation.

Quite a few participants insisted on a demo of CWL after the talk, and that is what they got! :)

Michael Crusoe, demonstrating the Common Workflow Language (CWL) project to some participants

Next, Vida spoke about the state of open science in Lithuania for education & for society. She took us through the different science communication efforts and events that are ongoing or have been organised in the past in Lithuania and highlighted some cultural problems we are still facing with respect to connecting science and the society. Vida also shared some local citizen science projects that are brewing, and highlighted hackerspaces as places for open science to organically occur!

Vida Mildažienė, a biochemist at Vytautas Magnus University leading a discussion on open science in Lithuania.

After the talks we engaged in an important discussion regarding open science in Lithuania, and tried to answer these questions: It was especially helpful to have Michael in the audience – someone who knows open science as it applies to the international scene, but also new to Lithuania, and can, therefore, ask insightful questions! We discussed the general difficulty of getting researchers to share their data – the time it takes, the fear of sharing their ideas and results prematurely in case they get “scooped”, which are problems familiar across the world. We also raised the question of whether there is enough information about open science and its methods in Lithuania, as, e.g. people seem oblivious about pre-publishing or other alternative methods of sharing in the scientific process, or even national open research data repositories. On the other hand, since the concept of open science is reaching us a bit later, we have a chance to do it right the first time, by learning from mistakes already made! The event was filmed by a grassroots science popularisation show called Mokslo Sriuba (“Science Soup”), and will be reported on Mokslo Sriubos TV on Youtube soon!  

Gender inequality on focus in São Paulo Open Data Day

Poli GNU - April 21, 2017 in Brazil, Open Data, Open Data Day, South America

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the human rights theme. This blog has been translated from this Portuguese original post. The International Open Data Day was celebrated for the seventh time on March 4th, 2017. It is always a good opportunity to present open data and show its benefits for newcomers. This year, as a joint initiative between PoliGNU, PoliGen, MariaLab e Transparência Hacker, on the Human Rights theme and we focused on the discussion about women participation in public policy development by looking at related open datasets. Our open data day activity was designed with the following 4 steps:
  1.     Initial presentations and explanations;
  2.     Open data initiatives mapping;
  3.     Women’s fights related initiatives mapping;
  4.     Data analysis and visualization made by thematic groups;

1st Step – Initial presentations and explanations

We started with a brief introduction from each participant to allow everyone to know each other. This showed how diverse of a group we were: engineers, developers, business consultants, designers, social assistants, teachers, journalists, students and researchers. Some of the participants had collaborated with the Brazilian Freedom of Information Act (FOIA – 12.527/2012), so we had a small discussion about how this law was produced, its purposes and limitations. There was also a brief presentation about what is open data, focusing on the eight principles: Complete, Primary, Timely, Accessible, Machine processable, Non-discriminatory, and License-free.

2nd Step – Open Data initiatives mapping

We started with a brainstorm in which everybody wrote open data related solutions onto post-its notes. The solutions were grouped into four macro themes: Macro Politics, Local Politics, Services and Media.

3rd Step – Women’s fights related initiatives mapping

After we had a second brainstorm about initiatives connected to women’s fights, claims and demands were mapped and added onto post-its. Those initiatives could be not internet-related, as long as they would be related to open data. The post-its were grouped into 5 themes: “Empowerment through Entrepreneurship”, “Empowerment through Technology”, “Visualisations”, “Campaigns” and “Apps”.

4th Step – The teams’ work on Data Analysis and DataViz

Two groups of complementary interests were formed: one that focused on the underrepresentation of women in elected public positions, and another, which sought to address gender inequality from an economic bias perspective. The team that focused on political perspective, sought open data from the Electoral High Court referred to the Brazilian 2016 elections (available here). The group spent considerable time downloading and data wrangling the database. But even so, they got interesting statistics such as the average expenditure per candidate: ~ R$16,000 for male candidates and ~ R$6,000 for female candidates. Although all parties and states have reached the share of 30% of women, as defined by the law, women’s campaigns receive much less investment. For example, all women’s campaigns, together, did not reach 7% of the total amount of money in Rio de Janeiro City Hall Elections. Tables, graphs and maps were generated in and the code produced is available in PoliGNU’s GitHub. With this disparity in women representativeness, it is undeniable that the decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of rich white men’s hands. How is it possible to ensure the human rights of such diverse society if the decisions are taken by a such a homogeneous group of rich white men, majority of whom happens to be old? This and other questions have remained and are waiting another hackday to delve again into the data. The team that focused on economic perspective sought open data from the IBGE website of income, employed population, unemployed population, workforce, individuals microentrepreneur profile, among others. Much of the open data available was structured in a highly aggregated form, preventing manipulation from generating or doing any kind of analysis. As a consequence, this team had to redefine their question a few times. Some pieces of information deserve to be highlighted:
  • women’s workforce increasing rate (~ 40%) is higher than that of the men (~ 20%)
  • the main segments of women’s small business are: (i) hairdressers, (ii) clothing and accessories sales, and (iii) beauty treatment activities;
  • the main segments of men’s small business are: (i) masonry works, (ii) clothing and accessories sales, and (iii) electrical maintenance.
These facts show an existing sexual division of labour segments – if this happened only due to vacation, it would not be a problem. However, this sexual division of work reveals that some areas impose barriers and prevent women’s entrance, although, these areas often provide better pay than those with a female majority. Graphs were generated in and the data used for the graphs is available here.

This is how Guatemala joined the worldwide celebration of Open Data

Red Ciudadana - April 20, 2017 in Open Data Day

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the human rights theme. This blog has been translated from this Spanish blog at Medium.

In parallel, in five continents, activists, public officials and researchers gathered to have 345 different activities on #OpenDataDay 2017. This is what we did in Guatemala.

It was a Saturday, it was early, but that didn’t prevent us from gathering to talk about data. The morning of March 4 – Open Data Day– started with two proposals from civil society researchers who reminded us that the conversation about open data isn’t only a matter of government. At the start, Ronal Ochaeta from Open Knowledge in Guatemala reminded us that information can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. He spoke about the need to close the gap between what technology can create and the needs of users: “it’s useless having a really good open data portal that people don’t use”. Ochaeta emphasized the power of data literacy and how these should be adapter for a broad population, so they can make knowledge important for themselves.   Silvio Gramajo, an experienced researcher of the public sector, gave us a list of ideas about how to generate data that the open government initiatives aren’t producing. We also need to develop indicators to measure its performance. Gramajo also called to push not only government but other sectors that can join the wave, like universities, think tanks, colleges and companies.

After these presentations we changed the direction and went from civil society to government so three institutions could share their progress on this matter.

Zaira Mejía, in charge of the Open Government Partnership in Guatemala, emphasized that when you go in to portal you can find how the Third Action Plan – a document created by the government and civil society organizations to promote transparency, accountability and citizen participation – advances. In this website the user can search in the 5 core lines of work (access to information, citizen participation, innovation, fiscal transparency and accountability) and the 22 commitments that were made to follow how these goals move forward, as well as to keep this government initiative accountable. Later, Carlos Dubón, the director of the access to information unit of the Ministry of Finance mentioned that they have managed to change their information delivery policy. As a result, they can respond with editable files instead of PDFs in approximately 80% of the requests they get. He specified that even though they are advancing, they not only have access and availability gaps but they also need to let citizens know what they can request and what this information means. In one word: understanding. Last but not least, Edgar Sabán from the National Secretary of Science and Technology mentioned that they are working on an unified open data portal (one of the Open Government Partnership commitments) and mentioned they will use open source code.

Carlos Dubón, the director of the access to information unit of the Ministry of Finance; Zaira Mejía, in charge of the Open Government Partnership in Guatemala, and Edgar Sabán from the National Secretary of Science and Techology

We had assistance from journalists, communications and political science students and officials in charge of processing the information requests, as well as other people interested in the subject. Along with Red Ciudadana and Escuela de Datos we managed to gather a community to meet and learn. Thus, while chatting, drinking coffee and having some pastries the morning went by. What’s next is working in generating a culture of access and transparency from our positions and push for the commitments to be fulfilled. Hopefully, for Open Data Day 2018 we’ll have more progress made and more projects to show. Also, we hope in next year’s photo, the group photo will have more people. The more, the merrier ;)

Open Research event in Yaoundé, Cameroon

Soazic Elise Wang Sonne - April 18, 2017 in Open Data Day

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open Research theme. On 6th April 2017, I was finally to organise an Open Research Data event in Yaoundé, Cameroon to train the young and next generation of social scientists on transparency and reproducibility tools to enhance the openness of their research. Of a pool of 80 applicants, about 40 participants were carefully selected based on their gender, their field of study as well as their previous knowledge and interest towards research replicability and openness. In spite of the heavy rainfall that preceded the opening ceremony, about 30 participants from various Cameroonian universities and disciplines ranging from economics, political science to psychology were able to attend the event. We were also lucky to have among the attendees about 4 participants originally from Benin. The event kicked off with an introduction of the topics intended to be covered. The first part of the presentation focused on sensitising participants on the different forms of academic research misconducts, with concrete examples of research falsifications with regards to economics and psychology over the last decade.   We also discussed the various types of academic research misconducts, such as publication bias, p-hacking, failure to replicate, unreproducible workflow as well as the lack of sharing and openness in research. At the end of this first part of the workshop, a lively discussion arose with participants, especially on the difficulties for young PhD students to deviate from the traditional “hidden”  and “lack of sharing” behaviour inherited from their senior mentors. Some attendees also mentioned bottlenecks to access data from National Statistical Offices (NIS), that are meant to be opened and freely accessible to the academic research community, as one of the key impediment to pursuing their respective research. They also raise the difficulty they face in getting access to publication (not even raw or cleaned datasets) from their peers/colleagues. The second half of the day centred on introducing participants to different solutions that could be undertaken to enhance the openness of their research, such as pre-registration, pre-analysis plan, data sharing and the construction of a reproducible and transparent workflow, dynamic documents etc. An example on how to pre-register a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) or a research undertaken with secondary data was made under the American Economic Association (AEA) Social Science Registry as well as the Open Science Framework (OSF). A compelling presentation of what is a Pre-Analysis Plan (PAP) was done by the BITSS (Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences) catalyst Faha Nochi Dief Reagen.

Dief Reagen Nochi Faha of Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences leading a presentation.

After that, STATA Do files and R Markdown codes along with R, R studio and STATA 13 set up were distributed to participants with useful assistance from Mr Cyrille Moise Touk and Mr Dief Reagan Nochi Faha. The internet connection was a bit of a challenge, especially when it came to loading up some of the R packages to build dynamic documents in R (R Markdown, Foreign, Stargazer, Sandwich) and Stata (Markdoc). The practical sessions, however, went very well and almost all the participants were able to successfully run the code and get their dynamic documents done either in R or STATA. At the end of the workshop, students were encouraged to apply for the forthcoming OpenCon2017 conference to learn more about Scholarly Publishing and Altmetrics and also apply to the BITSS summer institute of UC Berkeley. The views of two participants: “I really wish I knew about all those bottlenecks to research openness (Publication bias, P-hacking, failure to replicate, unreproducible workflow, lack of data sharing and transparency) at the very beginning of my PhD, I would have been more cautious. However, now that the workshop has raised my awareness on the necessity to be more transparent and open in research, I could use the knowledge acquired to enhance the quality of my current and forthcoming publications.” – Mr Armand Mboutchouang Kountchou; Final year PhD Student in economics, University of Yaounde II-SOA and African Economic and Research Consortium (AERC) “Research transparency, reproducibility and openness tools should be integrated into the academic curriculum of our universities from the undergraduate level. This could enable the next generation of African economic researchers to embrace a different path in order to enhance the credibility and quality of their research outputs.”Mr Nochi Faha Dief Reagen; PhD Student in economics, University of Yaounde II-SOA and University of Rennes 1, France.