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How open is government data in Africa?

- March 5, 2019 in africa, Global Open Data Index, Open Data Index, research

Findings from the Africa Open Data Index and Africa Data Revolution Report

Today, we are pleased to announce the results of Open Knowledge International’s Africa Open Data Index. This regional version of our Global Open Data Index collected baseline data on open data publication in 30 African countries to provide input for the second Africa Data Revolution Report. Based on an adaptation of the methodology for the Global Open Data Index,  this project mapped out to what extent African public institutions make key datasets available as open data online. Beyond scrutinising data availability, digitisation degree, and openness of national datasets, we considered the broader landscape of actors involved in the production of government data such as private actors. Key datasets and methodology were developed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and well as the World Wide Web Foundation. We focused on national key datasets such as:
  1. Data describing processes of government bodies at the highest administrative level (e.g. federal government budgets);
  2. Data produced by sub-national actors but collected by a national agency (e.g. certain statistical information).
We also captured if data was available on sub-national levels or by private companies but did not assign scores to these sets. You can find the detailed methodology here. Ultimately, the key datasets we considered are:
  • Administrative records: budgets, procurement information, company registers
  • Legislative data: national law
  • Statistical data: core economic statistics, health, gender, educational and environmental statistics
  • Infrastructural data
  • Agricultural data
  • Election results
  • Geographic information and land ownership

Figure 1: Screenshot of the Africa Open Data Index Interface

Understanding who produces government data

Many government agencies produce at least parts of the key datasets we assessed. Some key datasets, such as environmental data, are rarely produced. For instance, air pollution and water quality data are sometimes produced in individual administrative zones, but not on national levels. Some initiatives assist producing data on deforestation, such as REDD+ or the Congo Basin Forest Atlases, with the assistance of the World Resources Institute (WRI) and USAID. Multiple search strategies may be required to identify agencies producing and publishing official records. Some agencies develop public databases, search interfaces and other dedicated infrastructure to facilitate search and retrieval. Statistical yearbooks are another useful access point to several information groups, including economic and social statistics as well as figures on environmental degradation or market figures. In several cases it was necessary to consult third-party literature to identify which public institutions hold the remits to collect data such as World Bank’s Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF) and reports issued by the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Sometimes, private companies provide data infrastructure to aggregate and host data centrally. For instance, the company Trimble develops data portals for the extractives sector in 15 countries in Africa. These data portals are used to publish data on mining concession, including geographic boundaries, the size of territory, concession types, licensees, or contract start and duration.

Procuring data infrastructure from private organisations

While being a useful central access point, Trimble’s terms of use do not comply with open licensing requirements. This points to a larger concern regarding appropriate licensing schemes and how they can be integrated into the procurement process. We propose that multi stakeholder initiatives such as the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and national multi stakeholder groups define appropriate terms of use, recommending the use of standard open licences, when procuring services in order to ensure an appropriate degree of openness to prevent lock-in and public access. An alternative information aggregator using open licence terms is called African Legal Information Institute (AfricanLII), gathering national legal code from several African countries. It is a programme of the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.

Sometimes stark differences what data gets published  

To test what data gets published online, we defined crucial data points to be included in every key data category (see here). If at least one of these data points was found online, we considered the data category for assessment. This means that we assessed datasets whose completeness can differ across countries. Figure 2 shows which data points are how often provided across our sample of 30 countries.

Figure 2: Percentages of data points found across key datasets. Percentage relative to the total amount of countries (100% = data point available in 30 countries).  Source: Africa Data Revolution Report, pp. 19-20.

Budget and procurement data most often contains the relevant data points we have assessed. Several key statistical indicators are provided fairly commonly, too. Agricultural data, environmental data and land ownership data are least commonly provided. For a more thorough analysis we recommend to read the Africa Data Revolution Report, pages 16-22.

One third of the data is provided in a timely manner

To assess timely publication our research considered whether governments publish data in a particular update frequency. Figure 3 shows a clear difference in timely data provision across different data types. The y-scale indicates the percentage of countries publishing updated information. A score of 100 would indicate that the total sample of 30 countries publishes a data category in a timely fashion.

Figure 3: Data provision across the various datasets

We found significant differences across individual data categories and countries. Roughly three out of four countries update their budget data (80% of all countries), national laws (73% of all countries) and procurement information (70% of all countries) in a timely manner. Approximately half of all countries publish updated elections records (50% of all countries), or keep their company registers up-to-date (47% of all countries). All other data categories are published in a timely manner only by a fraction of the assessed countries. For instance, the majority of all countries does not provide updated statistical information. We strongly advise to interpret these findings as trends rather than representative representations of timely data publication. This has several reasons. In some data categories, we included considerably more and diverse data points. For instance, the agricultural data category includes not only statistics on crop yields but also short-term weather forecasts. If one of these data types was not provided in a timely manner, the data category was considered not to be updated. Furthermore, if a country did not provide timestamps and metadata, we did not consider the data to be updated, as we were unable to proof the opposite.

Open licensing and machine-readability

Only 6% of all data (28 out of 420 datasets assessed) is openly licensed in compliance with the criteria laid out by the Open Definition. Open licence terms are used by statistical offices in Botswana, Senegal, Rwanda, and Somalia, as well as open data portals in Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea and Kenya and Mauritius. Usually, websites provide copyright notes but do not apply licence terms dedicated to the website’s data. In rare cases we found a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence being used. More common are bespoke terms that are compliant with the Open Definition. 14.5% of all data (61 out of 420 datasets assessed) is provided in at least one machine-readable format. Most data, however, is provided in printed reports, digitised as PDFs, or embedded on websites in HTML. Importantly, some types of data, such as land records, may still be in the process of digitisation. If we found that governments hold paper-based records, we tested if our researchers may request the data. If this was not the case, we did not consider the data for our assessment.

Recommendations

The following recommendations are excerpts from the Africa Data Revolution Report 2018. A comprehensive list of recommendations can be found in the report itself. On the basis of our findings we recommend that public institutions:
  • Communicate clearly on their agency websites what data they are collecting about different government activities.
  • Clarify which data has authoritative status in case multiple versions exist: Metadata must be available clarifying provenance and authoritative status of data. This is important in cases where multiple entities collect data, or whenever governments gather data with the help of international organisations, bilateral donors, foreign governments, or others.
  • Make data permanently accessible and findable: Data should be made available at a permanent internet location and in a stable data format for as long as possible. Avoid broken links and provide links to the data whenever you publish data elsewhere (for example via a statistical agency). Add ​metadata​ to ensure that data can be understood by citizens and found via search engines.
  • When procuring data, define a set of terms of use to ensure the appropriate  degree of openness: Private vendors may want to license data under proprietary terms, which may limit data accessibility. Research found that many data-intense projects in development contexts use haphazard, proprietary licence terms which may prevent the public from accessing data, increase complexity of use terms, and costs of data access.
  • Provide data in machine-readable formats: Ensure that data is processable. ​Raw data must be published in machine-readable formats that are user friendly.
  • Use standard open licences: Use CC0 for public domain dedication or standardized open licences, preferably CC BY 4.0. They can be reused by anyone, which helps ensure compatibility with other datasets. Clarify if data falls under the scope of copyright, or similar rights. If information is in the public domain, apply legally non-binding notices to your data. If you opt for a custom open licence, ensure compatibility with the Open Definition. It is strongly recommended to submit the licence for approval under the Open Definition.
  • Avoid confusion around licence terms: Attach the licence clearly to the information to which it applies. Clearly separate a website’s terms and conditions from the terms of open licences. Maintain stable links to licences so that users can access licence terms at all times.

More information

We have gathered all raw data in a summary spreadsheet. Browse the results and use the links we provide to reach a dataset of interest directly. If you are interested in specific country assessments, please find here our research diaries. The Open Data Survey tool, powering this project as well as our Global Open Data Index is open to be reused. If you are interested in setting up a regional or national version, get in touch with us at index@okfn.org.   Acknowledgements We would like to thank the experts at Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), the Communauté Afrique Francophone pour les Données Ouvertes (CAFDO) and the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the American University, Cairo for advising on the methodology and their support throughout the research process. Furthermore, we would like to thank our 30 country researchers, as well as our expert reviewers Codrina Maria Ilie, Jennifer Walker, and Oscar Montiel. Finally, we would like to thank our partners at the United Nations Development Programme, the International Development Research Centre and the Web Foundation, without whose support this project would not have been possible.

Open Budgets Index: A survey by OK Greece on open budgets of public sector bodies in Greece

- March 28, 2018 in Greece, OK Greece, open budget survey, Open Data Index, OpenBudgets

Within the scope of openbudgets.eu, a project funded by the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme, Open Knowledge Greece (OK Greece) conducted a survey on the availability of open public budgeting data in Greece. Then, our team created an interactive map that allows users to check the scores of their municipality or regional administrative unit. You can visit openbudgets.gr to check out the map.

Open Budgets Index: Greek Municipalities General Index (March 2018)

The Open Budget Index was inspired by Open Budget Survey and the Open Data Index. They both underline the importance of open public data for the promotion of transparency and building public trust. Open budgets in particular, if used properly, have a strong potential in the creation of participatory budget mechanisms.

Open Budgets Index survey step-by-step

This survey takes a look at what happens at the local level by examining municipalities and regional units in Greece, a country that struggles with the application of open data law, even though it’s been four years since the adoption of legislation.

Open Budgets Index: Greek Municipalities License scores (March 2018)

In order to measure the existence as well as the quality of the available budgeting data, a number of criteria was set, such as data resources (based on accessibility), license, data format and the existence of budget monitoring tools.

Survey key findings

Based on the survey results, 300 out of the 325 municipalities in Greece do publish some form of budgeting data on one of the official state resources: the document sharing platform Diavgeia, data.gov.gr (the official public data repository) or the municipality official website.

Open Budgets Index: Greek Municipalities Resource Formats scores (March 2018)

However, the available documents and data vary immensely in format, level of detail and consistency. The majority of the available budgets (81%) are PDF documents. 9 out of 325 municipalities make good use of the official public data repository data.gov.gr, while just 17 offer budget monitoring tools of some kind. In addition, 96% of the available budgeting documents are published under undefined license. The results for the regional administrative units are similar. All 13 institutions publish budgeting documents but only two units offer machine-readable content and one out of 13 sources is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Open Budgets Index: Regional Units General Index (March 2018)

By conducting the Open Budgets Index Survey, apart from providing Greek citizens with detailed information about the state of open budgeting data in their regions, we also suggest a step-by-step method for open data research. Our approach is based on yes/no questions and basic indicators, such as resource, level of detail and data format, that are easily understandable within the national context. Looking closely at the survey results, we draw the conclusion that administrative units in Greece are willing to open up their data but there is still lack of understanding of what open data is and how it can benefit not only the citizens but also the administration itself. Thus, this survey is designed in such a way, that allows administrative units to easily read their open budgets profile and recognise the exact steps they need to make in order to open their budgeting data and improve their index score. Taking this project one step further, we suggest that the solution lies within adopting common prototypes and formats, collectively. Data homogenization might reduce the existing open data costs and allow applications like openbudgets.eu to work effectively for the public benefit.
This survey was conducted as part of Open Knowledge Greece’s commitments within the context of the Third Greek Open Government Partnership Action Plan 2016 – 2018;  Commitment 30: Open Data Index for cities and local administrations and Commitment 31: Linked, Open and Participatory Budgets.  

A lookback on 2017 with OK Brazil

- January 16, 2018 in Brazil, OK Brazil, Open Data Index

This blog has been written by Natalia Mazotte and Ariel Kogan, co-directors of Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR). It has been translated from the original version at https://br.okfn.org/2017/12/29/como-foi-o-ano-de-2017-para-a-okbr by Juliana Watanabe, volunteer of OKBR.

For us at Open Knowledge Brazil (OKBR), the year 2017 was filled with multiple partnerships, support and participation in events; projects and campaigns for mobilisation. In this blog we selected some of these highlights. Furthermore, newsflash for the team: the journalist Natália Mozatte, that was already leading Escola de Datos (School of Data) in Brazil, became co-director with Ariel Kogan (executive director since July 2016).

Foto: Engin_Akyurt / Creative Commons CC0

Mobilisation

At the beginning of the year, OKBR and several other organizations introduced the Manifest for Digital Identification in Brazil. The purpose of the Manifest is to be a tool for society to take a stand towards the privacy and safety of personal data of citizens and turn digital identification into a safe, fair and transparent action.

We monitored one of the main challenges in the city of São Paulo and contributed to the mobilisation for this. Along with other civil society organisations, we urged the City Hall of São Paulo for transparency regarding mobility. The reason: on 25 January 2017, the first day of the new increase to the speed limits on Marginais Pinheiros and Tietê, we noticed several news items about the decrease in traffic accidents linked to the policy of reducing speed in certain parts of the city was unavailable on the site of the Traffic Engineering Company (CET).

For a few months, we conducted a series of webinars called OKBR Webinars Serires, about open knowledge of the world. We had the participation of the following experts: Bart Van Leeuwen, entrepreneur; Paola Villareal, Fellow from the Berkman Klein Center, designer/data scientist; Fernanda Campagnucci, journalist and analyst of public policies and Rufus Pollock, founder of Open Knowledge International.

We took part in a major victory for society! Along with the Movimento pela Transparência (PartidáriaMovement for Partisan Transparency), we conducted a mobilisation against the rapporteur’s proposal for a political reform, congressman Vicente Cândido (PT-SP), about hidden contributions from the campaign and the result was very positive. Besides us, a variety of organisations and movements took part in this initiative against hidden donations,: we published and handed out a public statement. The impact was huge: as a consequence, the rapporteur announced the withdrawal of secret donations.

We also participated in #NãoValeTudo, a collective effort to discuss the correct use of technology for electoral purposes along with AppCívico, o Instituto Update, o Instituto Tecnologia e Equidad.

Projects

We performed two cycles of OpenSpending. The first cycle initiated in January and involved 150 municipalities. In July, we published the report of cycle 1. In August, we started the second cycle of the game with something new: Guaxi, a robot which was the digital assistant to competitors. It is an expert bot developed with innovative chatbot technology, simulating human interaction with the users. This made the journey through the page of OpenSpending on Facebook easier. The report of the second cycle is available here.

Together with the Board of Assessment of Public Policies from FGV/DAPP we released the Brazilian edition of the Open Data Index (ODI). In total, we built three surveys: Open Data Index (ODI) Brazil, at the national level and ODI São Paulo and ODI Rio de Janeiro, at the municipal level. Months later, we ended the survey “Do you want to build the index of Open Data of your city?” and the result was pretty positive: 216 people have shown an interest to do the survey voluntarily in their town!

In this first cycle of decentralization and expansion of the ODI in the Brazilian municipality, we conducted an experiment with the first group: Arapiraca/AL, Belo Horizonte/MG, Bonfim/RR, Brasília/DF, Natal/RN, Porto Alegre/RS, Salvador/BA, Teresina/PI, Uberlândia/MG, Vitória/ES. We offered training for the local leaders, provided by the staff of the Open Data Index (FGV/DAPP – OKBR) so that they can accomplish the survey required to develop the index. In 2018, we’ll show the results and introduce the reports with concrete opportunities for the town move forward on the agenda of transparency and open data.

We launched LIBRE – a project of microfinance for journalism – a partnership from Open Knowledge Brazil and Flux Studio, with involvement from AppCivico too. It is a microfinance content tool that aims to bring a digital tool to the public that is interested in appreciating and sustaining journalism and quality content. Currently, some first portals are testing the platform in a pilot phase.

Events

We supported the events of Open Data Day in many Brazilian cities, as well as the Hackathon da Saúde (Health Hackathon), an action of the São Paulo City Hall in partnership with SENAI and AppCívico, and participated in the Hack In Sampa event at the City Council of São Paulo.

Natália Mazotte, co-director of OKBR, participated in AbreLatam and ConDatos, annual events which have become the main meeting point regarding open data in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a time to talk about the status and the impact in the entire region. We also participated in the 7th edition of the Web forum in Brazil with the workshop “Open patterns and access to information: prospects and challenges of the government open data”. Along with other organizations, we organized the Brazilian Open Government meeting.

The School of Data, in partnership with Google News Lab, organised the second edition of the Brazilian Conference of Journalism of Data and Digital Methods (Coda.Br). We were one of the partner organisations for the first Course of Open Government for leadership in Weather, Forest and Farming, initiated by Imaflora and supported by the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA).

We were the focal point in the research “Foundations of the open code as social innovators in emerging economies: a case study in Brazil”, from Clément Bert-Erboul, a specialist in economic sociology and the teacher Nicholas Vonortas.

And more to come in 2018

We would like to thank you to follow and take part of OKBR in 2017. We’re counting on you in 2018. Beyond our plan for the next year, we have the challenge and the responsibility to contribute in the period of the elections so that Brazil proceeds on the agendas of transparency, opening public information, democratic participation, integrity and the fight against corruption.

If you want to stay updated on the news and the progress of our projects, you can follow us on our BlogTwitter and Facebook.

A wonderful 2018 for all of us!

The Open Knowledge Brazil team.

The Open Data Survey: Measuring what matters to you

- November 21, 2017 in godi, Open Data Census, Open Data Index, open data survey

I once heard a brilliant government official say that in government you only measure what matters to you. This resonated with me back when I was a public servant and it makes even more sense now that I have participated over the last few years in the Global Open Data Index (GODI), one of Open Knowledge International (OKI)’s main projects. We developed GODI to address the question how much government information is published as open data. The index uses a league table that ranks countries from most to least open, based on their results for fifteen key datasets. In addition the survey compares the openness of key datasets worldwide, and lists which countries have, for example, the most open budgets, company registers or election data. But national open government data is only one aspect of the open data ecosystem. The Open Data Survey, the tool that powers GODI, allows to collect information on any aspect of open data.  Many organisations have repurposed the survey throughout the years to foreground information that these organisations find important, urgent or that help them reach their goals. In this blogpost I will highlight a few use cases of the Open Data Survey. In a follow-up post I will explain how you can start using the survey to measure what is important for you, whether with OKI hosting an instance for you or by deploying your own survey.

The Open Data Census

Our first example is the Open Data Census, a tool usually run by our local groups and chapters to understand how their local governments are performing in data publication. We have a record of about 40 different censuses assessing local and regional open data in many different countries. The census is the only tool to assess open data on a city level.

Example of a city-level census, comparing Argentinian cities with one another

Users of the Open Data Census include Open Knowledge Argentina, Open Knowledge Brazil and the Sunlight Foundation who assessed the openness of U.S. cities as part of its Open Cities programme. The Census results did not only highlight top performing cities in the United States, but also enabled Sunlight Foundation to do further policy analysis and understand why some cities perform better than others. Similar to the Global Open Data Index, the census measures the openness of around fifteen different datasets. But it is also fully customisable, allowing any organisation to assess various aspects of open data – from open data policies, through to publication of good quality data, or whether a local government engages with citizens to identify and publish the most relevant data.  

Code for America’s digital services survey

Code for America repurposed our Open Data Survey to assess the state of digital services in U.S. cities. As part of their Digital Front Door initiative, Code for America used a fork of the survey to assess if the government websites were “meeting Code for America’s criteria for good digital services, and prioritize opportunities for improvements”. With more than 40 cities assessed, this was probably one of the biggest alternative uses for the survey and a great example how to assess aspects such as design of websites (which is an important element for open data publication).

Assessing WASH resilience

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub, a 2015 School of Data fellow, used the survey to produce a public local information resource centred around Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) needs, to guide policy-making in the Philippines and advance disaster risk preparedness of local authorities. The website is currently a proof-of-concept, designed for information managers from government and CSOs who take care of data gathering and sharing during emergency situations. The website also visualises the evolution of key indicators related to water and sanitation, helping local authorities and information managers to make better-informed decisions.

Interface of the WASH Resilience survey

It uses two types of league tables, including a ranking of WASH data quality and availability of the 225 cities and provinces of the Philippines. The contents are now outdated but this example shows how the Open Data Survey can be repurposed to not only assess the availability of open data in a specific sector, but also to link this assessment to follow-up actions with government.

Measure what matters to you

To conclude, the Open Data Survey is a versatile tool and can be used to rank, compare, and highlight very different aspects of (open) data. I hope abovementioned use cases sparked your interest and ideas how to use the Open Data Survey. Stay tuned – in a follow-up blogpost we will explain how to customise the survey in order to make it fit your needs.  

OKBR busca estagiário para levantamento do Índice de Dados Abertos (Open Data Index) no Brasil

- November 8, 2017 in Dados Abertos, Destaque, Estágio, índice de dados abertos, Open Data Index

Foto de um braço direito em cima do teclado de um laptop ligado e o braço esquerdo em cima de um caderno.

Pessoa com as mãos em cima do teclado de um laptop ligado. Foto: Pixabay / Creative Commons CC0.

A Open Knowledge Brasil (OKBR) deu início aos trabalhos para o levantamento do Índice de Dados Abertos (Open Data Index) no Brasil. Esse índice é uma iniciativa da sociedade civil que busca realizar o mapeamento do estado dos dados abertos em diversos países (e cidades) ao redor do mundo. No processo, membros de organizações públicas, da sociedade civil e especialistas em dados abertos avaliam a disponibilidade e a acessibilidade dos conjuntos de dados definidos em diversos lugares ao redor do mundo. Suas submissões são revisadas por pares e verificadas por uma equipe local de especialistas e revisores de conjuntos de dados. Para a edição de 2017 do índice, a Open Knowledge Brasil busca um estagiário para contratação imediata. O selecionado irá auxiliar no levantamento e avaliação das bases de dados, no processo de revisão e confecção de relatórios e apresentações com os resultados do índice. Segue abaixo o perfil desejado:
Cursos: Administração, Economia ou áreas afins.
Período: 4º período em diante.
Competências: familiaridade com bases de dados, conhecimento básico de informática (sobretudo Excel), interesse por transparência e dados abertos, boa capacidade analítica e de redação, disposição para pesquisa por meio da internet e por meio de contato com agentes públicos, inglês intermediário.
Duração do estágio: Novembro/17 a Junho/18 (8 meses).
Carga horária semanal: 20h.
Remuneração: R$ 1.000,00 mensais + vale-transporte.
Local de trabalho: Edifício Argentina, Praia de Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro – RJ.
Envie seu currículo para ariel@ok.org.br
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OKBR busca estagiário para levantamento do Índice de Dados Abertos (Open Data Index) no Brasil

- November 8, 2017 in Dados Abertos, Destaque, Estágio, índice de dados abertos, Open Data Index

Foto de um braço direito em cima do teclado de um laptop ligado e o braço esquerdo em cima de um caderno.

Pessoa com as mãos em cima do teclado de um laptop ligado. Foto: Pixabay / Creative Commons CC0.

A Open Knowledge Brasil (OKBR) deu início aos trabalhos para o levantamento do Índice de Dados Abertos (Open Data Index) no Brasil. Esse índice é uma iniciativa da sociedade civil que busca realizar o mapeamento do estado dos dados abertos em diversos países (e cidades) ao redor do mundo. No processo, membros de organizações públicas, da sociedade civil e especialistas em dados abertos avaliam a disponibilidade e a acessibilidade dos conjuntos de dados definidos em diversos lugares ao redor do mundo. Suas submissões são revisadas por pares e verificadas por uma equipe local de especialistas e revisores de conjuntos de dados. Para a edição de 2017 do índice, a Open Knowledge Brasil busca um estagiário para contratação imediata. O selecionado irá auxiliar no levantamento e avaliação das bases de dados, no processo de revisão e confecção de relatórios e apresentações com os resultados do índice. Segue abaixo o perfil desejado:
Cursos: Administração, Economia ou áreas afins.
Período: 4º período em diante.
Competências: familiaridade com bases de dados, conhecimento básico de informática (sobretudo Excel), interesse por transparência e dados abertos, boa capacidade analítica e de redação, disposição para pesquisa por meio da internet e por meio de contato com agentes públicos, inglês intermediário.
Duração do estágio: Novembro/17 a Junho/18 (8 meses).
Carga horária semanal: 20h.
Remuneração: R$ 1.000,00 mensais + vale-transporte.
Local de trabalho: Edifício Argentina, Praia de Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro – RJ.
Envie seu currículo para ariel@ok.org.br
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Using the Global Open Data Index to strengthen open data policies: Best practices from Mexico

- August 16, 2017 in Global Open Data Index, Open Data Index, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge

This is a blog post coauthored with Enrique Zapata, of the Mexican National Digital Strategy. As part of the last Global Open Data Index (GODI), Open Knowledge International (OKI) decided to have a dialogue phase, where we invited individuals, CSOs, and national governments to exchange different points of view, knowledge about the data and understand data publication in a more useful way. In this process, we had a number of valuable exchanges that we tried to capture in our report about the state of open government data in 2017, as well as the records in the forum. Additionally, we decided to highlight the dialogue process between the government and civil society in Mexico and their results towards improving data publication in the executive authority, as well as funding to expand this work to other authorities and improve the GODI process. Here is what we learned from the Mexican dialogue:

The submission process

During this stage, GODI tries to directly evaluate how easy it is to find and their data quality in general. To achieve this, civil society and government actors discussed how to best submit and agreed to submit together, based on the actual data availability.   Besides creating an open space to discuss open data in Mexico and agreeing on a joint submission process, this exercise showed some room for improvement in the characteristics that GODI measured in 2016:
  • Open licenses: In Mexico and many other countries, the licenses are linked to datasets through open data platforms. This showed some discrepancies with the sources referenced by the reviewers since the data could be found in different sites where the license application was not clear.
  • Data findability: Most of the requested datasets assess in GODI are the responsibility of the federal government and are available in datos.gob.mx. Nevertheless, the titles to identify the datasets are based on technical regulation needs, which makes it difficult for data users to easily reach the data.
  • Differences of government levels and authorities: GODI assesses national governments but some of these datasets – such as land rights or national laws – are in the hands of other authorities or local governments. This meant that some datasets can’t be published by the federal government since it’s not in their jurisdiction and they can’t make publication of these data mandatory.
 

Open dialogue and the review process

  During the review stage, taking the feedback into account, the Open Data Office of the National Digital Strategy worked on some of them. They summoned a new session with civil society, including representatives from the Open Data Charter and OKI in order to:
  • Agree on the state of the data in Mexico according to GODI characteristics;
  • Show the updates and publication of data requested by GODI;
  • Discuss paths to publish data that is not responsibility of the federal government;
  • Converse about how they could continue to strengthen the Mexican Open Data Policy.
  The results   As a result of this dialogue, we agreed six actions that could be implemented internationally beyond just the Mexican context both by governments with centralised open data repositories and those which don’t centralise their data, as well as a way to improve the GODI methodology:  
  1. Open dialogue during the GODI process: Mexico was the first country to develop a structured dialogue to agree with open data experts from civil society about submissions to GODI. The Mexican government will seek to replicate this process in future evaluations and include new groups to promote open data use in the country. OKI will take this experience into account to improve the GODI processes in the future.
  2. Open licenses by default: The Mexican government is reviewing and modifying their regulations to implement the terms of Libre Uso MX for every website, platform and online tool of the national government. This is an example of good practice which OKI have highlighted in our ongoing Open Licensing research.
  3. “GODI” data group in CKAN: Most data repositories allow users to create thematic groups. In the case of GODI, the Mexican government created the “Global Open Data Index” group in datos.gob.mx. This will allow users to access these datasets based on their specific needs.
  4. Create a link between government built visualization tools and datos.gob.mx: The visualisations and reference tools tend to be the first point of contact for citizens. For this reason, the Mexican government will have new regulations in their upcoming Open Data Policy so that any new development includes visible links to the open data they use.
  5. Multiple access points for data: In August 2018, the Mexican government will launch a new section on datos.gob.mx to provide non-technical users easy access to valuable data. These data called “‘Infraestructura de Datos Abiertos MX’ will be divided into five easy-to-explore and understand categories.
  6. Common language for data sets: Government naming conventions aren’t the easiest to understand and can make it difficult to access data. The Mexican government has agreed to change the names to use more colloquial language can help on data findability and promote their use. In case this is not possible with some datasets, the government will go for an option similar to the one established in point 5.
We hope these changes will be useful for data users as well as other governments who are looking to improve their publication policies. Got any other ideas? Share them with us on Twitter by messaging @OKFN or send us an email to index@okfn.org  

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

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

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

About the Open Data Index

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

OK Brazil and FGV Partnership 

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

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

Open Data Index for Brazil 

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

Open Data Index for Cities – São Paulo

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

Open Data Index for Cities – Rio de Janeiro

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

The Global Open Data Index as a national indicator – So why do we have Northern Ireland?

- May 9, 2017 in Global Open Data Index, Open Data Index, Open Data measurements, Open Knowledge

In May 2nd, 2017 we launched the Global Open Data Index (GODI). This blog post is part of a series that explore the main findings of GODI and the next challenges in open data measurement.   In the past, we were asked why the Global Open Data Index assesses ‘places’ and not countries. Why do we evaluate Hong Kong? Why the Crown Dependencies Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey? And why do we regard Northern Ireland separately from Great Britain in this year’s edition? To clarify our rationale, we first have to explain which data we are looking at. The Global Open Data Index assesses the publication of open data at the highest administrative level in a country. This can take three forms:
  • The data describes national government processes or procedures ( government bodies operating at the highest administrative level)
  • The data is collected or produced by national government or a national government agency
  • The data describes national parameters and public services for the entire national territory but is collected by sub-national agencies.
The Global Open Data Index looks at very different government data: from national budgets to water and air quality information. We acknowledge that not all countries have the same political structure. Data assessed through the index might not necessarily be produced by national government due to the devolution of power. Furthermore, it is possible that not all sub-national governments provide the same data as they are potentially subject to different laws and/or procedures. So why do we look at ‘places’ instead of countries?  The Index wants to be a meaningful and actionable indicator for government by assessing those government bodies that are responsible for data publication. We regard territories with legislative, executive, and administrative autonomy separately, including the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey) and Hong Kong. We keep the option open to include regions with a disputed status that are not officially recognised as independent countries.   Why does the Index include sub-national government this year? As described above, sub-national governments may act autonomously from the national government and collect/produce data individually. This has always been a challenge for the Index – sometimes open data was provided in one region but not in another. How to adequately assess these gaps? This year we experiment how more systematically measure data on a sub-national level in a comparable way. As a test case, we considered Northern Ireland separately from Great Britain. By doing so, we investigate how the responsibilities of open data publication are distributed across government. Thus we open up the debate how to understand open data on a subnational level. This experiment is part of a larger research effort to understand open data governance models (see our call for research). We did ask both of Northern Ireland and the UK government to comment on this decision, but due to the Purdah (Pre-elections period), we were unable to get a comment.

Danmark 3 pladser ned – Open Data Index 2016/2017

- May 8, 2017 in åben data, Government, internationalt, offentlige data, Open Data Index, open gov

Det globale åben data index benchmarker næsten 100 landes publikationer af åbne offentlige data. For hvert land vurderes hvor meget data, der er offentliggjort inden for forskellige kategorier og om den offentliggjorte data lever op til kravene i definitionen af åbne data. De foreløbige resultater for Global Open Data Index 2016/2017 er nu offentliggjort og Danmark er røget 3 pladser ned i forhold til sidste år og yderligere en plads ned i forhold til forrige år. Samlet set ligger Danmark i år på en 6. plads.
The Global Open Data Index

The Global Open Data Index 2016/2017

Opgørelsen er foreløbig fordi Open Knowledge har besluttet at ændre fremgangsmåden, således at der inden de endelige resultater præsenteres er en såkaldt dialog-fase, hvor de foreløbige resultater kan kan diskutteres og rettes, hvis der skulle ske ændringer eller en fejl i opgørelsen skulle blive opdaget. For Danmarks vedkommende tæller det især ned, at vi ikke har åbne data for offentlig udgifter (på et tilstrækkeligt detaljeret niveau) og at vores data for offentlige udbud ikke er åbne. Hvis du har kommentarer eller forslag til rettelser, så skynd dig at sende dem ind. Den 15. juni 2017 offentliggøres de endelige resultater sammen med et whitepaper med anbefalinger omkring publicering af åbne offentlige data.