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“Strinkwishism”: How to build organizational capacities around Open Data through embedded fellowships

- February 8, 2017 in Open Data Partnership For Development

Recognizing that capacity building is central to economic growth, reductions in poverty and equal opportunities, Open Knowledge International with the support of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network is expanding its work with civil society organisations (CSOs) through the Embedded Fellowship Programme. In the last three months, I worked as an embedded fellow, consulting with Women Environmental Programme (WEP), by sharing data skills, and working on a data project with the team in their Nigeria office. The timing seems right. Not only is the information revolution upon us but trends towards democratization, government decentralization and economic liberalization have profoundly reshaped how universities, NGOs and other public-interest organizations do their work, thus, presenting them with new challenges and opportunities.

Getting to Know the Team

But how has it been like, working with Women Environment Programme in the last few months? WEP works basically on women’s empowerment across the world, and as their name implies, most of their work is focused on advocacy for women. I spent 2 hours highlighting what the needs were for a data project, and for sustainability reasons, I developed a questionnaire to ascertain the level of knowledge and skills of the team I will be working with in days to come. In human capacity building, we refer to this as a bottom-up approach. Ninety percent of the staff mentioned that they wanted to learn more about PDF extraction. Simple right? That’s what you get from questionnaires, but in the real world, while I was conducting training, they found out that they needed more, and you know what more means in the short time-frame of 6 weeks? Information overload! Here’s a brief look at the topics we covered and the feedback we received.

Exposing the Wealth of Open Tools

While highlighting data projects we could work on, such as creating advocacy products from citizen surveys, I was focused on getting some of the team members to be able to use some of the tools I introduced them to – Timeline.js for creating project or campaign timelines; Infogr.am for creating visualizations; Google Fusion Tables for publishing; licensing data using Creative Commons; Google Form for Surveys, using the Kobo Toolbox; analyzing and visualizing qualitative data using Wordle and a bunch of tools that can save them time in achieving their various tasks. What did I get from working with them on using some of these tools? “Strinkwish” as some of the staff will say, as we engaged in hands-on training on each tool. During one of the sessions, I had to ask, and they told me it’s an organizational coined word, meaning extraordinaire! Hope you also have an organizational dictionary.

With Gai Cliff, the Senior Programmes Manager at WEP

Evaluating the effects of capacity development, such as this, is not straightforward and the short- and longer-term perspectives need to be considered.In the short term though, staff mentioned how this has been helpful in their work:
“I am so excited that I could quickly use Tabula to extract pdf files, and also create a visualization for qualitative analysis”, Evelyn Ugbe, a Programmes Officer at WEP said as she was working on her new report on women advocacy.

With hands-on training like this, one cannot really measure the level of impact until you ask what participants have learnt, and I was amazed by the response of the staff after having 3 sessions with them. Another comment from staff member Emmanuel sheds light on the organisational-level improvements:
“It’s such a  right time to have you. I am head of human resources and using Google Drive, coupled with the Google Fusion Tables had made my task easier, especially that I have been able to create a collaborative way, of getting feedback from staff.”
So in the short term, increases in knowledge and skills can be measured and in the longer term, one can measure whether people are doing things differently as a result of the capacity building by applying the skills they learned. I will be looking out for this, in the coming months.

The three levels of capacity development (Adapted from UNDP, 1997)

Building Infrastructural Capacity Building is Paramount

With my experience of training and coaching staff and individuals, I have come to realize that skills and knowledge of trainees might not be enough, especially when it is within an organization: the system development capacity and organizational development capacity (described above) are more important and often unrecognised. As such, I was not surprised at times when some hands-on sessions became frustrating for the team because of unreliable and slow internet. At one point I needed to bring my internet router, so I could get my rhythm on. Also, when one of the staff members, Elizabeth, tells me her computer just keeps going off because her laptop battery isn’t working and power isn’t stable, I was drawn to how critical infrastructural efficiency lies at the foundation of successful open data capacity building. I was also able to identify that WEP needs a simple and slick website together with an email hosting service that allows staff to easily exchange information for its kind of work. Gai Cliff, a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at WEP asked in one of the sessions about one of the those I had introduced to them, “So how do we get the paid version, we are limited to some added functionality. Do you always get this when you do hands-on training using open-source tools?”. I had this several times! I like the fact that we had some talks about this challenges, and how going forward this can be sorted so we can easily publish some of the advocacy works I will be producing from the data projects.

What’s Next?

“Olu, we will love to continue this in the coming year so you can produce our advocacy materials. These sessions have been helpful for my team, and also that you can play an advisory role on the organizational capacity development”, Priscilla Achakpa, the Chief Executive Officer at WEP mentioned. “Absolutely” I replied while thinking of my calendar for the first quarter of the coming year, and also visualizing the support each of the staff had requested for, which I think could do well to accomplish the long term goals of this fellowship, and as such, ensuring the 1,110 minutes committed to this first phase, can become sustainable!

Project PiMaa is building low-cost, open-source data stations to support environmental monitoring in Kampala

- January 24, 2017 in Open Data, Open Data Partnership For Development

PiMaa is an Internet of Things project in Kampala, Uganda that seeks to build low-cost environment monitoring stations and open-up any data collected. PiMaa is an initiative under Outbox, supported by Open Knowledge International through the Africa Open Data Collaboration Fund.

Kampala is in a lot of growing pains. The current administration is doing their utmost best to increase the living conditions of the inhabitants. Public spaces are beautified, public transport is reformed, roads have been improved and tarmacked, and there is a phone number and contact point where citizens can report noise-pollution. Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) is really modernising the way the city is being managed. Still, for the naked eye, it is quite obvious Kampala’s environment is suffering from a lot of different challenges mostly caused by human activity. Globally, there has been an urgent action to combat climate change under

Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) is really modernising the way the city is being managed. Still, for the naked eye, it is quite obvious Kampala’s environment is suffering from a lot of different challenges mostly caused by human activity. Globally, there has been an urgent action to combat climate change under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 and improve resilience of Cities under SDG 11.

In Kampala, there is no way to determine the air quality given that there is no infrastructure to support environmental monitoring, air quality standards in place nor data on air quality. The growing reliance on diesel fuels for power generation, increased congestion on roads, indoor pollution due to poor connectivity to electricity grid and noise all lead to increasing pollution.

kampalaimage1Image credit: Elevated view of Nakasero Market, Kampala (Public Domain)

In a study conducted by Dr. Bruce Kirenga on the state of ambient air quality in two Ugandan cities, it was noticed that air pollution in two Ugandan cities that include Kampala and Jinja is 5.3 times above the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Further to that, the State of the Environment report in 2010 highlights the lack of air pollution data.

There is a need for a robust, economical and extendable system for measuring the environment in the city of Kampala, Uganda that is low cost, modular and open source.

As a group of enthusiastic technology fellows, we have decided to embark on a project to build low-cost environment stations that may enable us to use open up data to track our environment. We called it “Pimaa” — literally from the local Luganda language word “Okupima” which means “to measure”. We want to embark on gathering data on our environment to enable us to track its quality and measure progress towards fulfilment of SDG 13 and SDG 11. This “Pimaa” project aims to use open data to expose challenges faced and create awareness on the state of the urban environment, allowing organisations like KCCA, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and other stakeholders to measure the impact of the balance between an ever growing population, policy and project implementations.

Pimaa is an Internet of Things (IoT) project that seeks to build a low-cost environmental platform that can be easily deployed to public outposts and sites using small monitoring devices that collect data on air quality using sensors. The data collected will be transformed and stored on the Pimaa platform against open data standards that will ease the accessibility and dissemination of collected data.

pimaapablo

Pimaa’s data collection hardware (station) will use the Raspberry Pi at its core, and will be attached with air quality sensors to measure various environmental pollutants that include Carbon Monoxide (CO), Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Particulate matter (PM2.5). Although not classified as air pollutants, we shall also have sensors to measure ambient environmental temperature and humidity. Noise levels will also be recorded due to the impact it has on the psychological well-being of the general public.

The purpose is to develop a live prototype of the low-cost environment station that can then be adopted by any interested parties to scale.

How can the project scale?

The “Project PiMaa” platform is designed around the Raspberry Pi (a credit card-sized single-board computer) as the core of the system that is used to measure several environmental conditions ranging from temperature, humidity, light or UV, air pressure, and air quality (Nitrogen dioxide, Carbon Dioxide levels etc). To be scalable with such a system, the cost becomes a major issue.

In addition, we can’t handle the cost of data across all these locations but we have a brilliant solution to that. We shall use the the “LoRaWAN network” for Internet of Things networks. We are to roll out a very cheap “Internet of things” across Kampala based on 100% Open Source solutions that the Stations upload their data on-to one (1) base central station that covers a radius of up to 10 kilometers and the network acts in free spectrum, thus eliminating exorbitant network traffic costs that the mobile network operators would have charged us.

A live prototype of PiMAA

We have another challenge. We won’t be able to pay the electricity bills if we are to scale that much and cover the whole city. The Solar Panel and the IOT combined would bring the operational costs of the station to zero (0). (cleaning & maintenance labor excluded). These additional technologies will make the stations much more attractive to roll out in neighbourhoods with less stable power and no wireless Internet.

Also, we need to have an implementation that is based on open source technologies and with modular reconfigurable sensors that can be distributed across wide areas is a plus. Finally, the data needs to be fully accessible remotely anywhere on the web and visualized in a format that can be easily interpreted to make informed decisions on policies, planning and progress towards achievement of SDGs.

How might the data collected and insights developed be useful?

Data is as good as its usage, the conversion to insights and making informed decisions from it. Showing the raw data alone will not be enough, we will also need to do research and explain what the data means. What is bad air quality? What does it lead to? How does urban air quality affect the GDP of the country? What happens when a child gets too little sleep because there is a noisy night-church or night club keeping her awake every night? What is the effect of the weather on the data we find?

We do understand the gap in skills sets to make this happen. We shall have our trained data fellows work closely with the partner organisations on a day to day basis to put together insights from the data coming out of the these stations. The data posted will be pushed to any open data portals in the country, but we will also develop a website that shows our data and other relevant data (wind, noise pollution, air quality etc) on a map and over time.

Our desire is to build a proof of concept that can be adopted to influence policy.

We want to be able to answer these questions and use these measurements to influence policy –

  1. How bad is air quality in Kampala?
  2. How does Kampala improve the quality and timeliness of data gathered on the urban environment to accelerate implementation and action?
  3. Where are the (most) polluted areas of town and where this pollution is coming from?
  4. How can the data inform proponents of alternative cooking solutions make their point based on actual measurements?

Our learnings and next steps

It has been a challenge identifying open-source air quality sensors that work outdoors. Most of the air quality sensors are built to work indoors. When we initially started out on the project, we were under the impression it would be easy to find all the sensors we need. For the rapid prototype, we are opting to test with the indoor sensors and later identify outdoor air sensors for the live prototype.

We need partners on this project. We are interested in working with the national environmental regulatory Authority, the Kampala Capital City Authority division responsible for environmental monitoring and assessment, providers of solar energy equipment to power our stations, students or professors from university departments focused on environmental research and clean energy CSOs/NGOs. Volunteers who would offer to host our stations on their buildings are also welcome.

Lastly, we are interested in talking with people that are implementing or have done similar projects before to share experiences. You can contribute to our project on GitHub. You can also follow us on Twitter @projectpimaa.

This piece originally appeared on the Outbox research Medium blog and is reposted with the author’s permission.

Project PiMaa is building low-cost, open-source data stations to support environmental monitoring in Kampala

- January 24, 2017 in Open Data, Open Data Partnership For Development

PiMaa is an Internet of Things project in Kampala, Uganda that seeks to build low-cost environment monitoring stations and open-up any data collected. PiMaa is an initiative under Outbox, supported by Open Knowledge International through the Africa Open Data Collaboration Fund.

Kampala is in a lot of growing pains. The current administration is doing their utmost best to increase the living conditions of the inhabitants. Public spaces are beautified, public transport is reformed, roads have been improved and tarmacked, and there is a phone number and contact point where citizens can report noise-pollution. Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) is really modernising the way the city is being managed. Still, for the naked eye, it is quite obvious Kampala’s environment is suffering from a lot of different challenges mostly caused by human activity. Globally, there has been an urgent action to combat climate change under

Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) is really modernising the way the city is being managed. Still, for the naked eye, it is quite obvious Kampala’s environment is suffering from a lot of different challenges mostly caused by human activity. Globally, there has been an urgent action to combat climate change under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 and improve resilience of Cities under SDG 11.

In Kampala, there is no way to determine the air quality given that there is no infrastructure to support environmental monitoring, air quality standards in place nor data on air quality. The growing reliance on diesel fuels for power generation, increased congestion on roads, indoor pollution due to poor connectivity to electricity grid and noise all lead to increasing pollution.

kampalaimage1Image credit: Elevated view of Nakasero Market, Kampala (Public Domain)

In a study conducted by Dr. Bruce Kirenga on the state of ambient air quality in two Ugandan cities, it was noticed that air pollution in two Ugandan cities that include Kampala and Jinja is 5.3 times above the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Further to that, the State of the Environment report in 2010 highlights the lack of air pollution data.

There is a need for a robust, economical and extendable system for measuring the environment in the city of Kampala, Uganda that is low cost, modular and open source.

As a group of enthusiastic technology fellows, we have decided to embark on a project to build low-cost environment stations that may enable us to use open up data to track our environment. We called it “Pimaa” — literally from the local Luganda language word “Okupima” which means “to measure”. We want to embark on gathering data on our environment to enable us to track its quality and measure progress towards fulfilment of SDG 13 and SDG 11. This “Pimaa” project aims to use open data to expose challenges faced and create awareness on the state of the urban environment, allowing organisations like KCCA, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and other stakeholders to measure the impact of the balance between an ever growing population, policy and project implementations.

Pimaa is an Internet of Things (IoT) project that seeks to build a low-cost environmental platform that can be easily deployed to public outposts and sites using small monitoring devices that collect data on air quality using sensors. The data collected will be transformed and stored on the Pimaa platform against open data standards that will ease the accessibility and dissemination of collected data.

pimaapablo

Pimaa’s data collection hardware (station) will use the Raspberry Pi at its core, and will be attached with air quality sensors to measure various environmental pollutants that include Carbon Monoxide (CO), Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Particulate matter (PM2.5). Although not classified as air pollutants, we shall also have sensors to measure ambient environmental temperature and humidity. Noise levels will also be recorded due to the impact it has on the psychological well-being of the general public.

The purpose is to develop a live prototype of the low-cost environment station that can then be adopted by any interested parties to scale.

How can the project scale?

The “Project PiMaa” platform is designed around the Raspberry Pi (a credit card-sized single-board computer) as the core of the system that is used to measure several environmental conditions ranging from temperature, humidity, light or UV, air pressure, and air quality (Nitrogen dioxide, Carbon Dioxide levels etc). To be scalable with such a system, the cost becomes a major issue.

In addition, we can’t handle the cost of data across all these locations but we have a brilliant solution to that. We shall use the the “LoRaWAN network” for Internet of Things networks. We are to roll out a very cheap “Internet of things” across Kampala based on 100% Open Source solutions that the Stations upload their data on-to one (1) base central station that covers a radius of up to 10 kilometers and the network acts in free spectrum, thus eliminating exorbitant network traffic costs that the mobile network operators would have charged us.

A live prototype of PiMAA

We have another challenge. We won’t be able to pay the electricity bills if we are to scale that much and cover the whole city. The Solar Panel and the IOT combined would bring the operational costs of the station to zero (0). (cleaning & maintenance labor excluded). These additional technologies will make the stations much more attractive to roll out in neighbourhoods with less stable power and no wireless Internet.

Also, we need to have an implementation that is based on open source technologies and with modular reconfigurable sensors that can be distributed across wide areas is a plus. Finally, the data needs to be fully accessible remotely anywhere on the web and visualized in a format that can be easily interpreted to make informed decisions on policies, planning and progress towards achievement of SDGs.

How might the data collected and insights developed be useful?

Data is as good as its usage, the conversion to insights and making informed decisions from it. Showing the raw data alone will not be enough, we will also need to do research and explain what the data means. What is bad air quality? What does it lead to? How does urban air quality affect the GDP of the country? What happens when a child gets too little sleep because there is a noisy night-church or night club keeping her awake every night? What is the effect of the weather on the data we find?

We do understand the gap in skills sets to make this happen. We shall have our trained data fellows work closely with the partner organisations on a day to day basis to put together insights from the data coming out of the these stations. The data posted will be pushed to any open data portals in the country, but we will also develop a website that shows our data and other relevant data (wind, noise pollution, air quality etc) on a map and over time.

Our desire is to build a proof of concept that can be adopted to influence policy.

We want to be able to answer these questions and use these measurements to influence policy –

  1. How bad is air quality in Kampala?
  2. How does Kampala improve the quality and timeliness of data gathered on the urban environment to accelerate implementation and action?
  3. Where are the (most) polluted areas of town and where this pollution is coming from?
  4. How can the data inform proponents of alternative cooking solutions make their point based on actual measurements?

Our learnings and next steps

It has been a challenge identifying open-source air quality sensors that work outdoors. Most of the air quality sensors are built to work indoors. When we initially started out on the project, we were under the impression it would be easy to find all the sensors we need. For the rapid prototype, we are opting to test with the indoor sensors and later identify outdoor air sensors for the live prototype.

We need partners on this project. We are interested in working with the national environmental regulatory Authority, the Kampala Capital City Authority division responsible for environmental monitoring and assessment, providers of solar energy equipment to power our stations, students or professors from university departments focused on environmental research and clean energy CSOs/NGOs. Volunteers who would offer to host our stations on their buildings are also welcome.

Lastly, we are interested in talking with people that are implementing or have done similar projects before to share experiences. You can contribute to our project on GitHub. You can also follow us on Twitter @projectpimaa.

This piece originally appeared on the Outbox research Medium blog and is reposted with the author’s permission.

Turning data into action: what we learned from conducting social audits on public housing communities in Malaysia

- September 29, 2016 in Open Data Partnership For Development, Open Spending

The Sinar Project in Malaysia is exploring ways of making critical information public and accessible to Malaysian citizens. The project is supported by the Open Data for Development (OD4D) programme and has been run in collaboration with OpenSpending at Open Knowledge International. In our previous blog post, we provided an overview of the Sinar Project’s work opening budget data in Malaysia. In this second post, we would like to share what we learned through the urban poverty survey we conducted in Kota Damansara – a township located in Selangor. The survey was designed to collect information on the status and needs of citizens in this community.
“The survey was designed to collect information on the status and needs of citizens in this community…Our ability to understand [public housing] issues is severely limited by a lack of accurate, up-to-date data…”

The aim of this effort was to compare and contrast the allocation priorities of government at all levels with the on-the-ground reality of citizens living in public housing, often living below the minimum wage of MYR1,000 in Selangor state. Selangor has a reported median household income of MYR 6,214 and population distribution of 19.9%. Ultimately, our goal was to to use the data that we collected to advocate for better, more evidence based budget decisions.
urban-survey-1Image credit: Author

Collecting and organising the data

There are a number public policy challenges facing public housing in Malaysia. For example:
  1. Infrastructure development
  2. Facility accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities
  3. Security and safety
  4. Health coverage and access
  5. Education coverage and supervision
  6. Welfare coverage and supervision for families living under the poverty line
Our ability to understand these issues is severely limited by a lack of accurate, up-to-date data. This is further complicated by the fact that it is difficult to gather budget information to understand how public funds are flowing between different levels of government and how they are intended to be used. Currently, it is very hard for policy researchers, journalists and civil society organisations to determine how allocated budgets relate to official government policies and how that translates to the implementation of government programmes on the ground. One way to collect raw data on these issues is to run a social audit, a process of evaluating official records in order to determine whether reported expenditures match unofficial reports and surveys. The social audit process works in parallel to opening budget data and has proven effective at collecting the requisite information needed to begin to address the issues communities are facing. Our social audit was comprised of two components, an urban poverty survey and issue reports through AduanKu (a web application based on FixMyStreet).

Urban poverty survey – our data collection methods

We used the urban poverty survey to gather information on various socio-economic indicators such as poverty rate, unemployment rate, child mortality rate, crime rate and literacy rate of Kota Damansara public housing residents. We conducted a survey that included 40 questions, grouped in five categories:
  1. General
  2. Employment & Education
  3. Household Financial Management
  4. Cleanliness & Health
  5. Safety
There are 18 floors in one public housing block and on each floor there are roughly 16 residential units. According to residents of Kota Damansara public housing, there are more than 1000 residential units in the four public house blocks, which, for the urban poverty survey, were referred to as blocks A, B, C, and D. We surveyed 415 households. The average household size was four. In order to document data from this survey, we created two forms: Household Form (in Malay) & Member Form (in Malay). Households were assigned an ID based on their address in order to easily match the data from the two forms.
urbansurvey2Image credit: author
The survey captures data on the following for both individual members of the household and the household as a whole:
  1. Demographic profile ie gender, age, marital status, nationality, race, religion and place of birth by state
  2. Employment and Education ie unemployment, sector of employment, income, personal expenses, contributions to household, academic qualification, reading & writing skills
  3. Disability and Special Aid ie identifying persons with disabilities or family members that suffers from any severe illnesses
  4. Cellphone / Smartphone Usage
This only scratched the surface of potential information that we could collect but was sufficient for the goals of social audit. However, in conducting the survey, we identified a number of ways that the survey could have been improved both in terms of the structure and clarity of the questions. Data entry is an ongoing process and we will continue to make it publicly available on Malaysian Civil Society Open Data Portal.

Preliminary findings from the urban poverty survey

A number of socio-economic indicators were collected and analysed through the urban poverty survey. The preliminary findings show that the average household size is 4 and average income per household is MYR1,500/month. Keeping in mind that the national minimum wage is MYR 1,000/month in Peninsular Malaysia and MYR 920/month in east Malaysia, a monthly household income of MYR 1,500 is low.
urbansurvey3Image credit: author
Examples of analysis from collected raw data are as follows:
  1. Mean household income: MYR 1814.576
  2. Mean total household expenditure: MYR 1546.1309
  3. Mean household size: 4 members
To know more detailed breakdown of statistics in Kota Damansara public housing, you can read it from here.
urban-survey-4Image credit: author

Issues reported in AduanKu – a web-based application based on FixMyStreet

In addition to the urban poverty survey, we set up an online application to report, view and discuss local issues. AduanKu allows residents to report broken infrastructure in public housing of Kota Damansara. To date, there are 18 reports from the PPR Kota Damansara zone. Once an issue is reported online, it is manually submitted to the responsible agencies, for example, the state-owned agency Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd. We are continuing to collect issue reports as at present, the 18 reports collected are not considered strong enough evidence of the systemic problems faced by the residents in the housing block. We were able to consult with the elected councillor for Zone 3 (PJU4 & PJU5) of Petaling Jaya, Shatiri Mansor, to roll AduanKu out to the whole of Zone 3. As a result of the roll out,  94 reports have been submitted online and these reports are under supervision of Zone 3 office. From 94 reports, 8 street problems have been fixed and this number continues to grow. However, while the Kota Damansara public housing premise is within the Zone 3 boundary, the land belongs to the state-owned agency Selangor State Development Corporation. As such, the broken infrastructure on the public housing’s premise is not under the jurisdiction of Zone 3 office and is instead under the jurisdiction of the Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd.

Informing the authorities on our social audit findings

On behalf of public housing communities, a memorandum was submitted to the Selangor State Chief Minister at the Freedom of Information forum hosted by Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and to the Speaker of Selangor at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly. As a follow up from the memorandum, a meeting was organised on August 8th, 2016 by the Board of Property and Housing Selangor to bring together several stakeholders to discuss issues faced by the communities. The meeting gave us a forum to present concrete evidence to discuss how the budget allocated to the management company, Property and Housing Selangor Sdn Bhd (PHSSB), was being used. For example, PHSSB received MYR5 million to repair railings in all four blocks, according to 2014/2015 budgets for maintenance. However, through interviews with residents and inspection, it is not clear how these funds were used and what repairs were actually made. Many railings remain wobbly and unstable. Unfortunately, while we were able to raise these issues, authorities have maintained that we have not provided sufficient evidence to support claims raised by the communities.This demonstrates that we need to do more. This highlights that communities still remain at a disadvantage due to inadequacy of the system. Even as we continue to collect our own data, where official government statistics are lacking, there is a risk that this evidence will not be accepted or deemed adequate by authorities. Nevertheless, the experience also demonstrates the need for transparency and the importance of Freedom of Information. For example, a list of expenses incurred by PHSSB that was obtained via a freedom of information request points to a potential discrepancy that might indicate that PHSSB is overcharging for water. Further investigation is necessary but the ability to gain access to official documents helps us know where to look.

Evidence-based data can help communities and journalists

In Malaysia, data journalism is in its earliest stages. Most data shared and visualised in media articles and research are not open data. With the results from the urban poverty survey and issue reports that we have gathered, journalists and civil society could use it as hard evidence to raise issues faced by communities on the ground, identify responsible agencies/elected representatives and place a spotlight on them. The template of the urban poverty survey is publicly available online. urbansurvey5 With limited access to expenditure information and contracts, tools to gather evidence should be used by the communities to hold government’s accountable. We think that urban poverty surveys and issue reports on AduanKu can help in the following ways:
  1. Communities can use these tools to hold the government at all levels (including the federal/state owned agencies) accountable by showing them how policies affect citizens from the ground up.
  2. Communities can also use this data to highlight budget priorities to decision makers for future participatory budgeting sessions. To unlock the truth of what policymakers actually plan, we must look at the fiscal budgets at all governmental levels alongside the policies simultaneously.
In order to make the case to the elected representatives, public officials and the government about the reality on the ground, we will continue to collect evidence highlighting community needs.

Africa Open Data Collaboration Fund: Building civil society capacity for Africa’s emerging data revolution.

- September 28, 2016 in Featured, Open Data Partnership For Development

Open Knowledge International is a member of Open Data for Development (OD4D), a global network of leaders in the open data community, working together to develop open data solutions around the world. In collaboration with the OD4D program, Open Knowledge International coordinates the Africa Open Data Collaboration Fund which is designed to provide seed support to empower Africa’s emerging open data civic organisations and entrepreneurs. Almost a year ago in Dar es Salaam, the first Africa Open Data Conference brought together information activists, government officials and technologists to push forward an ambitious agenda for open data on the continent. The two-day conference highlighted several opportunities and challenges for open data in Africa with a general consensus being that Africa only stands to gain from both actively engaging with and shaping the data revolution. aodcf-pablo The conference ended with members of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) network setting up the Africa Open Data Collaboration (AODC) Fund to provide seed funding to innovative civil society organisations interested in using or producing open data. Some of the areas selected to be supported by the fund were data-driven journalism, community-focused data collection using open data tools, government budgets and spending and ICT skills building. As members of the growing Africa Open Data community met recently in Nairobi on August 17th and 18th for the East Africa Open Data Festival, it is only fitting to provide an update of the work that recipient organisations have done so far with the AODC Fund. The following projects are currently being managed by Open Knowledge International (OKI).
HeHe Labs, a mobile technology organisation focused on developing socially-relevant applications, has been working on the HeHe Labs Code Clubs project which aims to enhance research and collaboration among students by training embedded fellows. Despite no direct use of Open Data during this fellowship training, HeHe Labs is interested in incorporating these skills into the on-going learning of its current and future fellows. Fellows’ technical skills also present an avenue to build the scarce open data expertise across the continent. HeHe Labs has also created the InventEd platform to foster collaboration and research among youth and are currently working with both public and private organisations including universities to scale up it adoption.
aodc1Some of the fellows trained by HeHe Labs to lead high school Code Clubs in Rwanda

Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) Tanzania is working to improve CSO assessment of new construction in Tanzania through developing an easy-to-use assessment tool and then make this data open and available for everyone.  CoST is currently working with a consultant from Uganda to replicate the assessment tool used in Uganda with the goal of having a Tanzanian version in use by local CSOs in the coming months.  Training sessions on how to use the  tool will follow and  provide an opportunity to learn best practices that can be used in advocacy work.


Outbox, a civic technology hub based in Uganda, is designing low-cost urban environmental stations for Kampala. In partnership with National Information Technology Agency of Uganda (NITA-U), their locally developed sensors will measure environmental conditions in Kampala and make this data open. This project intersects with work around smart and open cities, environment and Internet of Things (IoT). Priority is being given to the partnership with NITA-U to ensure project adoption and sustainability.
Women Environmental Programme (WEP) wants to promote transparency and accountability in local governments through open data. With a deep understanding of the local community contexts and partnerships with both the National Bureau of Statistics and OKI, WEP designed a survey to collect data on the availability of various public services at the community level. So far, WEP has completed a 7-day data collection exercise of 160 local communities in 3 Abuja area council on top of training 20 data collectors to use the Kobo Toolbox, a mobile data collection tool. The data will be made open and analysed to provide insights to communities and governments.
aodc2Data collectors with WEP and OKI trainers after two-day data collection training

Afro Leadership is a civil society organisation based in Cameroon that is working to fight corruption, improve local accountability and ensure effective service delivery by collecting and publishing  approved budgets and accounts for all local authorities on the OpenSpending Cameroon platform. Additionally, they will strengthen the capacity of journalists and civil society actors to understand budget data by providing a number of offline trainings and developing online resources and courses, all in collaboration with School of Data. The Afro Leadership team is in the process of collecting the 2015 budget reports from all of the regions in Cameroon.
aodc3Charlie Ngounou (4th from left in front) of AfroLeadership with members CSOs in Cameroon

The Association of Freelance Journalists in Kenya (AFJ) is working to train 6 of its members in skills relevant to produce data stories in Kenya and will be working with OKI to adapt School of Data materials and the World Bank Sudan Data Journalism Program resources into a curriculum. The goal of the training is to build a team that will be capable of producing data stories as a norm. The outcome of the data journalism training will be to provide a minimum of 12 stories (2 per AFJ participant) that will be published on AFJ’s TalkAfrica platform.

How you can get involved

As this is the first iteration of the AODC Fund, we value the lessons these organisations accrue through their projects. The goal is not only to obtain tangible project outcomes but gain a better understanding of what it takes to build open data capacity in Africa. Insights into how much it costs to do data-driven journalism, to produce data on environmental conditions in cities, or to train the next generation of data practitioners in Africa will help shape how we approach open data capacity development in the future. The AODC Fund’s vision is to expose civil society organisations to the open data space, strengthen their capacity and set them on a path to be champions of open data in their local contexts. In the meantime, if you’re reading this and  have any lessons to share or want to connect with any of the organisations above, please reach out. I am very active on Twitter. An earlier version of this piece originally appeared on the OD4D website.

Extended: Open Data Scoping Terms of Reference

- December 31, 2013 in Open Data, Open Data Partnership For Development

The Open Data Partnership for Development Scoping Terms of Reference deadline has been extended until January 13, 2014. We have received some great submissions and want to give more people the best opportunity to tackle the project. Truly, we recognize that the holiday season is a busy time. The Open Data Partnership for Development Scoping Terms of Reference opened on December 11, 2013 and will close on January 13, 2014 at 17:00 GMT. Updated Open Data Partnership for Development – Scoping Terms of Reference Help us get a current state Open Data Activity snapshot to guide our decisions for the Open Data Partnership for Development programmes. Proposals for a Scoping Analysis will address two objectives:
  • (i) identify potential funders and the key delivery partners in the Open Data ecosystem, and
  • (ii) map the existing efforts to support open data in developing countries and their status.
More about Open Data Partnership for Development Happy New Year.

A report from the Ibrahim Governance Weekend

- December 13, 2013 in Events, Open Data Partnership For Development

Early last month I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation‘s annual governance weekend, including the celebrated Ibrahim Forum. The MIF, headed by the eponymous and irrepressible Mo, does amazing work promoting good governance in Africa. It’s perhaps best known for its incredibly comprehensive Governance Index. Despite the terrible score of his native Somalia on his own Governance Index, Mo is much keener on celebrating all that is young and joyful and promising in Africa than telling dismal stories about its problems. Which is why the weekend began on a Friday evening in Addis Ababa stadium, with an exhibition football match between a local side and the continent’s most feared team, TP Mazembe from the DRC — the visitors easily winning 3-1 — followed by a pop concert.
[IMG: Kumi Naidoo speaking]
Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace speaking at the Ibrahim Forum
The more serious part of the weekend was a reception on Saturday evening, including a fun mixture of politics and music, and the forum itself on the Sunday with a series of high-quality panel discussions on directions for African development, governance, integration and security. This year’s meeting was in Addis Ababa, home of the African Union, to coincide with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the AU’s founding (as the OAU) in 1963. The MIF’s aim of good governance is, of course, very much aligned with the aims of the Open Knowledge Foundation. It was good to hear the importance of open data stressed by some of the speakers. Among others Trevor Manuel, minister in charge of the National Planning Commission in South Africa, made the point that the work of building stability must start with reliable, accessible statistics. The OKF will be increasing its involvement in the region through its involvement in the Open Data Partnership for Development, a partnership with the World Bank and the Open Data Institute to increase the amount and impact of Open Data in developing countries. Though it was a flying visit, I did have time for a whistle-stop tour of Addis Ababa. In the National Museum of Ethiopia it was particularly exciting to see Lucy, the famous skeleton of a member of what may have been our earliest upright ancestor species, as well as the earliest known human remains. As H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, said in her address, ‘Welcome home to Ethiopia – wherever in the world you are from, this is your home.’

Scoping Terms of Reference – Open Data Partnership For Development

- December 12, 2013 in ODP4D, Open Data Institute, Open Data Partnership For Development, tender, World Bank

What is the state of Open Data activities globally? Who is working on what and where? Where are opportunities to be fostered in the developing world?
The Open Data Partnership for Development is a partnership between The World Bank, Open Data Institute (ODI) and Open Knowledge Foundation. Initial funding of $1.25 million in the first year comes from The World Bank’s Development Grant Facility. We are actively seeking additional partners to join our efforts.

Update: The Open Data Partnership for Development Scoping Terms of Reference deadline has been changed to January 13, 2014.

Submit your Scoping Proposal today!

The ODP4D team seeks candidates to conduct a Scoping Terms of Reference. Help us get a current state Open Data Activity snapshot to guide our decisions for the Open Data Partnership for Development programmes. Proposals for a Scoping Analysis will address two objectives: (i) identify potential funders and the key delivery partners in the Open Data ecosystem, and (ii) map the existing efforts to support open data in developing countries and their status. The Scoping Terms of Reference (tender) is open from today until January 14, 2014 17:00 GMT: UPDATED: Open Data Partnership for Development: Scoping Terms of Reference
School of Data - Training Curriculum Sprint

School of Data – Training Curriculum Sprint

In the meantime, the ODP4D team is preparing training programmes for governments, civil society organizations and partners. This scoping exercise will inform all the programme outputs. We can’t wait to get started! Please contact us for more details. See previous Open Data Partnership for Development posts:

Dispatch: Crisismappers Community needs Data Makers

- November 25, 2013 in Data Journalism, Events, Open Data and My Data, Open Data Partnership For Development, WG Open Government Data, Workshop

What does open data / open knowledge have to do with Crisismapping? Everything. In times of crisis, we live in open data / open government ecosystem. We seek, build and make it happen in real time – talk converts to action quickly. On Tuesday, November 19th, the School of Data hosted a full day pre-conference training session as part of the International Conference of Crisis Mappers Conference (ICCM) in Nairobi, Kenya. The full event hosted over 110 attendees from around the world for a training offering with Knowledge/Research, Maps to Data and Mobile/Security. The Crisismappers community brings humanitarians, governmental staff, civil society practitioners, researchers, and technologists in a common, equal space. Participants work on projects ranging from human rights, anti-corruption, humanitarian response and economic development in post-conflict zones. The brilliance of cross-sector community focused on using data for their work highlights the importance that Open Knowledge Foundation as an member of the greater network. Building a global network of data makers is a one-by-one task. Our goal is to have leaders train their colleagues thus widening a circle of sharing and collaboration. Some recent examples of our communities connecting include: Open Spending Tree Map by Donor: Foreign Aid Transparency – Faith (Philippines) and Early Results – Micromappers Yolanda (uses Crowdcrafting which was incubated at OKFN Labs).

Baking Soda with Crisis Mappers

Steve and School of Data (Steve Kenei, Development Initiatives) Data is just a word until we activate it. I like to call the School of Data the “Baking Soda” team. Together with key ingredients (community, problem/issue description, data sets and tool menus), they work with others to make data usable and actionable. School of Data in session (School of Data session at ihub for ICCM) The data track workshop sessions including using spreadsheets, cleaning data, data visualization and how to geocode. Some folks stayed in this track all day, even skipping breaks. The track started with a spreadsheet training delivered by Steve Kenei from Development Initiatives, continued with an Introduction to OpenRefine and an introduction to data visualization by Agnes Rube of Internews Kenya. The track was finished by School of Data mentor Ketty Adoch. The workshop was designed to address issues that civil society organizations have using data. One of the exciting results was the sheer concentration and intent of participants. They skipped breaks and even brought their own datasets to guide their learning.

Communities, Ideas connecting:

Ketty Adour, Fruits of Thought

Ketty Adour, Fruits of Thought

The ICCM conference, including pre-conference events, was jam packed week of maps, data, research and technology. Most of the ignite talks and panels referred to some stage of open data needs or the issues ranging from data ethics, data quality and data collection methodology. Ketty Adour – one of this years ICCM fellows – she shared her experiences on building a community mapping in Uganda using OpenStreetMap at Fruits of Thought.

Next Steps

During the self-organized sessions, together with Luis Capelo of UN OCHA , I hosted a discussion about Open Data Opportunities and Challenges. It was an exercise for the attendees to discuss Open Data and Crisismapping. We determined a few concrete actions for the community:
  • A common data sharing space for Crisismappers interested in Humanitarian data.
  • A Crisismappers Open Data Working Group to help share impact and build momentum.
  • Training and a mentorship programs to help build skills and leadership in the field.
The Crisismappers community is over 5000 members strong with a mailing list, webinar and NING site. Do consider joining this vibrant community of maps and data makers who are at the edge of what it takes to unite policy with sheer determined actions. Also see our various Working Groups and the Open Data Partnership for Development programme. Some additional resources:

Taking it Global @ OGP

- October 29, 2013 in #OGP13, Featured, Open Data Partnership For Development, opendata, opengov

Activating an Open Data Movement means building beyond the topics of ‘why open data?’ and ‘open data index’. We also need to dig into the ‘how?’ we get there globally. Since the Open Data Partnership for Development (ODP4D) was launched at OKCon we have been busy working behind the scenes planning the programme. The Open Data Partnership for Development is between The World Bank, Open Data Institute and Open Knowledge Foundation. We have three key goals:
  1. support developing countries to plan, execute and run open data initiatives;
  2. increase re-use of open data in developing countries;
  3. and grow the base of evidence on the impact of open data for development.
Data Expedition (3)
School of Data Expedition, OKCON (September 2013)

Seeking Supporters and Partners

Both Open Data Institute and Open Knowledge Foundation will deliver programming to bolster existing community work and to support leaders. Building on each of our strengths, we will connect governments, businesses, civil society organizations and citizens. This means learning from those who are actively working with open data in key areas around the world. Our goal is to foster leadership with support, tools and training. The best part about this project is that it will be shaped by the people who are already using open data to to strengthen networks, build community and advocate for change. We are seeking new partners to help us build the momentum and strengthen our programming. We want to hear from you about your work and how you can contribute to the Open Data Partnership for Development. As we build out our plans, our goal is to help you get involved and learn more about our upcoming work. Please get in touch.

See you at Open Government Partnership Summit

If you are attending the Open Government Partnership Summit we will be available to discuss partnerships and details of the programme. The Open Data Institute and Open Knowledge Foundation teams will also be hosting Office Hours on Thursday, October 31st at 17:15 – 18:45 pm in the Festival Space (3rd Floor).

Contact us and more details

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