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csv,conf returns for version 5 in May

- October 15, 2019 in #CSVconf, Events, Frictionless Data, News, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Research, Open Science, Open Software

Save the data for csv,conf,v5! The fifth version of csv,conf will be held at the University of California, Washington Center in Washington DC, USA, on May 13 and 14, 2020.    If you are passionate about data and its application to society, this is the conference for you. Submissions for session proposals for 25-minute talk slots are open until February 7, 2020, and we encourage talks about how you are using data in an interesting way (like to uncover a crossword puzzle scandal). We will be opening ticket sales soon, and you can stay updated by following our Twitter account @CSVconference.   csv,conf is a community conference that is about more than just comma-sepatated-values – it brings together a diverse group to discuss data topics including data sharing, data ethics, and data analysis from the worlds of science, journalism, government, and open source. Over two days, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about ongoing work, share skills, exchange ideas (and stickers!) and kickstart collaborations.   
csv,conf,v4

Attendees of csv,conf,v4

First launched in July 2014,  csv,conf has expanded to bring together over 700 participants from 30 countries with backgrounds from varied disciplines. If you’ve missed the earlier years’ conferences, you can watch previous talks on topics like data ethics, open source technology, data journalism, open internet, and open science on our YouTube channel. We hope you will join us in Washington D.C. in May to share your own data stories and join the csv,conf community!   Csv,conf,v5 is supported by the Sloan Foundation through OKFs Frictionless Data for Reproducible Research grant as well as by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Frictionless Data team is part of the conference committee. We are happy to answer all questions you may have or offer any clarifications if needed. Feel free to reach out to us on csv-conf-coord@googlegroups.com, on twitter @CSVconference or our dedicated community slack channel   We are committed to diversity and inclusion, and strive to be a supportive and welcoming environment to all attendees. To this end, we encourage you to read the Conference Code of Conduct.
Rojo the Comma Llama

While we won’t be flying Rojo the Comma Llama to DC for csv,conf,v5, we will have other mascot surprises in store.

Transforming the UK’s data ecosystem: Open Knowledge Foundation’s thoughts on the National Data Strategy

- July 17, 2019 in National Data Strategy, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge, Policy

Following an open call for evidence issued by the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Open Knowledge Foundation submitted our thoughts about what the UK can do in its forthcoming National Data Strategy to “unlock the power of data across government and the wider economy, while building citizen trust in its use”. We also signed a joint letter alongside other UK think tanks, civil and learned societies calling for urgent action from government to overhaul its use of data. Below our CEO Catherine Stihler explains why the National Data Strategy needs to be transformative to ensure that British businesses, citizens and public bodies can play a full role in the interconnected global knowledge economy of today and tomorrow: Today’s digital revolution is driven by data. It has opened up extraordinary access to information for everyone about how we live, what we consume, and who we are. But large unaccountable technology companies have also monopolised the digital age, and an unsustainable concentration of wealth and power has led to stunted growth and lost opportunities. Governments across the world must now work harder to give everyone access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives; as well as making powerful institutions more accountable; and ensuring vital research information that can help us tackle challenges such as poverty and climate change is available to all. In short, we need a future that is fair, free and open. The UK has a golden opportunity to lead by example, and the Westminster government is currently developing a long-anticipated National Data Strategy. Its aim is to ensure all citizens and organisations trust the data ecosystem, are sufficiently skilled to operate effectively within it, and can get access to high-quality data when they need it. Laudable aims, but they must come with a clear commitment to invest in better data and skills. The Open Knowledge Foundation I am privileged to lead was launched 15 years ago to pioneer the way that we use data, working to build open knowledge in government, business and civil society – and creating the technology to make open material useful. This week, we have joined with a group of think tanks, civil and learned societies to make a united call for sweeping reforms to the UK’s data landscape. In order for the strategy to succeed, there needs to be transformative, not incremental, change and there must be leadership from the very top, with buy-in from the next Prime Minister, Culture Secretary and head of the civil service. All too often, piecemeal incentives across Whitehall prevent better use of data for the public benefit. A letter signed by the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Institute for Government, Full Fact, Nesta, the Open Data Institute, mySociety, the Royal Statistical Society, the Open Contracting Partnership, 360Giving, OpenOwnership, and the Policy Institute at King’s College London makes this clear. We have called for investment in skills to convert data into real information that can be acted upon; challenged the government to earn the public’s trust, recognising that the debate about how to use citizens’ data must be had in public, with the public; proposed a mechanism for long-term engagement between decision-makers, data users and the public on the strategy and its goals; and called for increased efforts to fix the government’s data infrastructure so organisations outside the government can benefit from it. Separately, we have also submitted our own views to the UK Government, calling for a focus on teaching data skills to the British public. Learning such skills can prove hugely beneficial to individuals seeking employment in a wide range of fields including the public sector, government, media and voluntary sector.  But at present there is often a huge amount of work required to clean up data in order to make it usable before insights or stories can be gleaned from it.  We believe that the UK government could help empower the wider workforce by instigating or backing a fundamental data literacy training programme open to local communities working in a range of fields to strengthen data demand, use and understanding.  Without such training and knowledge, large numbers of UK workers will be ill-equipped to take on many jobs of the future where products and services are devised, built and launched to address issues highlighted by data. Empowering people to make better decisions and choices informed by data will boost productivity, but not without the necessary investment in skills. We have also told the government that one of the most important things it can do to help businesses and non-profit organisations best share the data they hold is to promote open licencing. Open licences are legal arrangements that grant the general public rights to reuse, distribute, combine or modify works that would otherwise be restricted under intellectual property laws. We would also like to see the public sector pioneering new ways of producing and harnessing citizen-generated data efforts by organising citizen science projects through schools, libraries, churches and community groups.  These local communities could help the government to collect high-quality data relating to issues such as air quality or recycling, while also leading the charge when it comes to increasing the use of central government data. We live in a knowledge society where we face two different futures: one which is open and one which is closed. A closed future is one where knowledge is exclusively owned and controlled leading to greater inequality and a closed society. But an open future means knowledge is shared by all – freely available to everyone, a world where people are able to fulfil their potential and live happy and healthy lives. The UK National Data Strategy must emphasise the importance and value of sharing more, better quality information and data openly in order to make the most of the world-class knowledge created by our institutions and citizens.  Without this commitment at all levels of society, British businesses, citizens and public bodies will fail to play a full role in the interconnected global knowledge economy of today and tomorrow.

Missed opportunities in the EU’s revised open data and re-use of public sector information directive

- July 9, 2019 in European Union, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Research

Published by the European Union on June 26th, the revised directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information – or PSI Directive – set out an updated set of rules relating to public sector documents, publicly funded research data and “high-value” datasets which should be made available for free via application programming interfaces or APIs. EU member states have until July 2021 to incorporate the directive into law.  While Open Knowledge Foundation is encouraged to see some of the new provisions, we have concerns – many of which we laid out in a 2018 blogpost – about missed opportunities for further progress towards a fair, free and open future across the EU. Open data stickers Lack of public input Firstly, the revised directive gives responsibility for choosing which high-value datasets to publish over to member states but there are no established mechanisms for the public to provide input into the decisions.  Broad thematic categories – geospatial; earth observation and environment; meteorological; statistics; companies and company ownership; and mobility – are set out for these datasets but the specifics will be determined over the next two years via a series of further implementing acts. Datasets eventually deemed to be high-value shall be made “available free of charge … machine readable, provided via APIs and provided as a bulk download, where relevant”. Despite drawing on our Global Open Data Index to generate a preliminary list of high-value datasets, this decision flies in the face of years of findings from the Index showing how important it is for governments to engage with the public as much and as early as possible to generate awareness and increase levels of reuse of open data. We fear that this could lead to a further loss of public trust by opening the door for special interests, lobbyists and companies to make private arguments against the release of valuable datasets like spending records or beneficial ownership data which is often highly disaggregated and allows monetary transactions to be linked to individuals. Partial definition of high-value data Secondly, defining the value of data is also not straightforward. Papers from Oxford University, to Open Data Watch and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data demonstrate disagreement about what data’s “value” is. What counts as high-value data should not only be based on quantitative indicators such as potential income generation, breadth of business applications or numbers of beneficiaries – as the revised directive sets out – but also use qualitative assessments and expert judgment from multiple disciplines. Currently less than a quarter of the data with the biggest potential for social impact is available as truly open data even from countries seen as open data leaders, according to the latest Open Data Barometer report from our colleagues at the World Wide Web Foundation. Why? Because “governments are not engaging enough with groups beyond the open data and open government communities”.   Lack of clarity on recommended licenses Thirdly, in line with the directive’s stated principle of being “open by design and by default”, we hope to see countries avoiding future interoperability problems by abiding by the requirement to use open standard licences when publishing these high-value datasets. It’s good to see that the EU Commission itself has recently adopted Creative Commons licences when publishing its own documents and data.  But we feel – in line with our friends at Communia – that the Commission should have made clear exactly which open licences they endorsed under the updated directive, by explicitly recommending the adoption of Open Definition compliant licences from Creative Commons or Open Data Commons to member states. The directive also missed the opportunity to give preference to public domain dedication and attribution licences in accordance with the EU’s own LAPSI 2.0 licensing guidelines, as we recommended. The European Data Portal indicates that there could be up to 90 different licences currently used by national, regional, or municipal governments. Their quality assurance report also shows that they can’t automatically detect the licences used to publish the vast majority of datasets published by open data portals from EU countries. If they can’t work this out, the public definitely won’t be able to: meaning that any and all efforts to use newly-released data will be restrained by unnecessarily onerous reuse conditions. The more complicated or bespoke the licensing, the more likely data will end up unused in silos, our research has shown. 27 of the 28 EU member states may now have national open data policies and portals but, once discovered, it is currently likely that – in addition to confusing licencing – national datasets lack interoperability. For while the EU has substantial programmes of work on interoperability under the European Interoperability Framework, they are not yet having a major impact on the interoperability of open datasets. Open Knowledge Foundation research report: Avoiding data use silos More FAIR data Finally, we welcome the provisions in the directive obliging member states to “[make] publicly funded research data openly available following the principle of open by default and compatible with FAIR principles.” We know there is much work to be done but hope to see wide adoption of these rules and that the provisions for not releasing publicly-funded data due to “confidentiality” or “legitimate commercial interests” will not be abused. The next two years will be a crucial period to engage with these debates across Europe and to make sure that EU countries embrace the directive’s principle of openness by default to release more, better information and datasets to help citizens strive towards a fair, free and open future.

Missed opportunities in the EU’s revised open data and re-use of public sector information directive

- July 9, 2019 in European Union, Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Research

Published by the European Union on June 26th, the revised directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information – or PSI Directive – set out an updated set of rules relating to public sector documents, publicly funded research data and “high-value” datasets which should be made available for free via application programming interfaces or APIs. EU member states have until July 2021 to incorporate the directive into law.  While Open Knowledge Foundation is encouraged to see some of the new provisions, we have concerns – many of which we laid out in a 2018 blogpost – about missed opportunities for further progress towards a fair, free and open future across the EU. Open data stickers Lack of public input Firstly, the revised directive gives responsibility for choosing which high-value datasets to publish over to member states but there are no established mechanisms for the public to provide input into the decisions.  Broad thematic categories – geospatial; earth observation and environment; meteorological; statistics; companies and company ownership; and mobility – are set out for these datasets but the specifics will be determined over the next two years via a series of further implementing acts. Datasets eventually deemed to be high-value shall be made “available free of charge … machine readable, provided via APIs and provided as a bulk download, where relevant”. Despite drawing on our Global Open Data Index to generate a preliminary list of high-value datasets, this decision flies in the face of years of findings from the Index showing how important it is for governments to engage with the public as much and as early as possible to generate awareness and increase levels of reuse of open data. We fear that this could lead to a further loss of public trust by opening the door for special interests, lobbyists and companies to make private arguments against the release of valuable datasets like spending records or beneficial ownership data which is often highly disaggregated and allows monetary transactions to be linked to individuals. Partial definition of high-value data Secondly, defining the value of data is also not straightforward. Papers from Oxford University, to Open Data Watch and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data demonstrate disagreement about what data’s “value” is. What counts as high-value data should not only be based on quantitative indicators such as potential income generation, breadth of business applications or numbers of beneficiaries – as the revised directive sets out – but also use qualitative assessments and expert judgment from multiple disciplines. Currently less than a quarter of the data with the biggest potential for social impact is available as truly open data even from countries seen as open data leaders, according to the latest Open Data Barometer report from our colleagues at the World Wide Web Foundation. Why? Because “governments are not engaging enough with groups beyond the open data and open government communities”.   Lack of clarity on recommended licenses Thirdly, in line with the directive’s stated principle of being “open by design and by default”, we hope to see countries avoiding future interoperability problems by abiding by the requirement to use open standard licences when publishing these high-value datasets. It’s good to see that the EU Commission itself has recently adopted Creative Commons licences when publishing its own documents and data.  But we feel – in line with our friends at Communia – that the Commission should have made clear exactly which open licences they endorsed under the updated directive, by explicitly recommending the adoption of Open Definition compliant licences from Creative Commons or Open Data Commons to member states. The directive also missed the opportunity to give preference to public domain dedication and attribution licences in accordance with the EU’s own LAPSI 2.0 licensing guidelines, as we recommended. The European Data Portal indicates that there could be up to 90 different licences currently used by national, regional, or municipal governments. Their quality assurance report also shows that they can’t automatically detect the licences used to publish the vast majority of datasets published by open data portals from EU countries. If they can’t work this out, the public definitely won’t be able to: meaning that any and all efforts to use newly-released data will be restrained by unnecessarily onerous reuse conditions. The more complicated or bespoke the licensing, the more likely data will end up unused in silos, our research has shown. 27 of the 28 EU member states may now have national open data policies and portals but, once discovered, it is currently likely that – in addition to confusing licencing – national datasets lack interoperability. For while the EU has substantial programmes of work on interoperability under the European Interoperability Framework, they are not yet having a major impact on the interoperability of open datasets. Open Knowledge Foundation research report: Avoiding data use silos More FAIR data Finally, we welcome the provisions in the directive obliging member states to “[make] publicly funded research data openly available following the principle of open by default and compatible with FAIR principles.” We know there is much work to be done but hope to see wide adoption of these rules and that the provisions for not releasing publicly-funded data due to “confidentiality” or “legitimate commercial interests” will not be abused. The next two years will be a crucial period to engage with these debates across Europe and to make sure that EU countries embrace the directive’s principle of openness by default to release more, better information and datasets to help citizens strive towards a fair, free and open future.

Statement from the Open Knowledge Foundation Board on the future of the CKAN Association

- June 6, 2019 in ckan, Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Knowledge Foundation

The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) Board met on Monday evening to discuss the future of the CKAN Association.

The Board supported the CKAN Stewardship proposal jointly put forward by Link Digital and Datopian. As two of the longest serving members of the CKAN Community, it was felt their proposal would now move CKAN forward, strengthening both the platform and community.

In appointing joint stewardship to Link Digital and Datopian, the Board felt there was a clear practical path with strong leadership and committed funding to see CKAN grow and prosper in the years to come.

OKF will remain the ‘purpose trustee’ to ensure the Stewards remain true to the purpose and ethos of the CKAN project. The Board would like to thank everyone who contributed to the deliberations and we are confident CKAN has a very bright future ahead of it.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Steven de Costa, managing director of Link Digital, or Paul Walsh, CEO of Datopian, by emailing stewards@ckan.org.

Fighting for a more open world: our CEO’s keynote speech at Open Belgium 2019

- March 4, 2019 in Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Knowledge International, Talks

On Monday 4th March 2019, Catherine Stihler, the new chief executive of Open Knowledge International, will deliver a keynote speech – Fighting for a more open world – at the Open Belgium 2019 conference in Brussels. Read the speech below and visit the Open Belgium website or follow the hashtag to learn more about the event. Catherine Stihler, CEO of Open Knowledge International Thanks to Open Knowledge Belgium for inviting me to speak today. It is great to be you with you all in what is my fourth week in my new role as Chief Executive of Open Knowledge International. This is the first time I have been in Brussels since serving for 20 years as an MEP for Scotland. During that time, I worked on copyright reform and around openness with a key focus on intellectual property rights and freedom of expression. Digital skills and data use have always been a personal passion, and I’m excited to meet so many talented people using those skills to fight for a more open world. It is a privilege to be part of an organisation and movement that have set the global standard for genuinely free and open sharing of information. There have been many gains in recent years that have made our society more open, with experts – be they scientists, entrepreneurs or campaigners – using data for the common good. But I join OKI at a time when openness is at risk. The acceptance of basic facts is under threat, with many expert views dismissed and a culture of ‘anti-intellectualism’ from those on the extremes of politics. Facts are simply branded as ‘fake news’. The rise of the far right and the far left brings with it an authoritarian approach that could return us to a closed society. The way forward is to resuscitate the three foundations of tolerance, facts and ideas, to prevent the drift to the extremes. I want to see a fairer and open society where help harness the power of open data and unleash its potential for the public good. We at Open Knowledge International want to see enlightened societies around the world, where everyone has access to key information and the ability to use it to understand and shape their lives; where powerful institutions are held accountable; and where vital research that can help us tackle challenges – such as inequality, poverty and climate change – is available to all. To reach these goals, we need to work to raise the profile of open knowledge and instil it as an important value in the organisations and sectors we work in. In order to achieve this, we will need to change cultures, policies and business models of organisations large and small to make opening up and using information possible and desirable. This means building the capacity to understand, share, find and use data, across civil society and government. We need to create and encourage collaborations across government, business and civil society to use data to rebalance power and tackle major challenges. We need tools – technical, legal and educational – to make working with data easier and more effective. Yet, in many countries, societies are shifting in the other direction making it harder and harder to foster collaboration, discover compromises and make breakthroughs. Freedom House has recorded global declines in political rights and civil liberties for an alarming 13 consecutive years, from 2005 to 2018. Last year, CIVICUS found that nearly six in ten countries are seriously restricting people’s fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. And, despite some governments releasing more data than before,  our most recent Global Open Data Index found that only 11% of the data published in 2017 was truly open, down from 16% of the data surveyed in 2013. Our fear is that these trends towards closed societies will exacerbate inequality in many countries as declining civic rights, the digital divide, ‘dirty data and restrictions on the free and open exchange of information combine in new and troubling ways. Opaque technological approaches – informed by both public and, more often, private data – are increasingly being suggested as solutions to some of the world’s toughest issues from crime prevention to healthcare provision and from managing welfare or food aid projects to policing border security, most recently evidenced in the debate around the Northern Irish border and Brexit. Yet if citizens cannot understand, trust or challenge data-driven decisions taken by governments and private organisations due to a lack of transparency or the challenge of a right of redress to the data held on individuals or businesses, then racist, sexist and xenophobic biases risk being baked into public systems – and the right to privacy will be eroded. We need to act now and ensure that legislation emphasising open values keeps pace with technological advances so that they can be harnessed in ways which protect – rather than erode – citizens’ rights. And we need people in future to be able to have an open and honest exchange of information with details, context and metadata helping to make any potential biases more transparent and rectifiable. As Wafa Ben Hassine, policy counsel for Access Now, said recently, “we need to make sure humans are kept in the loop … [to make sure] that there is oversight and accountability” of any systems using data to make decisions for public bodies. Moving on to another pressing issue, I am very concerned about the EU’s deal on copyright reform – which is due to go before the European Parliament for a vote this month – and the effects that this will have on society. The agreement will require platforms such as YouTube, Twitter or Google to take down user-generated content that could breach intellectual property and install filters to prevent people from uploading copyrighted material. That means memes, GIFs and music remixes may be taken down because the copyright does not belong to the uploader. It could also restrict the sharing of vital research and facts, allowing ‘fake news’ to spread. This is an attack on openness and will lead to a chilling effect on freedom of speech across the EU. It does not enhance citizens’ rights and could lead to Europe becoming a more closed society – restricting how we share research that could lead to medical breakthroughs or how we share facts. I know that there is a detailed session focused on copyright reform at 12:30pm in this room so please join that if you want to learn more. So what can we do about these issues? First, we are calling on all candidates in May’s European Parliament elections to go to pledge2019.eu to make a public pledge that they will oppose Article 13 of the EU’s chilling copyright reforms. This is an issue that is not going to go away, regardless of the plenary vote this spring. When the new Parliament sits, in July, the MEPs representing voters for the next five years will have an opportunity to take action. Second, in coordination with our colleagues at Mozilla and other organisations, we want tech companies like Facebook to introduce a number of improved transparency measures to safeguard against interference in the coming European elections, and I have written to Facebook’s vice-president of global affairs and my former MEP colleague Sir Nick Clegg to request more openness from the social media platform. Facebook have responded but you can add your voice to Mozilla’s ongoing campaign to keep up the pressure and make sure change happens. Third, we encourage you to visit responsibledata.io to join the Responsible Data community which works to respond to the ethical, legal, social and privacy-related challenges that come from using data in new and different ways. This community was first convened by our friends at the Engine Room – who have done great work on this issue – alongside our School of Data who were one of the founding partners. Fourth,  get everyone to use established, recognised open licences when releasing data or content. This should be a simple ask for governments and organisations across the world but our research has found that legally cumbersome custom licenses strangle innovation and the reuse of data. Fifth, when you are choosing MEP candidates to vote for in May, ask yourself: what have they done to push for openness in our country? Have they signed up to key transparency legislation? Voiced support for access to information and freedom of expression? If you’re not sure, email and ask them. We need a strong cohort of open advocates at the European Parliament to address the coming issues around privacy, transparency and data protection. At Open Knowledge International, we will help fight the good fight by continuing our work to bring together communities around the world to celebrate and prove the value of being open in the face of prevailing winds. Two days ago, with support from OKI, Open Data Day took place with hundreds of events taking place all over the world. From open mapping in South America to open science and research in Francophone Africa, grassroot organisations came out in growing numbers to share their belief in the value of open data. Our next big event is the fourth iteration of csv,conf, a community conference for data makers featuring stories about data sharing and data analysis from science, journalism, government, and open source. By popular demand, this year will see the return of the infamous comma llama. We are also very proud of the fantastic work by the Open Knowledge network teams around the globe to nurture open communities from Open Knowledge Finland’s creation of the MyData conference and movement to the investigations by journalists and developers enabled by Open Knowledge Germany and OpenCorporates’ recent release of data on 5.1 million German companies. And here in Belgium, it’s fantastic to hear about the hundreds of students who participated in Open Knowledge Belgium’s Open Summer of Code last year to create innovative open source projects as well as to be inspired by the team’s work on HackYourFuture Belgium, a coding school for refugees. To finish my speech, I want to echo Claire Melamed of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data: “People’s voices turned into numbers have power … and data has a power to reveal the truth about people’s lives even when words and pictures have failed.” So whether you’re interested in open government, open education or any of the other fascinating topics being explored today, I hope that you connect with people who will help you fight for openness, fight for the truth and fight for the rights of people in this country and beyond.

Open data governance and open governance: interplay or disconnect?  

- February 20, 2019 in Open Data, open data governance, Policy, research

Authors: Ana Brandusescu, Carlos Iglesias, Danny Lämmerhirt, Stefaan Verhulst (in alphabetical order) The presence of open data often gets listed as an essential requirement toward “open governance”. For instance, an open data strategy is reviewed as a key component of many action plans submitted to the Open Government Partnership. Yet little time is spent on assessing how open data itself is governed, or how it embraces open governance. For example, not much is known on whether the principles and practices that guide the opening up of government – such as transparency, accountability, user-centrism, ‘demand-driven’ design thinking – also guide decision-making on how to release open data. At the same time, data governance has become more complex and open data decision-makers face heightened concerns with regards to privacy and data protection. The recent implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has generated an increased awareness worldwide of the need to prevent and mitigate the risks of personal data disclosures, and that has also affected the open data community. Before opening up data, concerns of data breaches, the abuse of personal information, and the potential of malicious inference from publicly available data may have to be taken into account. In turn, questions of how to sustain existing open data programs, user-centrism, and publishing with purpose gain prominence. To better understand the practices and challenges of open data governance, we have outlined a research agenda in an earlier blog post. Since then, and perhaps as a result, governance has emerged as an important topic for the open data community. The audience attending the 5th International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Buenos Aires deemed governance of open data to be the most important discussion topic. For instance, discussions around the Open Data Charter principles during and prior to the IODC acknowledged the role of an integrated governance approach to data handling, sharing, and publication. Some conclude that the open data movement has brought about better governance, skills, technologies of public information management which becomes an enormous long-term value for government. But what does open data governance look like?

Understanding open data governance

To expand our earlier exploration and broaden the community that considers open data governance, we convened a workshop at the Open Data Research Symposium 2018. Bringing together open data professionals, civil servants, and researchers, we focused on:
  • What is open data governance?
  • When can we speak of “good” open data governance, and
  • How can the research community help open data decision-makers toward “good” open data governance?
In this session, open data governance was defined as the interplay of rules, standards, tools, principles, processes and decisions that influence what government data is opened up, how and by whom. We then explored multiple layers that can influence open data governance. In the following, we illustrate possible questions to start mapping the layers of open data governance. As they reflect the experiences of session participants, we see them as starting points for fresh ethnographic and descriptive research on the daily practices of open data governance in governments.

Figure: Schema of an open data governance model

The Management layer

Governments may decide about the release of data on various levels. Studying the management side of data governance could look at decision-making methods and devices. For instance, one might analyze how governments gauge public interest in their datasets – through data request mechanisms, user research, or participatory workshops? What routine procedures do governments put in place to interact with other governments and the public? For instance, how do governments design routine processes to open data requests? How are disputes over open data release settled? How do governments enable the public to address non-publication? One might also study cost-benefit calculations and similar methodologies to evaluate data, and how they inform governments what data counts as crucial and is expected to bring returns and societal benefits. Understanding open data governance would also require to study the ways in which open data creation, cleaning, and publication are managed itself. Governments may choose to organise open data publication and maintenance in house, or seek collaborative approaches, otherwise known from data communities like OpenStreetMaps. Another key component is funding and sustainability. Funding might influence management on multiple layers – from funding capacity building, to investing in staff innovations and alternative business models for government agencies that generate revenue from high value datasets. What do these budget and sustainability models look like? How are open data initiatives currently funded, under what terms, for how long, by whom and for what? And how do governments reconcile the publication of high value datasets with the need to provide income for public government bodies? These questions gain importance as governments move towards assessing and publishing high value datasets. Open governance and management: To what extent is management guided by open governance? For instance, how participatory, transparent, and accountable are decision-making processes and devices? How do governments currently make space for more open governance in their management processes? Do governments practice more collaborative data management with communities, for example to maintain, update, verify government data?   

The Legal and Policy layer

The interplay between legal and policy frameworks: Open data policies operate among other legal and policy frameworks, which can complement, enable, or limit the scope of open data. New frameworks such as GDPR, but also existing right to information and freedom of expression frameworks prompt the question of how the legal environment influences the behaviour and daily decision-making around open data. To address such questions, one could study the discourse and interplay between open data policies as well as tangential policies like smart city or digitalisation policies. Implementation of law and policies: Furthermore, how are open data frameworks designed to guide the implementation open data? How do they address governmental devolution? Open data governance needs to stretch across all government levels to unlock data from all government levels. What approaches are experimented with to coordinate the implementation of policies across jurisdictions and government branches? To what agencies do open data policies apply, and how do they enable or constrain choices around open data? What agencies define and move forward open data, and how does this influence adoption and sustainability of open data initiatives? Open governance of law and policy: Besides studying the interaction of privacy protection, right to information, and open data policies, how could open data benefit from policies enabling open governance and civic participation? Do governments develop more integrated strategies for open governance and open data, and if so, what policies and legal mechanisms are in place? If so, how do these laws and policies enable other aspects of open data governance, including more participatory management, more substantive and legally supported citizen participation?  

The Technical and Standards layer

Governments may have different technical standards in place for data processing and publication, from producing data, to quality assurance processes. Some research has looked into the ways data standards for open data alter the way governments process information. Others have argued that the development of data standards is reference how governments envisage citizens, primarily catering to tech-literate audiences. (Data) standards do not only represent, but intervene in the way governments work. Therefore, they could substantially alter the ways government publishes information. Understood this way, how do standards enable resilience against change, particularly when facing shifting political leadership? On the other hand, most government data systems are not designed for open data. Too often, governments are struggling to transform huge volumes of government data into open data using manual methods. Legacy IT systems that have not been built to support open data create additional challenges to developing technical infrastructure, but there is no single global solution to data infrastructure. How could then governments transform their technical infrastructure to allow them to publish open data efficiently? Open governance and the technical / standards layer: If standards can be understood as  bridge building devices, or tools for cooperation, how could open governance inform the creation of technical standards? Do governments experiment with open standards, and if so, what standards are developed, to what end, using what governance approach?

The Capacity layer

Staff innovations may play an important role in open data governance. What is the role of chief data officers in improving open data governance? Could the usual informal networks of open data curators within government and a few open data champions make open data success alone? What role do these innovations play in making decisions about open data and personal data protection? Could governments rely solely on senior government officials to execute open data strategies? Who else is involved in the decision-making around open data release? What are the incentives and disincentives for officials to increase data sharing? As one session participant mentioned: “I have never experienced that a civil servant got promoted for sharing data”. This begs the question if and how governments currently assess performance metrics that support opening up data. What other models could help reward data sharing and publication? In an environment of decreased public funding, are there opportunities for governments to integrate open data publication in existing engagement channels with the public? Open governance and capacity: Open governance may require capacities in government, but could also contribute new capacities. This can apply to staff, but also resources such as time or infrastructure. How do governments provide and draw capacity from open governance approaches, and what could be learnt for other open data governance approaches?    

Next steps

With this map of data governance aspects as a starting point, we would like to conduct empirical research to explore how open data governance is practised. A growing body of ethnographic research suggests that tech innovations such as algorithmic decision-making, open data, or smart city initiatives are ‘multiples’ — meaning that they can be practiced in many ways by different people, arising in various contexts. With such an understanding, we would like to develop empirical case studies to elicit how open data governance is practised. Our proposed research approach includes the following steps:
  • Universe mapping: Identifying public sector officials and civil servants involved in deciding how data gets managed, shared and published openly (this helps to get closer to the actual decision-makers, and to learn from them).
  • Describing how and on what basis (legal, organisational & bureaucratic, technological, financial, etc.) people make decisions on what gets published and why.
  • Observe and describe different approaches to do open data governance, looking at enabling and limiting factors of opening up data.
  • Describe gaps and areas of improvement with regards to open data governance, as well as best practices.
This may surface how open data governance becomes salient for governments, under what circumstances and why. If you are a government official, or civil servant working with (open) data, and would like to share your experiences, we would like to hear from you!  

Sweden needs better coordination, skills and concrete incentives to drive the work on open data forward

- February 12, 2019 in Open Data

The assessment of Sweden’s commitments in the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)* has just been published. The assessment shows that Sweden’s third OGP action plan led to greater access to public service information. However, Alina Östling, the researcher who carried out the evaluation, underlines that future action plans could be more ambitious and be preceded by wider consultations with civil society during their development and implementation.
Sweden has faced issues with digital management and coordination for many years. A previous study by the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) found that progress towards digitization in the public sector varies significantly across different state and municipal organizations with a few excelling, while the majority lags behind. The government assignments given to the pilot agencies in the framework of the Digital First programme have led to some improvements in terms of access to information, as several agencies have released substantial amounts of open data. For example, in September 2017, the Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) released open geographic data according to the CC0 license (meaning that all rights are waived), and the Environment Agency released data in July 2018 that should facilitate navigation in protected areas that are free to use in proprietary applications. However, Lantmäteriet suggests that important obstacles remain, including a fragmented and partly analogous information supply. This impedes access to information, leads to unnecessary duplication of work for stakeholders, and to uneven development and progress. Based on desk research and interviews with stakeholders, the OGP researcher recommends improving national coordination in access to basic public sector information and to invest in skills necessary for public sector digitization.
In terms of opening up Public Sector Information (PSI), the OGP assessment shows that it has become easier to re-use PSI. Sweden has increased both the number of PSI datasets published and the number of visitors on the national open data portal. According to the European Commission, Sweden has reached ‘portal maturity’ and is now an open data ‘fast-tracker’. The National Archives has further developed the national open data portal, and has almost tripled the number of datasets between July 2017 and August 2018 (from 494 to 1,432). The number of unique visitors per month has increased from 330 in 2016 to 2,000 in 2017, and the portal contains 90-99 percent of all openly licensed datasets.
However, despite good progress, the OGP report stresses that more needs to be done in order to increase the re-use of information, including more initiatives in the field of open data and a strategy that outlines the long-term priorities. Many authorities are still uncertain about how to facilitate opening data, and lack concrete incentives for driving the work forward. Progress has not been uniform across authorities and tends to concern only some spearheads in the public administration. The responsibility to promote PSI and open data, as well as to assist public agencies in publishing such data has recently been taken over by the new Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) and the progress of Sweden in the field of open data will largely depend on the strategy and performance of DIGG.
  • The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. This report summarizes the results of the period July 2016 to June 2018: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sweden-end-of-term-report-2016-2018-public-comment
  [1] “Digitalization of public Sweden – a follow-up”. (The Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV), March 2018), https://www.esv.se/publicerat/publikationer/2018/digitaliseringen-av-det-offentliga-sverige–en-uppfoljning/ [1] Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero) is intended to be a ‘public domain dedication,’ i.e., a waiver of all rights including those of attribution. (“Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero)” (Open Definition, 22 July 2018), http://opendefinition.org/licenses/cc-zero/.) CC0 is currently recommended as the preferred method for releasing software to the public domain by the Free Software Foundation. (“Various Licenses and Comments about Them” (Free Software Foundation, 27 June 2018), https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html). CC0 is also used by major players such as Open street map on Wikipedia. [1] “Now it becomes easier to use the Lantmäteriets open data” (Geoforum Sweden, 14 August 2017), https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3173-nu-blir-det-enklare-att-anvaenda-lantmaeteriets-oeppna-data [1] Geoforum Sverige, 16 July 2018, https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3484-naturvardsverket-slapper-oppna-data-som-forenklar-friluftslivet [1] “Digital First- For a smarter community-building process” (The Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) January 2018), https://www.geodata.se/globalassets/dokumentarkiv/styrning-och-uppfoljning/geodatastrategin/slutrapport-digitalt-forst.pdf [1] European Data Portal, Open data maturity dashboard, 24 August 2018, https://www.europeandataportal.eu/en/dashboard#tab-detailed [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM mid-term reports on 17 July 2017, on the oppnadata.se portal. [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM end-of-term reports on 24 August 2017, https://registrera.oppnadata.se/status/overview [1] “Sweden – Overview”, European Data Portal,  https://www.europeandataportal.eu/sites/default/files/country-factsheet_sweden.pdf. [1] About 40 percent of the national authorities and 60 percent of municipalities and county councils have not implemented any specific measure at all to make available for re-use. Source: The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The website of DIGG with a description of the scope of the Agency: https://www.digg.se/utveckling–innovation/oppna-data-och-datadriven-innovation

Sweden needs better coordination, skills and concrete incentives to drive the work on open data forward

- February 12, 2019 in Open Data

The assessment of Sweden’s commitments in the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP)* has just been published. The assessment shows that Sweden’s third OGP action plan led to greater access to public service information. However, Alina Östling, the researcher who carried out the evaluation, underlines that future action plans could be more ambitious and be preceded by wider consultations with civil society during their development and implementation.
Sweden has faced issues with digital management and coordination for many years. A previous study by the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) found that progress towards digitization in the public sector varies significantly across different state and municipal organizations with a few excelling, while the majority lags behind. The government assignments given to the pilot agencies in the framework of the Digital First programme have led to some improvements in terms of access to information, as several agencies have released substantial amounts of open data. For example, in September 2017, the Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) released open geographic data according to the CC0 license (meaning that all rights are waived), and the Environment Agency released data in July 2018 that should facilitate navigation in protected areas that are free to use in proprietary applications. However, Lantmäteriet suggests that important obstacles remain, including a fragmented and partly analogous information supply. This impedes access to information, leads to unnecessary duplication of work for stakeholders, and to uneven development and progress. Based on desk research and interviews with stakeholders, the OGP researcher recommends improving national coordination in access to basic public sector information and to invest in skills necessary for public sector digitization.
In terms of opening up Public Sector Information (PSI), the OGP assessment shows that it has become easier to re-use PSI. Sweden has increased both the number of PSI datasets published and the number of visitors on the national open data portal. According to the European Commission, Sweden has reached ‘portal maturity’ and is now an open data ‘fast-tracker’. The National Archives has further developed the national open data portal, and has almost tripled the number of datasets between July 2017 and August 2018 (from 494 to 1,432). The number of unique visitors per month has increased from 330 in 2016 to 2,000 in 2017, and the portal contains 90-99 percent of all openly licensed datasets.
However, despite good progress, the OGP report stresses that more needs to be done in order to increase the re-use of information, including more initiatives in the field of open data and a strategy that outlines the long-term priorities. Many authorities are still uncertain about how to facilitate opening data, and lack concrete incentives for driving the work forward. Progress has not been uniform across authorities and tends to concern only some spearheads in the public administration. The responsibility to promote PSI and open data, as well as to assist public agencies in publishing such data has recently been taken over by the new Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) and the progress of Sweden in the field of open data will largely depend on the strategy and performance of DIGG.
  • The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country. This report summarizes the results of the period July 2016 to June 2018: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sweden-end-of-term-report-2016-2018-public-comment
  [1] “Digitalization of public Sweden – a follow-up”. (The Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV), March 2018), https://www.esv.se/publicerat/publikationer/2018/digitaliseringen-av-det-offentliga-sverige–en-uppfoljning/ [1] Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero) is intended to be a ‘public domain dedication,’ i.e., a waiver of all rights including those of attribution. (“Creative Commons CC Zero License (cc-zero)” (Open Definition, 22 July 2018), http://opendefinition.org/licenses/cc-zero/.) CC0 is currently recommended as the preferred method for releasing software to the public domain by the Free Software Foundation. (“Various Licenses and Comments about Them” (Free Software Foundation, 27 June 2018), https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html). CC0 is also used by major players such as Open street map on Wikipedia. [1] “Now it becomes easier to use the Lantmäteriets open data” (Geoforum Sweden, 14 August 2017), https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3173-nu-blir-det-enklare-att-anvaenda-lantmaeteriets-oeppna-data [1] Geoforum Sverige, 16 July 2018, https://geoforum.se/nyheter/266-oppna-data/3484-naturvardsverket-slapper-oppna-data-som-forenklar-friluftslivet [1] “Digital First- For a smarter community-building process” (The Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority (Lantmäteriet) January 2018), https://www.geodata.se/globalassets/dokumentarkiv/styrning-och-uppfoljning/geodatastrategin/slutrapport-digitalt-forst.pdf [1] European Data Portal, Open data maturity dashboard, 24 August 2018, https://www.europeandataportal.eu/en/dashboard#tab-detailed [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM mid-term reports on 17 July 2017, on the oppnadata.se portal. [1] The IRM researcher verified the number of available datasets during the data collection for the second IRM end-of-term reports on 24 August 2017, https://registrera.oppnadata.se/status/overview [1] “Sweden – Overview”, European Data Portal,  https://www.europeandataportal.eu/sites/default/files/country-factsheet_sweden.pdf. [1] About 40 percent of the national authorities and 60 percent of municipalities and county councils have not implemented any specific measure at all to make available for re-use. Source: The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The evaluation of the re-use of data and public documents carried out by the Agency for Public Management (Milestone 2.3.) published on 9 January 2018, http://www.statskontoret.se/globalassets/publikationer/2018/201802.pdf [1] The website of DIGG with a description of the scope of the Agency: https://www.digg.se/utveckling–innovation/oppna-data-och-datadriven-innovation

Nominations open for Swedish Open Knowledge Awards 2018

- January 22, 2019 in network, OK awards, OK Sweden, Open Data, Sweden

This blog has been reposted from the OK Sweden blog. Open Knowledge Sweden is aiming to create a tradition to acknowledge people and organizations to foster better, open, democratic, inclusive and innovative society. Open Knowledge should be a mainstream concept and a natural part of our everyday lives. That is why we are organising the 2018 edition of the Swedish Open Knowledge Awards (OKA), the first award event on open knowledge in Sweden, covering categories such as transparency, entrepreneurship, open science, ministry/municipality and business initiative. Each category in which organizations, companies and authorities are tested in, will annually be determining the most exemplary initiative working in favour of open data, open knowledge and transparency. The award winners will set an example of how businesses and organizations have best used open knowledge for innovative solutions, how authorities have been more transparent with the use of open knowledge and how public figures have used their influence for change in that direction, both cultural and legal. Open Knowledge Sweden has held previous OK Awards in collaboration with KTH, Wikimedia, and Dataföreningen. This year, we expect to have more nominations and guests at our event with support from the Open Knowledge community. As OK Sweden, we believe that OKA is providing recognition to change makers that push for innovation as well as transparent and accountable democracy. It also raises the bar every year for all open knowledge stakeholders in Sweden.

OK awards jury

The jury consists of experts and researchers in open knowledge related domains: Britta Duve Hansen is an IT strategist and solution architect at the City of Lund. With backgrounds in mathematics and geographic IT, her core focus today is on Business Intelligence, digitalisation, and Open Data. She believes in transparency, collaboration, and common standards as the key drivers of digital transformation in the public sector. Björn Söderlund is head of development at the Swedish municipality of Lidingö stad and one of the last year’s award winners. Björn has been engaged many years at the local, regional and national level in finding ways of publishing more open data from the public sector to stimulate openness and innovation. He is also involved in national work with the aspects and challenges of information security issues as the municipality’s CISO. Lidingö stad is still one of the public organizations that has published the most number of datasets and believes it remains one of the important future challenges for information use, reuse and development. On the reasons why we should do better he believes that the simple answer is to turn the question around- “Why shouldn’t we?” Halit Koşmaz is the chairman of Open Knowledge Sweden. He is a Master of Science engineer in electro-physics from KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Halit is very pragmatic problem-solver in any context with innovation and heavy wide competence. Halit has extensive experience from master and expert roles within the Telecom, public authorities, financial companies, renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions. Halit has worked in roles as President, Chief Operating Officer, IT and system architect, development engineer, project manager and business developer. He has extensive knowledge in the field of IT security, identity management, payment and credit solutions, PKI, mobile services, as well as ECM/document management. Halit has developed even hardware (laser) for fiber optic network, energy harvesting solution for the roof and nanomaterial for insulation and air-filter. Halit has extensive experience working abroad where he has worked with major international and companies. Halit is a devoted soldier to child pornography on the internet. He has fought in all fronts to keep the internet free from CSEM. Halit has always advocated open data in the public sector, convinced that only open data confers strong democracy. Jessica Bäck is responsible for Sales and Partner Relations at the Internet Foundation in Sweden. She is a board member of the government initiative Hack for Sweden. Jessica is the founder of Teknikklubben, a meeting place for tech-interested transgender kids and a runner-up for the Unionen HBTQ-award 2018. At the Internet Foundation, Jessica has published a series of Internet Guides that have headlined national newspapers and been translated into several languages.

Nomination process

This year, in order to have better judgement of year 2019, Open Knowledge Awards for 2018 will be held on February 27th, 2019. You are welcome to nominate an individual, group, or organization for each category from now on. The schedule of the nomination process as below:
  • Public Nomination: 22 December 2018 to 28 January 2019
  • Nominations Announcement: February 1, 2019
  • Finalist Announcement:  February 15
  • Price Ceremony: February 27, 2019
To nominate entities/people and for more information about the OK Awards for 2018 event: http://okawards.org/nominate-2018. You can read more about the OK Awards on our website www.okawards.org, or read about the previous year’s winners here. Feel free to contact us regarding press, sponsorship or volunteer contribution. Best regards,
Erhan Bayram Project Leader E-mail: erhan@okfn.se
Phone: +46(0)720212408