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Open Knowledge Belgium defines 5 priorities for the federal digital agenda

- November 10, 2020 in belgium, civic tech, Featured, federal digital agenda, General, Open Data, open knowledge belgium, priorities, prototype fund

1. The federal open data strategy

  The cabinet of Minister De Croo introduced a federal open data strategy in 2015 (1), setting out some generic guidelines. Unfortunately, these generic guidelines have had little impact in the following 5 years on the relevant policy domains, not on the Agency for Administrative Simplification (AAS) nor on BOSA Digital Transformation (managing the federal open data platform).(2) The content of the strategy was good and concepts such as ‘open by default’, ‘comply or explain’ as well as the focus on machine readability received the support of our open data community.(3) Open Knowledge Belgium would like to see concrete actions linked to the guidelines that have been defined. This is politically challenging, because the open data strategy transcends the boundaries of the federal public services. Three examples:
  • We have contacted Minister Van Quickenborne in response to the renewal of the website of the Official Gazette.(4) To make this machine-readable, agreements can be made about data models, identifiers used, and annotation of the website with semantic markup.
  • FPS Economy manages the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE). They are an important stakeholder to help shape the data model used  to describe legal entities in Belgium.(5) A European standard to describe companies already exists, but it requires expansion with code lists such as the NACEBEL codes.
  • SPF Mobility is currently working on the Belgian standard for public transport data and shared mobility (NeTEx Belgium). This should prepare us for Mobility as a Service, which promises to create a level playing field for mobility providers and route planners.
Whether we are looking at a data publication from FPS Justice, FPS Economy or FPS Mobility, we should find the same principles: an approved “open data” license, the use of Linked Data, alignment with the same base registers and the use of the same standardized code lists. Several European member states have already started working on a single overview of all “LinkedData” models, code lists, base registers, and application profiles in one location, with a steering body that oversees the interoperability between all datasets. Some inspiring examples:
  • Open Standards for Linking Organizations (OSLO) in Flanders.(6)
  • Finland with government-validated data models (7) and legislation as Linked Data.(8)
  • European Commission with ISA² core vocabularies, the SEMIC initiative , ELIs, …
  • The Netherlands with the NEN standards.(9)
  • France with ETALab publishing base registers.(10)
For Belgium, we also dream of such an overview page and steering body with representatives of the various policy areas. They approve specifications and datasets within the federal “knowledge graph”. Low hanging fruit is to elevate already existing datasets so that they comply with the data strategy: the list of addresses (BestAdd), the KBO, the Official Gazette, the NACEBEL codes, the list of municipalities and their boundaries (dataset by NGI), mobility data, and so on. This could be done by BOSA DT, where the team of Bart Hanssens already shares this vision.  

2. Appeals Committee for the Public Access Act

  There has not been an appeals committee to handle requests for Public Access for several years now. The previous government failed to put one in place. An appeals committee must be appointed as soon as possible to adhere to the Royal Decree of April 29, 2008 (11) on the composition and working method of the Committee for access to and reuse of administrative documents (Belgian Official Journal 8 May 2008). This committee must be authorized by Minister Verlinden in consultation with the Digital Agenda. For example, Belgium recently refused – as one of the only  European member states – to release its tender figures for the emergency purchases of Covid19 protective equipment, tests and respirators. (12) Nevertheless, everyone is convinced that transparency about spending public funds is a crucial element in creating public support.  

3. Open Data at KMI/IRM

  Historical weather data are not only key to studying climate change, they are also an interesting basic set to use in correlation with a lot of other data sets. Think for example of train delays or traffic jams due to weather conditions, crowd indicators (also useful in times of COVID-19) or the calibration of sensors in the public domain based on weather conditions (such as e.g., the ‘Telraam’ sensors that were financed by the Smart Mobility fund of Minister François Bellot or the air quality meters of Irceline). An important barrier to make these data publicly available is the KMI/IRM business model, stating that they should be self-sustaining through the sale of their data. The Cabinet of Demir communicated that this can be remedied by allocating an additional budget of €800.000 per year to the KMI/IRM. (13) We believe that this investment will be lower than the economic benefits for the Belgian economy. State Secretary for science policy, Thomas Dermine, is now responsible for this matter.  

4. Open Data at NMBS/SNCB

  NMBS/SNCB has a long way to go when it comes to Open Data. A one-off progress was made in 2015, when Minister De Croo obliged them to set up a data sharing scheme. Little has changed since then. For example, we are still waiting for the data on platform changes, or, especially important during  COVID-19, the data concerning the crowds on the trains. Political pressure is needed to put this back on the agenda of the board of directors of the NMBS/SNCB. In the meantime, Infrabel is showing how things can be done. An open data team has been set up, and 78 data sets can already be found on opendata.infrabel.be. FPS Mobility also worked hard to comply with the Intelligent TransportSystems Directive (MMTIS EU 2017/1926) and set up transportdata.be. (14)  

5. A Belgian Prototype Fund

  Open Knowledge Germany, our sister organization in Germany, has instigated a lot of success stories with the Prototype Fund. (15) We have already invited the organizers of the Prototype Fund Germany to Belgium on multiple occasions to exchange ideas. Open Knowledge Belgium has plenty of experience when it comes to organizing hackathons as well as open summer of code. The latter is a 4-week summer programme in July, that provides students with the training, network and support necessary to transform open innovation projects into powerful real-world services. Despite the global pandemic, we organized an online edition with more than 80 students in 2020. We believe the Prototype Fund is a sequel to this concept, where professionals with a bright idea can build a prototype faster. We are keen to establish a Protoype Fund Belgium based on the German example. We believe the Federal Government is the ideal partner to stimulate this kind of Open Innovation during the post-Covid relance. The Prototype Fund could be an interpretation of what is stated in the coalition agreement as “There will be small-scale test projects on GovTech on which innovative start-ups and scale-ups can work“. However, it can also be approached from the broader social viewpoint of CivicTech, where civic participation and public benefit outweigh the business model. Or as the Swiss version of the Prototype Fund puts it: “Smart Participation as a right to collectively shape our future”. (16)   Footnotes
  1. https://data.gov.be/nl/news/federale-open-data-strategie​ -http://digitalbelgium.be/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/compressed_NLStrategisch-dossier.pdf
  2.  https://data.gov.be
  3.  https://be.okfn.org/2015/07/24/green-light-for-the-belgian-federal-open-data-strategy/
  4.  https://twitter.com/VincentVQ/status/1313739256041529344
  5.  The European “core vocabularies” can provide guidance in this case https://ec.europa.eu/isa2/solutions/core-vocabularies_en
  6. https://data.vlaanderen.be
  7. https://tietomallit.suomi.fi
  8. https://data.finlex.fi/fi/main
  9. https://www.geonovum.nl/geo-standaarden/nen-3610-basismodel-voor-informatiemodellen
  10. https://www.data.gouv.fr/fr/reference
  11. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/eli/besluit/2008/04/29/2008021045/justel
  12. https://www.occrp.org/en/coronavirus/europes-covid-19-spending-spree-unmasked
  13. https://www.demorgen.be/nieuws/zuhal-demir-kmi-heeft-800-000-euro-compensatie-nodig-om-data-open-te-stellen~b1a77655
  14. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg_del/2017/1926/oj
  15. https://prototypefund.de/en/about-2
  16. https://prototypefund.opendata.ch/en/about/smart-participation-and-democracy/
                       

Open Knowledge and MyData – same roots, shared values

- November 10, 2020 in Events, OK Finland, Open Data, Open Knowledge, personal-data, Talks

  The origins of MyData can be traced back to Open Knowledge Festival held in Finland in 2012. There, a small group of people gathered in a breakout session to discuss what ought to be done with the kind of data that cannot be made publicly available and entirely open, namely personal data. Over the years, more and more people who had similar ideas about personal data converged and found each other around the globe. Finally, in 2016, a conference entitled MyData brought together thinkers and doers who shared a vision of a human-centric paradigm for personal data and the community became aware of itself. The MyData movement, which has since gathered momentum and grown into an international community of hundreds of people and organisations, shares many of its most fundamental values with the Open movement from which it has spun off. Openness and transparency in collection, processing, and use of personal data; ethical and socially beneficial use of data; cross-sectoral collaboration; and democratic values are all legacies of the open roots of MyData and hard-wired into the movement itself. The MyData movement was sustained originally through annual conferences held in Helsinki and attended by data professionals in their hundreds. These were made possible by the support of the Finnish chapter of Open Knowledge, who acted as their main organiser. As the years passed and the movement matured, in the autumn of 2018, the movement formalised into its own organisation, MyData Global. Headquartered in Finland, the organisation’s international staff of six, led by General Manager Teemu Ropponen, now facilitate the growing community with local hubs in over 20 locations on six continents, a fourth Helsinki-based conference in September 2019, and the continued efforts of the movement to bring about positive change in the way personal data is used globally. Join MyData 2019 conference with a special discount code! If you want to learn more about MyData, join the MyData 2019 conference on 25-27 September 2019. As we love making friends, we would like to offer you a discount code of 10% for Business and Discounted ticket. Use MyDataFriend and claim your ticket now on mydata2019.org/tickets

Open Data Day 2021 will take place on Saturday 6th March

- September 22, 2020 in Featured, Open Data, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2021

Open Data Day 2021 We are pleased to announce that Open Data Day 2021 will take place on Saturday 6th March. Open Data Day is the annual global celebration of open data facilitated by the Open Knowledge Foundation. The Open Data Day website is opendataday.org. Groups from around the world create local events on the day where they will use open data in their communities. It is an opportunity to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business and civil society. In March 2020, more than 300 events took place across the world to mark the tenth Open Data Day despite some events having to shift online due to event restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the generous support of our funders – Datopian, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Hivos, the Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA), Mapbox, Open Contracting Partnership and Resource Watch – we were able to give out more than 60 mini-grants to support the running of great community events on Open Data Day 2020.  Learn all about those events and discover organisations celebrating open data near you by reading our round-up blogpost. If you or your organisation would like to give financial support for Open Data Day or would be interested in sponsoring our mini-grant scheme, please get in touch by emailing opendataday@okfn.org. We will announce more details about the 2021 mini-grant scheme in the coming months. For Open Data Day 2021, you can connect with others and spread the word using the #OpenDataDay or #ODD2021 hashtags. Alternatively you can join the Google Group to ask for advice or share tips. By March 2021, we hope that in-person events will be able to take place in many locations but we know that differing levels of COVID-19 restrictions will be in force in a number of countries so we are looking at how best we can support the organisation of more virtual events. Find out more about Open Data Day by visiting opendataday.org where you can also add your event to the global map, find recommended data resources and use a free logo generator to create a logo to help your city mark the event.

The UK’s National Data Strategy: first impressions and observations

- September 10, 2020 in Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge, Policy, training


National Data Strategy
After years of promises, the UK Government has finally announced the launch of a ‘framework’ National Data Strategy. The aim of the strategy is to “drive the UK in building a world-leading data economy while ensuring public trust in data use” and the government has set out five missions for this work:
  • Unlocking the value of data across the economy
  • Securing a pro-growth and trusted data regime
  • Transforming government’s use of data to drive efficiency and improve public services
  • Ensuring the security and resilience of the infrastructure on which data relies
  • Championing the international flow of data
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has now kicked off a 12-week consultation period. Last year, the Open Knowledge Foundation submitted our thoughts to help shape the National Data Strategy and also signed a joint letter with other UK think tanks, civil and learned societies calling for urgent action from government to overhaul its use of data.  In our evidence, we called for a focus on teaching data skills to the British public so we are glad to see a focus on data skills in the strategy where the government notes that “everyone needs some level of data literacy in order to operate successfully in increasingly data–rich environments”. We said that the UK has a golden opportunity to lead by example and boost its economy, but must invest in skills to make this a reality. Without training and knowledge, large numbers of UK workers will be ill-equipped to take on many jobs of the future. So while there are funding commitments and assigned actions to recruit expert innovation fellows and 500 data science analysts into government, we hope to see future funding set aside to improve data literacy and data skills for all, not just public sector experts. As we noted in 2019, “learning data skills can prove hugely beneficial to individuals seeking employment in a wide range of fields including the public sector, government, media and voluntary sector” so getting this right will be crucial if the government hopes to make the better use of data part of its plan for building a stronger economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also welcome the strategy’s focus on “fixing the plumbing” and ensuring that data is fit for purpose and standardised. As noted in our 2019 submission, 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” so further efforts to improve data quality and standardisation are sorely needed. On the availability of data and open data, it is encouraging to see a recognition of issues relating to the government’s consistency in open data publication with a promise to review and better measure the impact of existing processes and published data. Our mission is a fair, free and open future so we also welcome the acknowledgement in the strategy of the overarching importance of harnessing data for the purpose of creating a fairer society for all. The consultation on the National Data Strategy is now open and runs for the next 12 weeks to 2nd December 2020.  We will be examining the ‘framework’ strategy documents further and look forward to engaging more with the process of refining and improving the strategy. The UK must not miss this opportunity to be at the forefront of a global future that is fair, free and open.

The UK must not be left behind on the road to a more open society

- August 3, 2020 in Open Data, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Legislation, Policy

The United Kingdom still doesn’t have a National Data Strategy. The idea has been stuck in development hell for years, and the delay has already had an impact. Had a strategy been in place before the coronavirus pandemic, there would have been rules and guidelines in place to help the sharing of data and information between organisations like, for example the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS. A recent opinion poll for the Open Knowledge Foundation found that nearly two-thirds of people in the UK believe a government data strategy would have helped in the fight against COVID-19. Just over a year ago, we submitted a written submission to the UK Government’s consultation on the National Data Strategy, which can be read here. We stressed that 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, we warned, businesses, individuals and public bodies would not be able to play a full role in the interconnected world of today and tomorrow. Allowing people to make better decisions and choices informed by data will boost the UK’s economy through greater productivity, but not without the necessary investment in skills. Our proposals included:
  • A data literacy training programme open to local communities to ensure UK workers have the skills for the technological jobs of the future.
  • Greater use of open licences, granting the general public rights to reuse, distribute, combine or modify works that would otherwise be restricted under intellectual property laws.
With a clear commitment from the Government, the UK has an opportunity to be at the forefront of a global future that is fair, free and open. Inevitably, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the work of government. But a parliamentary question from Labour MP Ian Murray, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, has revealed the government still ‘aims’ to publish the strategy in 2020. It’s disappointing that this is not a cast-iron commitment, although it is certainly a target that we hope will be achieved, not least because at the end of this year the Brexit transition period comes to an end and there are serious question to be addressed about the post-Brexit landscape in the UK. Last year, an updated directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information was entered into force by the European Commission. As part of this directive, EU member states – which at the time included the UK – agreed that a list of ‘high-value’ datasets would be drawn up to be provided free of charge. These high-value datasets will fit into the following categories:
  • Geospatial
  • Earth observation and environment
  • Meteorological
  • Statistics
  • Companies and company ownership
  • Mobility
A research team is currently working to create this list of high-value datasets, with the aim of publishing a draft report by September 2020. An Implementing Act is due to be placed before the European Commission for approval in 2021 and EU Member States have until July 2021 to make sure that these datasets are available as open data and published via APIs. What we don’t know is if the UK Government will adopt these same datasets to help business and civil society create new opportunities post-Brexit, and in a COVID-19 landscape. Another parliamentary question from Ian Murray asked this, but the answer doesn’t commit the government to following suit. The question was answered by the Minister of State for Media and Data, but it was announced earlier this month that the Prime Minister has taken away responsibility for the government use of data from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and handed it to the Cabinet Office. What happens next will therefore be of huge interest to all of us who work to promote open data. This week the European Commission published a roadmap on the digital economy and society. It is vital the UK is not left behind on the road to a more open society.

The Open Human Genome, twenty years on

- June 26, 2020 in Open Data, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Science

On 26th June 2000, the “working draft” of the human genome sequence was announced to great fanfare. Its availability has gone on to revolutionise biomedical research. But this iconic event, twenty years ago today, is also a reference point for the value and power of openness and its evolution.

Biology’s first mega project

Back in 1953, it was discovered that DNA was the genetic material of life. Every cell of every organism contains a copy of its genome, a long sequence of DNA letters, containing a complete set of instructions for that organism. The first genome of a free-living organism – a bacteria – was only determined in 1995 and contained just over half a million letters. At the time sequencing machines determined 500 letter fragments, 100 at a time, with each run taking hours. Since the human genome contains about three billion letters, sequencing it was an altogether different proposition, going on to cost of the order of three billion dollars.

A collective international endeavour, and a fight for openness

It was sequenced through a huge collective effort by thousands of scientists across the world in many stages, over many years. The announcement on 26th June 2000 was only of a draft – but still sufficiently complete to be analysed as a whole. Academic articles describing it wouldn’t be published for another year, but the raw data was completely open, freely available to all.

It might not have been so, as some commercial forces, seeing the value of the genome, tried to shut down government funding in the US and privatise access. However openness won out, thanks largely to the independence and financial muscle of Wellcome (which paid for a third of the sequencing at the Wellcome Sanger Institute) and the commitment of the US National Institutes of Health. Data for each fragment of DNA was released onto the internet just 24hrs after it had been sequenced, with the whole genome accessible through websites such as Ensembl.

Openness for data, openness for publications

Scientists publish. Other scientists try to build on their work. However, as science has become increasingly data rich, access to the data has become as important as publication. In biology, long before genomes, there were efforts by scientists, funders and publishers to link publication with data deposition in public databases hosted by organisations such as EBI and NCBI. However, publication can take years and if a funder has made a large grant for data generation, should the research community have to wait until then?

The Human Genome Sequence, with its 24-hour data release model was at the vanguard of “pre-publication” data release in biology. Initially the human genome was seen as a special case – scientists worried about raw unchecked data being released to all or that others might beat them to publication if such data release became general – but gradually the idea took hold. Dataset generators have found that transparency has generally been beneficial to them and that community review of raw data has allowed errors to be spotted and corrected earlier. Pre-publication data release is now well established where funders are paying for data generation that has value as a community resource, including most genome related projects. And once you have open access data, you can’t help thinking about open access publication too. The movement to change the academic publishing business model to open access dates back to the 1990s, but long before open access became mandated by funders and governments it became the norm for genome related papers.

Big data comes to biology, forcing it to grow up fast

Few expected the human genome to be sequenced so quickly. Even fewer expected the price to sequence one to have dropped to less than $1000 today, or to only take 24 hours on a single machine. “Next Generation” sequencing technology has led to million-fold reductions in price and similar gains in output per machine in less than 20 years. This is the most rapid improvement in any technology, far exceeding the improvements in computing in the same period. The genomes of tens of thousands of different organisms have been sequenced as a result.  Furthermore, the change in output and price has made sequencing a workhorse technology throughout biological and biomedical research – every cell of an organism has an identical copy of its genome, but each cell (37 trillion in each human) is potentially doing something different, which can also be captured by sequencing. Public databases have therefore been filling up with sequence data, doubling in size as much as every six months, as scientists probe how organisms function. Sequence is not the only biological data type being collected on a large scale, but it has been the driver to making biology a big data science.

Genomics and medicine, openness and privacy

Every individual’s genome is slightly different and some of those difference may cause disease. Clinical geneticists have been testing Individual genes of patients to find for cause of rare diseases for more than twenty years, but sequencing the whole genome to simplify the hunt is now affordable and practical. Right now our understanding of the genome is only sufficient to inform clinical care for a small number of conditions, but it’s already enough for the UK NHS to roll out whole genome sequencing as part of the new Genome Medicine Service, after testing this in the 100,000 genomes project. It is the first national healthcare system in the world to do this.

How much could your healthcare be personalised and improved through analysis of your genome? Right now, an urgent focus is on whether genome differences affects the severity of COVID-19 infections. Ultimately, understanding how the human genome works and how DNA differences affect health will depend on research on the genomes of large numbers of individuals alongside their medical records. Unlike the original reference human genome, this is not open data but highly sensitive, private, personal data. 

The challenge has become to build systems that can allow research but are trusted by individuals sufficiently for them to consent to their data being used. What was developed for the 100,000 genomes project, in consultation with participants, was a research environment that functions as a reading library – researchers can run complex analysis on de-identified data within a secure environment but cannot take individual data out. They are restricted to just the statistical summaries of their research results. This Trusted Research Environment model is now being looked at for other sources of sensitive health data.

The open data movement has come a long way in twenty years, showing the benefits to society of organisational transparency that results from data sharing and the opportunities that come from data reuse. The Reference Human Genome Sequence as a public good has been part of that journey. However, not all data can be open, even if the ability to analyse it has great value to society. If we want to benefit from the analysis of private data, we have to find a middle ground which preserves some of strengths of openness, such as sharing analytical tools and summary results, while adapting to constrained analysis environments designed to protect privacy sufficiently to satisfy the individuals whose data it is.

Professor Tim Hubbard is a board member of the Open Knowledge Foundation and was one of the organisers of the sequencing of the human genome.

Exceptional times call for new and open solutions: #osoc20 will be fully remote

- May 5, 2020 in Featured, Open Data, Open Innovation, Open Knowledge, Open Source, open Summer of code, osoc20, projects, remote

A virus is throwing a spanner in the works for businesses and organisations around the globe. At the same time, we are witnessing a surge in innovation, creativity and flexibility from all parts of society. Open Knowledge Belgium wants to take on the challenge and be part of the solution. How? With Open Summer of Code, we provide both private and public organisations with the opportunity to tap into the creativity of digital natives and build a prototype for digital projects in only 4 weeks time. Changing times call for thinking out of the box Open Summer of Code will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this summer. This unique summer program – where student teams devise and develop innovative digital solutions for societal and other challenges – has become an institution. Throughout the years, we have managed to make Open Summer of Code grow with more students, partners and impact. As a result of the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, we’re ready to take on a new challenge: organising #osoc20 as a fully remote edition. Thanks to our experience and solid supporting network of coaches and partners, we are confident and excited to turn this fully remote aspect into an opportunity for more and faster digital transformation. We are currently adapting our program in such a way that we make it work remotely. Here are a few changes that you can expect for this remote edition:
  • Set-up of the infrastructure for effective remote collaboration
  • Review of our code of conduct so it works remotely
  • Documentation will take precedence over explanation
  • Supporting coaches with tutorials & an online skill board
  • Demo day: live-streaming all project presentations to a broad audience.
Does this imply that we’ll never meet each other face-to-face? Not necessarily! We want to keep the door open for small physical meetings. If governmental measures allow, we might organise smaller team gatherings, but remote work will be the norm. In case it’s difficult for students to work from home, we will provide them with a desk. Open is the key to innovation The pandemic has forced many of us to isolate but this hasn’t stopped the world from coming together to fight the corona virus. Traditional silos are being demolished while new ways of collaboration are popping up everywhere. From researchers to makers, from app developers to citizens with a sewing machine, … Magic happens when all noses point in the same direction. As an umbrella organisation for the open community in Belgium, we are proud that Open Knowledge, Open Data and Open Source have played a significant part in these developments. We strongly believe in the power of open as a motor for innovation. All applications and solutions that are developed during Open Summer of Code are Open Source, and often based on Open Data. This way we can introduce the projects and partners to the (Belgian) open community while training a next generation of open advocates. Of course we ourselves try to practice what we preach by using as many open alternatives when organising Open Summer of Code. Even more so now that we are preparing for a fully remote edition. Together with you, we want to develop the world of tomorrow This year’s edition of Open Summer of Code provides a unique opportunity: it combines the societal need for more digital transformation and the strong motivation of talented students in a remote setting. 171 students have already submitted their application to be part of #osoc20. Today, we’re still looking for more partners who want to build a prototype for their digital project and give a team of students the chance to put their skills into practice. In previous editions of Open Summer of Code, teams of students have built prototypes for many different kind of projects – to highlight a few: In short, what can you as a project partner expect to get out of Open Summer of Code?
  • The opportunity to turn your project idea into a prototype in only 1 month thanks to the digital creativity and dedication of a talented team of students and coaches.
  • Joining a network of organisations, coaches and nearly graduated students who are eager to make a difference.
  • Social impact, as thanks to you students get the chance to work on an impactful digital project.
  • Becoming a digital pioneer and gain visibility before, during and after the program with your next digital project.
  • Being a part of a larger innovative hub where synergies arise spontaneously.
Do you recognize yourself or your organization in the description above? Then osoc is what you’re looking for! You can become a partner by contacting us directly via info@osoc.be. For more info, take a look at: summerofcode.be.

EqualStreetNames Brussels: Launch of open data visualisation

- March 3, 2020 in EqualStreetNames, Featured, Open Data, openstreetmap, Wikidata

Less than 7% of street names have been named after a woman in Brussels: launch of EqualStreetNames.Brussels Open Knowledge Belgium, an association advocating for the use of Open Data, Noms Peut-Être, a feminist collective advocating for more equality in the public space and 60 citizens have created a map visualizing the street names of Brussels by gender. With male names highlighted in yellow and female names in purple, the platform visualizes the imbalance present in the attribution of a name to a public space in Brussels Region. Results: only 6% of street names are named after women and only one street is named after a transgender man.  The names of public spaces (streets, avenues, squares and others) define the identity of a city and how citizens interact with it.There are several ways to approach the inequality of street names and leverage a positive change in our society. Ours is with the use of Open Data to create a map visualizing the street names of Brussels by gender. “To create this map, we have used Open Data – data which can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose – from OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia”, explain Manon Brulard, in charge of the project for Open Knowledge Belgium. To link this data, 60 citizens gathered on 17 February to add Wikidata tags (a tag containing all the information from a Wikipedia page) to the streets on OpenStreetMap. Using Open Data has unlocked a new range of possibilities, the project being now replicable in other cities and the analysis being completely transparent. “Public space is currently only “public” by name. Everyone should be able to use it equally. Yet, this space remains masculine, part of it because of the type of names that have been attributed to streets. A street, it’s a place where we live, where we meet, where we work. It’s a place that will stay in our collective memories. It’s a shame to “forget” women who, whatever the time, have done remarkable things”, says Camille Wernaers, member of the feminist collective Noms Peut-Être. Collaborative workshops will be organized from March until December to suggest new and more diverse names to municipalities. Biographies of these women will also be created. These suggestions will be added to the platform and will serve as advice for municipalities to choose from. The first workshop will take place on 23 March 2020 from 18:00-22:00 at La Maison des Femmes de Schaerbeek (Rue Josaphat 253, 1030 Schaerbeek). More information & registration here: https://equalstreetnamesworkshop.eventbrite.co.uk
EqualStreetNames.Brussels is made possible thanks to Equal.Brussels
About Open Knowledge Belgium is an association advocating for the use of Open Data and for Open Education. Website: https://be.okfn.org/ Noms Peut-Être is a feminist collective aiming to, in Brussels Region, to put forward women* from here and elsewhere, denounce the invisibility of women* in the public space, in History and to propose new inspiring models for everyone. The collective is active throughout the year by doing civil disobedience actions. Website: https://nomspeutetre.wordpress.com/ Contact:  Open Knowledge Belgium: Manon Brulard Email:  equalstreetnames@openknowledge.be Noms Peut-Être: Camille Wernaers Noms Peut-Être: nomspeutetre@gmail.com

Press articles:

Meet the organisations who have been awarded Open Data Day 2020 mini-grants

- February 20, 2020 in Open Data, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020

Open Data Day 2020 The Open Knowledge Foundation is happy to announce that dozens of organisations from all over the world have been awarded mini-grants to support the running of events that celebrate Open Data Day on Saturday 7th March 2020. Thanks to the generous support of this year’s mini-grant funders – Datopian, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Hivos, the Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA), Mapbox, Open Contracting Partnership and Resource Watch – the Open Knowledge Foundation will be giving out a total of 67 mini-grants to the organisations listed below in order to help them run great events on or around Open Data Day. We received 246 mini-grant applications this year and were greatly impressed by the quality of the events being organised all over the world. Learn more about Open Data Day, discover events taking place and find out how to get technical assistance or connect with the global open data community by checking out the information at the bottom of this blogpost. Here are the organisations whose Open Data Day events will be supported by mini-grants divided up by the tracks their events are devoted to:

Environmental data

  • Escuela de Fiscales’ event in Argentina will promote the use of open data for the training, dissemination and development of civic activism in the preservation of the environment in the community
  • Nigeria’s Adamawa Agricultural Development Programme will sensitise fishery stakeholders – especially fishermen –  on the importance of stock taking to prevent overfishing in our water bodies and how to update the fisheries database using open data
  • Afonte Jornalismo de Dados (Afonte Data Journalism) in Brazil will provide awareness about environmental politics and empower the community to use public and open data
  • The Department of Agriculture at the Asuogyaman District Assembly in Ghana will host local farming organisations to create awareness on the need for data to be open and to show the effect of climate change on agriculture and related livelihoods using rainfall data 
  • An Open Data Day event planned at Tangaza University College in Kenya will discuss how to tackle climate change challenges with data
  • The University of Dodoma in Tanzania will invite girls from a local school to a geospatial open data networking event to instill environmental thinking among young girls
  • The Open Internet for Democracy team and Creative Commons Venezuela chapter will join forces to train a group of environmental journalists about open and reliable data sources they can use to develop stories
  • iWatch Africa will host a forum in Ghana to leveraging the power of public domain satellite and drone imagery to track deforestation and water pollution in West Africa
  • Ghana’s Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation will run a hackathon on how local communities can use open data for sustainable development especially to improve sanitation issues
  • Sustenta in Mexico will share knowledge about sustainable development, climate change and sustainability
  • Grafoscopio / HackBo (Colombia) will bring together two citizen science communities working on air quality issues and reproducible research, data activism, visualisation and storytelling
  • Youth for Environmental Development (Malawi) will inspire university students to take action and contribute to environmental protection through mapping
  • WikiRate from Germany will engage the public in the research and collection of open data about how companies are impacting climate change
  • Liga de Defensa del Medio Ambiente (LIDEMA) from Bolivia plan to identify open data sources that can help address socio-environmental conflicts
  • The Open Cities Lab team in South Africa will create an open and accessible space for community scientists to meet, network and collaborate on an air quality project
  • Costa Rica’s ACCESA will help attendants identify and visualise new and unexpected relationships and connections between land-use and territorial planning, on the one hand, and climate change and decarbonisation
  • Young Volunteers for the Environment from Togo will promote the use of open data in environmental protection
  • Técnicas Rudas will collectively explore Mexico’s mandated public data on construction projects and their environmental impacts

Tracking public money flows

  • Spotlight for Transparency and Accountability Initiative in Nigeria will host an event to increasing understanding of and access to local budget data
  • EldoHub will hold a hackathon to develop tools and systems which can facilitate county governments’ involvement in Kenya’s transparency, accountability and public participation
  • FollowTheMoney Kaduna will use contracting data including responses to FOI letters and on the spot assessment of projects and infrastructures across communities in Kaduna state, Nigeria
  • The Alliance of Independent Journalists in Bandung, Indonesia will use open contracting data to encourage collaboration among civil society groups to access and monitor public budgets
  • Afroleadership in Cameroon will organise a training on the analysis of budget data by civil society using open data
  • The event run by Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST Malawi) will call for greater transparency and accountability in public budget management the through Open Contracting for Infrastructure Data Standard
  • Somalia’s Bareedo Platform will encourage uptake of local public contracting data
  • The Perkumpulan Inisiatif in Indonesia plan to host a youth open budget hack clinic building on the principles of public participation in fiscal policy from the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency
  • Dataphyte in Nigeria will support change agents to track and use budget, procurement and revenue data to demand accountability
  • The Collective of Journalists for Peace and Freedom of Expression from Mexico will design a workshop to explain all the contracts of the City Council of Mazatlan, Sinaloa
  • Diálogos will visualise the volume of public procurement of the main ministries of the Government of Guatemala 
  • The 1991 Open Data Incubator will facilitate a workshop and discussions to share the experiences of many parties working with or producing open data in Ukraine
  • LEAD University in Costa Rica will organise an event for data science students to meet public officials behind the National Public Procurement Portal
  • Russia’s Infoculture will hold a conference on open data and information transparency
  • The Kikandwa Rural Communities Development Organisation showcase the Uganda Budget Information website and how to use it to report, track and monitor public funds
  • The Centre for Information, Peace and Security in Africa will work with journalists in Tanzania to promote openness in public contract in terms of transparency and integrity on public expenditures and value for public money
  • Bolivia’s CONSTRUIR Foundation will organise a data camp to advocate for more and better public contracting data
  • Ojoconmipisto in Guatemala will teach students and journalists how to investigate and tell stories from public budget and contracting data
  • Sluggish Hackers will use their event to investigate how to track public money flows from the National Assembly or local assemblies in South Korea

Open mapping

  • Exegetic Analytics in South Africa will expose the South African R community to a range of resources for working with open spatial data
  • OpenMap Development Tanzania will spread awareness on the usefulness of open data for development among participants through workshops, trainings, break-out sessions and a mapathon 
  • Spain’s TuTela Learning Network will map the housing situation of migrant women in Granada
  • ODI Leeds in the UK will host a data surgery to assist attendees with their data, converting the data into GeoJSON files and mapping it
  • Girolabs from Paraguay will show initiatives using and producing open data
  • Open Knowledge Belgium will use open data to build a map visualising the streets names of Hasselt by gender
  • BloGoma (Blogosphère Gomatracienne) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will using open mapping solutions to increase young people’s knowledge of free local HIV-related services
  • OpenStreetMap Kenya and Map Kibera will empower young people in Kibera Slum, (Africa’s largest urban slum) with skills in open mapping
  • The University of Pretoria in South Africa will develop a complete map of minibus taxi routes in Mamelodi East with the local knowledge of school learners
  • Brazil’s Federal University of Bahia wants to popularise open data mapping systems, especially OpenStreetMap, among undergraduate students and young people from vulnerable areas of Salvador
  • Youth Innovation Lab in Nepal will showcase crowdsourced streetlights data for Kathmandu collected by digital volunteers to influence policy for the maintenance of streetlights
  • Transparência Hackday Portugal / Open Knowledge Portugal will host a morning of hacking and learning, followed by an afternoon of quick talks and networking

Data for equal development

  • Footprints Bridge International will focus on how open data can help create jobs for rural youth and women in Ghana
  • The Bangladesh chapter of Creative Commons will host a mini conference to discuss the benefits of open source projects and open government data in the country
  • Nigeria’s National Institute for Freshwater Fisheries Research is developing an event to sensitise agricultural stakeholders on the need and benefits of data for equal development
  • MapBeks will organise a mapping party in the Philippines to highlight HIV facilities and LGBT-friendly spaces on OpenStreetMap
  • Khumbo Bangala Chirembo is a librarian at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi. He will host a workshop for other librarians to raise awareness of open data and its benefits
  • Mexico’s Future Lab aims to give visibility to women and the LGBT community in local decision making within government, business and civil society using open data
  • Zimbabwe Library Association’s Open Data Day event will highlight the importance of open data in promoting and supporting the girl child as well as raising the negative effects of gender-based violence against women and the role that libraries can play in providing current awareness to communities
  • Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will help young and female agricultural entrepreneurs explore how they can use open data to create new businesses
  • Datasketch in Colombia will organise a series of lightning talks from social entrepreneurs and journalists to share their work using open data
  • Youths in Technology and Development Uganda plan to share innovative data tools and a FAIR open data road map to measure progress against the SDGs in the country
  • Mexico’s Ligalab will open a space for local speakers to present their open data projects and for the community to gather and engage with local issues towards equal development
  • The Association SUUDU ANDAL in Burkina Faso plan to emphasise the importance of open data for development and accountability during their event
  • Argentina’s Fundación Conocimiento Abierto will run a Data Camp on gender and diversity before spending the next few months developing local apps using open data
  • NaimLab Peru are organising an event for undergraduate students to share the open data work being done by local and national organisations
  • YWCA Honduras’ event will host a focus group for local women from middle and low income backgrounds to discuss and generate data on female migration in Honduras
  • We Are Capable Data for Good Namibia (WACDGN) will train young Namibians in using data science skills for sustainable development projects
  • Tutator from Bolivia will use their event to understand the impact of open data in the livelihood of the beneficiaries of social services

About Open Data Day

Open Data Day is the annual event where we gather to reach out to new people and build new solutions to issues in our communities using open data. The tenth Open Data Day will take place on Saturday 7th March 2020. If you have started planning your Open Data Day event already, please add it to the global map on the Open Data Day website using this form You can also connect with others and spread the word about Open Data Day using the #OpenDataDay or #ODD2020 hashtags. Alternatively you can join the Google Group to ask for advice or share tips. To get inspired with ideas for events, you can read about some of the great events which took place on Open Data Day 2019 in our wrap-up blog post.

Technical support

As well as sponsoring the mini-grant scheme, Datopian will be providing technical support on Open Data Day 2020. Discover key resources on how to publish any data you’re working with via datahub.io and how to reach out to the Datopian team for assistance via Gitter by reading their Open Data Day blogpost.

Need more information?

If you have any questions, you can reach out to the Open Knowledge Foundation team by emailing network@okfn.org or on Twitter via @OKFN. There’s also the Open Data Day Google Group where you can connect with others interested in taking part.

Announcing the launch of the Open Data Day 2020 mini-grant scheme

- January 16, 2020 in Featured, Open Data, Open Data Day, Open Data Day 2020, Open Knowledge Foundation

Open Data Day 2020 We are happy to announce the launch of the mini-grant scheme for Open Data Day 2020. This scheme will provide small funds to support the organisation of open data-related events across the world on Saturday 7th March 2020. Thanks to the generous support of this year’s mini-grant funders – Datopian, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Hivos, the Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA), Mapbox, Open Contracting Partnership and the World Resources Institute – the Open Knowledge Foundation will be able to give out 60 mini-grants this year. Applications for the mini-grant scheme must be submitted before midnight GMT on Sunday 9th February 2020 via filling in this form. To be awarded a mini-grant, your event must fit into one of the four tracks laid out below. Event organisers can only apply once and for just one track. Open Data Day 2020 mini-grant tracks Mini-grant tracks for Open Data Day 2020 Each year, the Open Data Day mini-grant scheme looks to highlight and support particular types of open data events by focusing applicants on a number of thematic tracks. This year’s tracks are:
  • Environmental data: Use open data to illustrate the urgency of the climate emergency and spur people into action to take a stand or make changes in their lives to help the world become more environmentally sustainable.
  • Tracking public money flows: Expand budget transparency, dive into public procurement, examine tax data or raise issues around public finance management by submitting Freedom of Information requests.
  • Open mapping: Learn about the power of maps to develop better communities.
  • Data for equal development: How can open data be used by communities to highlight pressing issues on a local, national or global level? Can open data be used to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs?
What is a mini-grant? A mini-grant is a small fund of between $200 and $300 USD to help support groups organising Open Data Day events. Event organisers can only apply once and for just one track. The mini-grants cannot be used to fund government events, whether national or local. We can only support civil society actions. We encourage governments to find local groups and engage with them if they want to organise events and apply for a mini-grant. The funds will only be delivered to the successful grantees after their event takes place and once the Open Knowledge Foundation team receives a draft blogpost about the event for us to publish on blog.okfn.org. In case the funds are needed before 7th March 2020, we will assess whether or not we can help on a case-by-case basis. About Open Data Day Open Data Day is the annual event where we gather to reach out to new people and build new solutions to issues in our communities using open data. The tenth Open Data Day will take place on Saturday 7th March 2020. If you have started planning your Open Data Day event already, please add it to the global map on the Open Data Day website using this form You can also connect with others and spread the word about Open Data Day using the #OpenDataDay or #ODD2020 hashtags. Alternatively you can join the Google Group to ask for advice or share tips. To get inspired with ideas for events, you can read about some of the great events which took place on Open Data Day 2019 in our wrap-up blog post. Technical support As well as sponsoring the mini-grant scheme, Datopian will be providing technical support on Open Data Day 2020. Discover key resources on how to publish any data you’re working with via datahub.io and how to reach out to the Datopian team for assistance via Gitter by reading their Open Data Day blogpost. Need more information? If you have any questions, you can reach out to the Open Knowledge Foundation team by emailing network@okfn.org or on Twitter via @OKFN. There’s also the Open Data Day Google Group where you can connect with others interested in taking part.