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Assessing the State of Infrastructural Development  in FCT: The Mixed Lessons

- April 4, 2017 in Open Development

This blog has been reposted from We might not have had the opportunity to learn what we learnt, or visit some of the communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria that we visited. We may not have had the opportunity to listen to the communities, neither would the communities had the opportunity to tell us their stories concerning their development needs with confidence that we can solve them or help amplify their voices. We may not have had this wonderful opportunity if it was not provided by Open Knowledge International (OKI)  through the Africa Open Data Collaboration Fund which was aimed at building capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) for Africa’s emerging data revolution. This opportunity would not have come at a better time than when the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) was preparing to launch herself into the data revolution declared by the United Nations for improved data for achieving and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals. Although WEP already had experience and had carried out several research works, our encounter with, OKI opened our eyes to three important elements that had been missing in our works – technology, openness, and speed. We recall our first Skype call with Katelyn Rogers and David Opoku of OKI before the commencement of the project, when David enquired on how WEP wanted to go about collecting data on the status of basic amenities and participation of citizens in budgeting processes in the three target Area Councils of FCT namely Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Gwagwalada and Kuje Area Councils. Our response to him was simple: “We are going to develop a structured questionnaire, print them in several copies for data collectors to take to the field and administer to the respondents. When the completed questionnaires are returned, we shall manually input them into the computer for analysis.” David waited patiently for our answer, after which he asked, “have you heard of Open Data Kit (ODK)? Or Kobo Toolbox?” Of course our answer was a resounding ‘No’ as we had not used any of these tools, neither did we know how they work. “Alright, I will send you some links to these data collection tools to check them out and see if they may be useful to what you want to do,”  David said. It took about two weeks of intensive reading and learning for WEP’s team when   the links to the mobile data collection tools were shared. It was fulfilling to know that the Kobo Toolbox was going to save us the trouble of using paper questionnaire. By using Kobo Toolbox which collects and records data in real-time,   data collected on the field using mobile phones is sent immediately to the database. Armed with this new tool and with technical guidance from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) who offered assistance on the design of the survey, and assistance from  Williams Ngwakwe of Shacks and Slum Dwellers Association of Nigeria who facilitated entry into communities, we were ready to invite data collectors for a 2-day training on the use of kobo toolbox and other basic research issues. Our work would have been incomplete if not for the support of NBS.The Statistician General Dr. Yemi Kale, assigned a dedicated team of staff to assist the project with the much needed technical expertise. The NBS team refined not only the survey instruments but the research methodology to meet globally accepted survey standards.  They also advised that we  properly define what we meant by “communities” in the context of our survey which made us to base our choice of communities on the 2015 Revised Directory of Polling Units for FCT by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  

L-R: John Baaki of WEP, Williams Ngwakwe of Shacks and Slum Dwellers Association of Nigeria; Dr. Yemi Kale, Statistician General of the Federation, Evelyn Ugbe of WEP, and Florenece Oloeyede of NBS, pose for a photograph when WEP paid a courtesy visit on the Statistician General of the Federation at NBS headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

The training of data collectors was held from 28-29 July, 2016 where  David of OKI provided training on the use of Kobo toolbox. Surprisingly, none of the data collectors had used this tool before the training as admitted by Ms Ogechi Amaram, one of the data collectors. Getting to know about the Kobo toolbox for the first time was an exciting experience by all the data collectors. It was however more exciting getting to know that the paper questionnaires that were shared during the training to the data collectors will be converted to a mobile form and that was what was to be used to collect data from the field.

Group picture on final day of data collection training with WEP and OKI trainers

Fully armed with the knowledge of Kobo Toolbox and in anticipation that accessing communities in the Federal Capital Territory will be easy, our pessimism was dampened when most communities were extremely difficult to access, as there were neither good access roads nor bridges to cross over streams and rivers to some of the communities. WEP staff and data collectors had a share experience of the challenges communities faced from lack of infrastructure. There were big rivers to be crossed, mountains to be ascended and descended before some communities could be accessed. Apart from some communities in the City Center and Garki wards of AMAC which were easily accessed by vehicles, other communities were only accessed by means of motorcycles or ‘Okada’ as they are popularly called. Even with the Okada, there was no  guarantee that data collectors would ride to their destinations without having to come down from time to time and  assist push up the motorcycle over some rocks or through streams or rivers. Some data collectors who narrated their ordeal in the field described the pitiable situation of basic amenities in most communities they visited: According to Ronald Icheen, who worked in AMAC, “I was surprised that we have communities existing like this under FCT. These communities really need help. I was so touched when I saw the situation people were living and wished I had the opportunity to do something.” David Bangura told John Baaki, his supervisor on the second day of their field work in Kuje when he (the supervisor) saw him buying loaves of bread and asked what that was for, “I can’t stand the malnourished look of the children, I have to give them something.” According to Danjuma Mohammed, “in Rubochi and Gwargwada wards of Kuje Area Councils, apart from Rubochi and Gwargwada communities, no other community has a road.” Fidelyia Iwyenge who also worked in Kuje Area Council said that “in most of the communities we visited in Kuje, Chibiri, Kwaku, Kabi, Yenche, Gwargwada and Gudun Karya wards, there was no good road, no electricity, no potable water, no good schools, no standard primary health care facilities, and these were the things that the communities told us were there priority needs. In fact it was almost needless asking them questions about basic amenities in their communities as we could see the situation of things for ourselves.” For Ogechi Amaram, “Shishida community in Tungan Maje ward of Gwagwalada Area Council was one of the marginalized communities we visited. It has no good access road, no electricity, no water, no school, no primary healthcare facility. ” For Kwalita community in Dobi ward, she said “although the community has a public primary school, it has no good access road, no electricity, and no primary healthcare facility.” The analyzed result of the data gathered from the field has corroborated the experiences shared by the data collectors. The result shows that about 71% of communities surveyed had non-graded roads, 37% were not connected to the national grid, 73% were not served by public water supply, 33% had no health care facilities, 7% had no any educational institution, 75% had no waste management systems while 58% had no markets. At this point we stopped to ask ourselves “is the country’s budget benefiting the rural communities in Nigeria? The question was informed by the fact that despite the enormous amounts of material and human resources available to the government, the majority of Nigerian population are still trapped in poverty. We therefore sought to know the participation of communities in the budgeting process, as this ought to be the major process through which development comes to the communities, and we got the following responses: 17% of the respondents said the communities were involved in the Area Councils budgeting process while 39% of the respondents said their communities do not participate in the Area Council’s budgeting process. 44% of the respondents however did not know if their communities were involved in the Area Council’s budgeting process or not. We also sought to know if there has been any consultation with the communities by the Area Councils in connection with communities’ development as it relates to budgeting process of the Area Councils. 56% told our data collectors that there has never been any consultation of such in their communities. 27% of the respondents did not even know whether such consultations take place or not. Only 17% of the respondents said there has been a consultation between their communities and the Area councils in relation to the budgeting process. This survey has offered a huge learning experience not only for staff of WEP but also for the data collectors. WEP has since adopted the use of Kobo toolbox as an organizational data collection tool and has applied this to one of our research works. We hope that the result of this survey will inform development decisions by the Area Councils Executives and other relevant authorities towards improving living conditions in these communities. The result and the raw data which will be made open and accessible online as required by OKI to the general public can be used to carry out more analysis by concerned individuals and organizations to draw more insights into the situation of the communities.

Launching a new book on Responsible Development Data

- October 22, 2014 in Open Development

RDF-book-cover-724x1024 This week I, and a group of development data experts from around the world, met for three days in a small farmhouse in the Netherlands to produce a book on Responsible Development Data. Today, we’re very happy to launch the first version: comments and feedback are really welcome, and please feel free to share, remix, and re-use the content. Download the book here: This book is offered as a first attempt to understand what responsible data means in the context of international development programming. We have taken a broad view of development, opting not to be prescriptive about who the perfect “target audience” for this effort is within the space. We also anticipate that some of the methods and lessons here may have resonance for related fields and practitioners. The group of contributors working on this book brings together decades of experience in the sector of international development; our first hand experiences of horrific misuse of data within the sector, combined with anecdotal stories of (mis)treatment and usage of data having catastrophic effects within some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, has highlighted for us the need for a book tackling issues of how we can all deal with data in a responsible and respectful way.

Why this book?

It might have been an uneasy sense that the hype about a data revolution is overlooking both the rights of the people we’re seeking to help and the potential for harm that accompanies data and technology in development context. The authors of this book believe that responsibility and ethics are integral to the handling of development data, and that as we continue to use data in new, powerful and innovative ways, we have a moral obligation to do so responsibly and without causing or facilitating harm. At the same time, we are keenly aware that actually implementing responsible data practices involves navigating a very complex, and fast-evolving, minefield – one that most practitioners, fieldworkers, project designers and technologists have little expertise on. Yet. We could have written another white paper that only we would read, or organised another conference that people would forget about. We tried instead to pool our collective expertise and concerns, to produce a practical guide that would help our peers and the wider development community to think through these issues. With the support of Hivos, Book Sprints and the engine room, this book was collaboratively produced (in the Bietenhaven farm, 40 minutes outside of Amsterdam) in just three days. The team: Kristin Antin (engine room), Rory Byrne (Security First), Tin Geber (the engine room), Sacha van Geffen (Greenhost), Julia Hoffmann (Hivos), Malavika Jayaram (Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard), Maliha Khan (Oxfam US), Tania Lee (International Rescue Committee), Zara Rahman (Open Knowledge), Crystal Simeoni (Hivos), Friedhelm Weinberg (Huridocs), Christopher Wilson (the engine room), facilitated by Barbara Rühling of Book Sprints.

A Data Revolution that Works for All of Us

- September 24, 2014 in Featured, Open Data, Open Development, Open Government Data, Our Work, Policy

Many of today’s global challenges are not new. Economic inequality, the unfettered power of corporations and markets, the need to cooperate to address global problems and the unsatisfactory levels of accountability in democratic governance – these were as much problems a century ago as they remain today. What has changed, however – and most markedly – is the role that new forms of information and information technology could potentially play in responding to these challenges.

What’s going on?

The incredible advances in digital technology mean we have an unprecedented ability to create, share and access information. Furthermore, these technologies are increasingly not just the preserve of the rich, but are available to everyone – including the world’s poorest. As a result, we are living in a (veritable) data revolution – never before has so much data – public and personal – been collected, analysed and shared. However, the benefits of this revolution are far from being shared equally. On the one hand, some governments and corporations are already using this data to greatly increase their ability to understand – and shape – the world around them. Others, however, including much of civil society, lack the necessary access and capabilities to truly take advantage of this opportunity. Faced with this information inequality, what can we do? How can we enable people to hold governments and corporations to account for the decisions they make, the money they spend and the contracts they sign? How can we unleash the potential for this information to be used for good – from accelerating research to tackling climate change? And, finally, how can we make sure that personal data collected by governments and corporations is used to empower rather than exploit us?

So how should we respond?

Fundamentally, we need to make sure that the data revolution works for all of us. We believe that key to achieving this is to put “open” at the heart of the digital age. We need an open data revolution. We must ensure that essential public-interest data is open, freely available to everyone. Conversely, we must ensure that data about me – whether collected by governments, corporations or others – is controlled by and accessible to me. And finally, we have to empower individuals and communities – especially the most disadvantaged – with the capabilities to turn data into the knowledge and insight that can drive the change they seek. In this rapidly changing information age – where the rules of the game are still up for grabs – we must be active, seizing the opportunities we have, if we are to ensure that the knowledge society we create is an open knowledge society, benefiting the many not the few, built on principles of collaboration not control, sharing not monopoly, and empowerment not exploitation.

OKFestival 2014 Stories: OpenAfrica – a call to consolidate the African open network

- September 12, 2014 in africa, Fringe events, OKFestival 2014 Stories, Open Data, Open Development, Programme, Sessions

This blog post is written by Michelle Willmers, Project Manager at OpenUCT Initiative, and is cross-posted from the OpenUCT Initiative blog. The OpenUCT Initiative has in recent months been fortunate to participate in a number of workshops and events around open access, open science and open data in the African and developing country context. Group […]

Newsflash! OKFestival Programme Launches

- June 4, 2014 in Events, Featured, Free Culture, Join us, network, News, OKFest, OKFestival, Open Access, Open Data, Open Development, Open Economics, Open GLAM, Open Government Data, Open Humanities, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups, Open Research, Open Science, Open Spending, Open Standards, open-education, Panton Fellows, privacy, Public Domain, training, Transparency, Working Groups

At last, it’s here! Check out the details of the OKFestival 2014 programme – including session descriptions, times and facilitator bios here! Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 4.11.42 PM

We’re using a tool called Sched to display the programme this year and it has several great features. Firstly, it gives individual session organisers the ability to update the details on the session they’re organising; this includes the option to add slides or other useful material. If you’re one of the facilitators we’ll be emailing you to give you access this week.

Sched also enables every user to create their own personalised programme to include the sessions they’re planning to attend. We’ve also colour-coded the programme to help you when choosing which conversations you want to follow: the Knowledge stream is blue, the Tools stream is red and the Society stream is green. You’ll also notice that there are a bunch of sessions in purple which correspond to the opening evening of the festival when we’re hosting an Open Knowledge Fair. We’ll be providing more details on what to expect from that shortly!

Another way to search the programme is by the subject of the session – find these listed on the right hand side of the main schedule – just click on any of them to see a list of sessions relevant to that subject.

As you check out the individual session pages, you’ll see that we’ve created etherpads for each session where notes can be taken and shared, so don’t forget to keep an eye on those too. And finally; to make the conversations even easier to follow from afar using social media, we’re encouraging session organisers to create individual hashtags for their sessions. You’ll find these listed on each session page.

We received over 300 session suggestions this year – the most yet for any event we’ve organised – and we’ve done our best to fit in as many as we can. There are 66 sessions packed into 2.5 days, plus 4 keynotes and 2 fireside chats. We’ve also made space for an unconference over the 2 core days of the festival, so if you missed out on submitting a proposal, there’s still a chance to present your ideas at the event: come ready to pitch! Finally, the Open Knowledge Fair has added a further 20 demos – and counting – to the lineup and is a great opportunity to hear about more projects. The Programme is full to bursting, and while some time slots may still change a little, we hope you’ll dive right in and start getting excited about July!

We think you’ll agree that Open Knowledge Festival 2014 is shaping up to be an action-packed few days – so if you’ve not bought your ticket yet, do so now! Come join us for what will be a memorable 2014 Festival!

See you in Berlin! Your OKFestival 2014 Team

Introducing the new Open Development Toolkit site!

- June 3, 2014 in OKF Projects, Open Development

Open Development Toolkit screenshot We’re very happy to launch today a new website for the Open Development Toolkit, which which includes a number of new features to help people make use of, and contribute to, the project. When the project began in early 2014, the project brief was fairly open; since then, after speaking to various members of the Open Development community, attending events such as the IATI TAG meeting, and doing a thorough assessment of what is already going on in the community, we’ve narrowed down the project aims, and target audience, considerably. With regards to the target audience, we’re now considering two main, broad demographics: data users, and development agencies/donors. By ‘data users’, we’re considering primarily infomediaries in aid recipient countries; civil society and journalists, who could be using development data in their work. They’re in a position to be able to understand the data with local context, and convey their findings to their communities in an effective way. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to find and use aid data portals that already exist, as well as develop their technical skills in accessing, and using, raw aid data to facilitate their work. With regards to development agencies and donors, we’re looking specifically at those who are thinking of making their data available online; rather than building new portals from scratch and creating proprietary tools, we’d like to encourage them to build upon what has already been created, share and take into account lessons learned, and contribute to the community with their tool/portal creation. Especially where tools have been built with public funds (eg. development arms of governments) we see no reason for these tools to remain closed source and proprietary.


The new site includes a curated list of Tools, which allow the user to understand, visualise or access aid data in various ways. Each ‘Tool’ presented on the site with a short description of what it does, along with its main strengths and weaknesses, and each one is classified with a number of tags, stating the perceived skill level required (beginner, intermediate, or advanced), the data source used by the tool, as well as its ‘theme’ (eg. global overview, donor specific, recipient country, donor government). The tagging system allows users to search for tools by what they’re wanting to focus on – for example, looking into the activities of a certain donor agency, or taking a closer look at projects taking place in a particular aid recipient country. Each tool also has a second tab, explaining how the tool was made. We’re putting special focus on the tools which are already open source, and by putting the name of the developer(s) who have worked on these tools along with their contact details, we hope to make it as easy as possible for more work to be commissioned which will build upon their expertise.


Another focus of the site is to bring together people who have worked on building the tools from a technical perspective, along with people working in development agencies, and the potential users of the data; the whole ‘development data’ ecosystem, in a way. On the Community page, anyone active in the Open Development space is encouraged to create a profile, (for now, via filling in this Google form), with their contact details and a short biography, either as an individual or as an organisation. Activities of organisations and individuals can be seen on their profile pages, for example, tools that they have built or contributed to, blog posts that they have written, and people/organisations with whom they have collaborated. We hope that highlighting the work that people have done within the Open Development community, along with their collaborations, will facilitate further collaboration, and encourage organisations to call upon community expertise when developing new tools.


As well as displaying the tools and work that have already been created within the community and encouraging collaboration, we also want to support civil society and journalists to get the skills they need to use development data in their work, as mentioned above. We’ll be doing this by working with School of Data to create an Aid Curriculum, made up of various modules on technical skills required to work with aid data. Ideally, we’d like to build upon training materials that have already been created in the sector, and make them available for remixing and reuse by others in the future; we’ll be encouraging people to try them out in workshops and training sessions, and we’d love to get feedback on how they have best been used, so we can iterate and improve upon them in the future. The curriculum will also be available online for people to work through at their own pace.


Last, but not least – the site includes a blog, where we’ll be posting on topics such as uses of development data by civil society or journalists, lessons learned during the software development of data portals, and other issues surrounding data use within the global development sector. We welcome submissions to the blog – take a look here to see other topics, and how to contribute. Feedback on the site is most welcome – either open an issue on Github or drop an email to

Making it Matter: open data, education and the developing world

- May 22, 2014 in Open Development, open-education, Workshop

What real-world problems are there related to education in the developing world that could potentially be solved by open data and technology solutions? How about: Insufficiently trained teachers, badly informed decision makers, lack of key data sets, the inferior quality of teaching resources and their poor discoverability, inadequate infrastructure meaning that education can rarely be carried out solely online…? Last week’s Making it Matter workshop brought together software developers, educators and individuals from the development community to see how they can work together by using open and linked data. To set the scene there were overview presentations on the links between education technology, learning and development politics from Balaji Venkataraman, Director, Technology & Knowledge Management, Commonwealth of Learning; Tom Salmon, Teacher and open development researcher and Stephen Haggard, Consultant in Educational Technology. There were also a series of case study presentations on projects including WorldWide Semantic Web, One Laptop per Child and the Partnership for Open Data. In the afternoon there were demos of some of the tools that have been developed as part of the LinkedUp Challenge: three consecutive competitions looking for interesting and innovative tools and applications that analyse and/or integrate open web data for educational purposes. During the day participants took part in three breakout sessions looking at the problems education in the developing world is facing, the datasets that are currently available (or could be created and made available) and the next steps for the community. Some of the key outcomes were framed around learning from others (recognition that we in the developed world have much to learn), teaching others (ensuring those in the developing world have the skills to create their own tools and datasets), finding solutions to the aforementioned problems and showing impact. The workshop, co-hosted by the LinkedUp Project and the Commonwealth of Learning took place in London on 16th May however it hopes to have a much broader reach than those physically in the room. The event was live streamed and all slides and videos of talks are now available online. The breakout groups were also videoed and recorded in an etherpad, the main results have been sumarised. You can also see Tweets and photos from the day. Attendees of the workshop are keen to take what they have learned forward and start working on new initiatives. It’s possible we could even be looking at an Open Data Index in the area of education. If you would like to participate in further discussions then join the Open Education Working Group.

Aktivitäten und Projekte im Oktober 2013

- November 6, 2013 in Featured, Geodaten, Informationsfreiheit, oer, offene Daten, OGP, Open Access, Open Development, Open Knowledge Foundation, open-education, open-government, Zugang gestalten

Monatlicher Bericht über Aktivitäten und Projekte der Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland.

Ein fröhliches Halloween wünschen wir! (CC-BY)

Rückblick in den Oktober Ende Oktober fand in London das Jahrestreffen der Teilnehmerländer der Open Government Partnership statt. Wir waren vor Ort und haben über unsere Versuche, Deutschland zu einem Beitritt zu bewegen, <a href="”>berichtet. Der Open Data-Index, den wir kurz vor dem OGP-Treffen veröffentlicht haben, zeigt, wo die einzelnen Länder stehen. Er zeigt auch, dass die Bundesregierung noch einiges tun muss, um ihren Verpflichtungen aus der G8 Open Data Charter nachzukommen. Aber es gibt auch gute Neuigkeiten: Das Umweltbundesamt hat ein Portal für Emissionsdaten gelauncht. Bis zum nächsten Open Data-Index planen wir, gemeinsam mit der Verwaltung alle geforderten Datensätze zu öffnen. Wichtiges Werkzeug dafür ist das deutschlandweite Datenportal, das in den letzten Wochen umfangreich evaluiert wurde. Zugang gestalten CC-BY-SA 3.0, David Jakob Wir möchten euch herzlich zu unserer Konferenz “Zugang gestalten!” (28./29.November) ins Jüdische Museum Berlin einladen! Zwei Tage lang werden Experten aus Kultur, Wirtschaft, Zivilgesellschaft und Politik aktuelle Fragen des Zugangs zum kulturellen Erbe erörtern. In den nächsten Tagen stellen wir euch die Sprecher und das Programm vor, hier könnt ihr den Flyer downloaden. Der Eintritt ist frei – registriert euch jetzt!       Open Access Tage Vor zehn Jahren – am 22. Oktober 2003 – haben die wichtigsten deutschen Forschungsnetzwerke die Berliner Erklärung, die den offenen Zugang zu wissenschaftlichen Forschungsergebnissen thematisiert, unterschrieben. Anlässlich des runden Geburtstags gab es viele Veranstaltungen zum Thema Open Access. Wir begrüßen die Initiative der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, Forschungsförderung an frei zugängliche Veröffentlichungen zu koppeln. Wer in Berlin ist, sollte sich die Ausstellung der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ansehen und deren begleitende Veranstaltungsreihe besuchen. Abgeschlossen wird sie mit dem zentralen Festakt zum Jubiläum der Berliner Erklärung am 19. und 20. November.   Was wird spannend? opendecvamp Allen Open Education-Enthusiasten können wir den Open Education Booksprint am 22. November im Wikimedia Büro in Berlin empfehlen: Diskutiert mit anderen über das Thema und erarbeitet gemeinsam Positionen zu Open Education. Ebenso in Berlin findet bei Frauenhofer FOKUS der zweite Open Data Dialog (18.-19.Nov.) mit dem Thema “Think open, think business” statt. Mit der Umsetzung von Open Government in Kommunen beschäftigt sich die Veranstaltung “Offene Kommunen.NRW – Schritte in die Praxis” in Wuppertal. Open for Change heißt es auch in Amsterdam (7.-8.11.). Wir empfehlen euch, dort am Open Development Camp teilzunehmen. Geodaten in Berlin werden immer freier – wie beispielsweise die Berliner Straßen und Hausnummern mit Geokoordinaten, die als Open Data heruntergeladen werden können. Zusammen mit der Stadt und anderen Partnern planen wir bereits einen Hackday rund um Geodaten, der im Frühjahr 2014 stattfinden soll. Wenn ihr euch in den Verteiler eintragt, halten wir euch stets auf dem Laufenden!   Schon gesehen? schongesehen Wir sind auf der Suche nach enthusiastischen Menschen, die sich mit uns gemeinsam für offene Daten einsetzen wollen. Wir bieten Praktika im Bereich Projekt und Tech – bewirb Dich bei uns! Zum Abschluss der 8. Internationalen Konferenz der Informationsfreiheitsbeauftragten in Berlin vom 20. Sept. forderten Informationsfreiheitsbeauftragte aus aller Welt die Stärkung der Transparenz auf nationaler und internationaler Ebene. Einer interessanten Beschäftigung haben sich Studierende der Molekularbiologie in Graz gewidmet: Sie trafen sich zum Biohacking . Willst du unseren Monatsrückblick regelmäßig erhalten? Dann abonniere unseren Newsletter.

Ethics and risk in open development

- November 5, 2013 in OKCon, Open Development, Open Knowledge Foundation, Working Groups

_MG_5040 The following guest post is by Linda Raftree. Linda works with Plan International USA, serves as a special advisor on ICTs and M&E for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Evaluation Office and is a member of the Open Knowledge Foundation Open Development Working Group. A core theme that the Open Development track covered at September’s Open Knowledge Conference was Ethics and Risk in Open Development. There were more questions than answers in the discussions, summarized below, and the Open Development working group plans to further examine these issues over the coming year. Informed consent and opting in or out Ethics around ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ when working with people in communities with fewer resources, lower connectivity, and/or less of an understanding about privacy and data are tricky. Yet project implementers have a responsibility to work to the best of their ability to ensure that participants understand what will happen with their data in general, and what might happen if it is shared openly. There are some concerns around how these decisions are currently being made and by whom. Can an NGO make the decision to share or open data from/about program participants? Is it OK for an NGO to share ‘beneficiary’ data with the private sector in return for funding to help make a program ‘sustainable’? What liabilities might donors or program implementers face in the future as these issues develop? Issues related to private vs. public good need further discussion, and there is no one right answer because concepts and definitions of ‘private’ and ‘public’ data change according to context and geography. Informed participation, informed risk-taking The ‘do no harm’ principle is applicable in emergency and conflict situations, but is it realistic to apply it to activism? There is concern that organizations implementing programs that rely on newer ICTs and open data are not ensuring that activists have enough information to make an informed choice about their involvement. At the same time, assuming that activists don’t know enough to decide for themselves can come across as paternalistic. As one participant at OKCon commented, “human rights and accountability work are about changing power relations. Those threatened by power shifts are likely to respond with violence and intimidation. If you are trying to avoid all harm, you will probably not have any impact.” There is also the concept of transformative change: “things get worse before they get better. How do you include that in your prediction of what risks may be involved? There also may be a perception gap in terms of what different people consider harm to be. Whose opinion counts and are we listening? Are the right people involved in the conversations about this?” A key point is that whomever assumes the risk needs to be involved in assessing that potential risk and deciding what the actions should be — but people also need to be fully informed. With new tools coming into play all the time, can people be truly ‘informed’ and are outsiders who come in with new technologies doing a good enough job of facilitating discussions about possible implications and risk with those who will face the consequences? Are community members and activists themselves included in risk analysis, assumption testing, threat modeling and risk mitigation work? Is there a way to predict the likelihood of harm? For example, can we determine whether releasing ‘x’ data will likely lead to ‘y’ harm happening? How can participants, practitioners and program designers get better at identifying and mitigating risks? When things get scary… Even when risk analysis is conducted, it is impossible to predict or foresee every possible way that a program can go wrong during implementation. Then the question becomes what to do when you are in the middle of something that is putting people at risk or leading to extremely negative unintended consequences. Who can you call for help? What do you do when there is no mitigation possible and you need to pull the plug on an effort? Who decides that you’ve reached that point? This is not an issue that exclusively affects programs that use open data, but open data may create new risks with which practitioners, participants and activists have less experience, thus the need to examine it more closely. Participants felt that there is not enough honest discussion on this aspect. There is a pop culture of ‘admitting failure’ but admitting harm is different because there is a higher sense of liability and distress. “When I’m really scared shitless about what is happening in a project, what do I do?” asked one participant at the OK Con discussion sessions. “When I realize that opening data up has generated a huge potential risk to people who are already vulnerable, where do I go for help?” We tend to share our “cute” failures, not our really dismal ones. Academia has done some work around research ethics, informed consent, human subject research and use of Internal Review Boards (IRBs). What aspects of this can or should be applied to mobile data gathering, crowdsourcing, open data work and the like? What about when citizens are their own source of information and they voluntarily share data without a clear understanding of what happens to the data, or what the possible implications are? Do we need to think about updating and modernizing the concept of IRBs? A major issue is that many people who are conducting these kinds of data collection and sharing activities using new ICTs are unaware of research ethics and IRBs and don’t consider what they are doing to be ‘research’. How can we broaden this discussion and engage those who may not be aware of the need to integrate informed consent, risk analysis and privacy awareness into their approaches? The elephant in the room Despite our good intentions to do better planning and risk management, one big problem is donors, according to some of the OK Con participants.  Do donors require enough risk assessment and mitigation planning in their program proposal designs? Do they allow organizations enough time to develop a well-thought-out and participatory Theory of Change along with a rigorous risk assessment together with program participants? Are funding recipients required to report back on risks and how they played out? As one person put it, “talk about failure is currently more like a ‘cult of failure’ and there is no real learning from it. Systematically we have to report up the chain on money and results and all the good things happening. and no one up at the top really wants to know about the bad things. The most interesting learning doesn’t get back to the donors or permeate across practitioners. We never talk about all the work-arounds and backdoor negotiations that make development work happen. This is a serious systemic issue.” Greater transparency can actually be a deterrent to talking about some of these complexities, because “the last thing donors want is more complexity as it raises difficult questions.” Reporting upwards into government representatives in Parliament or Congress leads to continued aversion to any failures or ‘bad news’. Though funding recipients are urged to be innovative, they still need to hit numeric targets so that the international aid budget can be defended in government spaces. Thus, the message is mixed: “Make sure you are learning and recognizing failure, but please don’t put anything too serious in the final report.” There is awareness that rigid program planning doesn’t work and that we need to be adaptive, yet we are asked to “put it all into a log frame and make sure the government aid person can defend it to their superiors.” Where to from here? It was suggested that monitoring and evaluation (M&E) could be used as a tool for examining some of these issues, but M&E needs to be seen as a learning component, not only an accountability one. M&E needs to feed into the choices people are making along the way and linking it in well during program design may be one way to include a more adaptive and iterative approach. M&E should force practitioners to ask themselves the right questions as they design programs and as they assess them throughout implementation. Theory of Change might help, and an ethics-based approach could be introduced as well to raise these questions about risk and privacy and ensure that they are addressed from the start of an initiative. Practitioners have also expressed the need for additional resources to help them predict and manage possible risk: case studies, a safe space for sharing concerns during implementation, people who can help when things go pear-shaped, a menu of methodologies, a set of principles or questions to ask during program design, or even an ICT4D Implementation Hotline or a forum for questions and discussion. These ethical issues around privacy and risk are not exclusive to Open Development. Similar issues were raised last week at the Open Government Partnership Summit sessions on whistle blowing, privacy, and safeguarding civic space, especially in light of the Snowden case. They were also raised at last year’s Technology Salon on Participatory Mapping. A number of groups are looking more deeply into this area, including the Capture the Ocean Project, The Engine Room, IDRC’s research network, The Open Technology InstitutePrivacy InternationalGSMA, those working on “Big Data,” those in the Internet of Things space, and others. I’m looking forward to further discussion with the Open Development working group on all of this in the coming months, and will also be putting a little time into mapping out existing initiatives and identifying gaps when it comes to these cross-cutting ethics, power, privacy and risk issues in open development and other ICT-enabled data-heavy initiatives. Please do share information, projects, research, opinion pieces and more if you have them!

Open Development Debate Series 2013-2014: [Re]framing Open Development and Its Implications for Cross Open-Domain Collaboration

- November 4, 2013 in Open Development

The following guest post is by Kersti Ruth Wissenbach, an independent consultant for Open for Change and the Open Knowledge Foundation Ambassador for the Neatherlands. Kicking off during Open Development Camp 2013, Open for Change and the Open Knowledge Foundation Open Development working group are launching a series of debates aimed at engaging the global open development community in a conversation about the pressing issues facing the open development movement. Together, we want to:
  • identify the core issues the emerging field of open development should be addressing
  • determine the role of open development in reshaping the development paradigm
  • engage the broader global community to co-design a roadmap for the future of open development
OpenDevelopmentCamp The first in the series of debates will be held at the Open Development Camp in Amsterdam later this week. The outcomes of this debate will be used to identify themes and tensions in the open development space and will ultimately shape the direction of the online portion of this debate series. The online debates will be open to participation from all members of the global open development community and will be recorded and shared on the series’ blog (coming soon). The series will be continued online throughout the first half of 2014 before being brought back offline and wrapped up at the OKFestival in Berlin (July 2014). Our aim is to bring together members of the open development community in a global conversation. ODC2013 Kick-off debate, November 8, 2013 (2PM – 3PM), AmLab Amsterdam: ‘Open Development and the new paradigm of change’ – Shifting implications of international development and the role of open development This debate aims to be a kick-off call for stronger cross-domain collaboration and as such broader development definition within the open development domain. It calls for a more pro-active role for the open development group to help connect and “re-contextualise” experiences in other domains from one “local situation” to another, especially towards the marginalised voices. Discussion Points
  • Development Paradigms and Civic Driven Change – how new means for citizen agency and global networking are reshaping the prevailing development paradigm (or not)
    • Moving away from aid focus – moving from development as geographical or economic divides towards development as political and rights based divides
  • The Role of Open Development – What does it mean and where are we heading?
    • framing Open Development
    • opening up towards other domains –> focus cross-domain collaboration (synergies etc.)
The Open Knowledge Foundation Netherlands will facilitate the launch of this series during Open Development Camp 2013. This will be an open session. We warmly invite everyone to join the debate. We have invited a few people to provide their input based on their valuable experience. The first debate will feature: Frans Bieckman. Co-founder, executive director and editor in chief, The Broker In August 2012, Bieckmann published his latest book ‘Soedan – Het sinistere spel om macht, rijkdom en olie’, a detailed analysis of the international involvement with Sudan and the conflict in Darfur. Bieckmann studied international relations at the University of Amsterdam, and worked for 25 years as a journalist, researcher, and advisor. He is a partner in the research bureau WiW- Global Research & Reporting, which specializes in international relations, globalization and development cooperation. In the book ‘De wereld volgens prins Claus’ (2004, 2011), he described the involvement of the Dutch Prince Claus with Africa and development cooperation. In 2008 he published, together with Ellen Lammers, ‘Hivos! 1968-2008 – Een onvoltooide geschiedenis, van hulp naar andersglobalisme’. Erik Nijland. Coordinator Global Action, Making All Voices Count programme Erik Nijland (1957) works since 2000 for Hivos and since June 2013 joined the Making All Voices Count programme as Coordinator Global Action. He has master’s degrees in geography and business administration and has worked extensively in Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Honduras, Uganda, Zimbabwe, India and Nepal. Prior to joining Hivos, he worked for SNV, NUFFIC, the Municipality of Eindhoven and MSF. Chat Garcia Ramilo. Deputy Executive Director, Association for Progressive Communication Chat has been a gender, women’s rights and information and communication technology specialist for 15 years. Chat was the manager of the APC’s women’s programme from 2005 – 2012 and led the development, fundraising and management of 9 multi-country ICT for development projects that focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment. She managed APC’s gender evaluation methodology project from 2001-2005 and was lead author of Gender Evaluation Methodologies for Internet and ICTs (GEM), published in 2005. Chat has worked as a gender and ICT consultant for CIDA, IDRC, World Bank, UNIFEM, UNESCAP and the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women. Chat is the Board Chair of the Center for Migrant Advocacy in the Philippines. She lives in the Philippines with her son. The first debate will be facilitated by: Kersti Ruth Wissenbach – independent consultant Open for Change, Ambassador Open Knowledge Foundation NL Kersti is a consultant in the field of human rights advocacy, open development and ICT4D, having a strong focus on freedom of expression, access to information and inclusion. She works as campaign strategist, co-creator, and lecturer and has been responsible for strategic planning, advice, and implementation processes in various countries, consulting a diversity of local, national and international stakeholders. Kersti is an untiring advocate of cross-media solutions and co-creation approaches; driven by demands and relevancy to the people she works with. Kersti also works as Strategic Advisor for the Amsterdam based Thinknet The Broker which serves to broker knowledge between academic research, high-level policy making and practitioners.She represents the OKFN as NL ambassador and researches on the intersection of digital media, activism and community building as external PhD of the University of Amsterdam. With her combined expertise as practitioner, researcher and lecturer Kersti is merging different disciplines and is a strong advocate of interdisciplinary approaches as well as a stronger linkage between the academic and practical work field. kersti [at]