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Paris Peace Forum Hackathon: A new chance to talk about open data

- November 27, 2018 in Events, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government, paris peace forum

A few weeks ago we had the chance to attend the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum. The goal of this new initiative is to exchange and discuss concrete global governance solutions. More than 10,000 people attended, 65 Heads of State and Government were present, and 10 international organizations leaders convened for those three days at La Grande Halle de La Villette.   In parallel, the Paris Peace Forum hosted a hackathon to find new approaches to different challenges proposed by four different organizations. Hosted by the awesome Datactivist team, during these three days we worked on: Transparency of international organizations budgets, Transparency of major international event budgets, Transparency of public procurement procedures and Communication of financial data to the public. We had an attendance of about 80 participants, both experts in different topics, students from France and people interested in collaborating on building solutions. The approach was simple: Let’s look at the problems and see what kind of data will be useful. Day one The first day of the hackathon we got to hear the challenges that each organization had for us. Then we form teams based on the interests of the participants. This left us with smaller teams that would get to work on their projects along with the mentors. On that first day we also had the presence of two Heads of State to talk about innovation and technology. The first day concluded with a few ideas of what we wanted to do as well as a better understanding of the data that we could use. Day two Day two was the most intense. The teams got to decide what their solution would be and build it, or at least get to a minimum viable product. This was no simple task. Some teams had a hard time deciding what kind of solution they wanted to build. Some teams made user personas and user stories, some authors looked at data and built their solutions from there and some others started from a very specific set of problems related to their challenge. By the end of this day the teams had to present their projects to the other teams as well as to the mentors with at least some advances on their final projects. ​Day three Day three was a day full of excitement, but also for the mentors since we had to take one final project to present on the main stage of the Paris Peace Forum. During the morning the teams tweaked and fixed their projects and prepared their pitches, then presented to the mentors. Selecting only one final project for each of the challenges was a challenge by itself. But in the end we ended up with four really great projects:
  • Contract Fit selected by Open State Foundation
  • Tackling Climate Change – selected by the World Bank
  • LA PORTE – selected by the Open Contracting Partnership
  • Know your chances – selected by ETALAB
Each of these teams presented their projects at the main stage of the Paris Peace Forum. You can see the video here. This was a really interesting first edition of a hackathon in such a high level event covering such important topics. I was really happy to see so much engagement from both participants and mentors. It was also great to see the amazing job that our hosts made at putting all this together. We expect to see this exercise of innovation become a crucial part of future instances of the Peace Forum.  

The future of the Global Open Data Index: assessing the possibilities

- November 1, 2017 in Global Open Data Index, godi, GODI16, Open Government Data, open-government

In the last couple of months we have received questions regarding the status of the new Global Open Data Index (GODI) from a few members of our Network. This blogpost is to update everyone on the status of GODI and what comes next. But first, some context: GODI is one of the biggest assessments of the state of open government data globally, alongside the Web Foundation’s Open Data Barometer. We notice persistent obstacles for open data year-by-year. High-income countries regularly secure top rankings, yet overall there is little to no development in many countries. As our latest State Of Open Government Data in 2017 report shows, data is often not made available publicly at all. If so, we see many issues around findability, quality, processability, and licensing. Individual countries are notable exceptions to the rule. The Open Data Barometer made similar observations in its latest report, mentioning a slow uptake of policy, as well as persistent data quality issues in countries that provide open data. So there is still a lot of work to be done. To resolve issues like engagement with our community, we started to explore alternative paths for GODI. This includes a shift in focus from a mere measurement tool to a stronger conversational device between our user groups throughout the process. We understand that we need to speak to new audiences and focus on measurement as a tool in real world applications. We need to focus more on this. We want to understand the use cases of the Open Data Survey (the tool that powers GODI and the Open Data Census) in different contexts and with different goals. We have barely seen a few of the possible uses of the tool in the open data sphere and we want to see even more. In order to learn more about how GODI is taken up by different user groups, we are also currently exploring GODI’s effects on open data policy and publication. We wish to understand more systematically how individual elements of the GODI interface (such as country ranking, dataset results, discuss forum entries) help mobilising support for open data among different user groups. Our goal is to understand how to improve our survey design and workflow so that they more directly support action around open data policy and publication. In addition we are developing a new vision for the Open Data Index to either measure open data on a regional and city-level or by topical areas. We will elaborate on this vision in a follow-up blogpost soon. Taking this all into account, we have decided to focus on working on the aforementioned use cases and a regional Index during 2018. In the meantime, we will still work with our community to define a vision that will make GODI a sustainable measurement tool: we understand that tracking the changes in government data publication is crucial for the activists and governments themselves. We know that progress around open data is slower than we would like it to be, but therefore we need to ensure that discussions around open data do not end. Please do not hesitate to submit new discussions around country entries on our forum or reach out to us if you have any ideas on how to take GODI forwards and improve. If you’re running an Open Data Census, we we’ll continue giving you support in the measurement you’re currently working on, whether it’s local, regional or you have any new idea of a Census you’d like to try. If you want to run your own Census, you can request it here, or send an email to to see how we could collaborate further.

Divide, rant and conquer: Addressing the difficulty of 2016 and the future of open government at #OGP16

- December 20, 2016 in community, Events, OGP, Open Government Partnership, open-government

Mor Rubinstein reports on one of the Civil Society Morning workshop sessions during the Open Government Partnership Summit. The structure of the session involved ‘ranting’ in turns with fellow attendees. As 2016 draws to a close and a new year begins, the session serves as a useful reminder of the cathartic and productive processes of ranting and listening as necessary steps toward progress. About a month ago, I got an exciting email from the Open Government Partnership support unit in which I was invited to host a workshop during the civil society morning of the OGP Summit in Paris with Zuzana Wienk about the future of the open government movement.
img_20161207_121154401Session in action!
To be honest, 2016 was a very challenging year for open government, and in many ways, this movement often feels just unrealistic. Maybe citizens don’t really care about the facts anymore, but about their emotions. And those emotions are usually a combination of fear and hate of the other, the unknown and change. I was really upset and started to rant about it. A LOT. So when I got the opportunity to actually host a session, I thought – What if I could actually take other people’s rants into a productive space? How can we get all of the negative out, look it in the eye without being afraid of it, and then move from there to somewhere better?

What if I could actually take other people’s rants into a productive space? How can we get all of the negativity out, look it in the eye without being afraid of it, and then move from there to somewhere better?

Thanks to Google, I found the method of “Rant for a productive meeting”. Briefly, the principals are simple – divide the room into pairs, allow the couples to meet with one another for a minute. After that let the pairs rant in turns. For three minutes one person speaks and rants and the other person will listen and will prompt for reactions. In the next three minutes, the partners swap roles. After this rant period, a new question is raised into the room: “Now what?” Allow the participants to write (on a post-it of course) their thoughts and ideas on how to move forward. As the last step – share! So we had around 16 participants from different regions in the session. You can find their thoughts just below. If you think any of ideas worth pursuing or discussing, just start a discussion about it on our forum here.
img_20161207_123820014Here they are in raw – ideas from our session
Here are the Open Government Future ideas that came out from the rant session (to make it an easier read, we divided them into themes):

Civil society

  • Linking and leveraging with other initiatives to achieve greater results.
  • Now, what? Civic monitoring not only related to National Actions Plans, sustained with a small percentage of funding.
  • We need to call out Open Washing
  • Be proactive to share data CSOs
  • More educational programs – Civic educations
  • Better coordination of national society.
  • How to sustain in the long term a municipal civil society monitoring ecosystem?
    • Solution: Every local context has project funded with public money.
    • Every (almost) project funded have correction issues.
    • Use a little part of the budget to the project to fund civic monitoring actions.


  • Empowering individuals legislatures / elected officials.
  • Dependencies of politicians & businesses
  • Government to engage the youth to support government openness.
  • Share knowledge within government institutions to avoid duplication – reinventing the wheel.
  • Engagement of the EU institutions

Relationships between government and citizens

  • Rebirth of the Socratic dialogue
  • Democratic participation digital tools (e.g.,. Parliament hackathons)


  • Opinions != Facts
  • We need fact checking

Process of OGP

  • For OGP, the first five years have been about quantity, next five years should be about quality.
  • Now, what? Locally based processes. Cities involved in subnational OGP is not enough.
  • OGP needs to connect more deliberately with international processes (SDG, FFD, etc.)
  • Use innovative ways to share data
  • Clarify engagement and action opportunities for civil society with OGP and for opposition parties.
  • OGP needs to “Speak” to the citizens, adapting its communications tools and vocabulary / bridging the civil society and citizens gap.
  • A strategic planning event with CSO steering committee participation in a near future OGP, what’s next?
  • Learn from other’s experience and build on lessons learnt.
  • We need to make OGP sexier! (Link with other related agendas, better comms, better citizen language).
  • Clear and coordinate M&E framework to track changes over time
  • Integrating OGP into the national development agenda.
  • OGP agenda should transcend political transitions or change of government or agenda of a country e.g. – Brexit, Trump.
I hope that out of these ideas, we can get a better and vibrant open government community in 2017!

Credit: Open Government Partnership/Photograph by Evan Abramson

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of #OGP16 Summit

- December 15, 2016 in Civic Space, civil society, Events, Inclusive Society, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government

This blog originally appeared on Medium and is reposted with permission. This post is a reflection of a long and intense week in Paris for the Open Government Partnership summit. I feel after this week like I have seen so much, but missed out on a lot of things (including a couple of meals!). All in all, it was wonderful, once again, to see the Open Government community gathering around for good conversation, and maybe some follow-up actions. However, since this post is written by me, I have also some concerns that I would like to share with the rest of the community, so hold on — this is going to be a fun ride.

The Good

It is not secret that I care about the topic of gender in the open gov and the open data space. It was good to see that since my post from 11 months ago, things are starting to change in the field. More conversations about gender and open gov are starting to happen — from the workshops of The Web Foundation and Avina on OGP commitments to open gov, to the session that ran on behalf of Open Heroines, where we read Open Gender monologues. Indeed, the gender (and maybe even diversity) is on the table, and there is no way back now. Nevertheless, Manels (All-male panels), were still spotted during the conference, and I think that we can do SO much better by abolishing them altogether in the next OGP in 2018.

I think that the next rational step for OGP would be to have a working group on social inclusion ,  so we can make sure that everyone —women, youth, LGBTQ, indigenous people and minorities —are joining the table to discuss open government. I was happy to hear that many agree that open government is a process to everyone, not just a few — so now it’s the time to act on it!

However, more than my worries about the fact that the government didn’t send any minister, I am more concerned about the fact that the UK civil society didn’t make any fuss of this. That there is somewhat silence on the topic. It reminded me the article about over politeness in the open data movement by Tom Steinberg , and it makes me ponder what is next for civil society in the UK.

The Ugly

In short — the schedule of the whole summit was crazy. There is an old Hebrew proverb that says that there are so many trees that you can not see the forest anymore. This reflects how I felt at this conference — there were so many topics and sessions that I felt lost. So lost, that I sometimes gave up and just set in the main coffee space.

Also, I felt that an important event that should have run longer was cut short. This whole conference we have been bringing up the closing of civic space, but when the moment of truth comes, we cut our own civil society day in 4 hours, so now we are left with a civil society morning. In my eyes, this is, de facto, a closer of civic space, or at least an attempt to minimise it. The civil society day is an important event to the community that allows us to get in touch together in an informal way. Even though I think the OGP team organised a great morning, I believe that adding more hours to it would be more efficient in the long run.

Some of the ideas from my session on the civil society morning about the future of the open government.

Here is some of my feedback for the next OGP summit — 

  1. Mark the number of people who can join a session. Lots of sessions were closed after 5 minutes because there was not availaible sitting spaces in the room. Knowing the capacity of the room can help for early planing
  2. Allow specific time for lunch — both IODC and the OGP summit scheduled sessions on lunch. Lunch is not only a good methodic break, but also a network place, so it needs to get a generous amount of time just for the action of lunch.
  3. Make sure sessions start and end at the same time. When sessions are starting at different times it is really hard to move between them or to remember when they start and end.
  4. Quality, not quantity — This on is my personal preference, and I know that other people think differently. I think we should have fewer sessions, but more time to each session, than a lot of small sessions on so many different topics. Focus can help us as a movement to get better results.
  5. Civil society day, not a morning — and maybe bring back the government day too. This is important to give both group support and networking that they need.

The hope

You didn’t think I will let you leave with a negative feeling, right? So my hope in this movement is the people in it. During this week I had wonderful open and honest conversations with many people, some of them were old friends, some of them were new. I felt great about those conversations because even though stuff are not perfect, we can be honest about our imperfections and try to move past by them and try to make this movement better, so we can make democracy better.
So even in these days when it looks like the world is going away from open government, remember that this is a movement with great people in it. As much as it sounds like a big cliché, we, the people who work in it, can shape its future, so it’s time to act. Time to work together.

See you in the next OGP summit, and in the meanwhile, keep the discussion on the web!

Come gli studenti possono migliorare i fondi europei grazie agli open data e alle tecnologie civiche

- December 1, 2016 in collaborazione, Fondi Strutturali Europei, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government

Tre piccoli ma importanti passi sono stati fatti nelle scorse settimane verso politiche europee più aperte e partecipative.  Si tratta di tre episodi di una serie di produttivi incontri tra policy maker che gestiscono i fondi europei e studenti armati di dati aperti e tecnologie civiche.   Il monitoraggio civico dei fondi europei come metodo […]

Come gli studenti possono migliorare i fondi europei grazie agli open data e alle tecnologie civiche

- December 1, 2016 in collaborazione, Fondi Strutturali Europei, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government

Tre piccoli ma importanti passi sono stati fatti nelle scorse settimane verso politiche europee più aperte e partecipative.  Si tratta di tre episodi di una serie di produttivi incontri tra policy maker che gestiscono i fondi europei e studenti armati di dati aperti e tecnologie civiche.   Il monitoraggio civico dei fondi europei come metodo […]

Come gli studenti possono migliorare i fondi europei grazie agli open data e alle tecnologie civiche

- December 1, 2016 in collaborazione, Fondi Strutturali Europei, Open Data, Open Government Data, open-government