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Festive Greetings and 2016 in review

- December 28, 2016 in 2016, adrian, denis, eugene, Events, flora, ingo, OGP Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, salua, shawn

Our warm festive greetings to all friends of Open Knowledge – For the last two years we have been advocating that for open data to make a difference in lives of people it has to be put in use. Open data must be seen as a digital public infrastructure. It must be permanent, linkable and trustful. In the last year we organised and participated in events, tried out new technologies and demonstrated usefulness of open data. Here are some things we did in 2016 to spread this message.   In January, in collaboration with Wikimedia Ireland, we discussed how open health data can save lives and help all of us to make better-informed decisions about health matters. Featured speakers: Round Up Our Slides   In March  Open Government Partnership Mid-term report on the progress with National Action Plan was launched In May we presented Hospital Waiting List project and spoke about importance of preservation of open knowledge for future generations at Knowledge for Health conference  , organised by the Institute of Public Health    In June we held a discussion dedicated to preservation of knowledge created today for generations of the future. 18 Speakers and panelists included:
  • Dr. Rufus Pollock, founder of Open Knowledge International
  • Stanislav Nazarenko, Open Knowledge Ireland core team member and the founder of Nihonto Club, an online community dedicated to appreciation and preservation of Japanese swords and the largest public database of Japanese metalwork artists
  • Dr. Kalpana Shankar, Head of School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin
Photos   In July we were invited to the Isle of Man to share our open data experiences at  #offcamp unconference. We took this opportunity to highlight importance of trust in data. 160730-OffCamp-155 Photos   In September we contributed to the second Irish Open Government Partnership National Action Plan. Our submissions are here   In October we co organised with the Institute of Public Health half-day workshop dedicated to “Open Access: Tackling Health Inequalities”. Best international practices and opportunities which arise from technological advances for making knowledge universally fair, accessible, interoperable and reusable were discussed.   In November our colleague Dr. Ingo Keck delivered a presentation on open data challenges and raised questions about open data sustainability at the event dedicated to the World Usability Day in Berlin.
“Open Data has to be seen in the context of empowering citizens to do informed decisions. Without information, citizen can not decide in an informed way who to vote for, so democracy can not work without open information. But open data is not a cause in itself. It also means that people must be able to understand the data easily, be able to access it without problems and can work with it. Only then people will realise the importance of open data and only then will „opening up“ data be sustainable. Open Data, Usability and Sustainability therefore can not be separated.”

What we are planning to do in 2017? We are going to focus on Healthcare data and planning to run 4 events with support of  DPER’s Open Data Engagement plan and continue to demonstrate….. We have a long to go until Open Data will become a digital public infrastructure: permanent, linked and secure. This infrastructure needs to be designed, built and maintained, which require human and financial resources. Open data must be findable, accessible, interoperable and findable in order to help a real person to make decisions on daily basis. ———– Many thanks to Open Knowledge Ireland colleagues: Flora, Salua, Ingo, Adrian, Shawn, Stan, Eugene and Denis Special Thanks to all supporters and collaborators: TCube, the Science Gallery We wish you happy Christmas and the very best in 2017!

IPFS Workshop @ Oil Can Harry’s

- January 18, 2016 in Blockchain, Events, IPFS, OKFN Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, Persistance

Join Open Knowledge Ireland to explore IPFS – the cutting edge open-source technology of the future available today.
The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a new hypermedia distribution protocol, addressed by content and identities. IPFS enables the creation of completely distributed applications. It aims to make the web faster, safer, and more open. We’ll be joined by Juan Benet (via video link), inventor of the Inter-Planetary File System and founder of Protocol Labs. When: Thursday, 21 January 2016 [18:30-20:00]
Where: Oil Can Harry’s, 31/32 Lower Mount St, Dublin 2 open streets map
Registration Page:
Hope to see you there.

Festive Greetings From Open Knowledge Ireland

- December 31, 2015 in 2016, christmas, Events, Hospital Waiting List, new year, OKFN Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland

We, Open Knowledge Ireland, would like to send all our supporters a big “Thank you” for your help in the last year. By participating in our events, speaking up in support for openness and transparency, and even by donating time, effort or money to us, you helped to make a difference. 2015 has brought some important new developments to Ireland. After years of lobbying, even going up as high as the EU, Ireland government finally started changing the  public sector information re-use licenses to open ones [].
News and Events
Featured Events 
Open Health Data Nigth @Science gallery
Important Dates
Wednesday, 20th January
While up until some months ago, commercial re-use of public data was widely prohibited, now everyone can create exciting new stuff based on the data that we all helped to pay for with our taxes, making Ireland’s public data real Open Data. We will of course continue our efforts to guide and counsel the public authorities on this topic, helping (and sometimes pushing them) forward to open up more data that is of importance for Ireland’s citizens. []Speaking of Open Data, we must admit that we have not been successful enough with our fight re-establish trust in Ireland’s charity sector by opening up Ireland’s charity data in 2015. While we still believe that it is the wrong way to spend millions of euros in a private company to digitize and re-sell charity budget data [], instead of simply creating an open and easy to use data base for a small percentage of these costs [], we accept that the Irish media may not seem this topic important enough to pick it up.We will continue with our efforts to open up more Irish Health Data []. We were able to join forces with Wikimedia Ireland to bring to you a special Open Health Data evening in the science gallery this January 20th. Please join us for discussions there:


JANUARY 20th (18:30-20:00), doors open at 18:00 REGISTER ON

Support us!

Please help us continue our work in 2016! We accept all kind of help, giving us your time and participation in our events, hosting space for events or virtual space for our web pages. We also accept bitcoins and various kinds of money, so supporting our fight for openness and transparency is just a click away: That leaves us just one more thing to wish for:

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year 2016!

Making Data Relevant: Irish Health Data

- June 26, 2015 in #OpenDataIRL, Brian Costello, Caroline Lewis, Dan Alexandru Bujoreanu, Daniel "Chino" Carranza, Dave Corley, Denis Parfenov, Eoin MacCuirc, Eugene Eichelberger, Events, Flora Fleischer, Hospital Waiting List, Ingo Keck, Maker Party, Margaret Furr, Martin Kelly, Open Knowledge Ireland, Pamela Duncan, Richard Geoghegan, Robert Harte, Roslyn Fuller, Ruta Danyte, Salua Nassabay, Shawn Day, Steve White

Call for Action

Data collected on behalf of the people of Ireland and paid for by taxes should be available for use, reuse and redistribution as a right and under Service Level Agreement (SLA) in 21st century non-proprietary, machine-readable formats. PDF is not open data. Publishing reports in PDF format makes them inaccessible for processing and in effect renders the data unusable. Open Knowledge Ireland and OpenStreetMaps Ireland  call on Brendan Howlin, Minister of Department for Public Expenditure and Reform, Leo Varadkar, Health Minister and Richard Corbridge, Chief Information Officer for the Health Service Executive in Ireland, to support the efforts of the Open Data Community to increase the usefulness of publicly available Health Sector Data, by ensuring its publication in an open data format.  

Maker Party Round-Up

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.23.35 On Saturday, 13 June 2015, a diverse collection of twenty publicly-minded enthusiasts joined to explore and demonstrate the benefits of public data made open and used. The day began with opening remarks by Denis Parfenov:
We want the government to make data collected on behalf of citizens and at taxpayers expense available for use, re-use and distribution in useful 21st century non-proprietary, machine-readable formats; so it can be converted into actionable information to help society to answer real questions.

A lively and frank discussion led by Brian Costello and Eoin McCuirc from the Central Statistics Office followed – primarily detailing concrete ways to make data requests easy, fast and open. There was agreement among the wider group that making requests ‘public’ will help to make requests traceable and transparent and serve the public interest. Participants then broke into 3 focussed working groups:
  1. The OpenStreetMaps (OSM) group followed detailed instructions (link) by the OSM Community Organiser in Ireland Dave Corley and in a determined effort tidied up geospatial data for the 41 hospitals listed in the NTPF acute care dataset.
  • The intention was to use a publicly accessible, open format platform to provide a geospatial foundation for the Hospital Data Working group – but also make the same data available for anyone who cared to make use of it;
  • The result is a clean and accurate list of hospital lat/long coordinates generated by Dave Corley and available (link).
  1. The Data Wrangling group manipulated the available CSV data (which has been manually scraped on a monthly basis) on hospital waiting lists accessible to everyone:
  • The objective of this group was to transform inaccessible hospital data, published in PDF reports by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF /, into machine readable data formats (link to data / link to project page)
  • This is a requirement to be able to use the data to provide quality analysis into how long patients are waiting for hospital appointments for May 2015 (link to data);
  • Participants self-organised themselves into an ongoing ‘Hospital Data Working Group’ to work on strategies of making hospital data accessible to everyone via an interactive data publishing platform;
  • This group identified that a major obstacle to persons identifying the hospital at which they may get the fastest specialists appointments or where they would wait the longest is the authorities is not making this data available to the public in machine readable formats.
  1. The Social Media group discussed ways of making the activities & benefits of open data known to the wider public. Their primary recommendations are:
  • Open health data (or any sector-specific data) is potentially of interest for everyone in Ireland, but people tend to think about it only when they are personally affected;
  • A media campaign would need to create general attention first, eventually leading to seeking of more detailed information by individuals with specific interest;
  • Information needs to be provided in small, relevant and instantly recognisable pieces for it to lead to more in-depth information requests.

Inspiration from Uruguay

At the end of the productive day we established a virtual bridge with Daniel “Chino” Carranza (@danielcarranza / @DataUY) in Uruguay. Daniel shared’s inspirational story of co-creating a data driven Health Care Dashboard ( which helps people of Uruguay to make an informed choice of health care provider base on data, not marketing. The Ministry of Health of Uruguay published data in Excel spreadsheets over the past 4 years. However, the number of downloads was a meagre 500 cases. By making this same data accessible in an easily comprehensible and actionable format via increased data exposure by over 7,000%! Taking the time to help the public understand the context of the data makes it active data.
With the information was published through the dashboard, the government of Uruguay started a quality of healthcare discussion, and for the first time based on data, not on opinion and marketing.   For more information: Health Data Maker Party on Storify: link Photos on Flickr: link Opening remarks: link Daniel “Chino” Carranza’s slide-deck (link); video (link); full (rough) transcript of the call (link) Hospital Waiting List project page (link) Acknowledgements: Many thanks to everyone who participated in this workshop in person and virtually: Margaret Furr, Richard Geoghegan, Martin Kelly, Ruta Danyte, Robert Harte, Pamela Duncan, Salua Nassabay, Roslyn Fuller, Flora Fleischer, Dave Corley, Shawn Day, Daniel “Chino” Carranza, Dan Alexandru Bujoreanu, Eugene Eichelberger, Caroline Lewis, Ingo Keck, Brian Costello, Eoin MacCuirc, Steve White  and Denis Parfenov Special thanks to newly openned for hosting the event and to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform ( for sponsoring the venue and providing tasty sandwiches and healthy refreshments.  

Submission by Open Knowledge Ireland to the Public Consultation on Open Data Licences

- March 18, 2015 in DPER, Ireland, licence, OGP Action Plan, OKFN Ireland, Open Data Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, PSI, Public Consultation

Date: 18 March 2015 at 11:00
Subject: Submission by Open Knowledge Ireland to the Public Consultation on Open Data Licences
Cc: “” <>

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Sir / Madam,

Please find attached the submission by Open Knowledge Ireland to the public consultation on open data licences.

Open Knowledge Ireland is very pleased at the Government’s decision to invite views on an open data policy for Ireland and the decision to review the Public Sector Information (PSI) licence.

Open Knowledge Ireland (OK Ireland) is a regional chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation. The OK Ireland is at the forefront of Ireland’s Open Data community with the aim of developing a self-sustainable, enabling ecosystem for open data to empower citizens and organisations to make better informed, evidence-based decisions.

OK Ireland promotes open data culture through regular weekly, monthly and quarterly community engagements. Our events have been attended by thought leaders and notable civic activists.  Between October 2012 and January 2015, OK Ireland has successfully organised 15 community meetups, 5 hackathons, one Open Data training day and one OGP Civil Society day, with a total of over 1000 participants.We facilitate development of practical engagement with open data repositories. We organize training events, in which participants develop practical skills.

OK Ireland is supported by a number of organizations which make world-class technology resources available for fostering innovative projects. For example, CKAN, the world’s leading open-source data portal platform, was developed by the non-profit Open Knowledge Foundation and is today overseen and managed by the CKAN Association. CKAN is currently used by governments and organizations worldwide to power both official and community data portals, including the Irish Government Data Portal

Members of OK Ireland are technology experts and experienced civic activists, with expertise in implementing the best global open data practices and tacit knowledge of unique challenges in Ireland. In September 2013, facilitated by a community engagement day, volunteers audited and catalogued datasets originally published by Irish government agencies. This exercise became a foundation for our input into the Global Open Data Census. At the same event, an Irish instance of CKAN, the worlds most advanced data repository, was deployed. For your convenience, the submission to the Public Consultation on Open Data Licences is also available online here:

Best regards,

Denis Our submission document: Submission by Open Knowledge Ireland to the public consultation on open data licences.pdf

Open Letter Regarding Open Data in Ireland

- February 17, 2015 in Denis Parfenov, DPER, Events, INKEx, insight, OGP Ireland, Open Data, Open Data Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, William Beausang

(Originally published here in response on invitation to meet with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform dated 12 February 2015)

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Dear William -

Thank you for your email. Let’s look….

What we have

There are numerous publicly funded data research institutions.

“…INSIGHT [DERI, CLARITY, CLIQUE, 4C, TRIL]  represent an investment in excess of 150,000,000 over the past 10 years, hosting more than 300 researchers, and collaborating with more than 150 industry partners….””…. to create a healthier, safer, more productive world by empowering a data-driven society to enable better decisions by individuals, communities, business and governments…” (here)

Taking into consideration a generous investment of public and private money into data excellence in Ireland, we should be leading in the open data world, right?

Where we are?

Lets have a quick look where is Ireland positioned in the world of open data:

There is hardly any improvement since 2013.

According to both surveys, the UK is the world leader in open data. Peculiarly, Ireland has  pledged at United Nations Assembly last year  “to share best practice, knowledge and expertise with its Northern Ireland counterparts and assist each other in relation to Open Data.” (here)

It’s good that Ireland has a CKAN-driven It’s not good that it’s “alfa” since May 2014 and technically speaking hosts no open data.

Talking open data, practicing open washing 

It was great to see Minister Howlin of D/PER launching an open data initiative in London in 2013. It was very disappointing to see the Department of Communications excluding any open alternatives for one of the most valuable dataset: postcodes (Eircode) were excluded from bidding process by error .

“Open Data Ireland: Best Practice Handbook” (July 2014) compiled by Deirdre Lee, Richard Cyganiak, Stefan Decker states “The current Irish PSI license is not considered an Open License, as it places a number of restrictions on re-use and distribution that go beyond the requirements of attribution and share-alike.” Other than your consultant’s change of mind on what is or is not “open data” it is not clear what has changed since then re PSI licensing in the last 6 month. ‘Open washing’, is the term for calling open data what is NOT open data (yet).

Even within your own department, the “Reform Unit” is talking positively about theoretical aspects of open data. When it comes to practice, another unit within your department, is supporting The Irish Nonprofits Project Limited (formerly  INKEx), an organisation which receives public funds to build a privately-held database with an intention to sell it back to the state, relaunched.

Open data and community

I clearly recall the moment when in February 2012, after following ‘open data’ across the world, I came across ‘A Briefing paper’ (here), which was co-authored by D/PER’s current Open Data consultant, Deirdre Lee, with other industry representatives. What struck me then was that, unlike any other open data policy document, the Irish one didn’t contain a single mention of the social benefits of open data for civil society.

Taking this into consideration we (Open Knowledge Ireland) undertook a challenge to progress open data in Ireland by catalyzing interest around it. As you remember, in September 2012, Oireachtas cut the XML feed to, the biggest open government data publisher in Ireland. The open data community started to organise regular ‘Open Data Ireland’ meetups.

The idea of of open data meetups was to generate demand for open data through education and collaboration between data holders and data users (under assumption that passion is a stronger motivator than profit). All our events were organised in the evening time or at weekends, in order to accommodate enthusiasts and increase a pool of people who knows more about open data and participate in it’s co-creation.

Prior to our workshop meetup on November 17th, D/PER’s consultant tweeted “It’d be good to discuss how to facilitate broad engagement in #opendataIRL” here.  However the time and date chosen by the consultant is aimed at accommodating those who “work with data”.

We can assume that that the biggest publisher of open data, John Handelaar, based in Cork and Open Street Maps lead in Ireland Dave Corley, based in Galway, do not belong to the consultant’s target group.

The participants of the November 17  workshop discussed 5 projects, which can be turned into real life Irish examples of open data being put in use and we set up a project log here.

However at the follow up meeting with you in D/PER offices, we were informed that the department has a budget for 2015 only for an appointed “consultant”, Deirdre Lee from Derilinx and Deirdre Lee from INSIGHT.

Evidently, D/PER has generous resources for Irish Nonprofits Project Limited / INKEx also…

Taking into consideration that there is a paid “consultant” in place and the fact that none of independent groups cannot compete in tendering processes with quangos which have hundreds of publicly funded researchers at their disposal, our group will not be organising any public engagements in Ireland as long as there is a publicly sponsored consultant.  This is the only logical course.

To summarise, there is still no appreciating for the role of the civic groups in progressing open data in Ireland. There is contradiction between the government’s public commitments and government’s actions.

Thank you for your invitation to meet, but I don’t see any point to participate in creation of an illusion of openness in Ireland.

Best, Denis  

Open Data Ireland in practice: Let the Sun Shine on Charity Transparency?

- January 27, 2015 in charity financial data, DPER, INKEx, OKFN Ireland, open charity data, Open Data Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland

In May 2013 Open Knowledge Ireland asked:  “Can data help Irish charities to win back the trust lost in recent scandals?”

Driven by this question and inspired by the successful implementation of in the US, Open Knowledge Ireland (OK Ireland) undertook a challenge to help Irish citizens and donors compare charities using a similar driven-by-data platform.

Initial research revealed that there was little or no relevant, publicly accessible data available in Ireland in useful for 21st century machine-readable format. OK Ireland and partners therefore needed to develop a methodology and a reporting standard to compile and construct an open dataset based on the audited annual reports of Irish charities.  We derived this standard from the UK’s Statement of Recommended Practice, Accounting and Reporting by Charities (SORP).

On a sunny Saturday morning on July 26th in 2014, qualified and engaged volunteers from civil society and the charities sector gathered to cap the exploratory phase of our project by crowdsourcing essential data and building a prototype of the data-driven platform.

In the course of our research and implementation, we looked at the INKEx model and its legacy with great interest. Between 2007 – 2012, this organisation sought to key in a dataset to a proprietary database and make extracts of this data publicly available through a “free website” with the purpose of creating “a public good for the benefit of civil society, not to generate profit” (See Sara Burke’s postmortem report on INKEx, commissioned by INKEx here, p.5). Without noting any irony this endevour has been presented to the public as an “open data project”.

According to public records €1.1 million of public money was invested in INKEx between 2009 and 2011, public funding was withdrawn in 2012 and INKEx ceased trading in 2013. However, the fruits of its endeavours and the data it collected are still not publicly available – rendering it difficult to judge whether it delivered on any of its objectives. (See case study, ibid, here.)

What was the return on this investment to the Irish taxpayer?

According to recent reports, INKEx has been contracted by D/PER for a second phase.

OK Ireland and the strategic partners involved in Open Charity Data project and in generating SORP v.2 are of the opinion that reviving INKEx is not a wise strategic decision for the following reasons:

  • The case study mentioned above, (ibid, p14) reported that there was “little understanding” as to how INKEx’s model could have cost €1-1.3 million per year (publicly and privately raised) on an ongoing basis. (ibid, p14). This cost is scarcely justifiable in 2014.
  • Smart and prudent public funding remains an issue. What was questioned as being of limited value then remains bad value now.  Building a closed service with inward focussed employees rather than harnessing public value, as was done in 2010 and 2012 is not progressive thinking. Public opposition to this practice is clearly evident in the example of Irish Water – high wage bills for publicly-funded organisations. The charity sector can do without another stick to beat it.
  • INKEx’s business plan was to own the data, commercially tendering to provide it to the newly-legislated Charity Registry on one hand, while on the other hand receiving public grants and philanthropy for the data’s collection and curation.  Why should this company receive funds to build a privately-held asset which is then sold back to the state?  (See Sara Burke report pp14).

In Open Knowledge’s view, charity data should not be owned and controlled by one company,  but by the Irish people and should be readily available to the public and the government at no charge, once collated.

Open Knowledge’s approach to helping charities share their financial data contrasts with the stated intentions and methodologies of INKEx. We would provide a platform for charities to share their data openly and publicly in a self-sustainable fashion. The outcome would be owned by the people of Ireland under an open licence (CC), making the relevant information available for anyone to use, reuse and share, in the spirit of Open Data, a vital 21st century movement in which the D/PER / Irish government has already invested ideologically and publicly.

More importantly, OK Ireland’s proposal is to gain broad engagement and participation by civil society in serving itself and its needs rather than vesting this responsibility in a private company. Our approach embraces a forward thinking practice that recognises the gain both financially and politically by harnessing participation, sharing the burden and collectively sharing the benefits.This shifts from a clientist model to a collectivist approach, which has proven to lead to socially-driven solutions to society’s needs through civil engagement across all stages of design, implementation and delivery.

Our project has been frequently shared with D/PER’s Reform Unit (slide deck). It was also presented to the newly appointed charity regulator (2-page case study .pdf). It has been clearly indicated that the project can be delivered at the fraction of cost of deploying a dedicated staff, by providing a value proposition for participants in serving their own needs (2-page appeal to charities .pdf). Instead of setting up a Quango, government could mandate a reporting format for charities, and make returns in this format a proviso for state grants. (HSE does exactly this for some NGO sectors). Once the data is in a standard format, there is no need for keying in this information manually.

D/PER’s Reform Unit, which has a task to make open data a reality in Ireland, was supportive with organising a workshop and we are very grateful for their support in beginning the process of changing the way in which we govern ourselves in Ireland. Open Data holds great promise. A promise embraced by one sector within D/PER, but this seems contrary to another unit minding INKEx within D/PER and holding fast to an antiquated approach to serving society without civil engagement.

There seems to be a contradiction in practise between the state declaring an understanding of the benefits of open data, while investing in old-school closed projects to compile proprietary datasets for commercial outcome.

Data is useful when it makes a difference by enhancing transparency and enabling evidence-based decisions. The loss of trust in Irish charities is estimated to have reduced donations by 5% in a €2 billion market. This equates to €100m every year being diverted from former charity recipients. Our Open Charity Data project has the built-in capacity to empower citizens and donors and win back their trust, thus potentially saving lives and boosting the quality of life standards for people in need.


From Charity Financial Data to Open Charity Financial Data

- December 1, 2014 in charity financial data, open charity data, Open Data, Open Data Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland

OpenCharityData-FinancialOpenData (.pdf)

First Irish Charity Data HackDay took place on Saturday July 26th 2014 at Tcube

- September 4, 2014 in Adrian Corcoran, Adrian O’Flynn, Allen Thomas Varghese, charity, Chris Garde, Data, Dave Corley, Denis Parfenov, Flora Fleischer, Grazia D'Aversa, Hackday, Helen Nic Giolla Rua, Ingo Keck, Ireland, Open Knowledge Ireland, Patrick Killalea, Salua Nassabay, Tracey P. Lauriault

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 13.27.58
When: Sat, 26th of July, 2014
Where: TCube kindly hosted the event to support the work done for the Charity sector
Organiser: Open Knowledge Ireland
Who: 13 participants: Dave Corley, Tracey P. Lauriault, Patrick Killalea, Adrian Corcoran, Allen Thomas Varghese, Ingo Keck, Helen Nic Giolla Rua, Adrian O’Flynn, Flora Fleischer, Denis Parfenov, Chris Garde, Grazia D’Aversa, Salua Nassabay
Main Findings from first Irish Charity Data HackDay
  1. No standardised way of tracking income and expenses
  2. Not all charities make income and expense data publicly available on their website
  3. When published, income and expense data is not published in an ‘open’ format
… and here is how it all went down on Saturday 26th July 2014 at Tcube:
The day started with a welcome speech by our conveners and hosts Denis Parfenov and Flora Fleisher of Open Knowledge Ireland.  A short presentation was given by Flora Fleischer. Adrian O’Flynn, our Charities Subject Matter Specialist, and the person who inspired the event, introduced the topic of spending for charities in Ireland. He highlighted recent issues portrayed in the media and explained why it would be useful for the public to be able to compare charities based on their financial reports.  Here is his presentation. Adrian Corcoran, the event’s project manager, provided detailed instructions on how to work together for the day.  He followed this outline (  
Three main datasets were used for the CharityHack:
  1. An overview working document listing basic data about the charities: (
  2. An excel spreadsheet (CharityFinancialDataFinal.xlsx), that includes detailed data for a number of charities, which were initially extracted from the annual reports by Adrian O’Flynn.
  3. A reference document which includes definitions of the codes used in the document above (e.g. expenditure codes)
  Participants were divided into three teams “red”, “green”, “blue”, following the team label of the charities in the overview document.   Participants from each team picked a charity from the overview document.  Adrian Corcoran told us how to label the data, how to quality check the numbers within and how to verify the data with the annual reports. These data were then assembled into one shared document.  Data quality issues were reported and then corrected by Adrian Corcoran.   Any issues were reported during this process and the more serious problems were shelved for later. Once this work was completed, only data that passed data quality processes were included.  
The charity data used for this CharityHack exercise are as follows:
  1. Data were extracted from the annual financial reports of 24 of the largest charities in Ireland (€1Mil+).  NOTE This represents a small sample of the thousands of charities in Ireland.
  2. These are charities known through their public brand awareness for the fiscal year 2012 (see the definition).
  3. ONLY charities where funding represents charitable funds collected voluntarily from the public were selected.  This excludes charities that primarily rely on large institutional funds (e.g., Irish Aid Grants, HSE Grants).
  4. Only charities that have been independently audited and who have published their financial statements on a publicly accessible websites were used.
  5. Only charities who followed the Statement by the Accounting Standards Board on the SORP Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice were used (Section B: Resources Expended). Not all organizations in Ireland follow this standard. It is only because of this standard that it was possible to derive standardized financial data from the financial statements in the annual reports. The data here reflect resources spent on Governance, Fundraising and Charity.
  6. The list of charities was derived from the survey conducted by the Irish Charity Engagement Monitor (ICEM).
  7. This final dataset was quality checked by the participants at the 2014 Charity Hackday on July 26.
  8. The original dataset was created by Adrian O’Flynn.
  It is a small sample, but this illustrates the power of open data.   The dataset that was generated on the HackDay, and which is being continuously developed, can be found on the  Open Knowledge Ireland website. Finally a first draft of a future website was created, where charity data can be be displayed in an easy to understand fashion. Thanks to Barry Alistair (TCube), Adrian O’Flynn (Charity Subject Matter Expert), Adrian Corcoran (Project Manager), and Denis Parfenov & Flora Fleischer for organising the Charity HackDay. And many thanks to all the participants who lent their time and skills! We could not have made as much progress in one day without you!
Photo report of the day: Pictures are courtesy of Dan Alexandru who kindly joined us on the day to capture all the fantastic work happening! Thanks Dan!

Open Knowledge Festival 2014: From Apps to Ecosystems

- July 23, 2014 in Events, OK Festival, OK Festival 2014, OKFest14, Open Knowledge, open Knowledge Festival, Open Knowledge Ireland

The OKFestival in Berlin raised a series of important points:
  • The transition from building apps to building ecosystems
  • Creative Commons Licensing
  • Open for whom?
  • Building open networks
  • What happens after the party?
  Last week I attended OKFestival in Berlin thanks to the kind sponsorship from BaleFire Global. (This was my second Open Knowledge event as I attended OKCon in Geneva last year.) This year the Festival brought together over 1,000 advocates, activists and citizens from more than 60 countries. Participants were encouraged to work together to build tools and partnerships that will harness the power of openness as a positive force for change. It is exciting to witness how the Open Knowledge movement is maturing -we are becoming more pragmatic through experience and practice. As a group, we have come to realise that to make progress we need to evolve from holding sporadic events and building killer apps …. to focusing on the bigger picture, creating open alliances and developing a self-sustaining ecosystem for open data to make difference in the lives of real people.  

Becoming Data Literate

The Open Knowledge foundation has often referred to open data as the public library of the 21st century. We need this library to help people become data literate, and likewise need to help people become digitally literate to use this library. We need to help people to develop digital skills which are essential for the 21st century through a parallel process of open education. It’s clear that as citizens in a rapidly evolving and increasingly data driven society, we lack access to the skills, tools, time and the energy to make the most of increasingly available data.  

Open for Whom?

The conversation on surveillance which was initiated at the OGP meeting in London (Oct 2013) continued at OK Fest. This raised a crucial question for many participants: Open for whom? It’s clear that as private citizens we have very little  privacy and that ‘public’ bodies and ‘public’ servants are not public. To have a chance to restore balance we need to equip ourselves with the skills and tools to protect ourselves and our private identity and to put in place checks and balances on information collected on us by governments and corporations. As a particular tool, the web gives us a space; it allows us to express our concerns, desires, opinions and to make our voices heard. As a community, we need to learn how to better translate our online efforts into institutional change. We need to learn to lobby and we need to know how to negotiate. In many of our efforts,we are naive. To become active citizens, we need to learn from the past, participate in present developments and connect with other movements.  

Building Open Coalitions

One of the more compelling realisations that emerged from the fruitful discussions in Berlin, was that not only do we need to find more effective ways of working together, we need to learn how to build open coalitions with groups and initiatives with similar goals. The highlight of the festival was a keynote delivered by Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes. She credited Open Knowledge catalysing the movement globally (video starts at 22min 35sec). Later that same day and in harmony with Commissioner Kroes’ message,  the European Commission issued recommendations for encouraging public sector information re-use under Creative Common Licenses. image02 We need to build ecosystems (not apps)…. We need governments, funders, civil society and developers to work together. Although we do not always share the same agenda, we do share many values, goals and objectives – by identifying these and making them transparent we can find common ground for collective action. 20140715_154718  

And so…What happens after the party?

OKFest 2014 Storified: HERE