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Open Data for the Campania Cultural Heritage – an update from the Route-To-PA Hetor pilot

- May 14, 2018 in cultural, Route to PA

This blog has been reposted from the Hetor blog. Since 2015 Open Knowledge International has been part of the consortium of Route-To-PA, a European innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. In the Route-To-PA case study series, we shine a light on public administrations, organizations and communities that have adopted and are using Route-To-PA tools for work and discussions around open data. One of these is the Hetor pilot, which is based on the creation and accessibility of knowledge concerning Campania cultural heritage. Some days ago, the University of Salerno held the final event of the “School-to-work Transition” projects. The schools involved in the Hetor activities presented the achieved results of the work done during their experience.
The aim of the students was the promotion of the Campania Cultural Heritage. The scholars contributed to the creation of a series of datasets – published with an open licence – and the realization of some articles published on the Hetor website. During the opening sessions, Professor Vittorio Scarano, IT Department, University of Salerno and Route-To-PA project coordinator, EU Horizon 2020, welcomed the participants, praising them for the success of the activities. The event hosted some important national and international personalities of the open data world:
  • Francesca De Chiara  (Govlab Fellow at New York University & Researcher at Digital Commons Lab, Fondazione Bruno Kessler), open data expert since 2011, showed a video about the Open Government Partnership, in order to explain the origins of the debate around open data and how governments use public data to solve daily life problems. She mentioned some collaborative platforms for the production of open data, such as OpenStreetMap and Wikimedia;
  • Conchita D’Ambrosio (Route-To-PA Ethical Advisor, Economics Professor at the University of Luxembourg), producer and user of open data, analyses how some particular events influence people, using and producing open data. During her speech, she pointed out the role of the students that have to face a considerable challenge due to the changes occurred to the world of work, and how experiences like that, which connect new technologies with open data, can be useful for them.
  • Jerry Andriessen (Wise & Munro – Route-To-PA WP5 coordinator, The Hague, NL) showed the changes occurred to the Route-To-PA project over the years, analysing in particular the importance of the pilot activities.
Afterwards, the students took the floor, presenting their School-to-work transition experience in collaboration with Hetor. The schools involved in the Hetor activities are:
  • I.I.S. “A.M. Maffucci” High School – Calitri (Av)
  • I.I.S.S. “G.B. Vico” High School – Nocera Inferiore (Sa)
  • I.S.I.S. “Ferraris – Buccini” High School – Marcianise (Ce)
  • Liceo Scientifico Statale “A. Diaz” High School – San Nicola La Strada (Ce)
  • Liceo Scientifico Statale “P.S. Mancini” High School – Avellino (Av)
  • “ProfAgri Salerno” High School – separate branch of Castel San Giorgio (Sa)
The students realized 36 datasets: Churches and Art Places
Alta Irpinia production firms
Rural Homes
Alta Irpinia Local farms
Bisaccia Local History
Ancient Professions and Arts – Professions section
Ancient Professions and Arts – Objects section Open Museum: the promotion of the Nocera Inferiore G. B. Vico High School Heritage
Nocera Inferiore Cultural Itineraries
Nocera Inferiore Cultural Itineraries – contemporary tour: the disused factories History of Carnival floats of Marcianise and neighbouring cities
Brewery census in Campania
Pizzerias in Campania
Churches and places of worship in Caserta Central Political Registry of Caserta province
San Nicola La Strada Open Museum of Rural Culture
Minor Local Resources of San Nicola La Strada
Annotated street guide of San Nicola la Strada
Ancient and medieval Itineraries of the province of Caserta
Modern Itineraries of the province of Caserta
Contemporary Itineraries of the province of Caserta
San Nicola La Strada Churches S. Maria delle Grazie, S. Maria degli Angeli, S. Maria della Pietà Irpinia Museum
Irpinia Museum – Epigraphs section
Historical Trademarks of Avellino province
Central Political Registry of the province of Avellino Agricultural weather stations in Campania
Certified breeding farms in Campania for the production of buffalo mozzarella
Certified cheese factories in Campania for the production of buffalo mozzarella
Fair trade groups
Natural local productions
Campania Region certified wines D.O.C.G., D.O.C. e I.G.P.
Campania Region organic food companies
Campania Region didactic farms
Firms associated with ANICAV
Campania Region Agriculture assistance centres In a second phase, students presented the posters that were expressly created for the event to the participants, explaining the process of datasets’ realization, from the sources research to the creation of the dataset and datalets.
At the conclusion of the posters’ presentation, Mirjam Pardijs (Wise & Munro,  e Learning research For understanding practices of learning, The Hague, NL), and Jerry Andriessen, praised the students for their works, emphasising the importance of their role within the Route-To-PA project and their abilities in using the SPOD Platform in a very productive way. At the end of the event, Professor Vittorio Scarano congratulated the schools on their achieved results, conferring to each school a certificate of merit.

ROUTETOPA Case Study: Hetor Pilot

- December 19, 2017 in open culture, Open Data, Route to PA, routetoPA

Since 2015 Open Knowledge International has been part of the consortium of RouteToPA, a European innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. In the ROUTETOPA case study series, we shine a light on public administrations, organizations and communities that have adopted and are using ROUTETOPA tools for work and discussions around open data. This case study narrative was written by Hetor Pilot’s Carmen Luciano, Vanja Annunziata, Maria Anna Ambrosino and Gianluca Santangelo and has been reposted from the RouteToPA website. Italy has a long cultural tradition and the Campania region in particular is a territory that has a huge number of worthy local resources. Campania region’s cultural heritage must be preserved and promoted: first, by public administrations, but also by citizens. Unfortunately, these actions become more and more arduous, especially in a society totally oriented to the technological world, in which people are no more interested in “old things”. The Hetor project was born with the aim of “revealing Campania cultural heritage essence via open data power”, combining cultural heritage with new technologies. The project is part of the initiatives organized by the DATABENC Technological district (High Technology Consortium for Cultural Heritage) within the EU H2020 ROUTE-TO-PA Project, and it is based on the creation and accessibility of knowledge concerning Campania cultural heritage. The term Hetor (‘heart’ in greek) is connected to the principle of ‘truth’, meaning a shared and participatory construction of knowledge. The project aims to motivate and engage public administrations, local communities and schools in co-producing open data to enhance the local cultural heritage. Therefore, we have created a website for open data concerning the cultural heritage of the Campania region, which contains official data from national institutions, such as ISTAT, MIBACT, MIUR and Campania Region. The project is even more ambitious: by logging in to Hetor’s Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD) citizens can hold discussions, using free licensed data that’s available for use all over the world, in addition to data collected on the project repository. They can also co-create contents related to their town, enhancing their local cultural heritage.

Screen grab of a co-created dataset on Hetor’s Social Platform for Open Data and a visualization created from the dataset

To reach these goals, the project follows two main directions:
  • Reuse of data, via various formats (images, GIF, articles) in order to spread the information collected within the datasets on SPOD;
  • Spreading of data, via a specific communication strategy that uses two main ways of communication, the Hetor Facebook page and the Hetor blog .
The initial activities of the project involved a group of trainees undertaking their ICT Masters program for  in “Cultural Heritage Information System” at DATABENC. They produced 8 datasets about the Cultural Heritage resources of Campania Region, including material and immaterial resources, in order to facilitate the creation of touristic itineraries to promote the territory. In the second phase, students have been involved in the project, in particular 4 schools located in the provinces of Salerno, Avellino and Caserta. At the end of the activities, conducted within the ‘School-to-work transition programme’, students have produced 19 datasets about their local resources, both tangible and intangible ones. Communities also collaborated with the project: two groups of citizens in particular, in the province of Salerno, produced two datasets related to their territory. The power of the Hetor Project lies in the combination of cultural heritage with ICT: the open data collected on SPOD are the means to promote and enhance the territory. Currently they concern the Campania region, but that could be implemented to the national level with citizen’s participation. Everyone can join us, co-creating data in order to enhance their own town, revealing information that even native citizens did not know before! To stay updated on Hetor’s future work, you can read more on this blog and follow updates via Facebook.

Pin it in the Parks: Crowdsourcing park facilities information in Dublin

- November 24, 2017 in Open Data, Route to PA

Since 2015 Open Knowledge International has been part of the consortium of RouteToPA, a European innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. This month, the project is running the Pin it in the Parks competition together with Smart Dublin to encourage, inform and engage citizens and residents on services and issues in their local areas. This blog has been reposted from the RouteToPA website Ever wondered if there are tennis courts or exercise machines in the parks near you? What about playgrounds or skate parks or even historical monuments? A four weeks competition, Pin it in the Parks, encourages citizens to share information on the facilities available in parks near them in the city of Dublin. By using the RouteToPA android app, the user will have the ability to take photos of facilities they encounter and provide its exact location, hence making this information available to everyone. Here is what we know about some of Dublin’s park facilities, through information collected by SmartDublin & RouteToPA project:

This leafletjs-datalet was created by RTPA in his newsfeed from this dataset

Why is this competition important?

Local authorities are coming together all over Ireland to work together to improve access to information and to make data more accessible and easy to use. Participating in this competition will strengthen the role played by citizens and residents firstly to push towards more open data about issues that touch on their daily lives and secondly to raise awareness about the current state of the parks. Citizens and residents that are aware of their needs and their surrounding form a stronger pressure group. The competition encourages teamwork, as participants are strongly encouraged to apply in teams which will increase their chances of getting more points.

The information collected throughout this competition will push citizens to start discussions around their needs and the current states of the parks amongst other topics. RouteToPA, through its SPOD platform, allows participants to start and participate in the conversation around the data collected. Obtaining credible data is the first step towards finding solutions to the challenges a society might face.

Finally, keep an eye on the Pin it in the Parks website where the competition updates and final results will be made available.
 

Pin it in the Parks: Crowdsourcing park facilities information in Dublin

- November 24, 2017 in Open Data, Route to PA

Since 2015 Open Knowledge International has been part of the consortium of RouteToPA, a European innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. This month, the project is running the Pin it in the Parks competition together with Smart Dublin to encourage, inform and engage citizens and residents on services and issues in their local areas. This blog has been reposted from the RouteToPA website Ever wondered if there are tennis courts or exercise machines in the parks near you? What about playgrounds or skate parks or even historical monuments? A four weeks competition, Pin it in the Parks, encourages citizens to share information on the facilities available in parks near them in the city of Dublin. By using the RouteToPA android app, the user will have the ability to take photos of facilities they encounter and provide its exact location, hence making this information available to everyone. Here is what we know about some of Dublin’s park facilities, through information collected by SmartDublin & RouteToPA project:

This leafletjs-datalet was created by RTPA in his newsfeed from this dataset

Why is this competition important?

Local authorities are coming together all over Ireland to work together to improve access to information and to make data more accessible and easy to use. Participating in this competition will strengthen the role played by citizens and residents firstly to push towards more open data about issues that touch on their daily lives and secondly to raise awareness about the current state of the parks. Citizens and residents that are aware of their needs and their surrounding form a stronger pressure group. The competition encourages teamwork, as participants are strongly encouraged to apply in teams which will increase their chances of getting more points.

The information collected throughout this competition will push citizens to start discussions around their needs and the current states of the parks amongst other topics. RouteToPA, through its SPOD platform, allows participants to start and participate in the conversation around the data collected. Obtaining credible data is the first step towards finding solutions to the challenges a society might face.

Finally, keep an eye on the Pin it in the Parks website where the competition updates and final results will be made available.
 

ROUTETOPA User Stories

- June 28, 2017 in Route to PA

ROUTETOPA is a European innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. Open Knowledge International is one of 12 partners working on the project and our main mandate is to build genuine and active communities around the ROUTETOPA tools. In this blogpost, we share more information on the ROUTETOPA user stories. ROUTETOPA is an acronym that stands for Raising Open and User-friendly, Transparency Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations. It is a three-year, multidisciplinary,  European Union Horizon 2020 innovation project aimed at improving citizen engagement by enabling meaningful interaction between open data users, open data publishers and open data. ROUTETOPA’s seeks to do this in 4 ways:
  1. Through the Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD) which seeks to enable social interactions between open data users and local Governments
  2. Through the Transparency Enabling Toolset (TET), built on CKAN and conglomerating data from existing local government open data platforms
  3. Through SIM, which seeks to provide Public Administrations with statistical analysis on user behaviour and generalized feedback from users on SPOD and TET so public administrations can understand what citizens are interested in
  4. Through GUIDE, a set of recommendations for open data publishers, extrapolated from SIM, aimed at promoting higher transparency levels through open data
Open Knowledge International works on building genuine and active communities around the ROUTETOPA tools. One of the key ways we intend to do this is by finding meaningful ways for communities to interact with data and with each other on the ROUTETOPA platforms. We have now defined the following user stories:

USER STORIES

Open Data Enthusiasts

  1. I am a citizen interested in knowing what ROUTETOPA is and why I and others should care
  2. I am a citizen wondering what open data is and how transparency benefits me
  3. I am a resident in City X interested in knowing what data exists for my city.
  4. I am a resident in city X interested in tracking an ongoing project in my area.
  5. I am a graduate/post-graduate student interested in using open data for my research/ thesis/ paper
  6. I am a teacher / lecturer /professor looking to introduce / teach my class about open data
  7. I am a journalist looking to tell a data story on a City X
  8. I am a journalist looking to write an article about H2020 and the ROUTETOPA project as a beneficiary
  9. I am a media house representative looking for know more about ROUTETOPA tools
  10. I am a policy maker interested in learning how ROUTETOPA tools work so I can see if it makes sense for my local authority to take up the use of these tools.
  11. I am an activist interested in discussing issues in the community I live in with my local authority
  12. I am a business owner interested in opportunities for business with public administrations
  13. I am a data scientist looking for big, quality data from Area X for use in my work
  14. I am a developer interested in the underlying code for ROUTETOPA tools
  15. I am a developer with additional feature suggestions for ROUTETOPA tools
  16. I am a designer with UI/UX suggestions for the ROUTETOPA platform
  17. I am a non-EU open data user wondering whether I should interest myself in ROUTETOPA
  18. I am a non-EU open data user interested in replicating ROUTETOPA tools for my continent
  19. I am part of an open data community lead looking to discuss open data topics with my community

Open data publishers

  1. I am a public official wondering what ROUTETOPA is and why I should care / be involved
  2. I am a public official looking to get citizen feedback on the data our local authority has opened up
  3. I am a public administrator keen on answering questions the community has raised regarding the data my administration has published and for which I am responsible
  4. I am a public administrator looking at solutions that other public administrations have employed in publishing open data to determine what suits us best
  5. I am a public administrator keen on involving citizens in Area X in decision making that affects our community
  6. I am a public administrator and I’m new to open data and would like to get an introduction to this form of open government
  7. I am a public administrator instructed to find open data cases in other municipalities that are easy to duplicate  (low hanging fruits cases)
  8. I am a public administrator and I would like to implement a long term open government data strategy in my municipality. And I need an action plan
  9. I am a public administrator looking for easy ways to update citizens about the open government data project and progress
  10. I am a public administrator who maintains an open data platform based on CKAN and is looking for economical and easy extensions that add value to our open government data program
  11. I am a public official who is looking for ways to update and communicate with involved colleagues from other units of my administration
More information on the project and its outcomes is available from http://routetopa.eu.

Social Platform for Open Data – enabling interactions at Accountability Hack 2017

- May 31, 2017 in Route to PA

Since 2015 Open Knowledge International has been part of the consortium of ROUTETOPA (Raising Open, User-friendly, Transparency-Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations, routetopa.eu), an EU-funded project that is working round the clock to provide platforms for open data enthusiasts to interact on the subject of open data with data publishers and with other open data users.
The upcoming Accountability Hack 2017 event has adopted ROUTETOPA’s  Social Platform for Open Data for use before, during and after the hackathon. In this blog we share more information about the event and about how you can use this platform. 
This blog has been crossposted from the ROUTETOPA blog (English) and the Accountability Hack blog (Dutch).
On June 9, at Accountability Hack 2017 in The Hague, teams will have eight hours to brainstorm, design and prototype solutions to some of the Netherlands’ most pertinent issues concerning accountability that open data can address. The Open State Foundation is organizing this hackathon for the Court of Audit, Statistics Netherlands and several ministries.
More than 100 developers, data-analysts and journalists are competing to make the best app that promotes accountability of government spending and performance. In total there is a prize amount of €7.500 euros. As many citizens as are available are encouraged to save the date and attend the day-long event which will take place in the building of the Dutch House of Representatives. Hackathon participants are free to work on projects alone, but are encouraged to form teams with people from different disciplines. Developers, data scientists, policy makers, academics, designers, researchers, librarians, et al will be in attendance on the day. But how will a librarian, for example, find a designer and developer to work on a project with during the Hackathon? Accountability Hack 2017 event has adopted ROUTETOPA’s  Social Platform for Open Data for use before, during and after the hackathon. On SPOD, participants will be able to discover open data, create and join groups, hold data-driven discussions, share documents and images with team members and create data visualizations very easily from the same platform. Pretty cool!

The Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD)

To get started, go to nl-spod.routetopa.eu and sign up with your email address, or using your Facebook credentials. Once logged in, you should have access to the entire Social Platform for Open Data. In it, you can:
  • Edit your profile to reflect what you would like others to know, key among them your field of expertise so teams that need you can reach out to you
  • Add friends in order to directly message them
  • Write updates that will be aggregated with other updates and visible to all in the NewsFeed area
  • Use Agora, named after Greek public spaces, to create and work in project groups.
  • Use co-creation for the more sensitive,  invite-only discussions teams wish to hold at the beginning of the hackathon. Ultimately, teams are required to share as much information on their hackathon projects as possible in Agora.
Why are we encouraging teams to use the Social platform for Open Data during Accountability Hack 2017? Eight hours is not nearly enough to identify a problem the team should work on, brainstorm through plausible solutions, find data, design and prototype the solution. In fact, without documentation detailing what teams are hoping to achieve and without a common space for teams to work collaboratively, it is virtually impossible to build on the idea presented at a hackathon beyond the day. Additionally, people might be interested in contributing datasets, helpful examples or just subscribing for updates on your project. Having all of these things happening in one place would be more than ideal.

Submit your app via SPOD

We ask all teams to register to SPOD before or during Accountability Hack. We ask all participants to hand in their working prototype at the end of the day via the platform. In the public post you need to state the name of the application, screenshots, link (if available), description of the application, used datasets, further plans and finally what was not possible due to lack of time or data (quality). Only apps that are submitted using SPOD will be eligible for the prizes. Besides submitting the apps we encourage Accountability Hack attendees to use the platform before, during and after the hackathon to work, explore and collaborate data. Please send any hackathon-specific questions via email to Open State Foundation.

How does SPOD work?

To better illustrate how you can use the Social Platform for Open Data during the hackathon, here are four examples, with videos embedded:

Team updates throughout hackathon via SPOD

Professor X and two Computer students have signed up for accountabilityhack.nl and are set to start work on a open elections project. Here’s what this team can do:
  1. The team lead should create a room for the team to work collaboratively from by going to Agora, and clicking on the blue + button, such as the one in the image below.

    A good Agora room is one where the description is as detailed and clearly written as possible.
  2. All other Team members can become part of the project group in Agora by simply clicking on an Agora room, then clicking the ENTER button. It is worth noting that all activities in Agora are public and can be viewed by all SPOD users.
  3. Teams can then hold project specific discussions within their Agora room. Beyond this, here are some great things you can do in your Agora rooms
    1. Search for datasets relevant to your project theme. The Social Platform for Open Data is connected to data.openstate.eu
    2. Create visualizations, called datalets, with the data that you find within SPOD i.e. create maps, charts or tables and embed this in your responses to team members
If team needs an additional member, copying the URL at the top of the screen and pasting it in a status update in the NewsFeed area ensures everyone logged into SPOD can see it. See example below:


Using SPOD’s What’s New feature

Alex is a nurse looking to attend accountabilityhack.nl. Having recently learnt about open data online, Alex has an idea for an open health project, would like to to form a team and build on it, but knows no one else at the Hackathon. Here’s what Alex can do:
  1. Use SPOD’s What’s new feature to check for any updates from teams looking for additional members.
  2. Post an update in Newsfeed detailing skills and themes of interest i.e. Health. This update will appear in What’s new. Alex should then look out for comments against her update or inbox messages

Finding and sharing datasets in Agora

Team Z is all set for the hackathon and would like to know how to utilize SPOD maximally during the hackathon for their benefit. Here’s a great video that shows you all the neat things you can achieve in Agora:

 Closed team collaborations? Create a CoCreation room

Having worked together on a different project before, Team Y is all set and would like to start discussions about their work away from the public eye at first. Although Team Y will need to create a team space in Agora and share at least some information about their project in the course of the day before the hackathon ends, here is how CoCreation rooms in SPOD can be used to serve this purpose:
  1. Teams can create a room for invite-only discussions (known as a knowledge room) ,
  2. or an invite only room to work on a spreadsheet collaboratively (known as a data room). We highly recommend using a data room for invite-only team collaboration.
Watch the CoCreation walkthrough video below:
The walkthrough above is enough to get you started, but there’s lot’s more you can do on the Social Platform for Open Data. If you feel lost, the ? on the top right hand corner of your screen has a detailed guide to using SPOD, be sure to check it out. For a complete overview, the video below gives a more visual walkthrough of the entire SPOD platform:
You can also ask your questions in this Agora room dedicated to answering your platform questions throughout the day so we, or any other person at the hackathon, can answer you. In case you run into great difficulty that needs our immediate attention,update your status with the word HELP at the beginning and we will respond, write us an email,  tweet at us or Facebook us and we will respond promptly. Happy exploring!

Three ways ROUTETOPA promotes Transparency

- March 14, 2017 in ckan, Open Data, Open Knowledge, Route to PA

Data sharing has come a long way over the years. With open source tools, improvements and new features are always quickly on the rise. Serah Rono looks at how ROUTETOPA, a Horizon2020 project advocate for transparency.

From as far back as the age of enlightenment, the human race has worked hard to keep authorities accountable. Long term advocates of open data agree that governments are custodians, rather than owners, of data in their keep and should, therefore, avail the information they are charged with safekeeping for public scrutiny and use. Privacy and national security concerns are some of the most common barriers to absolute openness in governments and institutions in general around the world.

As more governments and organisations embrace the idea of open data, some end up, inadvertently, holding back on releasing data they believe is not ready for the public eye, a phenomenon known as ‘data-hugging’. In other instances, governments and organisations end up misleading the general public about the actual quantity and quality of information they have made public. This is usually a play at politics – a phenomenon referred to as ‘open-washing’ and is very frustrating to the open data community. It does not always stop here – some organisations are known to notoriously exaggerate the impact of their open data work  – a phenomenon Andy Nickinson refers to as ‘open-wishing’.

The  Horizon2020 project, Raising Open and User-Friendly Transparency Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations (ROUTETOPA), works to bridge the gap between open data users and open data publishers. You can read the project overview in this post and find more information on the project here.

In an age of open-washing and data-hugging, how does ROUTETOPA advocate for transparency

  1. ROUTETOPA leads by example!

The source code for ROUTETOPA tools is open source and lives in this repository. ROUTETOPA also used CKAN, a renowned data portal platform, as the basis for its Transparency Enabling Toolkit (TET). TET provides public administrators in ROUTETOPA’s pilot cities with a platform to publish and open up their data to the public. You can read more about it here. 

       2. Data publishers as pilot leads

ROUTETOPA pilots are led by public administrators. This ensures that public administrators are publishing new data regularly and that they are also at hand to answer community questions, respond to community concerns and spearhead community discussions around open data in the five pilot cities.

3.Use of online and offline communication channels

Not only does ROUTETOPA have an active social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, it also has its own social media platform, the Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD) that provides a much needed avenue for open data discourse between data publishers and users.  The pilots in Prato, Groningen, Dublin, Issy and Den Haag also hold regular workshops, focus groups and tool test parties. Offline engagement is more relatable, and creates rapport between public administrations and citizens and is also a great avenue for making data requests.

The ROUTETOPA consortium also runs an active blog that features project updates and lessons learnt along the way. Workshops and focus groups are a key part of the success of this project, as user feedback informs the development process of ROUTETOPA tools.

ROUTETOPA partners also attend and spread the work in open data conferences and seminars, to keep the open data community across Europe in the know, and as an avenue to invite the community to test the tools, give feedback, and if it suites, adapt the tools for use in their organizations, institutions and public administrations.

Need clarification, or want to plug in and be a part of ROUTETOPA’s progress? Write to serah.rono@okfn.org. Stay open!

7 ways the ROUTE-TO-PA project has improved data sharing through CKAN

- February 27, 2017 in ckan, Route to PA

Data sharing has come a long way over the years. With open source tools, improvements and new features are always quickly on the horizon. Serah Rono looks at the improvements that have been made to open source data management system CKAN through the course of the ROUTE-TO-PA project.  In the present day, 5MB worth of data would probably be a decent photo, a three-minute song, or a spreadsheet. Nothing worth writing home about, let alone splashing across front pages of mainstream media. This was not the case in 1956 though –  in September of that year, IBM made the news by creating a 5MB hard drive. It was so big, a crane was used to lift it onto a plane. Two years later, in 1958, the World Data Centre was established to allow users open access to scientific data. Over the years, data storage and sharing options have evolved to be more portable, secure, and with the blossoming of the Internet, virtual, too. One such virtual data sharing platform, CKAN, has been up and running for ten years now. CKAN is a powerful data management system that makes data accessible – by providing tools to streamline publishing, sharing, finding and using data. CKAN is aimed at data publishers (national and regional governments, companies and organizations) wanting to make their data open and available. It is no wonder then that ROUTE-TO-PA, a Horizon2020 project pushing for transparency in public administrations across the EU, chose CKAN as a foundation for its Transparency Enhancing Toolset (TET). As one of ROUTE-TO-PA’s tools, the Transparency Enhancing Toolset provides data publishers with a platform on which they can open up data in their custody to the general public. So, what improvements have been made to the CKAN base code to constitute the Transparency Enhancing Toolset? Below is a brief list:

1. Content management system support

CKAN Integration with a content management system enables publishers to publish content related to datasets and publish updates related to the portal in an easy way. TET WordPress plugin seamlessly integrates TET enabled CKAN and provides rich content publishing features to publishers and an elegantly organized entry point to data portal. 

2. PivotTable

CKAN platform has limited data analysis capabilities, essential for working with data. ROUTE-TO-PA added a PivotTable feature to allow users to view, summarize and visualize data. From the data explorer in this example, users can easily create pivot tables and even run SQL queries.  See source code here.

3. OpenID

ROUTE-TO-PA created an OpenID plugin for CKAN which enabled OpenID authentication on CKAN. See source code here.

4. Recommendation for related datasets

With this feature, the application recommends related datasets a user can look at based on the current selection and other contextual information. The feature guides users to find potentially useful and relevant datasets. See example in this search result for datasets on bins in Dublin, Ireland.

5. Combine Datasets Feature

This feature allows users to combine related datasets in their search results within TET into one ‘wholesome’ dataset. Along with the Refine Results feature, the Combined Datasets feature is found in the top right corner of the search results page, as in this example. Please note, that only datasets with the same structure can be combined at this point. Once combined, the resulting dataset can be downloaded for use.

6. Personalized search and recommendations

Personalized search feature allows logged-in users to get personalized search based on details provided in their profile. In addition logged-in users are provided with personalized recommendations based on their profile details.

7. Metadata quality check/validation

Extra validations to dataset entry form are added to prevent data entry errors and to ensure consistency. You can find, borrow from and contribute to CKAN and TET code repositories on Github, join CKAN’s global user group or email serah.rono@okfn.org with any/all of your questions. Viva el open source!

ROUTETOPA – An Introduction

- November 7, 2016 in ckan, Open Government Data, Open Knowledge, Route to PA

Transparency, at best, makes for unity and positive development in democracies around the world. There are elaborate commentaries on what transparency entails, but for me, transparency translates to open. Think open doors. In any given building in a public space, an open door often turns to an invitation to come in and look around, while a closed one would often need a ‘we are open’ sign to convey the same message. It goes without saying that accessibility should, therefore, be at the heart of transparency. This is, however, not always the case. In a majority of democracies around the world, accessing and effectively using public data often requires humans to jump over incalculable legislative hoops, difficult-to-use portals or just incomprehensible published data. Where humans survive these, then outdated data, incomplete datasets, lack of follow-up and proper and closely monitored feedback loops with data publishers often make for a complete web of frustration. Unfortunately, while many administrations and organizations claim to be open, the fact remains that the information they are charged with safe-keeping cannot be accessed by most, easily and in a timely fashion. Thus, their efforts around open data equate to glass walls so clear that people often mistake them for entry spaces. Ever walked into a glass wall? It is as laughable as it is painful, regrettable, often embarrassing and irreversible.  And ouch! Everyone gets a headache from bumping into glass walls. Enter ROUTETOPA Raising Open and User-friendly, Transparency-Enabling Technologies for Public Administrations (ROUTETOPA) is a Horizon2020 project, funded by the European Union, that seeks to bring down the glass walls, so to speak, by providing online platforms for data publishers to open up data and for open data users to not only access, but converse over, make sense out of and act on the information released. Through ROUTETOPA’s Transparency Enhancing Toolset (TET), public administrators can publish all public data in their possession, in bulk at first, followed by regular updates ‘as the data happens’. TET is built on the world’s leading open-source data portal platform, CKAN and is designed to help data publishers to deal with the ‘no platform to publish on’ conundrum. TET encourages data publishers, and especially local authorities in this case, to avail data that is of public interest in central locations accessible by all and everyone else to look at the data, ask questions about it, share it with all interested parties for discussion and engage the data publishers in this regard.   ROUTETOPA’s Social Platform for Open Data (SPOD) allows for meaningful social interactions between open data publishers and open data users over open data. Open data enthusiasts can engage with data publishers over data that is availed on public domains, like the Transparency Enhancing Toolset, pushing for clarification and answers, providing feedback and use-cases for the published data, informing and contributing to new policies, among other things. But, do we really need another social media platform, one may ask. True, there’s many out there, each unique in its own way, and as some shutdown, more come up. I think we can all attest to the fact that, if you needed to have an open data conversation online today, or to find out about, say, budgeting information for a country you have not been to (like Kenya, where I am from), your audiences and sources and go-to places would be as scattered as mine. The Social Platform for Open Data tries to conglomerate all these conversations, deliberations, debates, et al around open data. Public administrators can involve citizens to find out what they input is before creating policy, citizens can reach out and ask for clarifications on various datasets released, or to send out dataset requests, or … the possibilities around this focused effort are vast. Map with the locations of Route-to-PA Currently in its piloting phase in 5 cities and 4 countries in the European Union, the ROUTETOPA project seeks to engage open data enthusiasts in testing and shaping its tools, through workshops, hackathons and data expeditions. Interested? Send an email to Serah Rono (serah.rono@okfn.org) and we will get you started. Stay open! Stay in touch! You can write to Serah – serah.rono@okfn.org