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Open Data Awareness Event at Kyambogo University, Uganda

- April 5, 2019 in Open Data Day, open data day 2019, Open Mapping, uganda

This report is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2019. On Saturday 2nd March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. The event reported on in this post took place on 9 March, and was organized by Samson Ngumenawe at Kyambogo University in Uganda under the Association of Student Surveyors Kyambogo (ASSK), an association that unites all lands students in Kyambogo. It unlocked the potential of open data to students, most especially finalists that are undertaking their research projects. The open data awareness event featured different topics including crowdsourcing data using OpenStreetMap, introduction to open geospatial tools like Quantum GIS and Java OpenStreetMap Editor, open data querying tools like overpass-turbo, OpenStreetMap downloader, quick OSM, and HOT export tool. The event was dominated by students from the department of lands and architectural studies with the biggest number of students from the surveying and land economics classes. The unforgettable event was cheered on how it created an opportunity for students to access open data for research projects. Ms. Robinah Nakiwa a fourth-year student of Land Economics running a research project on “The role of land use plans in the development control for buildings in upcoming towns” was stranded with how to acquire the number of buildings in her study area until she became aware of the availability of open geospatial data on OpenStreetMap. Her study area was however not fully mapped and this called upon the intervention of MapUganda to help in mapping all the buildings in Bombo Town Council on OpenStreetMap where the researcher was able to query them using overpass-turbo and performed a count that she later used to generate her sampling frame. This was done in a short while and it saved resources that would have been used in the process of data collection. “A lot of thanks go to everyone that has ever contributed to OpenStreetMap, the local OSM contributors the organizer of the Open Data event at Kyambogo University. Keep the community growing.” Ms. Edith Among a fourth-year student of land surveying and land information systems was also able to query highway data from OpenStreetMap and went ahead to do her final year project on finding the optimum route for solid waste collection trucks in Njeru Division of Jinja Municipality. The challenging part of the event was lack of financial support. This created hindrances in providing necessities like internet bundles, event materials like stickers and banners, refreshments and communication. I believe that the next event will be bigger and it will create a great impact.

Makerere University Students Embrace Open Contracting!

- May 1, 2018 in Follow the Money, Open Contracting, Open Data Day, open data day 2018, uganda

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2018. On Saturday 3 March, groups from around the world organised over 400 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 45 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by Hivos, SPARC, Mapbox, the Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The events in this blog were supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Follow the Money theme. Public contracts mean a lot to every Ugandan. It is a means through which many citizens receive government services or face frustrations with failure of services. Yet many Ugandans remain unaware of what government has contracted, they service they are to provide, to whom, when, where and how. Short as these questions may appear, they are important to determine whether citizens will get services paid for by governments, in the right quantities and quality. This was revealed by a recent contracts monitoring report by Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) in which 79% of contracts accessed were not reflected in procurement plans as required, up to 95% of contracts were being procured through selective bidding, contract prices being determined by source of funding rather than technical designs and scope of work, revealing of high possibility of collusion and fraud. This work was done with support from the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). Access to information was enabled by use of information requests and visiting the Government Procurement Portal that was recently aligned to the Open Contracting Data Standards following AFIC’s advocacy to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) The main lesson from this finding was a positive government attitude to the feedback: all districts where monitoring was done accepted findings and committed to implement recommendations. The Minister of finance alongside PPDA also agreed to strengthen oversight of contracting processes as well as training procurement entities on the law, procedures and disclosure requirements.

Open Data Day

To create awareness about the Government Procurement Portal and use of the Askyourgov.ug portal to access public information, AFIC in collaboration with PPDA organized an Open Data Day 2018 clinic for students pursuing bachelor’s degree in procurement at Makerere University.  The event aimed to create awareness about their right to information, open contracting, share experience and the tools available to enable them exercise their rights and participate in public contracting. Prior to the symposium, students were tested on their level of awareness and practice regarding access to information and open contracting. The purpose of this activity was to gain appreciation of their level of awareness in order to pitch the discussions accordingly. It was also to facilitate measurement of the effect of the event on participants. Altogether, seventy one (36 male and 35 female) students attended.  A Twitter session accompanied the process in order to engage a wider audience beyond those who were in the room. The results of the assessments are presented here below. At the end of the event, an evaluation questionnaire was administered among participants to determine effectiveness of the training.  When asked as to whether Uganda had an Access to Information Act in the pretest, 37% answered in affirmative, 28% said no while 35% were not sure. This implies that the majority, 63% of the participants didn’t have knowledge of the existence of an access to information law at the beginning of the training. Considering that there were university students, it implies that the level of awareness among the general population is even lower. When asked the same question at the end of the clinic, a significant majority, 85% answered in affirmative while 7% said no while 9% were not sure. This means that at least 48% of the participants had actually gained information about the existence of the ATI law from this training. 18% of the participants who were not aware or not sure could be explained by the fact that some of the students came late and found when the session had started.

Figure 1: Whether participants knew of the existence of Access to Information Act

Another area where participants were tested awareness was who the information officer under the Act was. In the pre-test, it was found that 79% did not know who the officer was while 21% didn’t know or were not sure. At the end of the training the number of students who didn’t know the Information Officer of public agencies in terms of the Access to Information Act had reduced to 30%. When asked about their awareness of the existence of the Askyourgov portal (www.askyourgov.ug), 77% indicated they were not aware while 23% had heard about the portal but never used it before. This portal was developed by AFIC in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister in 2014 in order to facilitate filing of online information requests. The portal has an advantage that both filed requests and responses are deposited on the portal, limiting the possibility of repeat questions. The portal also generates statistics on requests received and how agencies have dealt with requests as well as feedback from requestors. Following the training 93% of the participants said they were aware about the Askyourgov portal, a significant gain from the clinic. During the workshop the students were aided to register and use the Ask Your Gov portal. Open contracting was one of the topics prepared to create awareness on amongst the participants.  In this regard, the students were asked what they understood by public contracting and they pretty much could relate with the concept. Prior the session, the participants were tasked to list at least 5 problems that they knew about that were associated with public contracts. Among the problems listed included; Bribery, Limited Skills, Bureaucracy, Lack of information, Fraud, Mismanagement, Non-disclosure, Substandard work, No response, Corruption, Embezzlement, Incomplete contracts, Poor work done, Conflict of interest, Nepotism, Delays and Collusion. An in-depth analysis was done to identify the most considered problems and the illustration below shows the most identified problems in public procurement by the students or procurement. At least every one of the participants was aware of problems associated with public contracting with corruption, delays and secrecy being ranked high.  Procurement students were asked whether they knew about the existence of the Government Procurement Portal where procurement data is published. In the pre-test a significant proportion 60%, knew about the existence of the portal. However, those that didn’t know were significant at 40%. The post test revealed that a greater majority, 96% of the participants were now aware. Having trained them on the access to information Act, the Government Procurement Portal and the Askyourgov portal, students were encouraged to file information requests. In the brainstorm students indented many pieces of information they were going to request access. Dr. Catherine Mbide, the Head of Procurement Department at Makerere University commended AFIC for organizing the training. She recalled how she was forced to change her research topic for her doctorate studies due to lack of access to information. She invited AFIC and PPDA to consider a long term collaboration on open contracting and access to information with the University. This was a very exciting event and the enthusiasm and commitment by students and their lecturers demonstrated eagerness.

Open Data Day Uganda – Promoting girls in Science and Technology

- April 22, 2016 in Open Data Day, uganda

This post was written by Alwenyi Catherine Cassidy from Fund Africa Inc. Fund Africa Inc. is powered by Open Knowledge International, in partnership with NetSquared and Communication Without Boarders. We’re excited to be part of the 2016 International Open Data Day celebration in Kampala, Uganda. This event topic focused on open science and methods to encourage girls to join Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) in Africa. The event was attended by mostly non-profit representatives, developers, data journalists, and members of the private sector. Participants were briefed about open data, features, types of open data, and its importance.  This was followed by a presentation from a representative of the ‘One Million Code Girls Project’, a program that aims to teach up to one million girls in Ugandan Secondary Schools between the ages of 13 and 17 how to code. Other resources shared include learning skills in project management, use of software to be used interactively by teams, and the reasons for open data. The presentations were followed by a focused group discussion and online twitter chats using the hashtag #TechchatAfrica.  A few recommendations were made, and the meeting concluded with a networking session. The following are the presentations we had:

1. Trello – Ednah Karamaji

While we were waiting for more participants to attend, we had Ednah Karamaji from Communications without Boarders (CWB) make a presentation on Trello – an android app that can be a useful tool for project management, especially in organizing events like the Open Data Day. She explained several features of Trello that include: team building, where a project manager can subscribe all team members to Trello, assign roles using cards, and allow the project manager to specify venue and time of the event.  Trello allows the user to set alerts for project deadlines, and indicate completion of activities.

SAM_18292. Introduction to Open Data – Alwenyi Catherine Cassidy

The meeting was officially opened with a prayer by Mr. Robert Kibaya of NetSquared, following which the participants were introduced to Open Data by Ms. Catherine Alwenyi Cassidy of Fund Africa Inc. The presentation described how open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. The key features of openness are: Availability and access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form. Reuse and redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets. Universal participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse, and redistribute — there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed. There are many kinds of open data that have potential uses and applications:
  • Cultural: Data about cultural works and artifacts — for example, titles and authors — generally collected and held by galleries, libraries, archives and museums.
  • Science: Data that is produced as part of scientific research from astronomy to zoology.
  • Finance: Data such as government accounts (expenditure and revenue) and information on financial markets (stocks, shares, bonds etc).
  • Statistics: Data produced by statistical offices such as the census and key socioeconomic indicators.
  • Weather: The many types of information used to understand and predict the weather and climate.
  • Environment: Information related to the natural environment such presence and level of pollutants.
  • Transport: Data such as timetables, routes, on-time statistics.

3. One Million Code Girls – Ashiraf Sebandekke

Since our event was focusing on Open Science and how to engage girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). We had Ashiraf who presented to us about his experience working with girls on coding on the One Million Code Girls, a project of Google developers group Makerere University Business (MUBs – GDG) School that aims at training up to one million girls, coding through different programming languages including Scratch, Java, Java Script, e.t.c.  Ashiraf explained the different experiences as the project lead comparing two schools, one mixed secondary school (both boys and girls) and the other single school (girls only) and how they embarrassed the program. He observed that the girls-only schools were more conducive to learning than those in the mixed schools, as some students in the latter feel inferior, thinking science subjects are for boys; but altogether the students managed to change their mindset through the carrier guidance lectures given to them by the project facilitator and they expect to balance other subjects with science and technology.

SAM_1823

4. Why Open Data – Mr. Joseph Elunya

This year we also had an opportunity to hear a presentation from Mr. Elunya a data Journalist from Media Initiative for open governance and Reality Check Uganda who explained to us the why data should be open and not restricted to patents and copyrights as follows; Transparency. In a well-functioning, democratic society citizens need to know what their government is doing. To do that, they must be able freely to access government data and information and to share that information with other citizens. Transparency isn’t just about access, it is also about sharing and reuse — often, to understand material it needs to be analyzed and visualized. This requires that the material be open so that it can be freely used and reused. Regarding the release of social and commercial value: in a digital age, data is a key resource for social and commercial activities. Everything from finding your local post office to building a search engine requires access to data, much of which is created or held by governments. By opening up data, governments can help drive the creation of innovative business and services that deliver social and commercial value. Participation and engagement – participatory governance or, for businesses and organizations, engaging with your users and audience. Much of the time citizens are only able to engage with their own governance sporadically — maybe just at an election every 4 or 5 years. By opening up data, citizens are enabled to be much more directly informed and involved in decision-making. This is more than transparency: it’s about making a full “read/write” society, not just about knowing what is happening in the process of governance but being able to contribute to it

SAM_1835Discussion Session

The presentations were followed by active discussions; some of the questions that were asked included: “Is Open Data really a practical way to move forward?” Asked Ednah, who explained an incident where a certain gentleman used to extract information and images from their non-profit website to use on his website to solicit for funds. Catherine explained some basic principles that apply when opening data including having an open data license to give clarity the host’s rights.  To Ednah’s question of ‘if open data was really a practical way to move forward?’, Catherine also added the advantages of open data, and shared how most people have learned some skills like web design, programming, graphical design, etc. through data contributed freely by others on the internet.  She also referenced a highly useful open source website: Wikipedia. “To what extent should data be open?” asked Robert. Some of the participants explained that not all data is to be opened, some data is sensitive and need to be protected.  Ashiraf gave an example of how Apple Inc. could not share information from a client’s phone that would be used to curb terrorism. Some of the participants from Youth in Technology – Uganda were not conversant with ICT laws in Uganda to protect their ideas, saying that they work sleepless nights to come up with innovations and for them to just provide them in an open source manner for people to just use without crediting them didn’t make sense.  Ashiraf explained, “All ideas need to be patented for you to be protected”.  He continued by outlining a few Data laws in Uganda which include;  Computer Misuse Act 2011  Electronic Transaction Act 2011  Uganda Electronics Media Act  Data protection and Privacy Bill 2014  Electronics Transaction Act The discussion was continued and was also available twitter using the #TechchatAfrica  

Open Data Day Uganda – Promoting girls in Science and Technology

- April 22, 2016 in Open Data Day, uganda

This post was written by Alwenyi Catherine Cassidy from Fund Africa Inc. Fund Africa Inc. is powered by Open Knowledge International, in partnership with NetSquared and Communication Without Boarders. We’re excited to be part of the 2016 International Open Data Day celebration in Kampala, Uganda. This event topic focused on open science and methods to encourage girls to join Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) in Africa. The event was attended by mostly non-profit representatives, developers, data journalists, and members of the private sector. Participants were briefed about open data, features, types of open data, and its importance.  This was followed by a presentation from a representative of the ‘One Million Code Girls Project’, a program that aims to teach up to one million girls in Ugandan Secondary Schools between the ages of 13 and 17 how to code. Other resources shared include learning skills in project management, use of software to be used interactively by teams, and the reasons for open data. The presentations were followed by a focused group discussion and online twitter chats using the hashtag #TechchatAfrica.  A few recommendations were made, and the meeting concluded with a networking session. The following are the presentations we had:

1. Trello – Ednah Karamaji

While we were waiting for more participants to attend, we had Ednah Karamaji from Communications without Boarders (CWB) make a presentation on Trello – an android app that can be a useful tool for project management, especially in organizing events like the Open Data Day. She explained several features of Trello that include: team building, where a project manager can subscribe all team members to Trello, assign roles using cards, and allow the project manager to specify venue and time of the event.  Trello allows the user to set alerts for project deadlines, and indicate completion of activities.

SAM_18292. Introduction to Open Data – Alwenyi Catherine Cassidy

The meeting was officially opened with a prayer by Mr. Robert Kibaya of NetSquared, following which the participants were introduced to Open Data by Ms. Catherine Alwenyi Cassidy of Fund Africa Inc. The presentation described how open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. The key features of openness are: Availability and access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form. Reuse and redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit reuse and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets. Universal participation: everyone must be able to use, reuse, and redistribute — there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed. There are many kinds of open data that have potential uses and applications:
  • Cultural: Data about cultural works and artifacts — for example, titles and authors — generally collected and held by galleries, libraries, archives and museums.
  • Science: Data that is produced as part of scientific research from astronomy to zoology.
  • Finance: Data such as government accounts (expenditure and revenue) and information on financial markets (stocks, shares, bonds etc).
  • Statistics: Data produced by statistical offices such as the census and key socioeconomic indicators.
  • Weather: The many types of information used to understand and predict the weather and climate.
  • Environment: Information related to the natural environment such presence and level of pollutants.
  • Transport: Data such as timetables, routes, on-time statistics.

3. One Million Code Girls – Ashiraf Sebandekke

Since our event was focusing on Open Science and how to engage girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). We had Ashiraf who presented to us about his experience working with girls on coding on the One Million Code Girls, a project of Google developers group Makerere University Business (MUBs – GDG) School that aims at training up to one million girls, coding through different programming languages including Scratch, Java, Java Script, e.t.c.  Ashiraf explained the different experiences as the project lead comparing two schools, one mixed secondary school (both boys and girls) and the other single school (girls only) and how they embarrassed the program. He observed that the girls-only schools were more conducive to learning than those in the mixed schools, as some students in the latter feel inferior, thinking science subjects are for boys; but altogether the students managed to change their mindset through the carrier guidance lectures given to them by the project facilitator and they expect to balance other subjects with science and technology.

SAM_1823

4. Why Open Data – Mr. Joseph Elunya

This year we also had an opportunity to hear a presentation from Mr. Elunya a data Journalist from Media Initiative for open governance and Reality Check Uganda who explained to us the why data should be open and not restricted to patents and copyrights as follows; Transparency. In a well-functioning, democratic society citizens need to know what their government is doing. To do that, they must be able freely to access government data and information and to share that information with other citizens. Transparency isn’t just about access, it is also about sharing and reuse — often, to understand material it needs to be analyzed and visualized. This requires that the material be open so that it can be freely used and reused. Regarding the release of social and commercial value: in a digital age, data is a key resource for social and commercial activities. Everything from finding your local post office to building a search engine requires access to data, much of which is created or held by governments. By opening up data, governments can help drive the creation of innovative business and services that deliver social and commercial value. Participation and engagement – participatory governance or, for businesses and organizations, engaging with your users and audience. Much of the time citizens are only able to engage with their own governance sporadically — maybe just at an election every 4 or 5 years. By opening up data, citizens are enabled to be much more directly informed and involved in decision-making. This is more than transparency: it’s about making a full “read/write” society, not just about knowing what is happening in the process of governance but being able to contribute to it

SAM_1835Discussion Session

The presentations were followed by active discussions; some of the questions that were asked included: “Is Open Data really a practical way to move forward?” Asked Ednah, who explained an incident where a certain gentleman used to extract information and images from their non-profit website to use on his website to solicit for funds. Catherine explained some basic principles that apply when opening data including having an open data license to give clarity the host’s rights.  To Ednah’s question of ‘if open data was really a practical way to move forward?’, Catherine also added the advantages of open data, and shared how most people have learned some skills like web design, programming, graphical design, etc. through data contributed freely by others on the internet.  She also referenced a highly useful open source website: Wikipedia. “To what extent should data be open?” asked Robert. Some of the participants explained that not all data is to be opened, some data is sensitive and need to be protected.  Ashiraf gave an example of how Apple Inc. could not share information from a client’s phone that would be used to curb terrorism. Some of the participants from Youth in Technology – Uganda were not conversant with ICT laws in Uganda to protect their ideas, saying that they work sleepless nights to come up with innovations and for them to just provide them in an open source manner for people to just use without crediting them didn’t make sense.  Ashiraf explained, “All ideas need to be patented for you to be protected”.  He continued by outlining a few Data laws in Uganda which include;
 Computer Misuse Act 2011  Electronic Transaction Act 2011  Uganda Electronics Media Act  Data protection and Privacy Bill 2014  Electronics Transaction Act The discussion was continued and was also available twitter using the #TechchatAfrica