First National Open Data Conference in Turkey

Pınar Dag - September 6, 2016 in Events

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On September 25, The First National Open Data Conference will be held in Antalya. The conference is being organized by the Open Data and Data Journalism Association (Açık Veri ve Veri Gazeteciliği Derneği (AVVG). The conference carries the first conference feature for the development of open data ecosystem.

One-day programs of the conference will be hosted by 5 speakers. Open education, open science, open government, data ethics, the importance of data analysis, data mining for open data, open data for data journalism are the main topics for the National Open Data Conference in Turkey. First National Open Data Conference (l.Ulusal Açık Veri Konferansı (UAVK) to explore how data can also help Citizens to make better decisions and underpin the new economic growth. The conference is limited to only 50 people and if you wish to attend you can apply here.

The Open Data and Data Journalism Association team will also share the infrastructure of the first National Open Data Index. During the conference will also feature the first Turkish small mooc about Data fundamentals. The first open data and data literacy small online courses will be completed on September 10. The courses received over 600 applications and will have trained 400 people all around Turkey.

About Open Data and Data Journalism Association
(Açık Veri ve Veri Gazeteciliği Derneği(AVVG )

From left to right AVVG Board Members: Dersu Ekim Tanca-Kubilay Öztürk-Pınar Dağ-Sadettin Demirel-Merve Kartal-Ecem Boğatemur-Tuğçe Yılmaz /http://www.avvg.org.tr/yonetim-kurulu.html

From left to right AVVG Board Members: Dersu Ekim Tanca-Kubilay Öztürk-Pınar Dağ-Sadettin Demirel-Merve Kartal-Ecem Boğatemur-Tuğçe Yılmaz /http://www.avvg.org.tr/yonetim-kurulu.html

It was established in December 2015 with seven people in Ankara-Turkey and is the first non-profit organization regarding Open Data and Data Journalism in Turkey. It held its first General Assembly on May 7, and after that the association had a total of 40 members. The aim is to promote data literacy in Turkey via workshops, conferences, producing e-books, articles, and long-term projects regarding Open Data & Data Journalism in Turkey. Since 2015 until today, the association has held 14 events about Open Data and Data Journalism Workshop for Local Media and Civil Society and also became a School of Data Member on May 22.

The association has received £25,000 from the Bilateral Program Fund – UK for our first individual project application. AVVG started a 4 month project entitled: ‘Training, Open Data and Data Literacy Project’. It is the First Turkish small mooc about Data fundamentals by way of e-learning. In this regard, AVVG  started to train 400  people through e-learning within 2 months for a period of 10 weeks. The e-learning section is being programmed by the official web portal of AVVG.

The mooc will end on September 10 and it will be the first School of Data Turkey Camp with the best 15 selected projects from participants together with the School of Data Turkey team which will be held in Antalya between September 22-25. The first National Open Data Conference 2016  with open data policy maker has a +50 people attendee limitation in Antalya.

The future plans of the association are; developing fellowship program for journalism students & NGOs, producing more e-books about data literacy in Turkish, developing long-term planned MOOC in Turkish, developing the First National Data Journalism Award Competition Developing FOI reform with policy makers & officials & also to continue to organise National Open Data Conferences 2017, 2018 and developing CSV , Conference 2017 ( Not only format of CSV, it will be about what CSV represents to community: data inter-operability, hackablity, simplicity, etc) . For more information in Turkish:  http://www.avvg.org.tr/

 

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Data Journalism for Beginners in Guatemala

Ximena Villagrán - September 6, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

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School of Data’s first data journalism workshop in Guatemala was a total success. We invited 14 journalists, video journalists and graphic designers in Guatemala to attend a four hour workshop at “Casa de Cervantes”, to learn the basic tools of data journalism. Journalists from the most important newspapers and magazines of the country attended: Soy502, elPeriódico, Prensa Libre, Contrapoder and Nómada.

In this first event, which will be followed by other regular workshops, the journalists were able to explore the data pipeline and work with a crime dataset to obtain news stories. The workshop was given by Ximena Villagrán, assisted by Daniel Villatoro.

The objective of the workshop was that after four hours, participants would be able to understand the basics of what data journalism is, when to use it and how to use it.

The workshop started with an exercise that involved only paper (not computers) to represent the data pipeline:

  • Collect individual information

  • Gather information

  • Organize the information in a database

  • Clean, normalize and standardize the data

  • Contextualize the data

  • Create an hypothesis

  • Obtains conclusions by interviewing the database

After this exercise, participants were given a pdf document about crime in Guatemala. We first showed them how to convert this document from PDF to Excel, before manually converting the resulting table to a database. Once the database building step was done, we started creating hypotheses and analyzing the data with Excel filters.

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The PDF given to the participants

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The data once converted into a database

We arranged with the group to follow up this workshop with several others, once a month, in order to learn more about data journalism, and to explore in depth the whole data pipeline.


Infobox
Event name: Easy recipes to take away (to the newsroom)
Event type: workshop
Event theme: Data Journalism
Description: an event focusing on training journalists in data journalism pipeline
Speakers: Ximena Villagrán, Daniel Villotoro
Partners: None
Location: Guatemala, Guatemala
Date: July 2, 2016
Audience: journalists
Number of attendees 14
Gender split: 28% male 72% female
Duration: 4 hours

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Avoiding Harm While Pushing Good Stories

Vadym Hudyma - September 5, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

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Working on Responsible Data is about asking some key questions: how can we ensure the right to consent for individuals and communities? How can we preserve privacy, security and ownership around their data. These issues should be balanced with the need to create meaningful impact with a project or a story. Which makes journalists one of a prime audiences for Responsible Data training. So I was excited when I was invited to hold a session at a big event for journalists and independent bloggers, organised by Sourcefabric in Odessa, Ukraine.

As news stories incorporate more (personal) data than ever in their work, journalists face several challenges related to the responsible use of this data – sometimes without being aware of them, as the discussion with my audience showed. We explored three issues often found in popular stories of the year past: the need for informed consent, the risks of covering war casualties, and the issues related to public ratings.

Why we need informed consent

As social media data becomes an attractive source of data and stories for news outlets, they get reminded that the rules related to traditional reporting, such as informed consent, still apply – but the nature of social media as a medium making much more complicated than just reaching out to the heroes of your story. We discussed this issue using the example of Buzzfeed’s article on sexual assault. In this case, the journalist embedded in her story several tweets from Twitter thread on this topic and made sure to have the consent of those whose tweets were quoted in the story. The problem was that it was extremely easy to get to the whole Twitter thread in one click and read the stories of those who did not want to get “popularity” brought by an article on Buzzfeed. They couldn’t reasonably expect such a high level of visibility after answering in a Twitter thread.

This is an issue explored by Helen Nissembaum, who explains that privacy is not binary and should be understood in context: people have a certain expectation of the final use of the information that they share. Once the receiver of that information (an individual on Twitter vs Buzzfeed readers) or the transmission principle (Twitter thread vs Buzzfeed article) changes, it creates a perceived violation of privacy.

As pointed out by participants, getting informed consent is not always easy in the kind of reporting, which heavily relied on social media, even though using human faces and personal stories is crucial to create impact to a story.

The risks of covering war deaths

Another example dealt with the potential issues linked to interactive maps, when used as a data story medium. Not just the usual complications of getting a complex story right, but also the connected problems of geolocation data as a possible privacy issue. There is as well a a need to consider the wider context – as with the reuse of CNN’s War Casualties Map in stories about other armed conflicts, and the possible danger for relatives of deceased fighters, who fought “for the wrong side”. Also, we looked into the problem of false sense of accuracy in the highly uncertain situation of war casualty statistics, like in the example of civilian casualties during the Syrian conflict in the example below:

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The issues with public rating

At the end, we spoke a bit about the sad example of the now closed Schooloscope project. While there are many lessons to be learned from this example, we spoke mainly about how the revelation of school ratings, without any public policy involved in place to fix the problem, was damaging to the communities involved. As a good counterexample of a solution, not just problem-driven data journalistics, I presented ProPublica’s project on public schools inequality.

As a speaker, working with a less-experienced audience, and the need to locate my presentation in the wider context of a data literacy event was a challenging, but extremely interesting task.


Infobox
Event name: Responsible Data in Data Journalism
Event type: workshop
Event theme: Responsible Data
Description: a part of 4-days training on creating data-driven stories
Speakers: Vadym Hudyma, Jacopo Ottaviani
Partners: Sourcefabric
Location: Ukraine, Odessa
Date: August 3, 2016
Audience: data journalists
Number of attendees 17
Gender split: 50% female, 50% male
Duration: 1.5 hours

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Discover patterns in hundreds of documents with DocumentCloud

Daniel Villatoro - August 20, 2016 in Fellowship, HowTo

If you’re a journalist (or a researcher), say goodbye to printing all your docs in a file, getting them into a folder, and highlighting those with markers, adding post-its and labels. This heavy burden of reading, finding repeated information and highlighting it can be done for you by DocumentCloud: it allows you to reveal the names of the people, places and institutions mentioned in your documents to line up dates in a timeline, to save your docs on the Cloud in a private way – and with the option to make them public later.

DocumentCloud is an Open Source platform, and journalists and other media professionals have been using it as online archive of digital documents and scanned text. It provides a space to share source documents.

A major feature of DocumentCloud is how well it works with printed files. When you upload a PDF scanned as an image, the platform will read it with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to recognize the words in the file. This allows investigative journalists to upload documents from original sources and make them publically accessible, and for the documents to be processed much more easily.

Some other features include:

  • Running every document through OpenCalais, a metadata technology from Thomson Reuters that aggregates other contextual information to the uploaded files. It can take the dates from a document and graph them in a timeline or help you find other documents related to your story.

  • Annotating and highlighting important sections of your documents. Each note that you add will have its own unique URL so that you can have all in order.

  • Uploading files in a safe and private manner, but you have also the option to share those documents, make them public, and embed them. The sources and evidence of an investigation don’t have to stay in the computer of a journalist or the archives of a media organization – they can go public and become open.

  • Review of the documents that other people have uploaded such as files, hearing transcripts, testimony, legislation, reports, declassified documents and correspondence.

The platform in action

A while ago, an investigation on the manipulation of the buying system at the Guatemalan social insurance revealed a network of attorneys, doctors, specialists and associations of patients that forced the purchase of certain medicines for terminal patients. It was led by Oswaldo Hernández from *Plaza Públic*a, and DocumentCloud was at the core of the investigation process.

“I searched for words like ‘Doctor’ or ‘Attorney’ to find out the names of the people involved. That way I was able to put together a database and the relationships between those involved. It’s like having a big text document where you can explore and search everything”, explains Hernández.

When analysing one of the documents about medicines, DocumentCloud shows the names of people and institutions that are repeated in the text in a graphic plot.

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A screenshot of the graphic analysis that DocumentCloud plots from the uploaded files

Four creative uses of DocumentCloud

Below are some examples of how you can produce different types of content when you mix uploaded information, creativity and the functions of this tool.

The platform VozData, from the Argentinian newspaper La Nación, combines their own code with the technology of DocumentCloud to set up an openly collaborative platform that transforms Senate expense receipts into open and useful information by crowdsourcing it.

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Due to the fact that their investigation about violence in a prison got published in The New York Times, *The Marshall Projec*t did a follow-up about how the prison officers censored the names of some guards and interns, and also aerial photos of the prison when the newspaper was distributed to prisoners.

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The I*nternational Consortium of Investigative Journalists *(ICIJ) uses DocumentCloud so that readers can access the original documents of the Luxembourg Leak, secret agreements that reduced taxes to 350 companies across the world and approved by the Luxembourg authorities.

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The* Washington Post *used the software to explain the set of instructions that the US National Security Agencys gives to their analysts, so that whenever they fill a form to access databases and justify their research, they don’t reveal too much suspicious or illegal information.

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So, next time, when you have to do tons of research using original documents, you can make it publicly available through DocumentCloud. And, even if you’re not a journalist, you can still use this tool to browse their extensive catalogue of documents uploaded by journalists across the world.

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Call for a week-long data journalism training in Berlin

Nika Aleksejeva - August 18, 2016 in Events, Fellowship

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Photo from a data visualization training in Istanbul, 2014. Author: Nika Aleksejeva

‘Data-driven journalism against prejudices about migration’ training course for young media-makers, human rights activists and developers Berlin, 12 – 20 November 2016

Deadline for receiving applications is: 31st August 2016, 23:59h CET.


School of Data fellow, Nika Aleksejeva, in collaboration with European Youth Press (EYP), an umbrella association of young media-makers in Europe, is inviting young media-makers, designers/developers/programmers and human rights activists to participate in a week-long data journalism training. The training aims to produce impartial, data-driven reports on local migration issues using innovative storytelling forms. It will address the current European refugee crisis, from the perspective of 11 European countries (listed below).

What to expect?

The main objective of the training course is to increase data journalism skills through hands-on training and through working on a real story that will eventually be published in the media. During the project, EYP will partner up with established media organisations from the eleven, listed countries, who will each send one journalist to attend the training. Working together, participants will learn data journalism skills and immediately apply them to practical scenarios. The finished results of their work will be published by media partners of the project. It is hoped that this broad public outreach will lead to significant effect on the media’s treatment of the issue. This course will be an opportunity to strengthen an already-established international network of young media-makers, mid-career journalists and activists concerned with migration and refugee rights.

Participants of the training course will:

  • learn and practice data journalism techniques: finding the right data, scraping, compiling, cleaning, storytelling with data;

  • form teams and work on specific projects, with a view to publication in the national media of participants’ home countries;

  • make professional contacts in the field and obtain hands-on experience of working on a cross-border, data-driven investigation.

Financial Information

This training course is funded by the Erasmus+ grant. Participants will receive reimbursement of their travel costs** up to the amount indicated below, **according to their country of residence:

  • Armenia: 270 EUR

  • Belgium: 170 EUR

  • Czech Republic: 80 EUR

  • Denmark: 80 EUR

  • Germany (outside Berlin): 80 EUR

  • Italy: 170 EUR

  • Latvia: 170 EUR

  • Montenegro: 170 EUR

  • Slovakia: 170 EUR

  • Sweden: 170 EUR

  • Ukraine: 170 EUR

  • participants living in Berlin will not be eligible for reimbursement of any travel expenses.

Although travel costs will be reimbursed, participants are asked to make the travel bookings themselves, as soon as possible after being selected. Participants are also asked to take the most economical route from their place of residence to Berlin and use the following means of the transportation:

  • Train: 2nd class ticket (normal as well as high-speed trains),

  • Flight: economy-class air ticket or cheaper,

  • Bus

Accommodation, meals and all necessary materials will be provided.

Who can apply?

Applicants must fulfil all the criteria below:

  • young media-makers, journalism students, bloggers and citizen journalists with a demonstrated interest in issues related to the rights of ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees; human rights activists working on refugee/migration issues; developers interested in the topic;

  • 18-30 year-olds;

  • residents of Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Armenia, Ukraine, Montenegro, Slovakia, Denmark and Latvia;

  • proficient in English.

How to apply?

Interested candidates are invited to apply by completing this application form. Please also send your CV, in Europass format, and via e-mail, to applications@youthpress.org with ‘ddj on migration’ in the subject line.

The deadline for receiving completed applications (form and CV) is: 31st August, 23:59h CET.

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In Latvia, a plea for citizens to push for data-driven public policy

Cedric Lombion - August 18, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

Data is the core substance required for evidence-based policies and decision-making. “How do we make Latvia the country that makes most use of data to inform its decision-making?” was the question that Latvian MP’s and civil-society representatives tried to answer during 1,5 hours on the hot morning of July 2nd, at the occasion of the second edition of the national political festival, LAMPA.

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This festival, funded by the DOTS foundation, aims to clarify the concept of open data which is still new for Latvian law-makers, who often confuse it with public data. The discussions there serve as a good encouragement to give data to the hands of regular citizens and encourage them to participate in national, evidence-based policy making.

The roadblocks to evidence-based decision-making

None of the participants denied the importance of evidence in decision-making. Nevertheless, many alarming issues were detected. Open data, and engaging civil society in its use, was seen as one of the best short-term solutions for producing more thoughtful policy-making.

First, the State Controller, Elita Krumina, raised the issue that evidence – based on statistics, research documents and research papers – needs to be revised every year. There are many policies based on outdated evidence, even though the real situation has actually changed.

Another issue the Head of State Secretary Office, Martins Krievins, illuminated was that oftentimes decisions are made quickly and there is no time for lengthy research and data-gathering. At the same time, Krumina suggested that a great deal of research is conducted, but the benefit is small: “These papers repeat already-known principles of good governance without giving much data-driven solutions,” she explained.

The problem of trust

“The problem is, we don’t trust many evidence,” says Krievins. He gave an example of the census results: “First, everyone said that the data is incorrect because more people left the country than was counted. Then, when the state conducted an outsourced census, the first question was – whom did the hired company pay in bribes?”

Krievins said that data can be easily manipulated based on policy goals, whereas parliamentarian and experienced politician, Sergejs Dolgopolovs, said that he thinks it’s important to set goals and assess all the risks in order to make better decisions.

Later, Krievins admitted that there are many complex issues with evidence that may encourage a bad decision to be made: “Everyone realises that small schools in the countryside are expensive – the evidence is clear. Nevertheless, schools in the countryside are cultural centres for the local area, hosting many social events. There would be a broad social impact if small schools were to be closed.”

Ernests Jenavs, the founder and CEO of Edurio, an app that helps users to make evidence-based decisions in education, said that evidence should be separated from ideology: “Data should be analysed by independent people, not politically biased decision-makers,” says Jenavs. He suggested opening data, so that politically independent civil society members can suggest evidence-based solutions. Nika Aleksejeva, the Head of School of Data Latvia, agreed with this point, adding that there is a need for enhancing data-literacy in Latvian society and encouraging people to use open data.

Technology allows us to engage with society faster and more cheaply than before, agreed both Janevs and Aleksejeva.

The discussion was concluded by a unanimous message from the panel – there should be much more pressure from civil society for evidence-based decisions in government, and data should be open for everyone to be able to contribute to this decision-making.

Video (in Latvian): link


Infobox
Event name: Festival “Lampa”, discussion “How to make Latvia the greatest country of evidence based policy-making?”
Event type: Roundtable
Event theme: open data and data-driven public policy
Description: Possibilities to execute more evidence based and data-driven policies in Latvian government
Speakers: Ernests Jenavs (the founder and CEO of Edurio) Nika Aleksejeva (the Head of School of Data Latvia) Sergejs Dolgopolovs (parliamentarian), Elita Krumina (the State Controller), Ilze Vinkele (parliamentarian), Martins Krievins (Head of State Secretary Office), Valts Kalnins (The lead researcher at think-tank PROVIDUS)
Partners: NA
Location: Cesis, Latvia
Date: July 2
Audience: cycling society representatives, analysts, others
Number of attendees NA
Gender split: NA
Duration: 1 hour

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Feedback from the 2016 Summer Camp: Precious

Precious Onaimo - August 16, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From May 15th to 21st, 40 people from 24 countries gathered at Ibúina in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp. Precious Onaimo, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Nigeria, shares his thoughts about the event.

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Aerial view of venue for Summer Camp 2016, Ibiuna, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Amidst Sao Paulo, Brazil’s alleged presidential fiscal irregularities scandal and the ravaging Zika Virus global health concern was a serene gathering of data literacy practitioners. They convened in Brazil at the occasion of the yearly School of Data Summer Camp.

As it is the goal of School of Data to enlist new data Fellows into her global family of data journalists, 10 Fellows from 9 countries and 3 continents were among the enthusiastic audience that gradually trickled into the beautiful and peaceful reserve that would be the venue of the 2016 Summer Camp with heightened expectations of an educative and refreshing data journalism seminar.

The first School of Data Summer Camp took place in 2014. It is an occasion for School of Data to evaluate the activities of the previous year and develop blueprints for the next year. And of high priority amongst the yearly goals for School of Data is the data literacy training for the newly inducted Fellows. In the mornings, the School of Data Summer Camp 2016 attendees were divided into two tracks:

  1. The Governance Track

  2. The Fellowship Track

The Governance track consisted of representatives of member organisations of the School of Data network, former Fellows, members of the School of Data Steering Committee, Marco Tulio Pires, School of Data Programme Manager and Dirk Slater, the official event facilitator. Participants held several sessions dealing with administrative and oversight duties for the year 2016 and finally elected the Steering Committee who would be saddled with oversight function for the year 2016 / 2017.

The Fellowship track comprised all the new Fellows – Nika, Omar, Malick, Danny, Ximena, Kabu, Raisa, Vadym, Paul and myself, representatives from Fellowship partner organisations (Katarina, Tin and Sergio), senior Fellows and some members of the School of Data coordination team (Cedric, Katelyn and David). To get us equipped for the task of promoting data literacy, and informing public debate and policy through data journalism in our respective countries, the track facilitators organized series of data skill training sessions. Some of the topics developed during these sessions included: “Community Mapping How to”, “Setting Fellowship Roadmaps”, “School of Data’s Data Pipeline”, “Event Planning and Anchoring”.

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School of Data’s New Data Fellows

During the afternoons, everyone took part in the Data Literacy track which was filled with additional training sessions. These included sessions such as ‘How to sell your Ideas’, ‘Responsible Data’, ‘Impact Assessment’, ‘Offline Data Collection’ and ‘Simple Statistical Analysis’.

These sessions trained me on how to convincingly sell my development ideas or initiatives to relevant stakeholders by concentrating on how the suggested initiative would help them save money, save time or make money, make time. Ability to attach cost saving analysis to discussions or argument makes a far reaching impression on the minds of listeners. Impact assessment, another skill that I learned about in these sessions, helps a project manager evaluate the effect a project would have on the intended community based on the opinions and preferences of the target audience. This is done by a series of iterative developmental feedback assessment from the target community. This approach would ensure that the project properly reflects the needs of the community and ensures its continued relevance and sustainability.

At the end of the 5 days, we had our heads filled with new data skills to be transferred to a diverse audience in our respective countries. We also left the camp with lingering memories of newly formed friendships, bonds and networks that would last a life-time.

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Bottle time with friends

Saturday May 28, 2016, as part of an educative summit organized by Escola de Dados (School of Data Brazil), facilitators from almost all journalistic realms came for one day to Sao Paulo to share their experiences, skills, knowledge, challenges and failures with a very enthusiastic audience. Though major parts of the programme were conducted in Portuguese, which were consequently not accessible to the Anglophone audience. A few sessions however, were conducted in English including Introduction to R Programming, Advanced Statistical Analysis and Data and Digital Security.

Looking back at the many events of this Summer Camp, I will remember the very educative and informative Fellowship sessions, the “all-eyes-on-you” morning go-arounds anchored by Dirk, the different but surprisingly delicious meals, the chilly cold mornings and the enchanting Escola de Dados summit. So worthy of mention and appreciation is the hard work, careful planning and forethought of Marco, Natalie and Meg (the invisible hand) in putting together this very memorable event. Once again, “Thank you!”

Summer Camp 2016 has come and gone but its values and ideals continue to grow.

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Building an Open Data Ecosystem in Tanzania with trainings and stakeholder engagement

Joachim Mangilima - August 14, 2016 in Community, Event report

Open data is often defined as a product: events, portals, hackathons, and so on. But what does the process of opening data look like? In Tanzania, among many other things, it’s a gradual, iterative process of building capacity in Tanzanian government, civil society and infomediaries to manage, publish and use open data. Of late, the open data scene in Tanzania has been growing from strength to strength.

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Participants in an open data training session related to the Tanzanian health sector

The following milestones are testimony to this growth:

  • last September, Tanzania hosted the first ever Africa Open Data Conference (AODC).

  • the drafting of the country’s open data policy ,which is in the final stages of government approval before it can be passed as policy.

  • formation of the Code for Tanzania chapter,which, among others, will spearhead establishment of local chapters of the global Hacks/Hackers community, as well as a flagship civic technology ‘CitizenLab’, with a core team of software engineers, data analysts and digital journalists, who will work with local newsrooms and social justice NGOs.

  • the establishment of Tanzania Data Lab (Dlab), serving as an anchor for the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact (DCLI) programme, which aims at enabling data analysis and advocating for its prominent use in Tanzanian governmental decision-making. Since the exciting news broke that Tanzania will be joining the Global Data Partnership, the DLab has also started working with the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics, and other stakeholders, to support the process of assessing what data is needed to drive progress, as defined in the Global Data Partnership Roadmap and, ultimately, leverage the data revolution to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Tanzania Open Data Initiative

June and April saw another round of training organised under the Tanzania Open Data Initiative (TODI) umbrella, geared towards Tanzanian government agencies covering three key sectors: Education, Health and Water. These are collaborative sessions, tailored towards civil servants working with data related to these sectors, which have been running for three straight years since 2014. They focus on building skills about data-management, cleaning, visualizing and publishing data, open data principles for navigating the legal and professional challenges of managing open data innovation and communicating results to a wider audience.

Often, these sessions produce as many questions as answers – “How precisely do we define ‘access to water’ in rural areas?” or “What does an ‘average passing rate’ really mean?” – but this is encouraged. Indeed, we’re already noticing that a primary beneficiary of open data initiatives is the government itself. Although conventionally billed as a tool for citizens, open data can also be a powerful mechanism to reduce frictions among the multitude of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) of a government.

One notable difference between these rounds in April and June, and previous ones, was that there were a few selected participants from civil society in attendance. This enriched the quality of discussion which resulted in increased engagement of all participants during the sessions: their presence facilitated sharing of experiences for mutual understanding, thereby collaboration between the government and civil society.

Open Data in a day

June’s week-long sessions culminated in an “open data in a day” event at Buni Hub, which for the very first time had a strong focus on media and technology developers. It was amazing seeing the enthusiasm and the level of interaction of this group and how excited they were to put into action key takeaways from the session.

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Participants from the media and technology industry at the Open Data in a Day event at Buni Hub.

These activities are testimony of the progress that Tanzania is making in the open data arena and, with similar activities planned for the future, there is good reason to expect the country’s open data ecosystem to experience further growth in strength and quality.


Infobox
Event name: Tanzania Open Data Initiative
Event type: Workshop
Event theme: Open data in practice
Description: Training organized under Tanzania Open Data initiative collaboratively between National Bureau of Statistics and E-Government Agency supported by the World Bank tailored towards civil servants working with data
Trainers: Dave Tarrant ,Emil Kimaryo, Joachim Mangilima, John Paul Barreto
Partners: Open Data Institute (ODI)
Location: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Date: 7th – 14th June 2016
Audience: Statisticians, Economists and data managers from ministries and government agencies for the first two sessions and journalists, start ups developers and civil society for the third session
Number of attendees 95 across the three sessions
Gender split: almost 50/50
Duration: 6 days

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Feedback from the 2016 Summer Camp – Kabu

Kabu Muhau - August 12, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From May 15th to 21st, 40 people from 24 countries gathered at Ibúina in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp. Kabukabu Muhau, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Zambia, shares her thoughts about the event.

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SCODA 2016 Fellows. Left to right; Raisa, Danny, Ximena, Omar, Malick, Paul, Kabu, Vadym, Nika and Precious

Ola!

Yep I know one Portuguese word thanks to the School of Data summer camp held in Ibiuna Brazil! Exciting right? But don’t you dare judge me for learning only one word. There was so much happening I could barely keep up! Plus the food was amazingly delicious; my mouth was always full with it!

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Omar and I getting more food ☺☺☺

Members of the community were exceptionally welcoming. I’ve never met so many people with such a passion for data! The camp brought together people with different data-literacy backgrounds and it was really awesome to learn about data from different perspectives.

So you may ask, what did you learn? Well, my main purpose in applying for the School of Data Fellowship was to learn new data skills that could be applicable in my home country Zambia, specifically in the health sector. To better explain the skills I learnt in the various data-literacy sessions (wish I could’ve attended more!) I attended, I will use the data pipeline: A data pipeline simply shows the different processes involved in data management. There are six main stages in the data pipeline;

  1. The the data pipeline starts with the DEFINE step, which is the same as problem identification; it is usually the first step in research. Defining a workable research problem, usually involve three steps:
    1. Selecting a topic area

    2. Selecting a general problem

    3. Reducing the general problem to a specific, precise and well delimited problem by listing possible answers to the general problem.

  2. Next comes the FIND step, wherein you have to find where the data you need is available. This involves various techniques, from using Google Search operators to identifying how the data could be collected in your environment.

  3. Then comes the GET step. In this part of the pipeline, you are required to collect the data that relates to the selected/identified problem. Different methods can be used to collect data depending on the selected problem.

  4. Data VERIFICATION is done after collection, to prove whether the data collected is valid or not

  5. CLEANING is done to remove inconsistencies in the data

  6. Data ANALYSIS is a process of evaluating the data and converting it to something more meaningful that could be used for decision making.

  7. PRESENTATION is the final stage in the data pipeline, where the analysed data is displayed by use of maps, graphs or tables or any other means.

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Various knowledge exchange sessions were held throughout the camp, which allowed me to learn many amazing skills that I will use through my fellowship and beyond:

“How to sell”, by Nika, another School of Data fellow from Latvia, was a sessions about the skills required towas a sessions about the skills required to sell a project idea to potential partners. It mainly focuses on four key points; NEED, FACT, ATTRIBUTE and BENEFIT.

  • Needs: talk about what has to be addressed

  • Fact: give evidence of similar projects you have done in the past and any results yielded

  • Attribute: mention any qualifications that you hold

  • Benefit: simply mention what the person or organisation will gain from partnering with you.

Yuandra Ismiraldi, a 2014 School of Data Fellow from Indonesia, Ismiraldi, a 2014 School of Data Fellow from Indonesia, and Malick Lingani, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Burkina Faso, Lingani, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Burkina Faso, conducted a session on how data can be collected using sensors. They explained how sensors can be used to measure the PH of water to determine its quality; and also measure temperature and humidity for weather forecast. The information collected from sensors is temporarily stored in a SIM card via a GPRSbee, a SIM card socket which allows the use of SIM cards as a temporary storage solution. The geocoded information is then sent to a central server at defined time intervals (every minute, hourly, daily).

I also also learnt about about a very important data cleaning tool called OpenRefine, which can be used to highlight inconsistencies in the dataset, then go on to clean them. It is so easy to use and I’ve already started practicing cleaning datasets with it. I think it is much better tool for data cleaning than the Excel I am used to.

Finally, while Finally, while I usually use SPSS for data analysis,, II was introduced to the statistics software the statistics software R at the camp and will soon be exploring how it works! Tableau is a data visualisation is a data visualisation tool I was also also introduced to and I plan to explore it it more. In addition, whenever I find myself in a situation where I need to present my data without using a computer, I will always refer the work of the work of Sylvia Fredriksson, from Ecole des données (School of Data France)Sylvia Fredriksson, from Ecole des données (School of Data France)on how to present data physically.

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Silvia’s physical data presentation session

During the Summer Camp, Fellows had a specific set of sessions tailored for their need: the Fellowship track. It was run by three amazing coordinators – Camilla, Cedric and David – and itand it introduced us us to the FFellowship programme. Thankfully, they guided us patiently, making the whole programme seem manageable. It was really exciting to meet people from different countries, to learn about their cultures and what they use data for in their everyday lives. I now have a bigger data-literacy family, all thanks to Summer Camp!

Muito obrigado SCHOOL OF DATA for this awesome opportunity!!! I guess I learnt more than one Portuguese word…

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We had a whole lot of fun!

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SCODA African team

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SCODA 2016 African fellows.

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Using data for improving cyclist community in Riga, Latvia

Nika Aleksejeva - August 10, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

Nika Aleksejeva presenting the project

Would you believe that a socially relevant, data-driven project can be accomplished without a budget, a big team and full-time staff? How? This question was the focus of the ‘How we did it?’ meetup in Riga, Latvia. It was the final point of #Velodati – a data-driven project that crowdsourced geographic data about cycling mobility in Riga, initiated and conducted by the School of Data Latvian local group (Datu skola).

The Datu Skola’s mission is to facilitate data-driven projects, conducted by journalists and activists, in collaboration with data analysts and programmers. The #Velodati project works as an example for such projects.

As a result an interactive online map was created showing the most busy cycling routes and how they overlap with the net of cycle tracks in Riga.

screenshot of the project

The project took nothing more than three months of one person’s work and 37 euros for posters, that encouraged Riga cyclists to share GPS recordings of their routes during the Riga Cycling Week in May. This was possible thanks to the open source and freemium tools used to create the crowdsourcing campaign, to clean and to visualize data. As a result, the online map got over 16.2K+ views (in a country of 1.9M population) and received coverage in eight national media outlets.

Here is a list of tools used for every part of the data project:

Crowdsourcing campaign Data collection Data cleaning Data visualization, publication
Froont campaign’s web page
Animaker video animation
Typeform survey sharing instructions
Google Docs data recording instructions
Zapier email automation
Gmail data compilation
“Save emails and attachments” Google Spreadsheet add-on organising data
QGIS data cleaning, formating
CartoDB map visualization
Tableau Public survey data visualization
Social media (Twitter, Facebook) social media campaign promotion of results

Each tool was demonstrated during the first part of the event. Attendees were particularly interested in Animaker, the video editing tool, Zapier, the cross-platform integration tool, the “Save emails and attachments” Google add-on, that organises email attachments automatically on Google Drive and CartoDB, a geographic data visualization tool.

Attendees also wanted to know why data vas visualized using points instead of lines and how a person who cleaned data made choices regarding which routes to keep or delete. Some also started to wonder how to improve the data crowdsourcing campaign for greater data submissions.

This was a great warm-up for the second part of the event. Participants split into three working groups to brainstorm about next steps for the project.

  • One group discussed how the project could be improved for more impactful, data-driven results.

  • Another group discussed how to lobby Riga municipality for better cycling infrastructure in the capital.

  • Finally, there was a group which brainstormed ideas for other data journalism projects.

All groups concluded that it’s useful to combine cycling data with data about public transportation. Bicycles can serve as a good alternative, not only for cars, but also for reaching areas of the city where public transportation is inconvenient. Research, such as that conducted as part of this project, could be used to make evidence-based decisions regarding improving citizen mobility in Riga.

The tools and methods used to produce the #Velodati story will be shared as learning modules on School of Data international page.

audience

Infobox
Event Name Velodati – How we did it?
Type meetup
Description a reflection on methodology and tools used to produce the “Velodati” story.
Trainers Nika Aleksejeva
Partners No
Location Riga, Latvia
Date July 5th
Audience journalists, cycling community representatives, analysts, civic society representatives, others
Number of attendees 23
Gender split NA
Duration 3 hours

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