Fresh faces in the School of Data coordination team!

Cedric Lombion - July 1, 2015 in Announcement

We are glad to announce that no less than three people joined the School of Data team in the past weeks. Please give a warm welcome to:

Marco Tulio Pires

Marco_Tulio_PIres

Marco Túlio Pires is Brazilian journalist and programmer, who also is in the coordination team of Escola de Dados, School of Data Brazil. He is now programme manager at School of Data and will oversee the fellowship, work on fundraising and manage some of our grants.

Marco studied Electrical Engineering and Journalism in Brazil, and Programming and Information Visualisation in the United States (University of Michigan). He also studied Leadership and Project Management in Georgetown. At Brazil’s largest Media Group, Globo TV, he was a Production Coordinator. At Editora Abril, largest publishing house in Latin America, he was the science news reporter for their biggest publication, VEJA Magazine. In 2013 Marco was awarded with the Malofiej Bronze Medal for best infographics with a story about innovations inspired by nature. He’s also worked for the government in São Paulo as a Technology & Transparency officer.

 

Meg Foulkes

2015-06-26 10.46.17 Meg joined Open Knowledge in 2012, where she initially worked in HR. Since then, she has worked as project coordinator for OpenSpending. She joins the School of Data team as project and event coordinator, making sure that everything runs smoothly and that our events are well planned.

Meg lives in London, where she can also be found being a mother, studying law and writing poems. She has a particular interest in open data and immigration.

 

 

 

 

Katelyn Rogers

Katelyn_Rogers Katelyn Rogers is a Project Manager at Open Knowledge where she manages numerous open data related programmes including Open Data for Development. In partnership with Code for Africa, she piloted a fellowship programme for open government innovators in Africa. She has helped to run numerous workshops and training events as well as curate the programme for large open knowledge events such as Open Knowledge Festival. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from King’s College London where she focused on open data policies in the Global South. Prior to joining Open Knowledge she worked as a project coordinator at Wateraid UK where she used technology to monitor government commitments on sanitation spending.

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Effective disaster response starts with the right data skills

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub - June 24, 2015 in Event report, Fellowship

On December 2011, the region of Northern Mindanao in the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Sendong, devastating the region and affecting more than a million individuals. The Center for Health Development (CHD) of the region, a government office, grappled in assisting the communities and managing all the data for a more efficient response. With no experience in managing data and effectively analysing information during emergencies prior to the typhoon, they only saw the value of data when the disaster struck them. And this is not just the case for this region. For a country battered with an average of 23 typhoons in a year, with a multitude of natural risks such as earthquakes and landslides, only 29% of the all the regions in the Philippines had been given orientation on data and information management during emergencies.

Photo credit: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_MindanaoAlmost five years later, CHD Northern Mindanao took a big step to prevent post-disaster chaos by organizing the first Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Information Management Skills training last June 9-11 in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Seeking my support as a School of Data fellow and an information manager during emergencies, I facilitated the three-day activity with 36 government staff, 16 female and 20 male, coming from various provinces and municipalities across the region with the objective of increasing their appreciation of data and building on their data skills.

Prior to the training, I asked the participants to complete a Data Skills Training Needs Survey to assist me in preparing the training design. 65% of my participants rarely used MS Office and none of them have done maps as part of the disaster response. I also requested the CHD to look for a venue with computer units which we can use for the exercises. This was really helpful as we used the same MS Office version and participants could easily follow the instructions.

On day 1, we discussed current national mechanisms that call for timely data collection in preparedness to, during and after a disaster. Participants were oriented on the Data Pipeline and were asked to apply it to their current practices in managing data. They identified where they can find baseline data for emergency preparedness e.g. local reports, other government and from whom, and made an inventory of data sources during an emergency.

School of Data Fellow, Sheena Opulencia-Calub, explaining how data transforms into action.

School of Data Fellow, Sheena Opulencia-Calub, explaining how data transforms into action.

Day 2 focused more on practical exercises such as basic Excel skills e.g. sorting and filtering, creating charts, use of Pivot tables, how to verify and clean the data, and analysing data. Participants also did some Powerpoint mapping and explored online mapping tools such as Maps Engine and ArcGIS online.

One of the participants exploring his charting skills.

One of the participants exploring his charting skills.

The last day allowed participants to put what they knew and have learned to use through a simulation exercise. They were grouped according to their provinces and were asked to perform a rapid needs assessment for a mock emergency scenario. Participants collected the data and created their respective datasets. They prepared summary reports and a Powerpoint presentation analysing the needs, gaps and priorities for emergency response using the data that they have collected. During the presentation of their outputs, participants saw how important it is to have accurate and well-analysed data to effectively respond to the needs of communities affected by disasters.

Organizing data skills training require thorough understanding of the skills of your target participants. It is also very important to put everything into the same context, in my case, on WASH during emergencies, so that participants will really see the value of data with their line of work. Participants also appreciate follow-up activities. After the training, I created an e-group and has started sharing updates and tips on how the participants can improve on their data skills.

Northern Mindanao region participants promised to work on their data management skills as part of disaster preparedness.

Northern Mindanao region participants promised to work on their data management skills as part of disaster preparedness.

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The Future of School of Data

Milena Marin - June 15, 2015 in Community, School_Of_Data, Update

School of Data World

The School of Data World: Local School of Data, Other organisations implementing School of Data activities and fellows!

Over the last few years, School of Data has seen impressive development and growth, going from a simple idea to an internationally recognised data literacy programme which has trained thousands of people, worked with dozens of CSOs and has multiple regional instances.

School of Data was conceived in early 2012 by Open Knowledge in collaboration with Philip Schmidt of P2PU and the project was officially launched to the public in January 2013.

Since then, it has grown to be an amazing network of data literacy practitioners, both organizations and individuals, implementing training and other data literacy activities in their country or region. Our local implementing partners are Social TICCfAfrica, Metamorphosis, and several Open Knowledge chapters including Spain, Brazil, France, Greece and more. In addition, we have worked in many countries thorough our dedicated fellows.

The Growth of School of Data

We have also worked with multiple funding partners including the Shuttleworth Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Hewlett Foundation, Hivos, the International Development Research Centre, the World Bank and more. Finally, we have also had the opportunity to collaborate with literally dozens of CSOs, governments and other institutions both in developing materials, doing investigations, and providing training.

A network owned by its members


Members of School of Data work to empower civil society organizations, journalists, governments and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively in their efforts to create better, more equitable and more sustainable societies.

Our members truly make School of Data unique!

After nearly 3 years of growth and shared successes, the time has come to formally recognise the growing array of School of Data partners and stakeholders and share ownership and decision making of School of Data with them.

We are very happy to announce that we have started the journey towards transitioning the ownership of the School of Data by establishing a governance structure. After intensive meetings, debates and voting during our last Summer Camp in Ottawa, the School of Data members elected a Steering Group and empowered them to represent the entire network, manage shared assets like the School of Data brand and fundraise for the network going forward. Our newly elected Steering Committee members are:

  • Juan Manuel Casanueva, Director of Social TIC
  • Bardhyl Jashari, Director of Metamorphosis, Macedonia
  • Natalia Mazotte, Programme Manager of School of Data Brazil
  • Sander van der Waal, Projects Director at Open Knowledge International
  • Antonio Cucho Gamboa, Senior School of Data fellow and Open Data Activist in Peru
Congratulations to our brand new and amazing Steering Committee!

Congratulations to our brand new and amazing Steering Committee!

The Steering Committee is supported by the School of Data coordination team whose work remains invaluable in managing programmes and running data literacy activities in close collaboration with our local partners.

Legally, School of Data will still be homed at Open Knowledge, who remains a key stakeholder. However, the goal of having a governance structure is to ensure long term sustainability and empower our community to participate in School of Data’s development.

What’s next?


The Steering Group and the School of Data coordination team have a lot of work ahead, especially as they establish this new model. One of their most important priorities is to set up a membership scheme and define a clear process to join the School of Data network.

We already have the basic principles of a membership model:

  • We strive for autonomy for our local partners and trust in our members
  • We will be united by shared values and passion for data literacy
  • We will continue to develop materials with open licence to encourage anyone to use, re-use and re-distribute them
  • Membership will be determined by shared values, intention to become a member and contribution to the network
  • The membership will be continuously validated though feedback and some quality control mechanisms
  • The benefits of membership are, among others, shared knowledge and projects, visibility and brand, peer support and solidarity and a vote for the steering committee or representation in decision making

Do you want to become a School of Data member? Please get in touch – this is the perfect time for us to explore new frontiers and build the foundations of an amazing network of data literacy practitioners around the world!

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How Open Map Data is Helping Save Lives in Nepal

Nirab Pudasaini - June 15, 2015 in Data Stories, Fellowship

My name is Nirab Pudasaini, and I am a new School of Data fellow from Nepal. Just 5 days after the beginning of my fellowship, a devastating earthquake of magnitude 7.9 hit my country. It was on April 25th.

As of May 30 the death toll of the quake had risen to 8691 while 22054 were injured. In one district called Rasuwa, as much of 1.73% of the total population was injured. Nepal was hit bad by the earthquake and there was an immediate need to respond.

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a map visualization showing the extent of the damage.

In the aftermath of the quake, national and international volunteers quickly joined forces to rescue people under debris, provide food and shelter to those who lost their home and generally provide relief to the affected communities. And the mapping effort was essential to this life-saving effort.

Mapping as a community effort


Crisis mapping, which has been the job of a few specialists in big NGOs like the Red Cross, has dramatically changed in the past few years. With the advent of the open source collaborative mapping project OpenStreetMap (OSM), and more recently the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), thousands of volunteers contribute to the mapping of countries affected by disasters, with an unprecedented speed. By April 25, 5052 mappers had made 121525 edits to OpenStreetMap.

A part of this effort was shouldered by the non-profit tech organisation where I work, Kathmandu Living Labs. As part of this work, I spent the past two years building community around OpenStreetMap, with disaster resilience in mind.

With no detailed map of Nepal available, building a map with locals was the most efficient way to get there. Not only we were able to map Kathmandu in great detail, but all the school and health facilities in Kathmandu Valley along with their structural data was made freely available to everyone in OSM.

To make this work, we cannot expect to do all the work ourselves. So we train locals and empower communities so they can map their area themselves, using OSM. This way, we expanded our work to other cities than Kathmandu: Bharaptur, Hetaud, and villages like Bajrabarahi, Manahari and Padampur. The maps are used for many applications like agriculture, water health and sanitation and local governance. One of the major area is, of course, humanitarian use.

Data collection, needs assessment and supporting relief workers


Having centralised information proved to be a essential to help fill the information gaps during the earthquake crisis response. After the quake we have been focusing our efforts in four different tasks:

1) A platform where people can submit reports for earthquakes related needs: http://quakemap.org. 1800 reports have come into the system, which aggregates and display needs related to food, medicine, shelter, and sometimes evacuations. A team of volunteers verifies many of those needs, and signal them to appropriate responding organizations. Responding organizations can, and do subscribe to alerts for new reports that come into the system.

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2) The collaboration with the international OSM community and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to engage remote mappers. Mapper are given instructions on what and where to map, using the OSM tasking manager. The collaboration extends to satellite imagery providers to make aerial imagery available for post disaster mapping.

3) There is a huge need of data collection after the quake for the need assessment and planning. Data collection, storage and management is much easier, faster and cheaper when a mobile based digital solutions are used. We have developed a system using KLL Collect (a mobile app for data collection) which uses Ona’s Server and Dashboard solution to provide a complete data collection and storage solution. This is being used by various organization for their data collection needs.

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Me teaching Nepal Engineer Association volunteers about mobile data collection

4) http://quakerelief.info is a platform where we provide printable maps created with OSM data. The website provides instructions on using OSM data for Maps and Navigation without a mobile internet connection. The platform also contains useful digital maps like Deaths and Injuries from Earthquake for different districts, Earthquake Intensity by Population and more.

In the coming days information and maps will be playing a vital role in recovery and reconstruction. There are lots of challenges that needs to be overcome in the coming days but with challenges comes opportunity. Having adequate data in an understandable form will be important to plan for all the recovery and reconstruction work that will be done in Nepal and to capitalize those opportunities. Openly accessible map data will be for Nepal a vital piece of that information. As a 2015 School of Data fellow i will keep on working on making Maps for Nepal.

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Helping marginalised communities use data and technology for advocacy

Dirk Slater - June 10, 2015 in Data Blog

By Maya Ganesh, Beatrice Martini and Dirk Slater.

You are welcome anytime, you’re not like others who come with their own bag of potatoes

It’s with these words that the chair of Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), a sex worker collective based in Phnom Penh, thanked us for approaching our work with them with no assumptions or preconceived agenda, but eager to listen and develop our collaboration together.

Members of WNU examine data they collected

Mutual trust and respect, real commitment to collaboration and flexibility are all essential elements to be responsibly equipped to work with a marginalised community. And they are not even enormously . That’s why we decided to write about our experience as potato-less tech capacity builders, as we think it could greatly help other practitioners planning to collaborate with groups struggling to get their rights honoured and their voices heard.

At the time of our project, WNU’s objective was to collect evidence to highlight the negative impact of the anti-trafficking law on sex-workers and to show how the police were misusing the powers this law gives them for detention and arrest.

The project was a significant step in supporting a socially excluded community to collect data to document violence and take action. Our work focused on capacity building of a marginalised community to use data in an advocacy context. Looking back we saw several positive outcomes:

  • a significant shift in the partners’ advocacy strategies from reactive to proactive methodologies;
  • improvement in their human rights documentation processes, now including evidence gathering, data analysis and how to work with visualisations;
  • development of skills applied to the effective collection and use of data for advocacy;
  • new skills in analysing data resulting in a clearer understanding of the threats faced by the community;
  • increased awareness about the importance of effective information management in digital documentation;development of integrated self-evaluation tools;
  • deeper connection of the partners with the needs of the communities support and the variety of stakeholders they want to engage;
  • contribution to the scholarship on violence against sex-workers and advocacy for their human rights.

To share the process, reflections and lessons learned, we wrote a series of posts about this two year ‘small data’ project conducted by Tactical Technology Collective (Tactical Tech) from 2010 to 2012. 

Dirk and Maya implemented the project with support from the rest of the Tactical Tech team. The articles were written with the help of Beatrice, who brought an outside perspective on the presentation and writing part, so others working on similar projects might benefit. The articles draw on Tactical Tech’s reports and notes compiled through the course of the project. We hope that they will provide helpful guidance to anyone aiming to work with a marginalised community to build its capacity to use data and information technologies for advocacy. The series appears in three parts on the FabRider website:

  • Why we did it provides background and context, including a definition of marginalisation, Tactical Tech’s objectives for the project and background on WNU and sex worker issues in Cambodia.
  • What we did provides details about the steps taken to implement the project, assessing WNU’s use of technology, learning about their advocacy strategies and building their capacity to use data and data visualisations in those strategies.
  • What we learned provides reflections on the project design, notes on responsible and strategic use of data about marginalised communities and a summary of what we actually accomplished.

One of the info-graphics created by the project

About the Authors

  • Maya Ganesh is Tactical Tech’s Research Director.
  • Beatrice Martini is a capacity builder, facilitator and curator, working with technology for social justice and human rights.
  • Dirk Slater is the founder of FabRIders, focusing on building the capacity of rights based organisations to use technology and data.

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The School of Data Macedonia website is live!

Goran Rizaov - June 5, 2015 in Events, Fellowship

Open data is a generator of prosperity and democratization of the society, said the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Macedonia, Charles Edmund Garrett at the launch event of  the the School of Data – Macedonia website. The event took place at the Journalists Club in Skopje on the 4th of June.

Opening data helps support to civil society organizations, journalists and all citizens interested in the use of data. To build a community around the use of data, a “Network of Civil Society Organizations for Open Data” has been created thanks to a collaboration between the Metamorphosis Foundation and Open Knowledge, with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“The possibility of civil society to ask for information relevant to public policies and procedures is essential to the rule of democracy,” Garett said.

A two-way street

The British Ambassador emphasized that open data is a “two-way street” – on the one hand governments and institutions increase transparency, and on the other civil society increases their participation in decision making and emphasizes the voices of marginalized groups.

“This project is based on a previous engagement of the UK in this area through the so-called “Open Government Partnership” and I hope that our cooperation will continue and will impact on increasing the government transparency and citizen participation in the review of government activities and the decision making process.

Bardhyl Jashari, the director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, told the audience that access to data is important for both sides, because “it helps citizens to equalize their knowledge with the knowledge that politicians have via the data from state institutions available for them at any given time.”

The event was attended by thirty representatives from civil society organizations, associations, media, and interested individuals. As Donna Djambaski from Metamorphosis Foundation said in an article on the website, interested parties can find courses on basic data knowledge, as well as tools and applications for the use and handling of data.

“If any civil organization needs a certain course / training for a skill, we will find / adapt, or create such a course, and later share it with them,” Djambaski said.

A competition for Macedonian open data projects

Besides the website, a competition to support projects related to open data in Macedonia was announced. The deadline for registration is until June 22, and all civil society organizations can apply with a specific idea for a project linked to open data. After completing the competition four projects will be selected and will receive support from Metamorphosis Foundation to implement them.

More photos from the event are available on this link

The competition to support projects related to open data is available on this link

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What does a School of Data Summer Camp look like?

Cedric Lombion - June 5, 2015 in Community, Events, Fellowship

On 24, 25 and 26 May, members of the School of Data network came from all around the world to gather in Ottawa for the 2015 Summer Camp. There was a lot of work to do: the new School of Data fellows were tasked with preparing a detailed roadmap of their fellowship while representatives of the member organisations of the School of Data network were asked to work on the future of the project.

This Summer Camp was exceptionally focused and productive which allowed us to achieve a lot in a little time. Participants worked from 9am to 6pm, while coordinators started earlier and finished later.

How we succeeded in making 25 people from 16 countries work together during 3 intense days is still a mystery, but the photos taken during the event help shed some light on the process.

The coordination team

The first ingredient is a great coordination team ready to work 12h a day. Of course, the preparations for the Summer Camp started several months in advance. From left to right : Dirk Slater from Fab Riders (lead facilitator), Zara (top), Milena (bottom), Marco, Cédric.

Group photo

And a group of very motivated participants. The ‘moose’ sign has been a core part of Open Knowledge’s facilitation toolkit for years. And people love it.

Then you need a lot of group discussion. Here, a governance session with Milena as a facilitator and note taker. From the left of the table to the right: Antonio (former fellow, Peru), Cédric (coordinator), Ignasi (Spanish local instance), Bardhyl (School of Data Macedonia), Natalia (Escola de dados), Anna (School of Data Germany), Marco (coordinator), Nisha (former fellow, India), Juan (Social-TIC, Mexico). At the bottom left is Charalampos (School of Data Greece).

A lot of writing in small groups helped participants share their insights without being overwhelmed by the bigger group. Someone from the group then shared back to the larger group. From left to right: Sylvia (Ecole des données, France), Katelyn (coordinator), Natalia (Escola de dados, Brazil).

From left to right: Julio (2015 fellow, Ecuador), Sander (Open Knowledge), Sheena (2015 fellow, Philippines)

The drawing activities of the Summer Camp were the most anticipated event. Thanks to them, participants are able to share more than words ever will. From left to right: Natalia, Marco, Sylvia.

Sharing is a core value of the network, so sharing workshops are a central to the Summer Camp. Antonio (former fellow, Peru), Camila (2015 fellow, Costa Rica), Julio (2015 fellow, Ecuador).

From left to right: Bardhyl (School of Data Macedonia), Ignasi (Escuela de dates Spain), Cédric (coordinator).

Mariel (Social-TIC, Mexico).

And of course, post-its. From left to right: Antonio (former fellow, Peru), Nisha (former fellow, India), Juan (Social-TIC, Mexico).

Lots of them. Here with David (2015 fellow, Ghana), Nkechi (2015 fellow, Nigeria), Anna (School of Data Germany) and Sheena (2015 fellow, Philippines).

Post-its, post-its everywhere.

We do love posts-its. But then you have to digitize every single one. Jennifer (Code 4 South Africa).

The cake was an essential part of the facilitation strategy.

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Call for applications for Data Journalism Philippines 2015

Sam Leon - May 27, 2015 in Data Journalism

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 08.14.32

The Open Knowledge Foundation in partnership with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is pleased to announce the launch of Data Journalism Ph 2015. Supported by the World Bank, the program will train journalists and citizen media in producing high-quality, data-driven stories.

In recent years, government and multilateral agencies in the Philippines have published large amounts of data such as the government’s recently launched Open Data platform. These were accompanied by other platforms that track the implementation and expenditure of flagship programs such as Bottom-Up-Budgeting via OpenBUB.gov.ph, Infrastructure via OpenRoads.ph and reconstruction platforms including the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub. The training aims to encourage more journalists to use these and other online resources to produce compelling investigative stories.

Data Journalism Ph 2015 will train journalists on the tools and techniques required to gain and communicate insight from public data, including web scraping, database analysis and interactive visualization. The program will support journalists in using data to back their stories, which will be published by their media organization over a period of five months.

Participating teams will benefit from the following:

  • A 3-day data journalism training workshop by the Open Knowledge Foundation and PCIJ in July 2015 in Manila
  • A series of online tutorials on a variety of topics from digital security to online mapping
  • Technical support in developing interactive visual content to accompany their published stories

Apply now!

Teams of up to three members working with the same print, TV, or online media agencies in the Philippines are invited to submit an application here.

Participants will be selected on the basis of the data story projects they pitch focused on key datasets including infrastructure, reconstruction, participatory budgeting, procurement and customs. Through Data Journalism Ph 2015 and its trainers, these projects will be developed into data stories to be published by the participants’ media organizations.

Join the launch

Open Knowledge and PCIJ will host a half-day public event for those interested in the program in July in Quezon City. If you would like to receive full details about the event, please sign up here.

To follow the programme as it progresses go to the Data Journalism 2015 Ph project website.

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School of Data coming to Ottawa!

Zara Rahman - May 22, 2015 in Events

Photo CC-BY, taken by d.neuman. https://flic.kr/p/5DtxaY

Photo CC-BY, taken by d.neuman. https://flic.kr/p/5DtxaY

In a couple of days, the School of Data community will be descending upon Ottawa – first, for our annual Summer Camp, and then to join the International Open Data Conference.

Summer Camp will be the chance for our Class of 2015 fellows to meet the rest of our community, with representation from local instances from all around the world. All in all, with only 30 participants at Summer Camp, we’ll have people from over 20 countries represented! Our new fellows will be learning about School of Data and planning the rest of their fellowships, and representatives from our local instances will be coming together to discuss governance of the School of Data network.

On Thursday and Friday, we’ll be at the Open Data Conference where we’ll have a room for the whole of Thursday. If you’ve had any data-related problems with your projects, any questions or tools you’d like to learn – come and talk to us!

We’ll be running a data clinic on Thursday morning, with people at hand to talk you through any data driven projects you might have or questions you might have, and in the afternoon, we’ll run a short data expedition – a way to get hands on with data. No experience is necessary, and we welcome total newcomers to working with data.

If you don’t have a chance to come and meet us on Thursday at the conference, together with the rest of the Open Knowledge community we’ll be having a meet and greet on Thursday evening at The Brig Pub, 23 York St, from 7.30pm. All welcome – just come by on the night. We’ll be there with fellow Open Knowledge staffers, the School of Data community, and open knowledge advocates from around the world!

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Has the open data movement reached Ecuador yet?

Julio López - May 21, 2015 in Data Blog, Fellowship

The first time I heard about LOTAIP was five years ago at Grupo FARO. LOTAIP is the Transparency and Access to Public Information Law in Ecuador, by its Spanish acronym. This law has been a powerful tool for citizens to access to public information and for government institutions to establish a pro-disclosure culture of releasing information on their websites. But not all is well: delays in response times and bad data formats make getting government information more difficult. I personally have had to digitise scanned PDFs in order to be able to use government data.

Now that the open data movement has gained a worldwide momentum, where is the state of open data in Ecuador?  fit?. Briefly, I will draft some ideas of the state of open government data in Ecuador, covering two topics: government policies on open data and the state of data literacy.

The government policies on open data

Ecuador odi

Ecuador ranked 43 of 97 countries in the 2014 Open Data Index . Many datasets are available online in different topics, including government expenditures, budget, pollutant emissions, legislation and election results. However, this data is not in a standardised format and the level of detail varies between institutions.

 

Yet a national open data policy is taking shape in Ecuador. Last year, the government released two important directives: the National Plan of e-Government 2014-2017 and the Open Data Policy Guide. These two documents define the strategies and principles for the implementation of open government data portals. At the moment, the only existing one has been created as part of the Quito’s Open Government Initiative. This portal is easy to navigate and citizens can find data presented in graphs, maps and tables on many topics, including education, transportation, tourism, security, technology, environment, economic indicators, and health.

datos abiertos quito

The state of data literacy

Releasing data in an open format is only a start. The added value is in the way the data is used to improve the life of citizens is essential. But are Ecuadorians able to use data effectively? There are no specific measures of data literacy but we do have digital literacy statistics.

The 2013 ICTs statistics from the National Institute of Statistics show that digital illiteracy in Ecuador has reduced in recent years to less than 20% (from 29% in 2010). Among the population’s 16 millions, 44% have access to a computer, 51% use mobile phones (16% use smartphones) and 40% have access to internet. In addition, statistics show that Ecuadorians mostly use internet to access to information and for education and learning purposes. Improving these numbers requires not only increasing access to technologies but also simplifying websites navigation and increasing digital skills. In this process, open data portals can play a key role to engage existing and new audiences in data-driven projects.

Globally, civil society organisations and journalists have played a key role to promote the use of open data. In Ecuador, not many civil society organisations and media have worked on specific open data initiatives. One example is Fundapi, an Ecuadorian civil society organisation that supports the work of Open Knowledge locally. They have been organising training and supporting initiatives to increase data literacy in Ecuador. Other initiatives include the Campus Party Ecuador, which is a technology festival that takes place in different countries. Last year, 3.000 people attended to the its fourth edition in Quito, which included a hackaton to use Quito’s open data platform to develop applications on tourism.

8154461796_547b6f002b_hAll of this points to some advances towards an open government data policy in Ecuador.  Yet this process needs to be accompanied by initiatives that increase data literacy among citizens and government organisations and create awareness about the importance and the benefits of open data.

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