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Welcome to School of Data’s Second Steering Committee!

Cedric Lombion - October 11, 2016 in Announcement, Community

During the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp, a new Steering Committee has been elected by our members. Replacing the “transition” Steering Committee, which oversaw the transformation of School of Data into a network-driven project, the new Steering Committee is elected for 2 years, as will be future ones. Along with overseeing the budget, strategy and sustainability of the School of Data project, the new Steering Committee will oversee the formation incorporation of School of Data into a dedicated NGO.

Welcome to the new Steering Committee!

Bardhyl Jashari

Bardhyl is the director of Metamorphosis Foundation (Macedonia). His professional interests are mainly in the sphere of new technologies, media, civic activism, e-government and participation. Previously he worked as Information Program Coordinator of the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia. He is a member of the National Council for Information Society of Macedonia and National Expert for Macedonia of the UN World Summit Award.

Pavel Richter

Pavel is Chief Executive Officer at Open Knowledge International. He was Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland, and pioneered the internationally acclaimed Wikidata project which is now the fastest growing project for open structured data. Pavel is in on the Advisory Board of Transparency International Germany and Code for Germany. He holds a Masters Degree in Political Science, History and Constitutional Law. He worked for 12 years as a management consultant in the IT and banking industry, before he started to focus on managing non-profit organisations.

Camila Salazar

Camila is a journalist, economist and data journalism professor currently working with the data unit of the La Nacion Costa Rica. After her Fellowship, she has participated in several activities as senior Fellow, sharing her skills with the new generation of Fellows 2016 and also constantly involved in content development for School of Data.

Juan Manuel Casanueva

Juan researches and promotes ICT for Social Change projects in Latin America. He is the CEO and co-founder of SocialTIC, a non-profit that enables changemakers through the strategic use of ICTs. He was ICFJ Knight Fellow 2014-2015 focused on enabling ICT and data-driven journalism in Mexico and Central America.

Sylvia Fredriksson

Sylvia is designer and project coordinator at École de Données (School of Data France). Her work is dedicated to civil society empowerment through design and technology. She now works as a designer-researcher at the Cité du Design in Sainte-Etienne, France. She specialised in Hypermedia at Paris 8 University and regularly teach design classes.

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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Meet the 2016 School of Data Fellows!

Marco Túlio Pires - May 7, 2016 in Announcement, Community, Fellowship

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For the past three years, School of Data has been identifying and selecting outstanding data-literacy practitioners around the world. Our Fellows have led the way in bringing data-literacy knowledge and practices to their region: 26 individuals in 25 different countries in regions right across Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

When we set out to revamp the Fellowship Programme in 2016, we challenged ourselves to involve other organisations that care as deeply about data literacy as we do. Bringing together our networks and expertise, we designed a bold new programme, organised in four data-literacy related areas: Data Journalism, Extractives Industries, Responsible Data and fellows’ “Own Focus”. In this way, we aim for School of Data to become a data-literacy hub, creating spaces in which both organisations and local leaders will engage with data literacy in new and exciting ways.

We are very proud to announce our School of Data Fellowship Class of 2016. We have reviewed 736 applications from 102 different countries. Our team worked around the clock to coordinate interviews across multiple timezones and our partner organisations and funders played a definitive role in identifying the best candidates.

We couldn’t be more happy with this class and we are sure they will make a huge splash in their respective regions! Here are the new School of Data fellows:

Nika Aleksejeva, Latvia

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Nika is a passionate data storyteller from Latvia. In 2013, she joined Infogr.am, a popular data visualization service that empowers non-designers to create beautiful data visualizations in no time. In 2014, she launched the international Infogram Ambassador Network that unites ~100 data enthusiasts all over the world. Each of them brings the power of data visualisation to local communities worldwide. Nika comes from a journalism background – her work involved writing about business topics and data-driven stories about energetics, global economic trends and education. Seeing the future in digital journalism, she continues to work and share the knowledge that helps to develop new communication forms. Currently she works to empower Latvian journalists with data journalism skills by curating School of Data in Latvia.

She will join the Data Journalism track to empower data-literacy activities with Journalists in Latvia

Precious ONAIMO, Nigeria

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Precious is a software developer and a technology enthusiast with the belief that people can only live better if they are provided with accurate, reliable and easy-to-access data, and tools that enable them to make real-time, qualitative and informed decisions. He was the Deputy Head of Software Development in iDevWorks Nigeria Limited, where he worked on designing, development and maintenance of many industry enterprise resource planning solutions geared towards eradicating the unavailability, insecurity, errors and delays associated with manual collation and distribution of organizational data and workflows. He currently heads a team of six programmers to develop open data solutions in different sectors, such as agriculture and extractives industries.

He will join the Extractives Data track and will work with the Nigerian team at the Natural Resources Governance Institute

Vadym Hudyma, Ukraine

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Vadym Hudyma is an open data activist and works as digital security consultant for CSOs and activist groups in Kiev, Ukraine. He was involved in several projects focused on government, electoral and parliamentary transparency in Ukraine. It included mass screening tens of thousands of candidates in Parliament and local elections for their involvement in corruption crimes or human rights violation activities. He also worked on the launch of an extensive database of firms and individuals mentioned as suspects in anti-corruption journalist investigations in Ukraine. One of his main activities was devising policy on disclosure procedures. As a security specialist, he’s helping raise and spread awareness in basic digital security problems as well as privacy issues in digital age. He also helps young non-governmental organizations in devising their information security policies, as well as contributes as a trainer to journalists and activists working in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine and in annexed Crimea.

He will join the Responsible Data track and will be working with The Engine Room

Malick LINGANI, Burkina Faso

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Malick Lingani is a Social Entrepreneur from Burkina Faso. He is committed to improving Transparency and Accountability through the advancement of Data Literacy within organizations, institutions and media. He is the Co-founder of the Ouagadougou-based NGO BEOG-NEERE.Org (For a better future) where he works as a data scientist and also as mentor to empower youth in the development of innovative and sustainable startups in sub-Saharan Africa since 2012. Malick holds a Master in Computer Sciences and Business development from the University of Ouagadougou and also a Data Science Specialization from John Hopkins University.

He will join the Extractives Data track and will work with the Natural Resources Governance Institute

Kabukabu MUHAU, Zambia

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Kabukabu Muhau is a researcher and statistician specialised in demography and economics. She has worked with the NGO Coordinating Council (NGOCC) as Monitoring and Evaluation assistant. Currently, she works for the National Youth Development Council as a Hub Officer, assisting youths in her province to access information more easily. Having studied Health Demography, she developed a keen interest in the Health sector of Zambia. She’s particularly interested in strengthening her country’s current Health Information Management System so that it yields desired results. Her future plans include pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health so as to strengthen her knowledge on the health sector.

She will join the “Own Focus” track working with the School of Data team in Health Data

Raisa Valda Ampuero, Bolivia

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Raisa is passionate about the impact of new technologies and social networks in the social justice field. She started working as a Community Manager in the “SerBolivianoEs” campaign, led by UNDP in Bolivia, the first Bolivian digital campaign. Raisa was logistics coordinator in encounters for a more inclusive and participatory Bolivian digital space, “Conectándonos I – II”, funded by Global Voices and Hivos, in which indigenous communities, LGBT groups, women’s associations among others participated. Raisa also worked as Social Media Strategist of the digital platform “La Pública” project promoted by Hivos, that opens and manages spaces for active citizenship through social networks and outside them; she is an Open Data activist with Bolivian projects “Cuántas Más” and “Que no te la charlen””, the last one winner of Bolivia’s First Accelerator of Data Journalism.

She will join the “Own Focus” track working with the SocialTIC and the School of Data team with Gender Data

Daniel Villatoro, Guatemala

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Daniel Villatoro started working as a journalist in Plaza Pública, an online media dedicated to do in depth journalism. There, he has worked in the Maps and Data section of the newspaper, as an investigative reporter and in other data driven projects. He graduated from Plaza Publica’s two year training program in 2014. His work has also been featured in other media like El Faro and Data Politica (El Salvador), Fáctico and Animal Politico (México) and Ojoconmipisto —a project about local corruption reporting in Guatemala’s municipalities—. He has a taste for maps, so he publishes some and tries to travel others. In 2014 he was part of the group that investigated the way the guatemalan government hid the deaths of kids who died due to malnutrition by analysing a database with all the death records of the country. In 2015 he did a series about political party financing by researching all the financial record data from the top three presidential candidates.”

He will join the Data Journalism track working with the SocialTIC team to bring data literacy to journalists in Central America

Ximena Villagrán, Guatemala

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Ximena studied journalism in Guatemala and then a master’s degree in data and investigative journalism at El Mundo newspaper in Madrid, Spain. She’s currently working as a data reporter in Guatemala. Her beginning at data journalism was at the independent media outlet, Plaza Pública, where she discovered the power of data journalism to tell stories and began to learn more about it. By now she is exploring the power of open data and information access laws to create journalism tools available to all kind of people in Guatemala. Also, she is creating a model to include data journalism and visualizations in breaking news. In 2015, she worked at the data journalism unit of El Confidencial, Spain, where she learned about how to integrate a small data journalism unit into a traditional web newspaper. She also teaches data journalism at Universidad del Istmo in Guatemala, that has the best journalism school in the country.

She will join the Data Journalism track working with Internews and SocialTIC teams to bring data literacy to journalists in Central America

Omar Luna, El Salvador

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Omar studied Social Communication at the Universidad Centroamericana “Jose Simeon Cañas” (UCA). He specialized in various areas such as quantitative and qualitative research, institutional communication, popular culture, proofreading, gender, among others. In 2008, he started working in different areas, such as education, journalism, research and collaboration. Two years ago, he found out the power of data as valuable inputs to evaluate speeches and traditional perspectives on many issues, such as gender violence and memory. Currently, he work as data consultant of the Business Intelligence Department at CentralAmericaData.com, one of the main business portals in Central America, for which he elaborate economic reports.

Omar will join the Data Journalism track working with Internews and SocialTIC teams to bring data literacy to journalists in Central America

The 2016 School of Data Fellowship is possible thanks to the generous help of the following partners & funders:

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Join #MappingEcuador

Cedric Lombion - April 19, 2016 in Community

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On April 16th, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit the coast of Ecuador. As the victim count reached near 300 people on Sunday, the Open Data community around the globe organized to create a base map for rescue and distress relief purposes.

A lot has been done in a short time, but there is still plenty to do.

Helping remotely

You don’t need to live in Ecuador to help the volunteers: mapping can be done from wherever you are. If you don´t know how, start with this wiki document.

Open Street Maps (OSM) is just one of the tools you can use without being in Ecuador. It basically digitalizes satellite images and transforms them into an open and editable database and a map so rescue squads and people in general know where to allocate resources or avoid risks.

The OSM Task Manager prioritizes and divides the work among users so volunteer work won´t overlap. This is where to begin.

Mapping efforts are conducted by Humberto Yances (Humanitarian Open Street Map Team) and Daniel Orellana (Open Street Maps Ecuador), who launched two tutorials in Spanish yesterday, for basic and intermediate mappers. You can a tutorial in english here.

Helping when in Ecuador

If you are in Ecuador, there are other ways to help beside Open Street Maps: platform Mapa Desastre allows you to send and visualize reports on specific issues and their geographic location. You can also set GPS alerts based on their changing location. All of this data is also public and available for both the general population and humanitarian squads.

Another indispensable tool for those in Ecudaor is Google Person Finder, an online repository where you can search for missing people or send information about lost people you found yourself.

Mapillary and Open Street Map Android Tracker allow you to upload pictures of specific locations at the disaster.

To strenghten the ranks of volunteer mappers, Open Data Ecuador organized yesterday, April 18, a workshop to train volunteers to map at the Ciespal building in Quito.

This article is a translation by Gibrán Mena from an original article in Spanish published on the Escuela de Datos website.

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New Data Journalism Academy in South Africa embodies ‘living laboratory’ training model

Cedric Lombion - March 10, 2016 in Announcement, Community

What does it take to convince thinly stretched, understaffed newsrooms to release experienced reporters for three months to attend a data journalism program — and pay for the privilege, too? This was one of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome when planning for Code for South Africa’s new data journalism academy, which opened its doors in Cape Town on February 1.

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Happily, the first cohort has attracted seven experienced journalists from some of South Africa’s largest mainstream media outlets, as well as a journalism master’s student who was awarded a subsidized place. There is already interest from media in sending staff for the next cohort, and the plan is to do three annual courses of eight to 10 people over the next three years. The academy is supported by Code for Africa, Indigo Trust, the International Center for Journalists, Omidyar Network and School of Data.

The key that unlocked the doors to newsrooms is that everything the reporters produce will be fed back to – and owned by – their media houses to publish, sell or syndicate as they see fit. So, far from being lost to the newsroom, these reporters will remain productive and part of the newsroom.

The program consists of two weeks’ intensive training in the various steps in the data pipeline. Then participants will spend a further 10 weeks producing content as they use their newly learned skills working in a data newsroom alongside experienced data journalists, coders, wranglers and analysts.

We are planning to get our open-source curriculum certified by the South African Qualifications Agency — a long and arduous exercise — so that graduates will receive an officially recognized qualification. Equally important is that media houses will then be able to recoup a percentage of what they pay for training from the government authority that deals with industry skills and standards.

We have also begun a program of teaching trainers to deliver stand-alone modules of the curriculum to newsrooms in other parts of the country. This will help inculcate a culture of data-driven storytelling and provide a source of revenue for the academy.

Launching the academy is an important part of my work as an ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow helping to drive an Africa-wide initiative aimed at improving the lives of Africans through data journalism and civic innovation.

But it has been a hard sell. As head of the school, it was my task to convince hard-pressed editors and news editors, their newsrooms straining under budget and staff cuts and juniorization, that this was an investment worth making.

The academy was born out of a search for a program to complement journalism bootcamps where journalists who participate are afterward quickly drawn back into the grind of the daily news cycle and often not given the time or space to practice and develop their newly learned data skills.

We realized that to make a systemic change, we needed to seek innovative solutions. The answer, we believe, lies in creating a working environment where journalists could continue learning on the job while remaining productive and contributing to their newsrooms.

But the academy is about more than just training. It’s also a center for innovation where we can experiment and try out new and different ways of storytelling and reader engagement. The hard truth is that unless data journalism becomes a source of revenue, it will continue to be confined to bigger, better resourced media outlets with the work being done by small, specialized units working on the fringe of newsrooms.

So we will also use the academy’s newsroom as a living laboratory to experiment with different revenue models as we seek to make a business case for data journalism.

“The academy and the newsroom are one and the same, with the newsroom offering practical experience for journalists involved in the academy’s training program,” says Adi Eyal, director of Code for South Africa.

“We see every story as potentially an opportunity to innovate,” he said. “Just like we did with the award-winning Living on the Edge and the associated Living Wage tool, which pushed the envelope in the South African context with its convergence of different elements of storytelling, we see the academy as opening new opportunities to experiment. We want to explore and try new things that participants in the academy can feed back into their newsrooms and help push the industry forward.”

Code for South Africa created a Storify for more information. Check it out here.

Post originally published on the IJNET blog on 11 February 2016 and on the Code for South Africa blog on 12 February 2016.

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What was the School of Data Network up to in 2015?

Marco Túlio Pires - December 28, 2015 in Community, Impact

The School of Data Network is formed by member organisations, individuals, fellows and senior fellows around the world

The School of Data Network is formed by member organisations, individuals, fellows and senior fellows around the world


We just can’t believe it’s already the end of the year! I mean, every year you see people saying the months passed by so fast, but we really mean it! There was a lot going on in our community, from the second edition of our Fellowship Program to many exciting events and activities our members organised around the world.

Let’s start with folks at Code4SA. They coordinated the activities of three open data fellows and are organising the first physical Data Journalism School of the continent! Isn’t that amazing? They’re actually creating a space for people to work together with on-site support on data journalism skills. This is the first time this happens in the School of Data network and we’re really proud Code4SA is taking the lead on that! But they didn’t stop it there. They also participated in the Africa Open Data Conference, coordinated trainings and skillshares with NU & BlackSash and ran two three-day Bootcamps (Cape Town and Johannesburg). “One of our biggest challenges this year has been establishing a mandate to work with the government”, said Jennifer Walker, from Code4SA. “On the Data Journalism School, the challenge is really getting everything in place, the newsroom, the trainer etc.”

The group will pursue the project of setting up the first data-journalism agency in Macedonia (Dona Dzambaska - CC-by-sa 3.0)

In Macedonia, this group will pursue the project of setting up the first data-journalism agency in the country (Dona Dzambaska – CC-by-sa 3.0)

In Macedonia, our friends at Metamorphosis Foundation had their second School of Data Fellow, Goran Rizaov. Together with Dona Djambaska, senior School of Data Fellow (2014), they organised four open data meetups, and two 2-day open data trainings, including a data journalism workshop with local journalists in Skopje. They also launched a call for applications that resulted in Goran supporting three local NGOs in open data projects. They also supported the Institute for Rural Communities and the PIU Institute with data clinics. And if that was not enough, Dona and Goran were special guests speakers at the TEDxBASSalon.

Open Knowledge Spain and Open Knowledge Greece also were busy coordinating School of Data in their respective countries. In Spain, Escuela de Datos participated in a data journalism conference leading workshops for three days and a hackathon. They also ran monthly meeting with people interested in exploring data; they call it “open data maker nights” and also our own “data expeditions.” They will have a couple of meeting early January to set the goals for 2016. Greece organised an open science training event and also servers as the itersection between open data and linked data, coming from people working at the University of Greece.

In France, Ecole des Données has organised three activities in Paris: a local urban data laboratory, a School of Data training and the Budget Democracy Laboratory, both for the city hall. They also developed a DatavizCard Game and coordinate a working group around data visualisation. Our French friends also took part in a series of events, such as workshops, conferences, debates and MeetUps. You can check out the list here. In 2016 they want to do more collaboration with other countries and will participate in the SuperDemain (digital culture for children and families) and Futur en Seien 2016 events.

Camila Salazar & Julio Lopez, 2015 School of Data Fellows, organised a series of workshops in Latin America

Camila Salazar & Julio Lopez, 2015 School of Data Fellows, organised a series of workshops in Latin America

Across the Atlantic we arrive in the Latin American Escuela de Datos, coordinated by SocialTIC, in Mexico. Camila Salazar and Julio Lopez, two fellows from the class of 2015 did amazing things in the region, such as organasing 23 training events in four different countries (Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile and Mexico), reaching out to more than 400 people. Julio is working with the Natural Resource Governance Institute on a major project about extractives data (stay tuned for news!) and Camila was hired by Costa Rica’s biggest data journalism team at La Nación, on top of developing a project about migrant data in the country. They’re on fire! You will hear more from them on our annual report that’s coming out early next year. “Our biggest challenge now will be having more trainers comming out of the community”, said Juan Manuel Casanueva, from SocialTIC.

Escola de Dados (Brazil) instructors and participants in a workshop about data journalism and government spending data, in São Paulo

Escola de Dados (Brazil) instructors and participants in a workshop about data journalism and government spending data, in São Paulo

Heading down to South America we see that brasileiros at Escola de Dados, in Brazil, are also on fire. They organised 22 workshops, trainings and talks/events reaching out to over 760 people in universities, companies and even government agencies. Two of their intructors were invited by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to organise and run the first 100% in Portuguese MOOC about Data Journalism, with the support from the National Newspaper Association and Google. In total, 4989 people enrolled for the course which was a massive success. They also organised a data analysis course for Folha de S.Paulo, biggest broadsheet newspaper in the country. Next year is looking even better, according to Natália Mazotte, Escola de Dado’s coordinator. “We will be offering more courses with the Knight Center, will create data labs inside Rio de Janeiro favelas and will run our own fellowship program”. Outstanding!

We have so much more to share with you in our annual report that’s coming up in a few weeks. 2015 has been a great year for School of Data in many, many aspects and we are eager to share all those moments with you!

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The Latin America open data community speaks loud

Camila Salazar - October 22, 2015 in Community, Data Stories, Events, Fellowship

Last September the open data community in Latin America gathered in Santiago de Chile in the two most important events in the region to talk and discuss about open data. Since 2013, Abrelatam and ConDatos have been a space to share experiences, lessons learned and discuss issues regarding open data in Latin America.

In this third edition hundreds people from the region came to Chile showing that the open data community has a lot of potential and is continuously growing and involving in the open data movement.

As a fellow of School of Data, this was my first time in Abrelatam and ConDatos and it was a great experience to see, exchange ideas with the community and learn from all the different projects in the region. I had the opportunity to share with journalists, civil society and technology groups that were working on amazing open data initiatives.

Since there was a lot of interest in learning new tools and working specifically with data, there was also a training track in the conference with several workshops about data analysis, data cleaning, data visualization, access to public information, among others. School of Data had three workshops with ex-fellows Antonio Cucho (Perú), Ruben Moya (México) and myself as a current fellow from Costa Rica. The attendants were excited and interested in learning more.

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In the past years I’ve been mainly working as a data journalist in Costa Rica, but I had never had the chance to meet the community that shared my same interests and concerns. This is what makes Abrelatam and ConDatos most valuable. It helped me learn about how things and data projects are done in other countries and see how can I improve the work I’m doing in my own country.

We all have similar issues and concerns in the region, so there’s no point in trying to fix things by yourself if you have a huge community willing to help you and share their lessons and mistakes. On the other hand, as a School of Data fellow I was given the opportunity to share my knowledge with others in data workshops, and it was a great way to show people from other countries the work we are doing in School of Data, helping build data literacy in civil society.

The most important lesson learned from this four days in Chile is that there’s an eager movement and a growing need to work together as a region to make data available and to push the open data agenda with governments. There’s no doubt the region speaks loud and is creating a lot of noise worldwide, so it’s in our hands to keep up and innovate as a community!

If you are interested in learning more about the projects, here’s a list of the projects that participated in AbreLatam in 2014 (the 2015 list well be ready soon!).

 

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In memory of Michael Bauer

Lucy Chambers - September 24, 2015 in Community

It was with great sadness that we learned last week that we had lost one of our greats. Michael Bauer passed away suddenly on 13th September 2015 while running the Wachau half marathon. In this post, the School of Data team (both past and present) remember what he gave to the project, and our favourite moments from working with him.

If you knew and loved Michael and want to share your stories, pictures and memories, please post them here: http://mihi.lo-res.org/

Michael joined School of Data as one of the first team members in 2012 and worked on the project up until October 2014. In this time, he trained and helped hundreds of activists from across the world and built an amazing community of likeminded people – a community which is now thriving, in large part due to the contributions and skills that Michael gave.

His extraordinary intelligence and skills gave School of Data an “edge”; for him, anything done on the project had to be both educational and fun, else there was no point in doing it. He taught all of us personally a huge amount about what it means to be a ‘data trainer’. He was a great colleague, and an even better friend.

The School of Data team is largely remote – we work from wherever we like and connect with each other online. This means we don’t see each other so often and most of our contact is done via emails, online meetings or, as usually was the case with Michael, Skype chats from airport lounges…


Playing ‘Where is Michael?’ was always a fun game.

It also means that when we do meet in person, the time is precious. We travelled together across the world – and wow, did Michael travel. He was always up for spontaneous trips (sometimes with as little as twelve hours notice before intercontinental travel), for throwing himself into getting to know new communities, to spend nights dancing even with early starts due the next day. Colourful both in personality and turnout, we will always remember Michael in his shiny cape at Mozfest when we ran our first ever data expedition – our Data Diva.

People genuinely never forgot Michael – he was charismatic and commanded people’s attention. He managed to understand data and people, and he could inspire every single person he met, no matter how many were in the workshop. He was a true polymath, too – he went from medical doctor, to academic, to data trainer/coder, to a journalist – and all before the age of 35.

To us, Michael was intelligent, always ready to help people, honest (sometimes painfully), funny and, as all the best people are, wonderfully awkward. Most of all, he was generous with his time, humble, and thoughtful. He managed to foster an environment where anyone could ask him a question, or for help on building something – and he would answer without any fuss, and with contagious enthusiasm.

As a key architect of many of School of Data’s workshop styles, particularly Data Clinics and Data Expeditions, his legacy lives on through the character sheets he made just 10 minutes before the first expedition started, and in many of the materials the community use today.

When he moved on to derStandard.at, we were torn between happiness for him – that he was starting a new stage in his life – and sadness, that he was leaving our team. He was so excited about it though: finally, he would “stop talking about data journalism and start doing it.”

As a leaving gift, we made him this video to show him how much we appreciated him.

His response was: “Nearly cried <3 you all!”.

It goes without saying that you will be missed beyond words, Michael. We will do our best to make you proud and continue the great work that you started.

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Why does School of Data have a Summer Camp?

Cedric Lombion - September 2, 2015 in Community, Fellowship

We’re now starting the second half of the fellowship and our fellows have been doing an amazing work in their respective countries. Even though the fellowship formally started in April, the real work began after the annual meeting of our network, the School of Data Summercamp. The event was an occasion for the fellows to meet, discuss, receive feedback on their early ideas and plan concretely their future actions.

Each Summercamp is an occasion to get a lot of work done and to take decisions that need a lot of group thinking and debate. This is what happened again this year, as we explained in the article about the future of school of Data. But it is also a great occasion to exchange and have fun together, which helps creates bonds that might not be there otherwise.

All of this is summed up in the testimonies of the fellows and the coordination team members that are shown in this video. Enjoy!

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Engaging more data actors in the Philippines for disaster response

Sheena Carmel Opulencia-Calub - August 4, 2015 in Community, Fellowship

Whenever there is an emergency in the Philippines, various organisations and institutions organise themselves into emergency clusters and working groups to increase the effectiveness of the response. One of the crucial elements of disaster response is information management. In various emergency contexts, an Information Management Working Group (IMWG) is established by different cluster organisations to support information management in emergencies.

After Typhoon Haiyan, the IMWG Philippines facilitated data collection, exchange and analysis across all sectors. Almost 100 individuals – from information managers to monitoring and evaluation officers, IT experts and mapping gurus – were involved in the IMWG Philippines. As well as acute emergency response, the IMWG advocates Open Data in all large-scale emergencies, pushing institutions and agencies to open up key datasets such as the number of damaged schools, affected population data, number of evacuation camps, etc.: all crucial factors in coordinating an effective emergency response.

A sample of a thematic map on affected population developed by information management officers during Typhoon Haiyan. Source: CCCM Cluster – http://cccmphilippines.iom.int/

Despite the strength of this existing network of actors, more could be done, on several fronts. Not only the individuals and organisations on the frontline of emergencies often lack data literacy, but there are very limited learning and training opportunities locally. Which means that during emergencies, the small pool of operational data actors is quickly depleted as the demand of data goes up and organisations seek data and information managers locally and internationally. A collaboration with the School of Data network could alleviate several of these issues.

On July 3rd I met with the IMWG to introduce School of Data and outline the ways in which the School of Data network can support the IMWG’s data management, as well as promote data literacy during emergencies. I have considered the importance of engaging with the IMWG as part of my fellowship, and this meeting was a good occasion to further the School of Data network. I highlighted several points during the meeting :

  • By engaging the School of Data network, the IMWG can expand the local network of people able to provide support in data management during crisis.
  • They could as well increase the number of learning and training opportunities on data skills thanks to the School of Data network and content.
  • The courses available on the School of Data website are created collaboratively, which means that the IMWG members could produce ones, tailored to the needs they see on the field.
  • The School of Data Philippines Facebook group could be involved in future meetings, to explore possible collaboration regarding emergency response, as a way of expanding the network.

Beyond making the case for a partnership with School of Data, we discussed how important it is to form partnerships with local organisations and institutions that can support data management, especially in conducting rapid needs assessment and analysis, the use of innovative tools for data collection and analysis such as Kobo Toolbox, RapidSMS, and crowd-sourcing to identify needs and gaps e.g.Crisis Mappers, Twitter.

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3 July 2015 – Presenting School of Data to members of the Information Management Working Group in the Philippines.

In network building, it is very important to focus on a niche in which you are skilled and familiar. I hope to combine the data management skills already present in the Phillipines with the enormous networking potential of School of Data to provide increased personnel at times of disaster – both in terms of individuals and collaborations between IMWG and similar organisations.

Got fresh ideas or interested to know more about this collaboration? Feel free to drop me an email at scdopulencia@gmail.com.

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