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Data is a Team Sport: One on One with Heather Leson

Dirk Slater - July 19, 2017 in Community, Data Blog, Event report, Research

Data is a Team Sport is our open-research project exploring the data literacy eco-system and how it is evolving in the wake of post-fact, fake news and data-driven confusion.  We are producing a series of videos, blog posts and podcasts based on a series of online conversations we are having with data literacy practitioners.

To subscribe to the podcast series, cut and paste the following link into your podcast manager : http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:311573348/sounds.rss or find us in the iTunes Store and Stitcher.

This episode features a one on one conversation with Heather Leson, the Data Literacy Lead at International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. As a technologist, she strengthens community collaboration via humanitarian technologies and social entrepreneurship. She builds partnerships, curates digital spaces, fosters volunteer engagement and delivers training while inspiring systems for co-creation with maps, code and data. At the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent, her mandate includes global data advocacy, data literacy and data training programs in partnership with the 190 national societies and the 13 million volunteers. She is a past Board Member at the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (4 years), Peace Geeks (1 year), and an Advisor for MapSwipe – using gamification systems to crowdsource disaster-based satellite imagery. Previously, she worked as Social Innovation Program Manager, Qatar Computing Research Institute (Qatar Foundation) Director of Community Engagement, Ushahidi, and Community Director, Open Knowledge (School of Data).

Main Points from the Conversation:

  • Data protection is the default setting for humanitarian organisations collecting data.
  • She’s found its critical to focus on people and what they are trying to accomplish, as opposed to focusing on tools.
  • She’s added ‘socialisation’ as the beginning step to the data pipeline.

Heather’s Resources

Blogs/websites

Heather’s work

The full online conversation:

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Data is a Team Sport: Advocacy Organisations

Dirk Slater - July 12, 2017 in Data Blog, Event report, Research

Data is a Team Sport is our open-research project exploring the data literacy eco-system and how it is evolving in the wake of post-fact, fake news and data-driven confusion.  We are producing a series of videos, blog posts and podcasts based on a series of online conversations we are having with data literacy practitioners.

To subscribe to the podcast series, cut and paste the following link into your podcast manager : http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:311573348/sounds.rss or find us in the iTunes Store and Stitcher.

In this episode we discussed data driven advocacy organisations with:

  • Milena Marin is Senior Innovation Campaigner at Amnesty International. She is currently leads Amnesty Decoders – an innovative project aiming to engage digital volunteers in documenting human right violations using new technologies. Previously she worked as programme manager of School of Data. She also worked for over 4 years with Transparency International where she supported TI’s global network to use technology in the fight against corruption.
  • Sam Leon, is Data Lead at Global Witness, focusing on the use of data to fight corruption and how to turn this information into change making stories. He is currently working with a coalition of data scientists, academics and investigative journalists to build analytical models and tools that enable anti-corruption campaigners to understand and identify corporate networks used for nefarious and corrupt practices.

Notes from the Conversation

In order to get their organisations to see the value and benefit of using data, they both have had to demonstrate results and have looked for opportunities where they could show effective impact. What data does for advocacy is to show the extent of the problem and it provides depths to qualitative and individual stories.  Milena credits the work of School of Data for the fact that journalists now expect their to be data accessible from Amnesty to back up their data.

  • They see gaps in the way that advocates can see data and new technologies as easy answers to their challenges, and the realities of implementing complex projects that utilise them.
  • In today’s post-fact world, they find that the term used as a tactic to  more quickly discredit their work and as a result they need to work harder at presenting verifiable data.
  • Amnesty’s decoder project has involved 45,000 volunteers and along with being able to review a huge amount of video, has had the side benefit of providing those volunteers with a deeper understanding of what Amnesty does.
  • Global Witness has had a limited amount of data-sets they have released to the public. But there needs to be a lot more learning about the implications of releasing open data-sets before that can be a default.
  • Intermediaries and externals are the only way for Advocacy organisations  to cover the gaps in their own expertise around data.

More about their work

Milena

Sam

Resources and Readings

From FabRiders

View the Full Conversation:

 

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Data is a Team Sport: One on One with Daniela Lepiz

Dirk Slater - July 3, 2017 in Community, Data Blog, Event report, Research

Data is a Team Sport is our open-research project exploring the data literacy eco-system and how it is evolving in the wake of post-fact, fake news and data-driven confusion.  We are producing a series of videos, blog posts and podcasts based on a series of online conversations we are having with data literacy practitioners.

To subscribe to the podcast series, cut and paste the following link into your podcast manager : http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:311573348/sounds.rss or find us in the iTunes Store and Stitcher.

This episode features a one on one conversation with Daniela Lepiz, a Costa Rican data journalist and trainer, who is currently the Investigation Editor for CENOZO, a West African Investigative Journalism Project that aims to promote and support cross border data investigation and open data in the region. She has a masters degree in data journalism from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain. Previously involved with OpenUP South Africa working with journalists to produce data driven stories.  Daniela is also a trainer for the Tanzania Media Foundation and has been involved in many other projects with South African Media, La Nacion in Costa Rica and other international organisations.

Notes from the conversation

Daniela spoke to us from Burkina Faso and reflected on the role of journalism and particularly data-driven journalism in functioning democracies.  The project she is working on empowering journalists working cross-border in western Africa to utilise data to expose corruption and violation of human rights.  To identify journalists to participate in the project, they have looked for individuals who are experienced, passionate and curious. The project engages existing media houses, such as Premium Times in Nigeria, to assure that there are places for their stories to appear.

Important points Daniela raises:

  • Media is continually evolving and learning to evolve and Daniela can see that data literacy will be a required proficiency in the next five years.
  • The biggest barrier to achieving open-data in government are government officials who resist transparency
  • There is a real fear from journalists of having to be proficient in maths when they are considering improve their skills to produce data-driven stories.  They often fail to realise that its about working with others that have skills on statistics and data analysis.
  • Trust in media has declined in such a big way and it means journalists have to work that much harder, particularly in labelling things as opinion or being biased.

Resources she finds inspiring

Her blogs posts

The full online conversation:

Daniela’s bookmarks!

These are the resources she uses the most often.

.Rddj – Resources for doing data journalism with RComparing Columns in Google Refine | OUseful.Info, the blog…Journalist datastores: where can you find them? A list. | Simon RogersAidInfoPlus – Mastering Aid Information for Change

Data skills

Mapping tip: how to convert and filter KML into a list with Open Refine | Online Journalism Blog
Mapbox + Weather Data
Encryption, Journalism and Free Expression | The Mozilla Blog
Data cleaning with Regular Expressions (NICAR) – Google Docs
NICAR 2016 Links and Tips – Google Docs
Teaching Data Journalism: A Survey & Model Curricula | Global Investigative Journalism Network
Data bulletproofing tips for NICAR 2016 – Google Docs
Using the command line tabula extractor tool · tabulapdf/tabula-extractor Wiki · GitHub
Talend Downloads

Github

Git Concepts – SmartGit (Latest/Preview) – Confluence
GitHub For Beginners: Don’t Get Scared, Get Started – ReadWrite
Kartograph.org
LittleSis – Profiling the powers that be

Tableau customized polygons

How can I create a filled map with custom polygons in Tableau given point data? – Stack Overflow
Using Shape Files for Boundaries in Tableau | The Last Data Bender
How to make custom Tableau maps
How to map geographies in Tableau that are not built in to the product (e.g. UK postcodes, sales areas) – Dabbling with Data
Alteryx Analytics Gallery | Public Gallery
TableauShapeMaker – Adding custom shapes to Tableau maps | Vishful thinking…
Creating Tableau Polygons from ArcGIS Shapefiles | Tableau Software
Creating Polygon-Shaded Maps | Tableau Software
Tool to Convert ArcGIS Shapefiles into Tableau Polygons | Tableau and Behold!
Polygon Maps | Tableau Software
Modeling April 2016
5 Tips for Making Your Tableau Public Viz Go Viral | Tableau Public
Google News Lab
HTML and CSS
Open Semantic Search: Your own search engine for documents, images, tables, files, intranet & news
Spatial Data Download | DIVA-GIS
Linkurious – Linkurious – Understand the connections in your data
Apache Solr –
Apache Tika – Apache Tika
Neo4j Graph Database: Unlock the Value of Data Relationships
SQL: Table Transformation | Codecademy
dc.js – Dimensional Charting Javascript Library
The People and the Technology Behind the Panama Papers | Global Investigative Journalism Network
How to convert XLS file to CSV in Command Line [Linux]
Intro to SQL (IRE 2016) · GitHub
Malik Singleton – SELECT needle FROM haystack;
Investigative Reporters and Editors | Tipsheets and links
Investigative Reporters and Editors | Tipsheets and Links

SQL_PYTHON

More data

2016-NICAR-Adv-SQL/SQL_queries.md at master · taggartk/2016-NICAR-Adv-SQL · GitHub
advanced-sql-nicar15/stats-functions.sql at master · anthonydb/advanced-sql-nicar15 · GitHub
2016-NICAR-Adv-SQL/SQL_queries.md at master · taggartk/2016-NICAR-Adv-SQL · GitHub
Malik Singleton – SELECT needle FROM haystack;
Statistical functions in MySQL • Code is poetry
Data Analysis Using SQL and Excel – Gordon S. Linoff – Google Books
Using PROC SQL to Find Uncommon Observations Between 2 Data Sets in SAS | The Chemical Statistician
mysql – Query to compare two subsets of data from the same table? – Database Administrators Stack Exchange
sql – How to add “weights” to a MySQL table and select random values according to these? – Stack Overflow
sql – Fast mysql random weighted choice on big database – Stack Overflow
php – MySQL: Select Random Entry, but Weight Towards Certain Entries – Stack Overflow
MySQL Moving average
Calculating descriptive statistics in MySQL | codediesel
Problem-Solving using Graph Traversals: Searching, Scoring, Ranking, …
R, MySQL, LM and quantreg
26318_AllText_Print.pdf
ddi-documentation-english-572 (1).pdf
Categorical Data — pandas 0.18.1+143.g3b75e03.dirty documentation
python – Loading STATA file: Categorial values must be unique – Stack Overflow
Using the CSV module in Python
14.1. csv — CSV File Reading and Writing — Python 3.5.2rc1 documentation
csvsql — csvkit 0.9.1 documentation
weight samples with python – Google Search
python – Weighted choice short and simple – Stack Overflow
7.1. string — Common string operations — Python v2.6.9 documentation
Introduction to Data Analysis with Python | Lynda.com
A Complete Tutorial to Learn Data Science with Python from Scratch
GitHub – fonnesbeck/statistical-analysis-python-tutorial: Statistical Data Analysis in Python
Verifying the email – Email Checker
A little tour of aleph, a data search tool for reporters – pudo.org (Friedrich Lindenberg)
Welcome – Investigative Dashboard Search
Investigative Dashboard
Working with CSVs on the Command Line
FiveThirtyEight’s data journalism workflow with R | useR! 2016 international R User conference | Channel 9
Six issue when installing package · Issue #3165 · pypa/pip · GitHub
python – Installing pip on Mac OS X – Stack Overflow
Source – Journalism Code, Context & Community – A project by Knight-Mozilla OpenNews
Introducing Kaggle’s Open Data Platform
NASA just made all the scientific research it funds available for free – ScienceAlert
District council code list | Statistics South Africa
How-to: Index Scanned PDFs at Scale Using Fewer Than 50 Lines of Code – Cloudera Engineering Blog
GitHub – gavinr/geojson-csv-join: A script to take a GeoJSON file, and JOIN data onto that file from a CSV file.
7 command-line tools for data science
Python Basics: Lists, Dictionaries, & Booleans
Jupyter Notebook Viewer

PYTHON FOR JOURNALISTS

New folder

Reshaping and Pivot Tables — pandas 0.18.1 documentation
Reshaping in Pandas – Pivot, Pivot-Table, Stack and Unstack explained with Pictures – Nikolay Grozev
Pandas Pivot-Table Example – YouTube
pandas.pivot_table — pandas 0.18.1 documentation
Pandas Pivot Table Explained – Practical Business Python
Pivot Tables In Pandas – Python
Pandas .groupby(), Lambda Functions, & Pivot Tables
Counting Values & Basic Plotting in Python
Creating Pandas DataFrames & Selecting Data
Filtering Data in Python with Boolean Indexes
Deriving New Columns & Defining Python Functions
Python Histograms, Box Plots, & Distributions
Resources for Further Learning
Python Methods, Functions, & Libraries
Python Basics: Lists, Dictionaries, & Booleans
Real-world Python for data-crunching journalists | TrendCT
Cookbook — agate 1.4.0 documentation
3. Power tools — csvkit 0.9.1 documentation
Tutorial — csvkit 0.9.1 documentation
4. Going elsewhere with your data — csvkit 0.9.1 documentation
2. Examining the data — csvkit 0.9.1 documentation
A Complete Tutorial to Learn Data Science with Python from Scratch
For Journalism
ProPublica Summer Data Institute
Percentage of vote change | CARTO
Data Science | Coursera
Data journalism training materials
Pythex: a Python regular expression editor
A secure whistleblowing platform for African media | afriLEAKS
PDFUnlock! – Unlock secured PDF files online for free.
The digital journalist’s toolbox: mapping | IJNet
Bulletproof Data Journalism – Course – LEARNO
Transpose columns across rows (grefine 2.5) ~ RefinePro Knowledge Base for OpenRefine
Installing NLTK — NLTK 3.0 documentation
1. Language Processing and Python
Visualize any Text as a Network – Textexture
10 tools that can help data journalists do better work, be more efficient – Poynter
Workshop Attendance
Clustering In Depth · OpenRefine/OpenRefine Wiki · GitHub
Regression analysis using Python
DataBasic.io
DataBasic.io
R for Every Survey Analysis – YouTube
Git – Book
NICAR17 Slides, Links & Tutorials #NICAR17 // Ricochet by Chrys Wu
Register for Anonymous VPN Services | PIA Services
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
dtSearch – Text Retrieval / Full Text Search Engine
Investigation, Cybersecurity, Information Governance and eDiscovery Software | Nuix
How we built the Offshore Leaks Database | International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Liz Telecom/Azimmo – Google Search
First Python Notebook — First Python Notebook 1.0 documentation
GitHub – JasonKessler/scattertext: Beautiful visualizations of how language differs among document types

 

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Data is a Team Sport: Data-Driven Journalism

Dirk Slater - June 20, 2017 in Community, Data Blog, Event report, Research

Our podcast series that explores the ever evolving data literacy eco-system. Cut and paste this link into your podcast app to subscribe: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:311573348/sounds.rss or find us in the iTunes Store and Stitcher.

In this episode we speak with two veteran data literacy practitioners who have been involved with developing data-driven journalism teams.

Our guests:

  • Eva Constantaras is a data journalist specialized in building data journalism teams in developing countries. These teams that have reported from across Latin America, Asia and East Africa on topics ranging from displacement and kidnapping by organized crime networks to extractive industries and public health. As a Google Data Journalism Scholar and a Fulbright Fellow, she developed a course for investigative and data journalism in high-risk environments.
  • Natalia Mazotte is Program Manager of School of Data in Brazil and founder and co-director of the digital magazine Gender and Number. She has a Master Degree in Communications and Culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a specialization in Digital Strategy from Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona/Spain). Natalia has been teaching data skills in different universities and newsrooms around Brazil. She also works as instructor in online courses in the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, a project from Texas University, and writes for international publications such as SGI News, Bertelsmann-Stiftung, Euroactiv and Nieman Lab.

Notes from this episode

They both describe the lessons learned in getting journalists to use data that can drive social change. For Eva, getting journalists to work harder and just reporting that corruption exists is not enough, while Natalia, talks about how they use data on gender to drive debate and discussion around equality. What is critical for democracy is the existence of good journalism and this includes data-driven journalism that uncovers facts and gets at the root causes.

Gaps in the Data Literacy EcoSystem:

Natalia points out that corporations and government has the power because they are data-literate and can use it effectively, while people in low-income communities, such as favela’s really suffer because they are at the mercy of what story gets told by looking at the ‘official’ data.

Eva feels that there has been too much emphasis on short-term and quick solutions from individuals who have put a lot of money in making sure that data is ready and accessible.  Donors need to support more long-term efforts and engagement around data-literacy.

Adjusting to a ‘post-fact’ world means:

Western journalists have spent too much time focusing on reporting on polling data rather than reporting on policies and it’s important for newer journalists to understand why that was problematic.

In Brazil, the main stream media is focusing on ‘what’s happened’ while independent media is focusing on ‘why it’s happened’ and this means the media landscape is changing.

They also talked about:

  • Ethics and the responsibility inherent in gathering and storing data, along with the grey areas around privacy.
  • How to get media outlets to value data-driven journalism by getting them to understand that people are increasingly getting their ‘breaking news’ from social media, so they need to look at providing more in-depth stories.

They wanted to plug:

Readings/Resources they find inspiring for their work.

Resources contributed from the participants:

View the online conversation in full:

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Data is a Team Sport: Enabling Learning

Dirk Slater - June 6, 2017 in Community, Event report, Research

Our podcast series that explores the ever evolving data literacy eco-system. Cut and paste this link into your podcast app to subscribe: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:311573348/sounds.rss or find us in the iTunes Store.

In this episode we speak with two veteran data literacy practitioners who have been involved with directly engaging learners to get beyond spreadsheets to build confidence and take agency in their own learning.

Our guests:

  • Rahul Bhargava is a researcher and technologist specializing in civic technology and data literacy. He creates interactive websites used by hundreds of thousands, playful educational experiences across the globe, and award-winning visualizations for museum settings. As a research scientist at the MIT Center for Civic Media, Rahul leads technical development on projects ranging from interfaces for quantitative news analysis to platforms for crowd-sourced sensing.
  • Lucy Chambers initially embarked on a career as a journalist, she took a few turns which lead to a career at Open Knowledge teaching journalists how and why to work with data. She was one of the editors of the Data Journalism Handbook. She later lead the highly successful School of Data programme which extended technical training to non-profit organisations. Lately, she has focussed on delivery of software projects as a product manager. Most recently, she has been working in West Africa on health related software.

Notes from this episode

Rahul described methods to data novices to think more creatively by drawing and using a gallery of their artwork to build confidence to think more critically. He says that this experience is what led to the creation of databasic.io, a website designed specifically to engage learners.

Lucy tells of School of Data’s initial struggles with setting up a one-size fits all online curriculum. They learned through focus groups and testing that a tool-based approach was not helpful or achievable. Instead they needed a people based approach. They then turned to developing a fellowship programme which is very much at the core of the School of Data network.

Both of our guests had strong opinions about building data literacy culture in organisations. A common mistake is made by letting the IT Department provide data training.  Organisations often produce unhelpful data metrics and dashboards that don’t actually help staff get a full picture of progress.

Gaps in the Data Literacy EcoSystem:

  • Toolbuilders not understanding and not building for learners.
  • NGO’s not testing out data driven messages with their audiences before they release them.

Adjusting to a ‘post-fact’ world means:

  • We need to make sure that people understand that data is not necessarily truth, that it is often used as rhetoric and that it carries bias. Data sets should have a biography attached.
  • Narrative wins, so the data presentation methods where the audience is bombarded with facts and figures just doesn’t work. We have to spend more time pulling out the compelling narrative from the data.

They wanted to plug:

  • Rahul is building a co-hort around further development of databasics.io. Ping him via twitter to get more information on that.
  • Lucy’s blog is Tech to Human and she writes about her work and what she’s learning. She is working on a project for MySociety called EveryPolitician and writing about it on Medium.

Readings/Resources they find inspiring for data literacy work.

View the full online conversations:

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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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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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