an introduction to open data

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Presentation for School of Data training in the Philippines, May 2014 in collaboration with the Open Data PH Taskforce.


  • An introduction to open data Anders Pedersen @anpe / @okfn[.org] CC-By v3 Licensed (all jurisdictions)
  • Government data: Not a new thing
  • Government data: Not a new thing
  • Fast forward: Is it safe to cycle?
  • Where Does Our Money Go?
  • We notice when government data collection fails US government is prohibited by law to collect data on gun related deaths Argentinas inflation statistics cannot be trusted Greek financial figures until 2011 were unreliable April 2014: Nigeria adjust their size of GDP by 80 per cent
  • 3 global challenges Data Locked Up Data Hard to Use No-one to Do It
  • We are an global network working for since 2004 to open up data and see it used to empower citizens and organizations to answer questions that matter and drive positive change
  • Central team of more than 35 on 4 continents. Community network including civil servants, civil- society researchers and citizens with presence in more than 40 countries - including the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and China!
  • Advocacy and Expertise in Opening up Data
  • Create tools, skills and communities Data => Knowledge & Insight
  • OKFestival Open Knowledge Festival Largest open data event in the world Berlin 2014
  • What?
  • Data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse and redistribute it for any purpose without restriction or charge
  • Why?
  • Challenge: Exploding Complexity of information In 1820 all UK bank clearing done in a single room in London once a day Today, billions of transactions a minute. => componentization to divide and conquer complexity
  • Opportunity: Information Technology Smart phone = system for the Apollo moon landings 1TB of storage < $100 - in 1994 $450,000. Mass participation in information access, processing and production. Decentralization. Image: ItoWorld OpenStreetmap Edits
  • Many Eyes Will Bring Knowledge To Society And Government
  • Source: report/index
  • 200m potential saving for NHS Credit: Ben Goldacre & Open Healthcare UK
  • Who committed aid for Yolanda?
  • The Many Minds Principle Best Thing to Do With Your Data Will Be Thought of By Someone Else
  • 200m potential saving for NHS Credit: Ben Goldacre & Open Healthcare UK
  • 3 Es Economy Efficiency Empowerment
  • Huge Growth in Open Data in Last Few Years Especially for Government Data
  • Data Catalogs Around the World as of July 2012 Source:
  • Data Catalogs Around the World as of July 2012
  • Is open data simply open washing? Open washing was coined by Christian Villum at Open Knowledge in this blog post: data-and-simply-making-them-available/
  • Open Data Census/Index Russian officials use the ranking on the Index as one of KPIs of data openness. Its been very helpful for us - open data activists - to promote open data and open knowledge in Russia. Ivan Begtin, Ambassador, Open Knowledge Russia Since the Index came out, a number of countries - including the Russian, Indonesian, German and Belgian Governments - are using it as a yardstick for their achievements or lack of it. Andrew Stott, former Director for Transparency and Digital Engagement for the UK Government, & Open Data Advisor at the World Bank In October 2013, ahead of the annual Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit in London, Open Knowledge launched the Open Data Index, the first major assessment of the state of open government data in the world. The Index ranked 70 countries according to the availability and accessibility of data in ten key categories, and is based on peer reviewed submissions from the Open Data Census.
  • No natural order: leaders are those who act
  • Source: Daily Nation, Kenya, November 10, 2012, /1006/1617026/-/n18uhrz/-/index.html
  • Walk the walk on open data Better data Publish data that matters - local and granular Release in open formats Know how well you score
  • Better data Improve formats eg. PDF CSV Documentation: What is in your data Low data quality and closed formats will result in reduced reuse
  • For driving local data use: Granularity is key
  • Release data that matters: eg. grades at school level Source: Twaweza, Tanzania, List of worst schools,
  • Tip: the story is almost always buried in granular data Source: Mapumental
  • Case I: fair distribution of government subsidies Government: Provincial breakdown shows equal distribution Breakdown by postal code = rich gained 20 times higher subsidies than poor areas
  • Case II: US Farm subsidy data
  • Data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse and redistribute it for any purpose without restriction or charge Without open formats data will not be reusable and truly open data
  • Example: geodata portal
  • Source: Know your baseline: assess how to improve
  • In doubt about priorities? Release raw data first...
  • CSOs or journalists will then take care of the rest
  • Tackling questions about open data: The global top 3 excuses why data should not be opened up
  • 1) We cannot release data due to privacy or commercial sensitivity
  • 2) Data quality is not good enough. Its complicated! Response: Just clean it up!
  • 3) We do not have the resources Response: You do not need to release nice visualisations, just release the bare CSVs.
  • So besides all these tips: What makes an open data initiative successful?
  • Change makers in government working together to make it happen!