A sea change in international development

A few years ago, I could not have imagined myself ever considering the World Bank a shining light on what needs to happen in international development. But today’s TED talk by Sanjay Pradhan, vice president of the World Bank Institute, is such a shining example. We come to this crossroads from very different directions, but […]

Open Knowledge Festival

A few weeks ago, in September, the Open Knowledge Festival brought together a world-wide community of people working on all sorts of “open”: open cities, open design, open government, open science, open hardware, open education, … and of course: ope…

Newsletter February 2012

In this newsletter:

  • a wrap-up of the past Open Tea and announcement of the next one.
  • an update on international aid data networking
  • current developments on the IATI NGO working group

Open Tea

On December the 8th the Open for Change network had its first Open Tea at the Amlab in Amterdam, to look back at the past year and discuss where we will be heading in 2012.

Mark Tiele Westra from Akvo presented openaid.nl, an initiative that makes open data on Dutch development aid visualized and searchable.
Marijn  Rijken from TNO informed  and invited us to participate on a research project on the effects of open data for the development sector.

We discussed the organization of the Open for Change network. Evident in the discussion was the important role the Open for Change network holds in connecting, exchanging and supporting open data initiatives and knowledge in the development sector. How this role should be filled in is something we are working on in 2012.

We want to thank the 1%CLUB, Akvo and TextToChange for hosting the open tea in the gorgeous Amlab, and hope to see you there again at the next Open Tea: March 8th, 15:00- 17:00 and after that Open drinks!

International networking

At various meet-ups at conferences in 2011, we discussed ways to strengthen the international network of open aid data activists.

In November, we submitted a proposal for a European Aid Data Network to the EuropeAid budget line of the European Commission, led by AidInfo in the UK, with Partos (NL), FORS (CZ), ACEP (PT), IGO (PL) and the Open Knowledge Foundation (UK). We hope to hear by early March whether we are invited to submit a full proposal.

In the meantime, AidInfo has asked Claudia Schwegmann of OpenAid.de to continue building out this emerging European network. We had a first conference call last Tuesday, and plan to have the next one on March 2nd.

To create joint channels of communication, we invite you all to:

  1. Join the open-development mailing list to discuss international open aid data: http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-development
  2. Track our guide of open aid data-related events, and submit yours: http://lanyrd.com/guides/open-aid-data/


The IATI NGO Working Group is a CSO-led forum that was created with the approval of the IATI Steering Committee to discuss the application of the IATI Standards to the work of CSOs and to present practical proposals on CSO-specific approaches to publication of IATI compatible data.

The CSO Working Group is co-chaired by Beris Gwynne, representing the International NGO Charter of Accountability Company, and Brian Tomlinson, representing the CSO Open Forum.

Both Partos and Open for Change are represented in the group, and we’re aiming to organise an “intervision meeting” for Dutch NGOs in March.

The next peer reference meeting is planned for beginning of March. The first general consultation will hopefully take place in April 2012. Read more on our blog!

Recommended reading

Got news?

If you want to bring in subjects or interesting news for next newsletter, you are more than welcome: send your contributions to info@openforchange.info

Who is implementing the aid transparency agreement?

Owen Barder published an overview by the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) on how far countries and donors are on their road map to publish their aid spending data before the High Level Meeting in Busan, end of this month.

If you’re curious about how the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) can help aid effectiveness, have a look at their video with some stakeholders:

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) from Development Initiatives on Vimeo.


It’s the linking, stupid!

The current discussion around open data often boils down to releasing data sets, and seeing nice visualisations and apps. But lets not forget that the full phrase is linked open data. The real power comes from linking the data. This week, the Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw lets us explore this more.

Just as web pages today link to other pages for further information, the data sets of tomorrow will link to other data sets, for more data. Your browser will help you navigate the data space.

The BBC is ahead in this game, and working on a “Digitial Public Space” project, linking together many sources of cultural data. Jake Berger writes on the BBC blog:

Early versions of this data model indicate that – as hoped – there will be many, varied and often unexpected journeys that can be made through these catalogues and the material they describe. For example, a user starting out by watching a film of a production of Macbeth from the Royal Opera House might then look at a scan of a rare musical manuscript from The National Archives, then browse similar manuscript scans held at the British Library, watch a clip from a BBC documentary about how paper was produced in Shakespeare’s era, before ending up learning about the plants used to make the paper using information from The Royal Botanic Gardens At Kew. In a [Digital Public Space], all of this could happen in the same online space.

That may still sound a bit like the current web of pages. Except: the publishers only provide standardised links for “Shakespeare”, “paper”, etcetera, and your browser makes the connections to offer you ways to move forward:

Mo blogged about the development of a web browser-based user interface, which navigates through these catalogues using the concepts of “people”, “places”, “events”, “things” and “collections”.

In international development aid, the IATI standard is an effort to work towards a similar “digital public space” in which you can navigate through “organisations”, “activities” and “results”.

An important part of establishing that space is to work towards joint standardised identifiers. At our ODDC conference in May, David Pidsley’s Virtual Workshop on Linking Development Data was focused on that, and next weekend, Tim Davies is organising an Organisation Identifiers Workshop as a fringe event for the Open Government Data Camp, in Warsaw, to continue working on this. And we’ll have more general Open Data for Development: Open Space session on Saturday morning.