Open Government Data Camp 2011

Anna Kuliberda
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On 21-22 of October the capital of Poland hosted the biggest Open Government Data (OGD) event in the world this year. It was organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation with the cooperation of Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt Polska (link Polish only). There were more than 250 people from 41 countries. You could talk to techies, members of transparency-oriented NGOs, journalists, social activists, government officials, EU Commission representatives and so on. During two days of the main conference and almost a week of satellite events, there was a lot of time to review different approaches to open government data, especially in terms of new trends and the future of the movement.

What is Open Data?

If you don’t know yet what open government data is, you can watch this movie. Open Government Data means better efficiency of public administration. It means better information about services for the general public. It can also be about using apps to improve our daily lives. These are apps created by the public, not by public officials.

OGD can serve social change as well. A lot of NGOs are funded with public money, and increasing their accountability may help in achieving better efficiency in spending that money. It’s about social innovation because it opens doors to amazing resources that can help solve social issues and inspire change through technology.

To some, open data is just another buzz word. On the other hand, we can see a lot of new interesting and helpful apps which relate to public transportation, letting the authorities know about streets that need to be fixed, better access to information about legislation processes, knowing what exactly is going on in the parliament and gaining better understating of public money spending. It is worth noting that with the same pieces of (open) information, everybody can create such apps.

OGD matters if you don’t like your tax money to be spent wrongly (read Chris Taggart’s blog post), but you can also see its power if you want to avoid food poisoning (go to David Eaves’ blog to learn more). Nobody knows yet what will be the next great application created by (social) innovators. That’s why it really makes sense to open public data!

Let’s do it then! The next big event for the OGD Community is the Open Data Day on December the 3rd. We’re all invited to organize an open data meeting (to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data) or participate in one!

Maybe today and certainly tomorrow…

We’re now living in a time when governments are starting to open their resources. However, they make this information available in many different formats and in many ways, which may not necessarily be compatible with one another, so mashing them up takes a lot of effort. Sometimes it’s just not worth doing.

The new trend in opening the data is linking it more and everywhere it’s possible. This is the solution for the mess that has been created by too many formats and data with too many formats and data. It is designed to help you find hyperlinks which can be missed throughout the processing and therefore keep it in better order. And thanks to its quality it allows the analysis to focus on deep data mining. It was very well shown by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in his “The Next Web” TED speech in 2009.

Interesting projects like open World Bank, Open Corporates, Open Charities and Open Product data are emanations of this trend. Maybe the next big step will be data released by every single non-profit organization.

No matter what your idea is for social change, there is some data you can use to increase your impact whether is it for data mining, lobbying or creating useful apps. Open Data is all about being more entrepreneurial, efficient and innovative by using online tools and is a crucial topic for social activists, journalists and community builders. It’s also about entrepreneurship and innovation for social activists, so we all are welcome in this community.

You can find out more about the event here:
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OGDCamp participants

The picture by HermannPachulke (Some rights reserved)