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Panton Progress at the Half Way Point

Rosie Graves - April 11, 2014 in Panton Fellowships

I’m now six months into my year-long Panton Fellowship and so it’s time to give a short overview of what I’ve achieved so far.  The last quarter has been a busy one that’s for sure with conferences, OA forums, school meetings and instrument developments.

 

Presenting some AQ research at the AQ Conference 2014

Presenting some AQ research at the AQ Conference 2014

In March I spent a week in the beautiful Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the Air Quality Conference.  Whilst I was there as well as enjoying some delicious Bavarian cuisine and presenting some of my PhD research I presented a poster on my Panton work and got some great feedback. Overall everyone seemed to agree that air quality data was a great candidate for an open data project especially with the increasing amount of attention the issue has been getting recently in Europe.  I also had some interesting discussions about the species I am measuring and there was some consensus that I may want to start with a simpler measurement plan so that may be implemented in the near future.

At The University of Leicester we recently had our Research week and as part of that The University Library hosted and Open Access forum. Our special invited guests for this forum were Peter Murray-Rust and Michelle Brook who I was pleased to finally meet in person! It turned out to be a really interesting event where lots of OA issues were discussed in an informal setting. You can see the kind of things that were discussed on PMR’s blog.  I thought that this was a great event with researchers, librarians and OA advocates all discussing the issues surrounding OA. It was especially interesting to see all of the figures that have come out of Michelle’s recent work on the Wellcome Trust APC dataset.

After another meeting with the school that I’m working with we now have a date for installation of the instruments and the start of the project.  We are currently working together to plan an introductory session for the students that will introduce them to the project and get them to think about where we might want to install the instruments. As I mentioned in my last blog post I now have a webpage to host my data and the sensor has undergone some calibrations in the lab.

Not a bad view from the conference centre in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Not a bad view from the conference centre in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

I’ve also been busy contributing to a citizen science in atmospheric science review paper which is now under review and preparing to present as part of a short course on school outreach at EGU in Vienna at the end of the month.

So a busy few months but I think for me the next couple of months look to be the most exciting with installation of sensors and data streaming in.

Why secret contracts matter in aid transparency

Nicole Valentinuzzi - April 11, 2014 in Campaigning, Stop Secret Contracts

The following guest post is by Nicole Valentinuzzi, from our Stop Secret Contracts campaign partner Publish What You Fund.

A new campaign to Stop Secret Contracts, supported by the Open Knowledge Foundation, Sunlight Foundation and many other international NGOs, aims to make sure that all public contracts are made available in order to stop corruption before it starts.

As transparency campaigners ourselves, Publish What You Fund is pleased to be a supporter of this new campaign. We felt it was important to lend our voice to the call for transparency as an approach that underpins all government activity.

We campaign for more and better information about aid, because we believe that by opening development flows, we can increase the effectiveness and accountability of aid. We also believe that governments have a duty to act transparently, as they are ultimately responsible to their citizens.

This includes publishing all public contracts that governments put out for tender, from school books to sanitation systems. These publicly tendered contracts are estimated to top nearly US$ 9.5 trillion each year globally, yet many are agreed behind closed doors.

These secret contracts often lead to corruption, fraud and unaccountable outsourcing. If the basic facts about a contract aren’t made publicly available – for how much and to whom to deliver what – then it is not possible to make sure that corruption and abuses don’t happen.

But what do secret contracts have to do with aid transparency, which is what we campaign for at Publish What You Fund? Well, consider the recent finding by the campaign that each year Africa loses nearly a quarter of its GDP to corruption…then consider what that money could have been spent on instead – things like schools, hospitals and roads.

This is money that in many cases is intended to be spent on development. It should be published – through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), for example – so that citizens can follow the money and hold governments accountable for how it is spent.

But corruption isn’t just a problem in Africa – the Stop Secret Contracts campaign estimates Europe loses an estimated €120 billion to corruption every year.

At Publish What You Fund, we tell the world’s biggest providers of development cooperation that they must publish their aid information to IATI because it is the only internationally-agreed, open data standard. Information published to IATI is available to a wide range of stakeholders for their own needs – whether people want to know about procurement, contracts, tenders or budgets. More than that, this is information that partner countries have asked for.

Governments use tax-payer money to award contracts to private companies in every sector, including development. We believe that any companies that receive public money must be subject to the same transparency requirements as governments when it comes to the goods and services they deliver.

Greater transparency and clearer understanding of the funds that are being disbursed by governments or corporates to deliver public services can only be helpful in building trust and supporting accountability to citizens. Whether it is open aid or open contracts, we need to get the information out of the hands of governments and into the hands of citizens.

Ultimately for us, the question remains how transparency will improve aid – and open contracts are another piece of the aid effectiveness puzzle. Giving citizens full and open access to public contracts is a crucial first step in increasing global transparency. Sign the petition now to call on world leaders to make this happen.

stopsecretcontracts logo

Case Study: Steve Kenei, Technical Analyst at Development Initiatives in Nairobi, Kenya

Zara Rahman - April 10, 2014 in Open Development Toolkit

As part of the Open Development Toolkit, we’ll be talking to people based in aid-recipient countries who work with international aid data to try and work out what the needs of data users are, what else might be useful, and what people need to use data more effectively in their work, as the ‘research’ stage in the project. Here’s the first in the series of case studies, with Steve Kenei, who works with Development Initiatives in Nairobi, Kenya. Steve is a Technical Analyst, working to support a team of data analysts and researchers, and we spoke via Skype on April 10th, 2014.

Colleagues at Development Initiatives come to me to find out how/where to get the data they need, to convert it into a format they can work with, and to manipulate the data.

A common issue that I come across is people coming to me with PDFs, and needing the data in a reusable format; it’s an old problem, and it’s getting boring!

I normally work directly with the IATI Datastore, but for people with less technical knowledge, there’s a number of problems with it. Even before you get to the technical skills needed to manipulate the data, even the language used isn’t useful for the average layperson: the words and terms used assume that people will understand and know what an ‘activity’, or a ‘transaction’, or a ‘budget’ is, as the very first step, for example. Then it’s difficult to know what you need in order to answer your question or even if it’s possible to answer what you’re looking for with data from the IATI datastore.

I usually point people towards donor portals, if they know who they want the data from—DFID’s DevTracker for example, or the UNDP’s open data portal. My colleagues also had a two-day training on using the OECD data, so now they can access this data themselves without any problems; this was really useful for them.

From my experience, people don’t often need disaggregated figures or even detailed geocoded data. They’re more interested in big aggregated figures that they can use in a ‘headline’ style, rather than the small, detailed data. For example, the level of knowing how much is being spent in a certain country within a certain sector is adequate, or how much a certain donor is spending in a certain country.

There was one time that a colleague of mine wanted to know how much money was being spent on HIV/AIDS prevention + support in Western Kenya, but we couldn’t find anything. We looked at the IATI datastore, directly on the Global Fund site, but we didn’t get anything.

If you are working with aid data in your work, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with zara.rahman[at]okfn.org, or drop @OpenDevToolkit a line on Twitter; your input would be so valuable to help us understand what we can best do to support you in your work!

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Mister Fox (1870)

Adam Green - April 10, 2014 in mister fox, silhouettes

A short piece of juvenile literature about the hungry Mister Fox and his attempts to acquire dinner for his family - an endeavour which proves successful despite the attempts of the farmer and his wife to intervene - all illustrated in a series of delightful silhouettes.

Finnish Museum of Photography joins Flickr Commons

Lieke Ploeger - April 10, 2014 in Featured, News

Today the  Finnish Museum of Photography joined Flickr: The Commons, an online repository for openly licensed images, as a participating institution. The Finnish Museum of Photography is the national special museum for photography and houses diverse collections on photographic art, photographic culture, photojournalism, fashion shots, press photos and portraits, by both professionals and amateurs. The sets that have now been […]

Mary and Gretel (1917)

Adam Green - April 9, 2014 in animation, dolls, fairies, toys

A fairy brings two dolls to life, part of a short lived stop-motion puppet series by animator Howard S. Moss, described as Alice in Wonderland meets the Garden of Eden, a surreal fable of a drunk rabbit, bowling dwarfs, and the two bewildered girls of the title.

OKFestival 2014 Financial Aid Programme Launches Today!

Beatrice Martini - April 9, 2014 in Events, Featured, News, OKFest, OKFestival

The OKFestival 2014 Team is happy to announce that we are launching our Financial Aid Programme today! Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 4.55.39 PM We’re delighted to support and ensure the attendance of those with great ideas who are actively involved in the open movement, but whose distance or finances make it difficult for them to get to this year’s festival in Berlin. Diversity and inclusivity are a huge part of our festival ethos and we are committed to ensuring broad participation from all corners of the world. We’re striving to create a forum for all ideas and all people and our Financial Aid Programme will help us to do just that.

What: OKFestival, 15-17th July 2014, Berlin

How to Apply: Check out our Financial Aid webpage

Deadline: Sunday 4th May

Our Travel Grants cover travel and accommodation costs, and our aim is to get you to Berlin if you can’t quite make it there yourself. For more information on what we’ll cover – and what we won’t – how to apply, and what to expect if you do, have a look at our Financial Aid page.

  Image credit: Flickr user Andrew Nash

OKFestival 2014 Financial Aid Programme Launches Today!

Megan McGrattan - April 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

The OKFestival 2014 Team is happy to announce that we are launching our Financial Aid Programme today. We’re delighted to support and ensure the attendance of those with great ideas who are actively involved in the open movement, but whose distance or finances make it difficult for them to get to this year’s festival in Berlin. Diversity and inclusivity are a huge part of our festival ethos and we are committed to ensuring broad participation from all corners of the world. We’re striving to create a forum for all ideas and all people and our Financial Aid Programme will help us to do just that.

What: OKFestival, 15-17th July 2014, Berlin

How to Apply: Check out our Financial Aid webpage

Deadline: Sunday 4th May

Our Travel Grants cover travel and accommodation costs, and our aim is to get you to Berlin if you can’t quite make it there yourself. For more information on what we’ll cover – and what we won’t – how to apply, and what to expect if you do, have a look at our Financial Aid page.

 
Image credit: Flickr user Andrew Nash

Fashions of the Future as Imagined in 1893

Adam Green - April 8, 2014 in fashion, future, retro-future, retrofu, victorian

Illustrations from a delightful piece called the Future Dictates of Fashion by W. Cade Gall and published in 1893 which tries to predict the next 100 years of fashion.

Die Gewinner von Apps for Europe 2014

Daniel Dietrich - April 5, 2014 in Apps4EU, Business Lounge, Featured, offene Daten, Open Data, Startup

FutureEverything Summit  2013 - Image by TAPE | www.WeAreTAPE.com

Die Gewinner der ersten Runde des  Wettbewerbs Apps for Europe wurden am 1. April auf der internationalen Konferenz FutureEverything 2014 in Manchester ausgelobt. Um Entwicklern von datengetriebene Anwendungen dabei zu helfen, ihre Prototypen in Startups und tragfähige Unternehmen zu verwandeln, ergänzt Apps for Europe lokale Apps-Wettbewerbe mit dem Format “Business Lounge“. Hier werden die Entwickler darin unterstützt ein Geschäftsmodell für ihre Idee zu entwickeln, einen Business plan zu schreiben und diesen vor Investoren zu “pitchen”. Erfolgreiche Kandidaten konnten sich dann mit ihrer App und ihrem Business Plan bei der ersten pan-europäischen Business Lounge bewerben.

Von den hunderten von Teilnehmern der ersten Runde des hatte eine hochkarätige Jury eine Vorauswahl von 10 Finalisten nach Manchester eingeladen. Diese hatten dort die Gelegenheit ihre Apps dem Publikum von FutureEverything vorzustellen sowie ihren Business Plan in einer Startup Masterclasses unter Anleitung von namhaften Experten weiterzuentwickeln. Auf der abendlichen Award Ceremony wurden schließlich die beiden Gewinner ausgelobt, einer von der Jury und einer vom Publikum.

Jury prize: BikeCityGuideThis app was created by two former bike couriers; it guides cyclists on bike friendly routes with less traffic for a safe and easy bike ride, point to point routing is available offline. The app also recommends tours connecting points of interest in the city. There are already packages for more than thirty European cities and new cities are constantly being added. There is a voting page online, which encourages users to vote for the next city they want the app to cover.

Audience prize: NostalgeoAn app which combines contemporary street views with old postcards in order to create street views of the past. As well as using existing open data it will get people from all over Europe to put their old postcards online. Users will be able to create walks based on shared old maps and postcard stories. Nostalgeo was created by Nazka Mapps.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch! Es wird interessant sein die Entwicklung der beiden Gewinner, aber auch die der 10 Finalisten und aller anderen Projekte zu beobachten die bei Apps for Europe teilgenommen haben. Denn wir sind erst am Anfang des Prozesses aus offenen Daten Anwendungen und Apps zu bauen, die einen echten Mehrwert für die Gesellschaft bringen.

Nach dem Wettbewerb ist vor dem Wettbewerb. Apps for Europe wird auch weiterhin den Teilnehmern von lokalen Apps Wettbewerbe, Code Sprints und Hackathons dabei helfen etwas aus ihrer App zu machen. Die zweite Runde der pan-europäischen Business Lounge wird demnächst bekannt gegeben. Stay tuned!

Apps for Europe ist ein von der Europäischen Kommission gefördertes Unterstützernetzwerk mit dem Ziel, den Entwicklern von datengetriebene Apps dabei zu helfen diese in Startups und tragfähige Unternehmen zu verwandeln. Die Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland ist Teil dieses Netzwerks. Weiter Informationen über unser Konsortium finden Sie unter: www.apps4europe.eu/about-us. Im Anhang finden Sie die Pressemitteilung zur Preisverleihung (PDF, Englisch).