From 11 June 09:00 (GMT) until 24 June 2014 !
Wikiprogress and partners invite you to join this discussion on the role of
open data, communication and technology in making data more
accessible for society at large.
The purpose of this online discussion is to take a broad look at the opportunities and
challenges of using open data, visualisation, and other technology-based approaches to
making data more accessible for society. We would like to hear from people who are
dealing with these issues in their work and research, and also from people who are new
to the topic but would like to participate in the debate to learn more.
Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. In order to empower citizens and
ensure they have the information they need, we need to find innovative ways to make
data more accessible for society at large. “Accessibility” can mean different things in this
First, it can mean making data more freely available for people to download, use, and share with others.
This is the principle behind the Open Data movement, which encourages governments and other
organisations to make all kinds of data that are relevant to people’s lives completely transparent and
available to all. Engaged citizens can use open data to make better-informed decisions, to hold
governments and other institutions accountable for their actions, and to contribute to finding solutions to
social problems. For many, open data is also the key to the “data revolution” needed to achieve the
Sustainable Development Goals.
Not everyone has the time or the ability to make the most out of raw data though. A second way of making
data more accessible is through effective communication. Data producers, or “intermediaries” such as
bloggers, data journalists, campaigners, and other communicators, can make the underlying meaning of
data more easily understandable through the use of effective storytelling. Effective data visualisation, in
particular, can be an immensely powerful way of conveying the sense of complex analysis in clear and
simple terms for a broad, non-expert audience.
Finally, accessibility can also refer to ease of participation. Interactive technologies such as mobile apps
and crowdsourcing platforms, can enable all members of society to contribute as data producers, not just
data consumers. Citizen-generated data is a relatively new field, but one with a large potential to collect
information that is directly relevant to people’s well-being, in a low-cost and timely manner. Innovative
projects such as Mappiness, OpenStreetMap, HarrasMap, and Moodometer demonstrate the wide range
of uses of crowdsourced dataments for this thread are now closed.
WP - Making data more accessible
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sgulbahar Mod • 4 days ago
Dear all, thank you for your participation in this discussion and for taking the time to share and
exchange your knowledge and ideas. We'll be using the contributions from this discussion to
inform the design of a number of activities this year, including a workshop and a report on
engaging citizen in web 2.0 technology and data that we will submit to the European
Commission and share with you later this year.
Amy Taylor - CIVICUS • 4 days ago
Open data is the cornerstone of the Big Development DataShift - an ambitious, multistakeholder
initiative to leverage the potential of new technologies for more creative and effective social
accountability. The DataShift brings citizen voice to the heart of sustainable development by
building a community of people and resources prepared to harness the data revolution. It is a
movement and a tool to monitor and shape progress on the new global development agenda by
Promoting People-Powered Accountability. Find out more at http://www.thedatashift.org.
Donatella Fazio - Web-COSI • 4 days ago
Open data is a crucial element for democracy. Thanks to the opportunities given by Internet
citizens are pushing governments and administrations to transparency on their behavior and on
the use of common resources. The citizens wants to be proactively involved in monitoring the
activities carried out by policy
administrators. The Web 2.0 tools and platforms can surely be a crucial instrument to narrow
the gap between citizens and policy makers. In Italy best practices of interactive platforms can
be found mainly at local level (see http://www.monithon.it/main?l=... even if efforts are being
carried out also at national level.
On the side of the data producers, the National Statistical Offices (European and abroad) have
radically improved the way of disseminating the data using Internet opportunities. The portals
of the Statistical Offices give the possibility to visualize the data, construct tables using the
different territorial levels for
the chosen variables, visualizing the data on maps,....
In the lastperiod, the National Statistical Offices are working to collect the liquid data available
on line with the awareness that unofficial sources can respond to the growing needs for
Great efforts are being carried out on the side of the Big Data (see http://www.cros-
portal.eu/cont... ). The question is how they can be used for statistical production: integrate the
data obtainedby surveys or to complement them. Many issues on the quality and validation on
the usage of Big Data arise.
For the National Statistical Offices , new sources of data can be the crowd sourced platforms
where citizens "produce" non-official data. Citizen-generated data is a very new field for
Statistical Offices, but one with a large potential to collect information that is directly relevant to
Crowd sourced data can give data at real time. Crowd sourced data cannot respond to the
classical statistical framework of quality. They should however be used clearly labelled to be
distinguished from the official data.
As the Web 2.0 era is now and the power of onlinecommunities grows ever stronger institutions
of diverse type and scope cannot ignoretheir centrality for the “definition” of better statistics for
better policiesfor a better quality of life.
Kate Scrivens Mod Donatella Fazio - Web-COSI • 4 days ago
Dear Donatella, thanks for this contribution with some interesting examples and giving
the perspective of the national statistical offices. I agree that there is a huge potential
for NSOs to use online communities to crowdsource data, while recognising the need to
ensure quality. Are you aware of any examples of best practice in data visualisation
among National Statistical Offices?
Caroline Giraud, GFMD • 4 days ago
Dear all, our comment to question number one :
Democratising data: the need to make statistics more accessible to everyone Access to
information and data is usually not enough to ensure true democratisation. A true
1) access to data and public data. That needs to be done via good A2I laws AND correct practical
implementation, i.e. no fee to pay to get the data for institutions, minimal delays to access the
2) It also requires the right platforms and intermediaries to translate data into digestible and
relevant information - those are classically media, if possible using data journalism
(methodology used by groups of coders + journalists), who scrape the data and make an actual
story of public interest out of it.
This is reflected in the proposed language we shared with the Open Working Group, with an
alliance of 200 organisations, for the draft zero of SDGs. The document is
here: http://gfmd.info/images/upload... .
sgulbahar Mod Caroline Giraud, GFMD • 4 days ago
Dear Caroline, Thank you for sharing the "Freedom of Expression and Access to
Information Post-2015: Targets.." document, that I encourage others to look at.
Greater access to data and public and more data journalism has been been consistently
mentioned in this discussion with good reason. Salema
Barry Crisp • 4 days ago
Open Data can definitely play a role in increasing citizens' engagement with well-being and
progress statistics. People love open source channels such as wikipedia because not only is
information readily available and free by way of a simple keyword search, but those engaged can
also add to it (with referencing of course). This is the best way to allow the medium for
engagement, as well as empower people to contribute because often or not the global populace
don't know where to access government/research data and are very much wary of the data, as
most are not part of the process in collecting that data.
How we present data is vitally important. The majority of people won't remember statistics
layered upon statistics, not unless it is needed for reporting or an essay of some sort. People
connect with visuals and emotions. Data needs to be presented in a multimedia setting (use of
creative graphs, photography, graphic design, film and much more). Above all, keep the message
and statistics simple.
sgulbahar Mod Barry Crisp • 4 days ago
Thanks Barry, Indeed communication is essential. Would i-genius have examples of
initiatives that has have been very effective in communicating data and statistics and/
or in using technology to engage people with information? Salema
Oboh Eromonsele Samuel • 5 days ago
Hello Everyone, my name is Oboh Eromonsele, currently a freelance technologist and also an
open data enthusiast.
I have learnt a lot reading comments on the leading questions above. I will like to use this
medium to talk a bit about open data landscape in Nigeria.
I recently wrote a white paper to raise awareness about the potential benefits of Nigeria's
proposed open data initiative -Click link to download: http://bit.ly/1iznhp0 In addition, the
paper targets the NGOs, CSOs, Academics, Private bodies, Govt agencies, technologist etc. With
a view of getting all these players to understand the concept of open data as well as what benefits
they can harness from it.
Furthermore, the Edo State government of Nigeria recently launched the first sub national open
data portal in Africa -Click link to view: http://bit.ly/1olX4IL
From my little research, I think we need more discussions on how open data can be fully
harnessed in Nigeria and also create avenues to bridge skill gaps through workshops, trainings
of interested citizens to harness data for social good of the society.
thank you and ignore typos
sgulbahar Mod Oboh Eromonsele Samuel • 5 days ago
Oboh Eromonsele, its a pleasure to have you join the discussion. Your paper provides a
useful introduction to the Nigerian Open Data scene. How do you think Nigerian
citizens can better engage with and understand data that is important for them in
making decision? @Amparo below provided an example from Kenya. As a technologist
and considering the extensive use of mobile technology in Nigeria - is this an area that
needs to be more exploited? Thanks Salema
Oboh Eromonsele Samuel sgulbahar • 5 days ago
Hello Salema, thank you for response.
In my response to your first question, We need avenues at local, state and
federal levels where citizens can fundamentally demand for their choice
datasets from the government. Once data is available, I think the use of
infographics will help to visualise data so citizens across any literary sphere can
make decisions with them. Also considering the low percentage of Nigerians
online, the use of radio media, bill boards and offline data agents to pass on
information directly to those that can't query an online database system.
Budgit, a creative start-up in Nigeria has helped analyse our nations budget
data in easy to understand infographics -Click Site link
here: http://bit.ly/1l4GHwx . We also have Followthemoney a project by Coded
Development which helps track government spending -Click link for
details: http://bit.ly/1iraC7L However, we need more of these platforms to
allow for citizen engagement with decision makers in the government.
Finally, In 2013 Nigeria recorded over 121 million mobile phone active
subscribers. This figure states very clearly the importance of mobile technology
in making data more accessible to the society and also a platform for
crowdsourcing data directly from the society. So therefore, this area needs to be
Thank you and ignore typos
Duccio Zola • 5 days ago
Hello everybody! My name is Duccio Zola, and I’m a researcher at Lunaria, an Italian
Association for Social Promotion involved in the Web-COSI European project.
I would like to share some “theoretical” insight in relation to the first leading question of this
interesting and fruitful online discussion (“What role can Open Data play to increase citizen’s
engagement with well-being and progress statistics?”).
First of all, we should keep in mind that “well-being” is a prismatic term and a sort of “catch-all
concept”. In my opinion it is useful to maintain and not to curtail this complexity – indeed this
heuristic richness – in order to tackle the wide range of possibilities opened up by Open Data in
the field of producing, collecting, visualizing, and disseminating statistical information on well-
being and societal progress: from individual lifestyle to the quality of life of a given population in
a given geographical area, from environmental sustainability up to institutional transparency
and citizens participation…
Second, we are now aware of the “structural” limitations of official statistics in covering with
adequate and fit-for-purpose statistical information relevant dimensions and aspects which
determine or have a direct impact on well-being, the quality of life of citizens or the quality of
development of a country or a region. In my opinion, the point that needs to be stressed here is
that today, in a condition of deep economic crisis which adds to a growing social complexity and
ecological interdependence, the role of both citizens and CSOs boosted by the availability of
Open Data in monitoring and collecting statistical information on the various dimensions of
well-being becomes more and more central. At the same time, this role is more and more
considered and recognized as a valuable lever for integration of official statistical information
produced by public institutions at the local, national or supranational level.
On the political front, moreover, the current debate on well-being is fueled by the fact that the
issue of its assessment and measurement, as well as a mere statistical exercise, has a very strong
political significance. In this light, the selection of statistics and indicators influences the
evaluation of policies to be implemented: what is measured is at the basis of what one
does…and, in its turn, what is measured relies upon the supply, transparency, accessibility of
Last but not least, Open Data, in particular when coupled with the use of new technologies (web
2.0 interactive technology, e.g. crowdsourcing platforms, mobile apps…), are a pillar of social
innovation and an essential tool for both raising public awareness and encouraging the direct
involvement and activation of citizens in the collection, dissemination and re-use of data and
statistical information on the issues and different aspects related to well-being.
Thus, in conclusion, the new “Open Data paradigm” represents a major turning point for what
could be called a double and convergent movement of “democratizing statistics” and “informing
Kate Scrivens Mod Duccio Zola • 5 days ago
Dear Duccio, many thanks for this very interesting comment! Lunaria just organised a
very interesting webinar on Engaging Citizens in statistics for the Web-COSI project
last week, and there were some interesting examples of the use of open data and
crowdsourcing data for social well-being initiatives. Would you be able to share with us
the websites of any of the projects you think could be relevant here that were
mentioned in the seminar? They could be of great interest to other participants int his
Duccio Zola Kate Scrivens • 5 days ago
Hi Kate! Yes, last Friday Lunaria has promoted a webinar in the framework of
the Web-COSI two-years activities’ program.
The webinar, entitled “Civil society engagement in well-being statistics: good
practices from Italy”, aimed primarily at encouraging the exchange and
dissemination of good practices carried out by some CSOs in the field of the
production of statistical information on well-being and societal progress – be it
through the collection, aggregation and analysis of data, or the realization of
specific synthetic indexes.
We are planning to upload in the next few days the video registration of the
webinar on the Web-COSI website (www.webcosi.eu), and to open up as well a
section for viewers’ comments and questions. So…everybody is welcome to join
This is the list of CSOs (and their good practices) which have taken the floor
during the webinar:
- World Wildlife Fund - Italy: “The Ecological Footprint Initiative”;
- Monithon: “The Civic Online Monitoring of Italian Public Policies”;
- Legambiente: “The Urban Ecosystem Report”;
- Open Budget Initiative: “The Open Budget Index”.
In presenting their good practices, the speakers have tackled major issues.
Among them: the vision of well-being which lays behind their experiences, the
kind of “non-official” statistical information provided, the role of new
technologies, the relationship with the political and institutional world.
In particular, for what concerns your question, the Open Data topic is at the
center of the work of at least two of the invited CSOs: Monithon
(www.monithon.it) and Open Budget Initiative (www.internationalbudget.org).
I would add also OpenPolis (www.openpolis.it) and Spaghetti Open Data
(spaghettiopendata.org): unfortunately they could not participate to the
webinar, but their work in Italy with Open Data is definitely great.
Melinda George Mod • 5 days ago
A result of an open data society is that data will inevitably become more freely available for
young people to download, use, and share. This means that we need to train children and youth
to become more data savvy, so they can interpret the increasing amounts of raw data and
visualisations. Big Idea's workshop in Tanzania (mentioned earlier in the discussion) is a great
example of the kind of training we need!
Also, there should be more young people telling the data stories. The European Youth Press
(EYP) has begun training young journalists to use more data in their work. In 2013, EYP
launched the “FlagIt!” project which trained 48 young journalists from 4 continents on how to
use digital visualisation tools in open source platforms. This September, EYP will be hosting a
conference for young European journalists (18 to 26 years old) on data-driven journalism.
Do you know of other initiatives that include child and youth in the data revolution?
(To see the full blog post on this topic, click here: bit.ly/1ipRiaN)
Chris Yiu Melinda George • 5 days ago
Hi Melinda, I think you're spot on about helping children and young people to be more
data savvy. One initiative that I like is Young Scot who teamed up with Skyscanner to
give away 500 Raspberry Pi computers, to help more young people learn
As well as encouraging better programming skills we also need to do more on statistics
more generally. The Royal Statistical Society is doing some great work on this:
sgulbahar Mod Melinda George • 5 days ago
Thanks Melinda. Do you think future generations will be better equipped - will their
education enable them to better understand and use data to make important decision
about their well-being? Do you think that we should be making a far greater effort to
train young people to utilise data or should the emphasis be ensuring we tell stories
and visualise data in a way that makes it easier for young people to understand. Salema
Melinda George Mod sgulbahar • 5 days ago
I can only hope that future generations will be better equipped, and that's what
we're working towards here. However, they won't be better equipped if we don't
provide them with tools and training. Initially, this will most likely happen
outside of the classroom. The importance of training teachers should not be
overlooked either. Using more data-based arguments and visualizations in the
classroom would increase students' familiarity.
Your second question is difficult, because I think they're both important parts
of the process. For example, we all learn to read and write, while only a few of
us become journalists. The same goes for data. There will be an increase in
storytellers if more young people are trained to analyse data. If I had to choose,
I would say training young people to utilize data is more important. Otherwise,
they passively receive the information without being able to scrutinize it
themselves. Although, for more immediate results, perhaps we should currently
focus on telling stories and creating visualizations.
Joseph Hancock Melinda George • 5 days ago
I'm sorry to be coming to this discussion so late. This is such an
interesting and important topic. It's great to see such a wide range of
comments and contributors!
In reply to Salema's second question. I feel that the two options aren't
mutually exclusive. In my experience, understanding inspires scrutiny
and ignites analysis. So hopefully we can do both, first we
explain/inspire, then they explore and interrogate. By highlighting
patterns and revealing hidden connections, data visualization
encourages us to demand answers to questions that we otherwise
wouldn't have known to ask.
I work in the International Coordinating Centre for the Health
Behaviour in School-aged Children study. We are currently exploring
how we can make our data, and the stories hidden within, as available
and as engaging as possible. Data visualizations are a big part of this
and the future certainly looks like an exciting place.
Emma Samman • 5 days ago
Big Data must increase and not reduce the power of citizens. We want to see Big Data amplify
the voice and knowledge of the emitters of data, not just improve the insights and means of
surveillance of corporations and governments. This will require a better informed, more
empowered, global citizenry, and a deeper understanding of the appropriate balance between
individual, social, governmental, and commercial interests—with the overarching ethical
dimensions and implications.
This is why we created the Data-Pop Alliance: to spur a ‘humanistic’, people-centered, Big Data
revolution, cautiously, humbly but resolutely, by providing an enabling environment for
learning, information sharing, experimentation, evaluation and capacity building; to catalyze
and coordinate developments and innovations in the use of Big Data to help serve the cause of
We believe that structural impact will only come about through a range of connected activities,
than through a single big initiative or a myriad of disjointed projects. We believe decision should
be taken with an eye on the main prize: a future where Big Data improves lives and reduces
inequalities, rather than one characterized by a new and widening digital divide. Read the full
blog here http://bit.ly/1hRvJ2L
Kate Scrivens Mod Emma Samman • 5 days ago
Thanks Emma - the work of the Data Pop Alliance looks really interesting, and you're
exactly right that the data revolution needs to be people-centred. I understand that
Data-Pop is still quite new, but have you already found any interesting examples of
'humanistic' big data use that you could share with us?
katebailey1602 • 8 days ago
The most important thing seems to be practice! So engagement with data regularly, discussing it
with colleagues regularly and having a healthy, questioning attitude towards data. By that I
mean not taking the data as the only truth, but triangulating with other bits of evidence, look for
other data that contextualises a score (for example, socio-economic status, ethnic background
etc). But also I have today found some really interesting research about cognitive load and how
important that can be for good understanding. So much processing capacity can be taken up by
understanding pieces of the puzzle that the whole picture is missed. I could provide some
references if anyone was interested. Finally, there is some interesting evidence from eye-
tracking data which shows which pieces of a visual report people are attracted to first. This
means you can plan a piece of reporting in a way that focuses the attention on the most relevant
data. Hope that helps.
katebailey1602 • 8 days ago
Hi there. I work in a research group at Durham University in England. We produce assessments
for schools to evaluate the progress that children are making. My PhD research is around how
best to represent information in such a way as it promotes good decision making and,
subsequently, promotes good outcomes for students. I have been reading some of the literature
around cognitive load in the processing of data visualisations and although I have no firm
conclusions yet, I am pretty sure that some of the examples of assessment reporting that come
out of the UK must be largely incomprehensible to anyone but the most dedicated of
mathematicians. I did an online survey of around 300 teachers last year which asked them
about their confidence in interpreting assessment data and followed it up with a test of their
knowledge (unfortunately with a different sample). There were some interesting findings and I
am looking forward to getting more conclusive results. An overwhelming finding was that over
95% of teachers had had no training specific to the understanding of assessment data and that
was a bit of a shock. I am really interested in the train of discussion so far and it would be great
to keep involved.
sgulbahar Mod katebailey1602 • 8 days ago
Hi Kate ( @katebailey1602 ), great to have you join the discussion. Just from your
research and reading so far, what would you say have been or could be the most
promising (effective) ways of engaging people like the teachers you mention with data
that is essential for good decision making? Is it a questions of training or can we make
data and statistics more accessible? Thanks Salema
Tin Geber • 8 days ago
Thank you for this lively exchange of opinions and sharing of projects. My name is Tin; with the
engine room (https://www.theengineroom.org/... we work to close gaps between advocacy and
technology through research and networks. We are working with CIVICUS on the DataShift
(thedatashift.org) project concept and implementation: this project looks into citizen-generated
data and its efficacy in monitoring the post-2015 development goals, as well as what needs to
happen in order to bridge the gap between comparability and coverage to inform campaigning.
Another project that is very close to the theme of this discussion is the Responsible Data Forum
(https://responsibledata.io), a series of collaborative events, co-organized by Aspiration and the
engine room, and convened to develop useful tools and strategies for dealing with the ethical,
security and privacy challenges facing data-driven advocacy.
An important intersection to consider when speaking about the efficacy and impact of open data
for the social good is the link between the data itself and how it's presented; strategies and
means of consumption of that data. The process of opening data by public institutions is of
course a laudable and important process. However, it is very important that the data is easily
accessible by humans and computers alike, the former through curated stories and semantically
tagged information, open formats (.csv) and fully downloadable information, the latter through
APIS, machine-readable data structures and rich metadata. It is an unfortunate, yet regular
phenomenon, when institutions publish data online that is really, really hard to get to: locked in
PDF files, split between dozens or hundreds of strangely tagged web pages, complex and badly
formatted .xls files etc.
sgulbahar Mod Tin Geber • 8 days ago
Hi Tin, thanks for sharing and for the useful links. Would you have good examples of
where data has been made more accessible via visualization and storytelling? In your
experience, what would you say were the main challenges for the organisations that
want to get citizens to engage with data (that affects their lives) using technology.
Tin Geber sgulbahar • 8 days ago
A very good resource for your first question is Visualizing Information for
Advocacy, by the Tactical Tech Collective: https://visualisingadvocacy.or...
For the second question, I think there is a preliminary consideration to make
on whether organisations actually want to get citizens to engage, or if the open
data portal "du jour" is simply a low-budget, good-enough, mandated response
to external pressure. Most access problems stem from the latter.
If organizations are truly keen on helping citizen interact with their data, the
main challenge in my opinion would lie in the information architecture:
cleaning, tagging, presenting in a way that is as usable as possible, and flagging
those cases in which usability is still out of reach. The two aspects of that
challenge are 1) creating a solid, scalable standard for future data publications,
and 2) adapting already existing data to follow the common standard.
Gérard Chenais • 9 days ago
The following is not about opening primary, unit level data (school, hospital, enterprise, farms,
plots, village, etc) but about Statistics explained a good practice in electronic publications by
Eurostat "presenting statistical data on a specific topic in an easily understandable way" to
See http://www.unece.org/fileadmin... a paper presented by Eurostat during an UNECE Work
Session on the Communication of Statistics 18 - 20 June
I believe that using Wikipedia type wiki software and structure (as Wikiprogress does) is great,
although that for Statistics explained only Eurostat staff is authorised to make change or create
pages, which is understandable in the context. There is a cumulative dynamic there that quite a
number of organisations officially dealing with statistics or quantitative data could consider for
the dissemination of their own data and related knowledge. See also the recent move to
introduce flexible dashboards with the objective of increasing the user-friendliness of data
To me, a major policy was to introduce a glossary that aims at helping users unfamiliar with
exact definition of terms by hyper-linking those terms when used in an article. Another was to
convert the traditional printed Statistics yearbooks into a component of a wider encyclopaedia of
European statistics (different from statistics of European countries). The knowledge is as
important as the aggregated data, even more.
The same approach sounds valid to inform on existing data opened deposits, related meta and
para data, and on interpretation and/or use of the data. A question might be could this be as
freely opened as Wikipedia?
Amparo • 10 days ago
Great initiative! Open data can truly change lives and this is shown in many developing
countries that have started an open data intiative. Making data accessible to citizens is just one
angle. What is most important for poor countries is the improvement of public services that
happen because data is open (allowing citizens to compare schools performance, allowing
farmers to know when to plant, allowing patients to comapre hospitals' mortality rates, and tons
of other applications). Also important are the new jobs made available because there are new
business created that would not be vaible without open data. In countries where open data is
more mature, many entrepeneurs are using it to create services that citizens demand and jobs to
run them (such as real state services provided by Zillow in the US, transport logistics companies
in the UK and others). These are only starting in developing countries, partly because the
number of data sets made openly available is still small. But new, imaginative services are being
started, such as iCow for Kenyan farmers. If open data is "the oil of the new economy" then let's
talk about the things that are fueled by this oil.
Stefanos Vrochidis • 11 days ago
The Open Data could contribute to world monitoring. World monitoring includes several
challenges and problems such as news and media monitoring (including social media),
environmental monitoring, crowd behaviour, epidemics etc. Although the aforementioned
problems lay in different areas (e.g. media, environment, security, health etc.), there are specific
ICT technologies that could contribute. Specifically all these problems require semantic
integration of heterogeneous and distributed large-scale data. The multimodality of the content
calls for the need of techniques to extract semantic information from multimedia (audiovisual)
resources. It is also very important to apply techniques for validation and reputation of the
"sensors" that provide these data since some of them might be considered unreliable due to
several reasons (e.g. a station very far from the area of interest, a rumor blog etc.). Emphasis
should be given to topic detection based on stream data (including multimedia), alerts and
detection of complementary and contradictory data. Fusion of such data (depending on the
problem) is also very challenging. Finally, the end user side requires a holistic view of the
results. This calls for the development not only of visualisation techniques but also for reasoning
and statistical recommendation for decision support. Summarisation of information is also of
sgulbahar Mod Stefanos Vrochidis • 11 days ago
Dear Stefanos, would you have examples of ICT that contributes to such monitoring,
especially where the end user has been able to get involved?
Thank you, Salema
Shenja van der Graaf • 11 days ago
Currently, I am involved in several open data related projects, in a "smart city" context as well as
within the field of opening up legal knowledge. In the city context, projects such as
OpenTransportNet and, particularly, Citadel..on the Move try to help city govs to make their
open data more accessible by providing toolkits that developers but also less tech skilled citizens
can use to develop apps for their mobile phone, such as using tourist or parking data. It is
important that while many different stakeholders across several cities/countries find open data
important, in particular citizen engagement in this context is still not far behind. Also, the
OpenLaws project works towards making legal data open and accessible across the EU, so
anyone can easily see and use the info they need at hand (incl using apps). Within the CAPs
context, IA4SI, is developing an impact assessment methodology for social innovation projects.
Here, the focus is more on the process of 'opening up' and 'engagement' and 'impacts' but it's a
very interesting idea to also consider impacts here of (linked) open data.
sgulbahar Mod Shenja van der Graaf • 11 days ago
Dear Shenja, thank you for sharing. Could you explain to us if projects like
'OpenTransportNet' and 'Citadel' will increase citizens understanding and use of open
data, and if it will, then how so?
Gérard Chenais • 12 days ago
I am somehow sceptical, probably because I am an old fashion retired official statistician. I am
not afraid by IT : I was a scientific programmer at University in the 60s (using punched cards on
big mainframes), late 70s I was instrumental at introducing the first mini-computer in Vanuatu
to process statistics, mid 80s I introduced micro-computer in an African country NSO, I
promoted GIS for statistical work, Wikis, NSDSs, quality for statistics, etc nothing exceptional,
just doing my job of producing better statistics for public good. I also used manual calculators,
turning an handle whole day to crunch data and recording results on paper with a pencil.
No doubt in my mind that data can be useful and opening up available data deposits is the way
to go; but not only for the sake of opening and using advance technology. I noticed that some
promoting the principle of open data are doing it for their own good, otherwise they would not
spend their money just for public good, the promotion is sometimes ambiguous.
Another point is that very often there is a confusion made between primary data, constructed
data, statistics and official statistics. Official statistics, a special kind of data produced as a
public good, have always been open, despite difficulties in disseminating them as widely as
expected : resources is a factor, producing more or disseminating to more; internet is a fantastic
instrument to improve dissemination and not enough support has been provided during the last
few years (have a look at some NSOs web sites in developing countries) while a lot has been
spend to run statistical surveys whose results where always accessible first to sponsors.
Non statistical data that can be made openly available have been gathered for specific purposes
based on a conceptualisation optimal for these purposes; analysing the data brings first the
concepts that were used and often not much more. These data are only second-hand stuff and
have been used intensively for what they can provide and in the public interest ; but they can
still inform some residual purposes. The tricky bit here is that, if one is not familiar with the
data set, only accessing it can demonstrate whether it is highly informative or not. Still, there is
lots of data deposits that can be useful outside the original environment they have been created
and managed; here the issue is that these deposits keep being valuable as long as the original
purposes for maintaining is relevant and, in many cases, this is done using public money.
Another point that is somehow overlooked is that most of the data deposits are created and
managed by government departments under regulations that civil servants have to abide by. In a
democratic society, a regulation that can be demonstrated as detrimental to public interest, can
be changed but using the proper procedures; useless to blame civil servants.
Finally, there are different channels to convey knowledge to citizens, media are the main and if I
am sceptical about the whole idea of bringing data directly to them is because I don't think that
accessing data only is what each citizen needs; interpreting a specific dataset requires a lot of
time and also to have access to meta and para data rarely readily available; a job mainly for
intermediaries. Interesting to remember that many have already said that it is not enough to
publish statistical data in tables but data have to be transformed and convey as knowledge;
visualization is important for that and there are many good and as well as bad practices in
presenting facts as a coloured picture.
Kate Scrivens Mod Gérard Chenais • 12 days ago
Dear Gérard, thank you for this thoughtful and detailed contribution. You're right to
point out that there's a difference between official and non-official statistics, and
between statistics and the source data. Official statistics, thanks to the efforts put in to
ensure their quality and comparability, represent the 'gold standard'. However, as you
rightly point out, resources are limited and official statistics cannot always provide the
coverage and timeliness to meet all needs. There is also often a reluctance on the part
of official statisticians to fulfill the 'story-telling' role necessary to provide meaning for
non-specialists. Given these limitations, Open Data and new technologies can provide
an opportunity for informed and responsible citizens and organisation to fill the gaps
where needed as data providers and interpreters. When you talk about 'intermediaries'
here, are you mainly referring to the mainstream media or do you have other types of
data intermediary in mind?
Gérard Chenais Kate Scrivens • 11 days ago
Dear Kate, regarding intermediaries mainstream media are natural ones, but I
am not clear about others. The main condition I believe is a trustfully and
regular relation with citizens, preferably with most of them, a zest of empathy is
needed too. I don't know a better summary on results based management
principle than the one ISO has adopted for its Quality management principles
(http://www.iso.org/iso/qmp_201..., the first two sentences concern producers
of data, the last two the users:
- Ensuring that data and information are sufficiently accurate and reliable
- Making data accessible to those who need it
- Analysing data and information using valid methods
- Making decisions and taking action based on factual analysis, balanced with
experience and intuition.
Up to factual analysis, issues are of a technical nature and quality is an overall
objective; IT provides the obvious facilitating tools. Thereafter, introducing
experience and intuition in 'story-telling' for a large audience is not
straightforward! and might need a bit of a revolution in the mindset to prevent
conflicts of interest as much as possible.
Ethical issue also comes in and for that purpose see the ISI Declaration on
professional ethics http://www.isi-web.org/about-i... that producers of data
and intermediaries, and other data scientists could refer to.
PARIS21 • 12 days ago
Hello, it’s Trevor Fletcher from PARIS21 here. We are currently working on a project “Informing
a Data Revolution” which has a goal to produce a Road Map document in 2015 to outline how
we can get the right data, to the right people, at the right time and in the right format. Part of
this Road Map will be to list innovations and new solutions that will help fill the current gaps
between supply and demand of data – these will cover new technologies for data collection such
as use of mobile phones and hand-held devices, using alternative sources of data (aka “Big
Data”), using satellite images, Open Data initiatives, public-private partnerships, data
visualisations and any other exciting new ideas that could contribute to improving the flow and
understanding of data in the future. I’ve already seen some interesting and relevant ideas here in
this discussion (such as the restless development Big Idea project) and look forward to seeing
more during this interesting debate.
See more about the project here: http://paris21.org/advocacy/in...
Kate Scrivens Mod PARIS21 • 12 days ago
Hi Trevor, this is great news. We're really interested in the use of new technology (such
as mobile phones) for data collection - it seems like an area with huge potential, but
also a very new area. have you come across any interesting examples of crowd sourcing
data through new technologies yet?
PARIS21 Kate Scrivens • 11 days ago
Hi Kate, yes indeed there are an enormous number of data collection initiatives
using mobile phone underway - see the work of Geopoll (GeoPoll.com ) for
example, or the Frontline SMS Radio Project
(http://www.frontlinesms.com/ca... ) - both very interesting examples !
Kate Scrivens Mod PARIS21 • 11 days ago
brilliant thanks for this!
Fia BigIdea@Restless • 12 days ago
Hello everyone! I am currently working on a new project at Restless Development called the Big
With half of the world‘s population under 25, some of the world most pressing issues directly
young people and the potential young people have to address those issues, as well as providing
creativity, new ideas and techy savvy minds, I think it’s important that they are integral part of
the Open Data movement.
With the Big Idea we want to test a new model: equip young people with the knowledge, skills
to effectively interpret and use data to take action and hold their governments accountable for
the issues most important to them. We will implement the Big Idea in Ghana, Tanzania and
Nepal and we are currently working on the project design and looking into some very similar
questions to the ones mentioned above
so I look forward to follow the discussion!
You can find more
information on The Big idea at http://restlessdevelopment.org...
sgulbahar Mod Fia BigIdea@Restless • 12 days ago
Dear Fia BigIdea@Restless , the aims of the "Big Idea" sound very relevant and
exciting for us. Could you share with us a little more about how you will be
approaching your goal, the challenges you envisages and the partners or support you
Fia BigIdea@Restless sgulbahar • 12 days ago
Thanks for your interest.
In terms of how we will be approaching our goal:
We run a Joint Consultation Workshop in Tanzania and a series of round tables
with partners and stakeholders from the three pilot countries (Young people,
Media, Government, Civil Society and Open data representatives), to map
thematic priorities for young people and open data in each country context. The
main issues identified where consistent across Ghana, Nepal and Tanzania:
governance/participation by young people and employment/entrepreneurship.
So during the implementation of the pilot projects young people will play a
leading role accessing, generating and disseminating data to advocate and
campaign for changes in livelihood policies. They will be trained to find, collate,
collect, analyse and interrogate data, working with local data experts to test the
veracity of their findings. They will then develop innovative and engaging ways
to present their data, and learning, to a range of audiences, most importantly
other young people, their communities and decision makers, to drive change in
Challenges are many and of different nature (all positive!). To mention some
challenges we are trying to address that are relevant to this discussion:
· Assess what data is available and what data is needed
· Ensure quality of data
· Find creative ways to visualise data to make it relevant and interesting
(including illiterate people and people on the other side of the digital divide)
· What kind of technology can best support our project
As mentioned above, we are already working with a number of partners at
country level but we are always interested in expanding our network to include
more partners. Among
others at the moment we are looking into partners that can help us solve some
of the challenges mentioned above.
I hope this answer your questions. Please feel free to contact me at
sgulbahar Mod Fia BigIdea@Restless • 12 days ago
Dear Fia (Fia BigIdea@Restless ) , thank you for explanation. We would
love to hear more about the project and stay up to date with your
progress. I will be in touch via email.
Also do feel free to address some of the above questions from your perspective, when you have a
moment! Have you found data visualisation to be useful or are auditory forms of storytelling (via
radio for example) far more effective?
Fia BigIdea@Restless sgulbahar • 11 days ago
Hi Salema, As we haven’t started implementation and we are in the process of solving some of
those challenges, unfortunately I can’t provide more detailed answers to your questions yet.
In terms of data visualisation I think our approach will be to let young people, with the support
of local data experts, decide what’s the most appropriate form to present data depending on the
context and the audience (I foresee data will be presented in different forms depending on
whether the audience is other young people in their community or decision makers at national
or regional levels for example). I think we will explore and use different online and offline
channels to disseminate data and information. Radio is definitely likely to be one of them as it’s
the most widespread media in rural areas.
I hope this answer your question for the moment and I look forward to contribute with more
details when we start implementation. Any other questions feel free to send them my way.
Eugénie Cornuet • 16 days ago
Comment peut-on jouer avec la visualisation, l’affichage et le discours autour de données afin
d’améliorer leur compréhension ?
C’est une question compliquée mais néanmoins cruciale. Offrir aux gens de nombreuses
données à disposition, des graphiques, des statistiques, et des tas d’informations semble peu
utile si seule une minorité est capable de les comprendre et de s’en servir. Permettre la diffusion
de données qui demeurent peu lisibles donne une impression de transparence, de clarté quand
en réalité ces données ne sont pas accessibles à tous de par leur complexité. Heureusement, des
progrès ont été effectués ces dernières années et vont vers cet objectif deplus de clarté afin que
ces données soient compréhensibles au plus grand nombre.
Gapminder en est un parfait exemple. Le principe de cet outils est un accès graphique simplifié à
une grande quantité de données statistiques, dans toutes leurs dimensions (temporelle, spatiale)
et leur croisement à l’aide de graphique facilement compréhensibles. La grande interactivité de
l’outil et sa souplesse sont ses points forts, permettant de facilement visualiser les grandes
tendances ou au contraire situation originale dans un thème précis.
Cette idée de rendre les données plus accessibles se retrouve égalementdans une initiative du
Guardian. En effet , les auteurs du data store du Guardian (avec pour devise « Facts are Sacred :
The power of data » = « les faits sont sacrés, le pouvoir des données ») considéré comme LA
référence en la matière, dévoilent les logiciels et applications qu'ils utilisent. Notons que la
majorité des outils du journal sont des logiciels open source. Les journalistes souhaitent ainsi
promouvoir la pratique du Do It Yourself (Fais-le toi-même) impliquant des logiciels libres et
des données accessibles au grand public.
Enfin je recommande vivement cet article du journal Les echos qui résume parfaitement les
enjeux de la « visualisation de données » http://www.lesechos.fr/idees-d...
PS : Rejouissons nous, le Burkina devient le premier pays africain francophone à se doter d’un
programme « open data »
sgulbahar Mod Eugénie Cornuet • 16 days ago
Dear Eugénie, thank you for the comment. Maybe we will hear the Gapminder or
Guardian DataLab to get more of insight on their drivers and challenges.
Estelle Loiseau • 16 days ago
Hi everyone! I would like to participate on the last question asked: "How else can technology or
other innovative methods be used to make data more accessible to society at large?"
I believe in the power of open platforms, crowd-sourcing and open data: learning though
sharing and sharing to build a knowledge base for the benefit of all is extremely important, and
is most efficient and valuable when involving various stakeholders from all walks of life and
from different parts of the world.
Unfortunately, an important source of this knowledge is lost because of illiteracy, which
prevents many people (about 774 million people, including 123 million youth) to take part in
today's technological and data revolutions. In this respect, mobile technology can be a key tool
to help advance literacy and learning in some communities around the world.
A recent UNESCO report lays out strategies to expand mobile reading and the educational,
social and economic benefits associated with increased reading. Conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana,
India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the study finds that large numbers of people
read stories to children from mobile phones; females read far more on mobile devices than
males; both men and women read more cumulatively when they start reading on a mobile
device; many neo- and semi-literate people use their mobile phones to search for text that is
appropriate to their reading ability.
If mobile technology can help open the door to literacy to more people, then more people can
take part in storytelling and engaging with well-being and progress statistics.
See the article about the report here:
Chris Yiu Estelle Loiseau • 15 days ago
Hi Estelle! I think that's a really important point. In our work on digital inclusion
people often talk about basic digital skills as a fourth pillar alongside reading, writing
and numeracy. Anyone interested in this angle might like to see the recent report from
the Royal Society of Edinburgh http://bit.ly/1p5gimC and a guest blog on our
Kate Scrivens Mod Estelle Loiseau • 16 days ago
Thanks Estelle, you make a really great point about the 'digital divide' and the need to
ensure that new technologies help to equalise power imbalances, not exacerbate them.
Your example of using mobile technology to improve literacy levels is really