Open data, especially open government data, has developed substantially. Whilst, perhaps not yet fully mature, it is on its way there. Crude evidence for this can be seen in the G8 open data charter announcement - when the G8 start talking about something you know it is no longer a marginal topic.
Organisationally we have gone through a period of rapid growth both at Open Knowledge Foundation "Central" (the international coordinating team and non-profit organisation) and within the Open Knowledge Foundation "Network", including the Chapters, Local Groups and Working Groups and also the wider set of people involved in the Open Knowledge Foundation’s work as contributors, supporters and so on.
The Network is already bigger in many ways that Central, and over time we hope and expect for that trend to continue (though both Central and Network may get bigger, the latter should do faster!).
In all of these areas we can reflect on some very notable achievements and milestones. Some of the highlights include.
The G8 Open Data Charter
Since our foundation in 2004, we have been one of the primary organisations globally working for open data and especially open government data. The recent announcement of the G8 Open Data Charter, reflecting international governmental endorsement of open data at the highest levels caps several years of extraordinarily rapid advance in this area.
Our efforts both specifically in the last year and over the previous decade have made a direct contribution to these developments and to the Charter. On a personal note, I have to say that when Jonathan and I first started planning Open Government Data Camp in 2010 - then, the very first major international event in this area - we little imagined that 3 years later we would see this kind of endorsement of many of the key principles we were then advocating for.
Our team at Central has grown rapidly - from just 3 FTE 3 years ago, to 8 FTE 2 years ago, to nearly 35 FTE today. All of this has occurred in an organisation that remains fully virtual -- we have no central office and today we have team members on four continents. Having experienced such a transition first hand I can testify that this kind of change presents plenty of challenges! However, I think, we can now reflect with some satisfaction on having handled this growth successfully.
CKAN, the open-source software for publishing data and powering data portals that we created, has continued its extraordinary success. One of the most notable developments of the last year was the adoption of CKAN by data.gov, the US official national data portal and one of the flagship government open data sites in the world. data.gov was also not alone with several other major sites adopting CKAN in the last year including Canada, Australia and Iceland.
We also saw the release of CKAN v2.0 with a raft of major new features and CKAN downloads, as measured by PyPI, have continued to increase rapidly passing the total of 40,000 downloads to date.
The last year has also seen major growth in the CKAN community with a variety of new vendors and partners joining the CKAN ranks. This latter is especially noteworthy as we see the growing breadth of providers and number and diversity of CKAN deployments as a major testament to, and underpinning of, CKAN's success - we estimate 2-3 years ago that we at the Open Knowledge had been responsible for than 90% of the major CKAN deployments then in existence whilst today that number is likely below 20% testifying to the increasing diversity and robustness of the CKAN ecosystem.
OpenSpending has also had a very good year. Participation and coverage has grown significantly. We were also pleased to see a new tech lead arrive at the Open Knowledge Foundation in the form of Tryggvi Björgvinsson who replaced Friedrich Lindenberg (Friedrich, who is spending a year as Knight-Mozilla News Fellow will be much missed!). We are also pleased to have FarmSubsidy becoming part of the OpenSpending project.
The Public Domain Review
The Public Domain Review has become a flagship publication. Not only is it a beautiful and enjoyable but it has done an amazing job highlighting the artistic treasures of the public domain. It now boasts more than 10,000 official subscribers and more than 100k unique visitors a month.
It has also been the first Open Knowledge Foundation projects to attempt and successfully complete a substantial crowdfunding campaign obtaining more than $20,000 this year - enough to ensure its editor-in-chief Adam Green is able to continue his fantastic work here for another year.
Adam's, and our, goal is to make the Review fully self-sustaining and we continue to work hard with him to find the best way to do this. Whilst we have made good progress we are still some way from that goal - so if you have ideas please let us know (and, if you enjoy the Review already, please consider becoming, like me, an official subscriber and making a regular annual or monthly donation).
The last year has been a watershed year for the Open Knowledge Foundation Network. In addition to continuing rapid growth in size (both people and regions) this has been a period that has seen us put in place essential governance structures that will ensure a solid foundation for future development.
Specifically we have reviewed and restructured the organisation of our regional network activities under the heading of "Local Groups". We have distinguished chapters (independent non-profit entities) and initiatives (Initiatives can become Chapters once they have become suitably established) and, importantly, have developed the new role of Ambassador to recognise and structure regional participation by individuals. In addition, we have established a mechanism for better coordination between and across Local Groups and a new International Council as a first step in the process of creating a fully self-governing structure for the growing international network.
The level of activity and success across the network continues to amaze me with projects and events large and small making a real impact in open worldwide. It was particularly splendid to see so many people join us in Helsinki for the 2012 Open Knowledge Festival, with over 1000 people from more than 50 countries.
Faced with the significant growth of the organisation (and the area in which we operate) in early 2012 we commenced a strategic review - the first formal such review in our history. The review focused on Open Knowledge Foundation "Central”.
As an organisation working in many areas and subject to a particularly high growth rate and changing environment this was not a straightforward exercise and we felt it was impossible to do a full strategy development process for the network as a whole. Instead we focused on the Central organisation and specifically included issues pertaining to organisational growth, finance and HR. As such, and due to the pressures of limited resources in a small non-profit, the strategy was developed primarily with consultation focused on the team, board of directors and advisory board, rather than involvement of the entire Open Knowledge Foundation Network and associated community.
The review was completed in Q1 2013 and resulted in the adoption by the board of a basic strategic outline in Q2 2013. We are still in the process of developing a more detailed operating plan and strategy (being an agile organisation working in a fast-moving space we are, and will remain, highly flexible as regards our operational activities and planning).
This strategic review was also an opportunity really to examine the core purpose and focus of the Foundation -- and to distill these in a simple way that could be understood both inside and outside the Foundation (at the start of this exercise we did not have formal vision and mission statements).
Some of the key results from the strategic review were:
This describes the world that we want to see
We believe that a vibrant open knowledge commons will empower citizens and enable fair and sustainable societies.
We are a global movement to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful.
We open knowledge to empower citizens and enable fair, sustainable societies
Who we are and how we work
We are a global movement which believes in the power of open to empower individuals through creating and sharing open knowledge and insight. We connect diverse communities, individuals and projects, around specific domains of openness and also in local groups, all with community governance
We bring people together at events, including major international conferences, workshops, and local meetups - and online
Campaigns focus the energy of the network around specific goals and activities to achieve positive change
The network combines talking (advocacy) and making (creating software, writing handbooks, working with data and more)
We support community projects around open knowledge, amplifying their impact and providing admin and IT infrastructure to non-profit activities
We also undertake high impact projects to fill key gaps in the open knowledge ecosystem - often these are open source technical infrastructure and tools (but we also create open source software, datasets, training programmes, handbooks, policy toolkits or other work - whatever is needed to best move the space forward)
Open Knowledge Foundation Central focus
- Support development of the global network further - especially in the developing world - through training, events, support and collaboration* Finding new ways to support individuals and projects working in open knowledge around the world
- Continuing to work to fill key gaps in the open knowledge ecosystem, particularly in fiscal transparency
- Campaigning to unlock knowledge to achieve change in critical areas such as sustainability and accountability
- Refresh our brand and communications to reach out beyond the existing open knowledge community, and to develop a communications toolkit for the community to make spreading the message easier
Key aspects of this strategy (remember again this is a strategy for "Central") include:
- The introduction of a more explicit "campaign" style to our advocacy and efforts to open up knowledge
- Fostering and developing of the international Network
- Being a home for open knowledge projects (legally, technically and socially). These may be projects developed within the Open Knowledge Foundation or outside). These projects should have, and would retain, a great deal of autonomy in their governance and operation but would be able to both gain a legal and technical home and support but, also, and perhaps more importantly, join a broad like-minded community. This model was where we largely started as an organisation (with our inspiration from the Apache Software Foundation).
Following from these we have some specific points:
Focusing technical work (at Central) on
- Short-term high-impact work (usually aligned with or part of our "campaign" work)
Supporting (but not leading) community-based projects and efforts (especially those homed at the Open Knowledge Foundation - see above)
Building capacity around open data and open knowledge in governments, civil society organisations and media through a combination of training and collaborations
Taking some of our major existing projects such as CKAN and OpenSpending which already have a strong community base and making them formal autonomous projects homed at the Open Knowledge Foundation (these would then be themselves examples of the "Home for Open Knowledge" projects model.
Providing a more distinct identify and operating structure for our "paying client" work providing technical and professional support and capacity in the area of open data
Resources - People, Finances etc
Resources are central to us being able to do work, perform activities and support the community and therefore have impact and realise our vision. So the health of our resourcing is a key thing to think about.
Revenues have grown substantially over the last few years (note our year end is May 31 so 2010 means year 2010-2011 etc).
Our revenue at present is of 4 types: grants, trading work, events, and donations.
Donations are currently a very small percentage of our income. They used to be substantially higher when our overall revenue was much lower and we hope to grow them significantly going forward. In addition, we value them disproportionately, since, they represent more than just money - each donation represents someone (or some organisation) whom has taken an explicit decision to support our work. We are deeply grateful to all our donors.
Grants form a substantial part of our revenue. We have primarily project grants which fund specific kinds of activity. Our grants come from a wide range of funders and we would like to thank all the organisations that have supported us in the last year, particularly Omidyar Network, Open Societies Foundations, Sloan Foundation, and of course the Shuttleworth Foundation (who support the Foundation through their support of me as a Fellow).
Our paid team has continued to grow, passing 30 FTE (full-time equivalent - quite a few of our team work part-time) and closing in on 40 as I write. We remain a very virtual nature with team members on 4 continents and at least as many time-zones.
We find it hard to assess precisely how much energy people give as volunteers but we know it is significant and has made a huge impact on our work to date. We have also received a variety of in-kind donations and support, and too many to list here. As one example, we have been incredibly fortunate to receive pro-bono provision of co-working space at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in London. Their space just 5 minutes from Kings Cross is an incredible haven of creativity and collaboration and whilst we value the free desk and meeting space in this beautiful and very well-located space we value the interactions and the atmosphere even more. A huge thank-you to C4CC, the University of London, Brian Condon, Thias Martin, Debbie Reynolds and the other Directors and managers.
We would also like to thank our Directors and Advisory Board have also offered invaluable support and advice over the years.
I am truly grateful to all of these people for their support for the Open Knowledge Foundation and its work in the last year.
Founder & CEO
Working groups and volunteer management
- Increasing levels of support and consideration given to volunteers and working groups. Dedicated paid role within OKF Central. Ongoing strategic development.
- Six-monthly Working Group audits established, completed in September 2012 and March 2013.
- There are now 16 active Working Groups, and four incubating groups.
Local Groups and Ambassadors
- Strategic Plan developed, Autumn 2012.
- Redesign and relaunch of the Local Communities website, December 2012.
- Established and launched Ambassadors scheme, February 2013
- Established the new International Council, March 2013
- There are now 6 active chapters, 9 active local initiatives and 14 active ambassadors, plus a number of incubating communities. Local communities are listed in the registry.
- Secured and delivered data.gov contract, the most important CKAN deployment to-date.
- CKAN 2.0 was released May 2013
- OpenSpending now holds 13.5 million transaction records.
- OpenSpending Cameroon was launched in August 2012, and other regional instances have followed.
- The JISC-Textus project was completed successfully, delivering a tool for online collaboration on texts.
- Crowdcrafting.org was launched, a new platform based on Pybossa, which is powering an array of open research projects including the high-profile Feynman’s Flowers project at University College London.
- Other important tools for the development of an open data infrastructure have been launched, including Recline.js and Frictionless Data.
- OKFestival 2012 was the biggest Open Knowledge event ever, with over 1000 in-person participants making it to Helsinki.
- Open Data Day saw simultaneous events organised by OKF local groups in 7 countries.
- The First International Workshop on Open Economics was held in Cambridge UK, and has successfully laid the foundations of a distinguished community around open economic data.
- The Public Domain Review has had great success in developing a community around public domain works. It now has over 10,000 subscribers, and ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to secure $20,000.
- The first Panton Fellowships surpassed expectations, with both Fellows making a significant contribution to raising the profile of openness in the sciences.
- School of Data has gone from strength-to-strength, and has gone from being an idea to become one of the Foundation’s most significant projects in the last year.
- The Data-Driven Journalism Handbook has sold many hard-copy versions, despite being available for free online.
Activity from around the Network
Our CKAN software and associated projects are now housed within the Services Unit. Our most important CKAN deployment of 2012/13 was Data.gov, the U.S government portal. What started as a pilot project has become the flagship deployment for CKAN and the most important client that Services has ever had. Since official announcements from data.gov about the change, many new opportunities have come up for local and national contracts.
Other successes in the past year have included: the rapid turnaround on the CKAN deployment for Queensland, Australia, which was highly commended and has opened up further opportunities in Australia; and in April 2013, the release of CKAN v2.0
The strategy of the Services team for the coming year involves shifting away from pure software deployment to software and consultancy/training. Open data manager training packages are being developed. The team aims for CKAN to become both a hosted-self-service platform via the Datahub, and a one-button quick-deployment service where all that would be required is a new theme to launch a free-standing site.
- June 2012: Agreed on contract with data.gov to provide consultancy and a prototype for replacing geo.data.gov catalog with CKAN
- June 2012: Finalised and signed contract with data.gov. Set up prototype server and portal and started loading datasets
- October 2012: Finalised and signed contract with data.gov for five month project to replace geo.data.gov with CKAN
- February 2013: Official US government announcement that they are moving data.gov and geo.data.gov over to CKAN and that CKAN will be the standard open government data stack for the OGPL.
- April 2013: The new data.gov went live
European Commission Open Data Portal
- August 2012: European Open Data Portal deployed to the European Commissions’s test and production servers
LOD2 and publicdata.eu
- August 2012: Helped draft two documents to make LOD2 conversion processes more accessible:
- Guide to publishing Linked Open Data and (2) Interim report on publication of eGovernment Linked Open Data,
- September 2012: Two LOD2 related meetings in September: Luxembourg review meeting and Cambridge plenary. Identification of priorities for Publicdata.eu, in particular an added emphasis on RDF and linked data.
- October 2012: Based on the meetings and discussions that took place in Luxembourg and Cambridge, drafted a short-term strategy and a long term strategy for Publicdata.eu
- June 2012: Version1.7.1 released
- October 2012: CKAN 1.8 released
- October 2012: Launch of the Datastore
- February 2013: Release of CKAN 2.0 beta.
- May 2013: Final release of CKAN 2.0
Other key projects
- June 2012: New release of data.gov.uk, built, managed and part-designed by the CKAN team.
- August 2012: The Orbitol project opts to use CKAN as primary platform to develop infrastructure for research data management, a JISC project.
- September 2012: Tender submitted with partners for EC SMART, Lot 2 - on building the ecosystem around open & linked open data within governments and open bodies.
- October 2012: Contract for support and training to deploy CKAN in Ottawa
Marketing and publicity
- CKAN has over 2000 followers on Twitter, and website traffic has tripled in the past year.
- July 2012: New marketing materials - instances page, and screenshot walkthrough
- July 2012: Started tweeting as @datacatalogs and updating datacatalogs.org
- August 2012: Development Data Challenge - weekend event at Guardian offices - participated & promoted CKAN
- August 2012: New page on Open Standards on CKAN website.
- September 2012: Establishment of a CKAN user group after OKFestival meetup
- February 2013: Development of new products, including an Open Data Manager’s course and a new Professional Services Partners accreditation
OpenSpending is a project to track every government transaction across the world. It also incorporates elements of community development and training. It currently holds 13.5 million transaction records in 215 datasets. Since January 2013 it falls within the Knowledge Unit.
A number of national and regional OpenSpending efforts have been undertaken over the past year. August 2012 saw the completion of Open Spending Cameroon, a collaborative project with the World Bank. In July 2012 the national Endowment for Democracy agreed to fund a Bosnian spending project, which was initiated in August 2012. Further funding for this project was confirmed in September 2012, and a CSO training workshop was held in Sarajevo in November 2012. The team are keen to undertake the AfricanSpending project, having first presented it at the African News Innovation Challenge in June 2012, and submitting it as a proposal to the Knight News Challenge in March 2013.
Important data uploads included the IATI and Farm Subsidies. With the help of the Open Development Working Group, the beta version of the IATI datset was loaded up into OpenSpending in June 2012. The Farm Subsidies data was added in February 2013.
A big focus this year has been on research and community building. This has formed part of a joint project with Open Society Foundations to map the technology needs of Civil Society Organisations in relation to public spending and budget information, which began in January 2012. The initial six month deadline for this project was extended and the project was completed in December 2012. In June 2012 a requirements gathering workshop was held in London. During July and August 2012, Lucy Chambers and Laura Newman undertook tours of Europe and India, researching spending projects and Civil Society Organisation needs.
In January 2013 guides were produced on Tax Avoidance and Total Spending. In February 2013 the Year 2 plan for Spending Stories was published.
Other activities in the past year included the development of a report-generator for data.gov.uk in August 2012; assistance offered to Fundar in September 2012 to develop a tax calculator for Mexico; OpenSpending training in Jamaica in January 2013; and work towards a Spending Data Handbook.
The JISC Textus project was completed in September 2012. The final report is here. Milestones in the run up to completion included two successful user requirements workshops in July, at Cambridge Philosophy Department and Kings College London Digital Humanities Department; the launch of the demo in the same month; and the successful initiation and population of the first instance of Textus on heroku. In October 2012 a weekly reading group at Goldsmiths University began, using the Textus platform.
It was used to build a Chrome CSV viewer, and has been integrated into CKAN.
Data Protocols was launched in July 2012. It is a community-driven effort to develop simple, light-weight protocols and formats for distributed and collaborative work with data.
The DataHub is a community-run catalogue of useful sets of data on the Internet, based on CKAN. It currently contains 6468 datasets.
The Open Definition has around 10,500 visits per month, and has been translated into 32 languages. Mike Linksvayer is now chair of the Open Definition Advisory Board, and he wrote a popular post for the blog in February 2013, explaining the ongoing importance of the open definition. Also in February 2013, a number of new members joined the advisory council: Baden Appleyard, Tariq Khokar, Herb Lainchbury, Federico Morando and Andrew Stott.
Frictionless Data was launched in April 2013. It aims to make it much easier for users to get the data they want in the forms that they need.
Crowdcrafting and Pybossa
Crowdcrafting and Pybossa are projects of the Labs Working Group.
Crowdcrafting.org, a collaboration with the Citizen Cyberscience centre, went live in January 2013. It is an online open source software platform which allows the rapid development of citizen science projects, and is powered by Pybossa. In March 2013 a science hackday was organised in London to promote Crowdcrafting. Developments enabled the gathering of data through Pybossa using smartphones, for example sound or image data.
Crowdcrafting was officially launched in partnership with the University of Geneva and the Citizen Cyberscience Centre in April 2013.
The Foundation has organised and participated in a large number of events in the past year. Our biggest event this year was the Open Knowledge Festival, OKFestival, in September 2012. Open Data Day in February 2013 offered a different type of network-wide event, with supported autonomous local events taking place across the globe. The events team is now focusing on this year’s Open Knowledge Conference OKCon, which will take place in Geneva in September 2013.
The past six months have seen an increasing focus on events as a key part of our community-building effort. As the Foundation grows, it has been important to change the way that we are managing events. To this end, a full-time events coordinator was appointed in January 2013, and an additional marketing and events manager was appointed in June 2013.
In May 2013, an Events Handbook, was released, which provides guidance on the full range of issues around events, ranging from when a member of the core team can be funded to attend events, through to tips for local volunteers on how to organise successful hackathons. An internal events calendar has been instituted and shared amongst the paid team to enable us to track events better. The public Events page is currently being redesigned to reflect the changes in event management and provide better guidance for the community.
OKFestival 2012 took place in Helsinki, on the 17th to 22nd September. It was the most large-scale event the Open Knowledge Foundation has undertaken to-date, bringing together two annual events, the Open Knowledge Conference and the Open Government Data Camp. The event was coordinated and hosted in partnership with the local OKF Finland group.
The event had over 1000 participants from over 50 countries, plus over 12,500 live stream views. There were over 14,000 tweets during the week using the with #OKFest. A number of supplementary events were organised, including a Green Hackathon and News App Hackathon.
The full event report, written in collaboration with the Finnish Institute of London, is here. The Foundation also worked with the Finnish Institute to produce a book, the Open Book, based on some of the contributions from OKFestival which was launched in March 2013.
The Open Knowledge Foundation will not be running an OKFestival in 2013, focussing instead on the Open Knowledge Conference, but will do so again in the future.
Open Data Day 2013
Open Data Day 2013 took place on February 23rd. Members of the Open Knowledge Foundation Network in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris, and Japan organised events to coincide with the day. A particular focus was put on the Open Data Census, with an Open Data Census Challenge leading to data being collected on over 20 cities, including almost 100 datasets.
Other workshops and events
The Open Knowledge Foundation has organised and co-organised a large number of smaller events and workshops over the last year, including:
- Open Science Hackday, London, July 2012.
- Data Wrangling Hanbook Sprints, Portland and online, July 2012.
- Africa DDJ training event series, Autumn 2012.
- LOD2 plenary, Cambridge UK, September 2012
- Failed Bank Data Party, Berlin, October 2012.
- Open Humanities Hack, London, November 2012.
- Hack4Health, London, November 2012
- Open Interests (OpenSpending) Hackday, London, November 2012
- OpenSpending for CSOs workshop, Sarajevo, November 2012
- International Open Economics Workshop, Cambridge UK, December 2012
- Open Research Data sprint, London, February 2013
- School of Data kick-off workshop, Berlin, March 2013
- Science Hackday promoting Crowdcrafting, London, March 2013
- Open Data Maker Night, London, March 2013
- School of Data Journalism, Perugia, April 2013
- Open Data and the Web workshop, London, April 2013
- Local group meetups, ongoing.
The Open Knowledge Foundation had significant representation at a number of important events over the last year, including:
- Open Repositories 2012, Edinburgh, July 2012
- The Guardian Development Data Challenge, London, August 2012
- OpenDataMx, Oaxaca and online, September 2012.
- #OpenRoma, Rome, October 2012
- MozFest 2012: joint School of Data and OpenSpending workshop, London November 2012
- OuiShare, Paris, April 2013
- GLAM-Wiki, London, April 2013
- European Data Forum, Dublin, April 2013
- re:publica, Berlin, May 2013
- Open Government Partnership conference, Mombasa, May 2013
Sloan Open Economics
Sloan Open Economics is both a project and Working Group of the Open Knowledge Foundation. This year has seen increasing blog and website activity, with unique visitors up 280% for q4 year-on-year. Following a website redesign in September 2012, unique visits surged by over 300%. The most popular blog post was one which explored “the Benefits of Open Data: evidence from Economic Research.”
An article on the Reinhart-Rogoff controversy by the Open Economics coordinator, Velichka Dimitrova, was very well-received and reproduced in a number of places including the New Scientist and the London School of Economics blog.
The Sloan-funded project will come to an end in August 2013, but the community that has been built will continue to receive support from the Open Knowledge Foundation as one of our Working Groups.
The Open Economics group was responsible for the Sustainability Stream and Green Hackathon at OKFestival. Links were made with other organisations like CleanWeb, the KTH Centre for Sustainable Communications at the Royal Institute for Technology in Stockholm. Notable sessions included a panel on Social Progress Measurement looking for the common issues between economics, sustainable development and the environment; and the keynote from James Cameron, the Chairman of Climate Change Capital. A post event round-up is here.
The First Open Economics International Workshop took place on the 17th and 18th December in Cambridge, UK. It brought together 40 academic economists, data publishers and funders of economics research, researchers and practitioners. A recap about the workshop sessions as well as slides and audio are published here. The Second Open Economics Workshop will take place in Cambridge US on 11th and 12th June 2013, and will be hosted by the MIT Sloan School of Management.
There are now 20 members of the Advisory Panel for the Sloan Open Economics group. The panel has attracted a number of distinguished new members over the past year:
- Christian Zimmerman, Assistant Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (July 2012)
- Shane Greenstein Professor in the Management and Strategy Department at the Kellogg School of Management and in the School of Communications, Northwestern University (July 2012)
- Daniel L. Goroff, Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Economics at Harvey Mudd College (July 2012)
- John Rust, Professor of Economics at Georgetown University (July 2012)
- Tim Hubbard, Sanger Institute (August 2012)
- Victoria Stodden (Assistant Professor at Columbia University and co-founder of RunMyCode) (January 2013)
- Joshua Gans (Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Toronto and Co-Founder of Contribution Economy) (January 2013)
The second Advisory Panel conference call took place in October 2012, discussing the obstacles to open economic research, methods for data-sharing where data cannot be open, incentives for different groups and citizen cyberscience or citizen economics.
In October 2012 the Open Economics Working Group organised online sprint on gathering data about failed banks in Europe. From this came the Failed Banks tracker, a crowd-sourced list of banks which received a bail out or were nationalised in Europe. The was visualised with the help of the Timeliner tool in January (See the timeline of failed banks).
In February 2013, the Open Economics Working Group joined the Open Science Working Group and the Open Research Data Network to organise a sprint on an Open Research Data Handbook. A call for case studies for the handbook was issued in March 2013.
In March 2013, the Working Group openly released some important Automated Game Play datasets, an exemplar of what open economic data might loo like.
Public Domain Review
The Public Domain Review is now the most popular site run by the Open Knowledge Foundation, with around 100,000 visitors each month. There are over 10,000 email subscribers.
The PDR went viral in July 2012, with several big websites and social media accounts picking up one of its posts, resulting in well over 48,000 views in one day (many times more than its previous best record of 2,000 in a day), over 200 mailing list signups, and hundreds of new Twitter and Facebook followers. Growth continued throughout the Autumn. Press mentions have included the New York Times, Huffington Post and Paris Review.
In Spring 2013 the Public Domain Review ran a successful fundraising campaign, surpassing the target of $20,000 to make $22,700. This will sustain the project financially for the coming year. A short promotional film was made as part of the campaign, and tote bags were offered as incentives.
Going forward, the Public Domain Review plans to have increasing collaboration with the Open GLAM Working Group. A “page of honour” is planned for the site, which will better acknowledge those institutions who open up their digital works, listing them and linking to their works featured on our site. Guest curators from different cultural institutions will take part in compiling works on the site. The PDR will also be working alongside Open GLAM in targeting and actively engaging cultural institutions who could open up their works.
The inaugural Panton Fellowship scheme ran from March 2012 to March 2013. The scheme was successful, with the two fellows, Ross Mounce and Sophie Kershaw, both doing high-level advocacy and networking for openness in the sciences throughout the year. Coverage included a BBC 3 interview with Ross in September.
Both Fellows organised and participated in a number of events, including a large contribution to the Open Science stream at OKFestival in September 2012, an Open Science evening in Oxford in July 2012, and monthly attendance at meetings in Brussels to determine European Open Access policy. A cohort of 43 pre-doctoral students took part in the pilot of Sophie’s Open Science Training Initiative, which is likely to be extended in the UK and USA. Ross has now joined the Open Knowledge Foundation’s core staff as Science coordinator.
The wrap up post is here. Funding has been secured for a second set of Fellowships, which are likely to be launched in June 2013.
DM2E and Open GLAM
DM2E (Digital Manuscripts to Europeana) is a project funded by European Commission to encourage content-providers to use Europeana and to develop the tools and services for data-users. Within the broader project we are responsible for community development and dissemination. To this end we have been building a community around Open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), which is thus a key Working Group at the Foundation.
Our focus has been on communications with the digital humanities sector, and developing a more thorough communications strategy across all resources, to improve the quality of news, blogs reviews and general attention on Europeana tools being developed. In July 2012 the team completed a new communications plan for DM2E. As part of this a quarterly newsletter was launched in August 2012.
The OpenGLAM twitter account now has over 1300 followers, and the number of unique visitors to the website is up 170% for q4 year-on-year, now averaging over 3000 visitors per month. There has been a global and substantial take up of the #OpenGLAM for Tweets relating to open cultural heritage data and content, and the term “OpenGLAM” is supplanting alternatives as the term of reference for data in this sector.
In June 2012 a popular Open GLAM workshop was run as part of Bibliohack, which was one of the DM2E team’s deliverable. The workshop was well received, scoring 4-5 out of 5 in every evaluation question from participants. ln the same month an open cultural heritage workshop, “Keeping Control of Your Metadata," was hosted by the OpenGLAM team in the Netherlands.
September was OKFest, where the team organised an Open GLAM stream. A Finnish arm of the Open GLAM initiative - Avoin GLAM - was launched. A hackday at OKFestival promoting the DM2E semantic annotation tool was organised in collaboration with our DM2E partner Net7. A meeting on “Building the Cultural Commons” was convened at OKFestival with representatives from all major open cultural heritage projects.
During Autumn 2012, the DM2E and Open GLAM team featured at a lot of events. Events organised by the team included an OpenGLAM workshop and Digital Humanities panel presentation with project partner National Library of Israel at Minerva Conference in Jerusalem, and a Humanities Hack day with Kings College London, both of which were DM2E deliverables. In March 2013, the team delivered a panel at SXSWi, Austin with with Digital Public Library of America and Europeana.
Increasing emphasis has been placed on Working Group and volunteer support structures, particularly since January 2013. An OpenGLAM “Task Force” was launched in January which is volunteer-led with OpenGLAM Ambassadors from 6 countries. OpenGLAM US was launched in March 2013, with a small volunteer community of US cultural heritage professionals.
The Open Humanities Awards, a major DM2E deliverable, were launched in February 2013. With support from the Digital Humanities Quarterly we were able to offer 15,000euros of prizes. Over 50 applications were received, and the winners were announced in May 2013.
Going forward, there are plans to develop improved Working Group structures and processes, and to see greater collaboration with the Public Domain Review and other related Open Knowledge Foundation activities such as the Public Domain Working Group
LinkedUp is an EU project to drive forward the use of linked open data, in particular by educational organisations and institutions. The Open Knowledge Foundation is responsible for the dissemination work package. As part of this, the team is organising a three part developer Challenge: “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. The first part, Veni, was launched in March 2013 and closes in June 2013.
LinkedUp falls within the Long-Term Projects Unit, and in April 2013 a dedicated community manager was appointed. Going forward, we will be growing a community around linked open data in education, and are considering establishing a new Working Group for Open Education.
Apps4Europe is and EU-funded project looking at how to turn app ideas into sustainable start-ups and new businesses. The Open Knowledge Foundation is responsible for . The project formally began in January 2013, and the practical launch meeting took place in February 2013. In March a Wiki was set up to gather stories about successful competitions and other relevant information.
Our project partners include OKF Belgium and OKF Deutschland, which is an exciting cross-network collaboration.
Open Data Census
The Open Data Census is a community effort to assess the state of open data around the world. It focuses on a small number of key datasets, and has two levels - country and city. The project began in April 2012, but was relaunched with a new design and the addition of city-level collecting in February 2013. It was an important route of engagement for Open Data Day 2013.
The Open Data Census is a strategic priority in Spring 2013, and we expect to release a preview of results to coincide with the G8 meeting in June 2013.
School of Data
In August 2012 the first courses were drafted, and an alpha cohort was assembled to test them, which attracted 100 signups. The School of Data blog was also launched. Six initial modules were tested in September 2012, and feedback on course content was gathered at OKFest. Through Autumn 2012 the concept of Data Expeditions was developed, including a test run at MozFest in November 2012. In December the homepage and branding was redeveloped. In January the online Data Expeditions were launched, and attracted 160 signups. Based on the experience of these initial Expeditions, February 2013 saw further website improvements and concept developments.
A workshop on “Wrangling for Watchdogs” was offered in Berlin in March 2013. In-person Expeditions were run in April, at Nesta for UK based Civil Society Organisations, and on extractive industries data in collaboration with DFID and EITI. A second edition of the School of Data Journalism was run at the International Festival of Journalism in Perugia, in collaboration with the European Journalism Centre.
In April a two week “Data Explorer Mission” was organised in collaboration with P2PU, combining the format of MOOCs with our Data Expeditions. The topic was carbon emissions data. In the same month the first independent offline Expedition was arranged in Manchester on the topic of child poverty.
May 2013 saw our first current-affairs based online Expedition, “Mapping the Garment Factories,” and in June we will run a one day online Expedition looking at tax evasion and avoidance, bringing together some of the Foundation’s work in Open Spending and Data-Driven Journalism with the School of Data model.
Going forward, the development of the School of Data will continue to be a priority for the Foundation. We are looking forward to developing local instances of the School, and a translation of lots of the material into Spanish is already underway. The School of Data will be a core aspect of delivering our mission to transform open data into open knowledge.
The Handbooks are now owned by the Knowledge Unit.
- Data Wrangling Handbook. Renamed “School of Data Handbook”.
- The Data-Driven Journalism Handbook was completed in April 2012. It had sold 1000 paper copies by August 2012, despite being available for free online. Over 400 respondents have registered their interest in translating the book into other languages, and a Portuguese translation is currently underway, coordinated by Brazil’s leading investigative journalism network, Abraji.
- The Open Data Handbook is now available in 17 languages.
- The Open Research Data Handbook is currently in development by the Open Economics and Open Science Working Groups.
The Foundation has organised a number of Workshops to help develop skills among the community.
Local Groups and Ambassadors
This year has seen a large expansion of our local network, and a growing emphasis placed on its management. We now have 2 dedicated staff (FTE) within the Network Unit responsible for the development of our international community.
Work on the development of our international community was put on hold between June 2012 and Autumn 2012, due to lack of capacity and the requirements of OKFest. From September 2012, work began on developing a strategic plan for the Open Knowledge Foundation’s international community. As an initial step, development began on the local groups page to contextualise strategic changes in the initiative. The URL was changed from okfn.org/chapters to okfn.org/local, and the whole presence was overhauled including features such as an interactive visual map which provides an overview of the entire global community at a glance, and a series of digital resources for those who are new to local community organising. This process was completed in late 2012.
In October 2012 a local communities registry was finalised, which offers up-to-date information on all the local communities. In the same month, a Local Communities Folder was developed, improving oversight and administration of the local groups. This folder has since been migrated into Google Apps and continues to be expanded and developed.
The Local Groups Strategic Plan was completed in late 2012. A series of public feedback sessions was run, culminating in the establishment of the Local Ambassador scheme in January 2013. This initiative welcomes the participation of new representatives from regions not yet a part of our global network. To enact the strategic plan, a new international community manager was recruited in January 2013. The new Local Groups scheme and Welcome Pack was finalised in February 2013, and the first round of Ambassadors was inducted.
An International Council was established in March 2013. The International Council is a group of experienced regional representatives that helps guide the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Local Groups community. Members are able to make decisions on applications to become ambassadors, and will act as mentors for those ambassadors, particularly via the Welcome Party calls. Each local initiative or chapter is expected to delegate one representative for the year to the Council.
A set of Welcome Pack resources have been developed and introduced to existing Local Groups. These continue to be updated with iterative revisions according to feedback. To improve communication of Local Group activity, a monthly Global Community Stories blog post series was initiated in March 2013, and the new global Ambassador scheme was publicly announced on the blog in the same month.
In April 2013 the International Council was restructured into topic committees in first International Council call and Greece became an official OKF Chapter.
Full list of current communities
All Open Knowledge Foundation communities now fall into one of three categories: Local Chapters, Initiatives and Ambassadors. There is a transitioning process and our International Community Managers work to support groups to move through the various stages. Up to date information on all three can be found in the Local Group registry.
There are currently 6 legally incorporated Chapters of the Open Knowledge Foundation.
The Open Knowledge Foundation group in Austria has been a Chapter since 2011. The Chapter has been closely involved with the campaign for a Freedom of Information Act for Austria. Locally based meet-ups have been established in various towns and cities. The chapter organised the bi-continental Urban Data Challenge between Geneva, Zürich and San Francisco in March 2013, and in the same month an Austrian version of FragDenStaat, OKF Germany’s Freedom of Information Portal, was launched.
Belgium became an Open Knowledge Foundation Chapter in September 2012, with a Memorandum of Understanding. They have a very active open knowledge community, with particular focuses on Open Transport. The are overseeing the Apps for X programme as part of …, including Apps for Ghent in March 2013, and many others listed in their calendar.
Finland became an Open Knowledge Foundation Chapter in 2013. The group was heavily involved in coordinating OKFestival in Helsinki, working closely with OKF Central. A number of group members attended the Open Knowledge Foundation Winter Summit 2013, in January. The Chapter is developing locally-based working groups, and helping develop an understanding of how local and global thematic working groups interact. They held a two-day summit in February 2013. They have also been very involved with publication of the Open Book.
Germany has been an Open Knowledge Foundation Chapter since 2010. The last year has seen a number of developments, including the launch of the Stadt Land code project in September 2012 and the associated camp in November 2012. This project has attracted a wide range of sponsors and lots of media interest and submissions. Also in September 2012 was the relaunch of FragDenStaat with website redesign. For full reporting on OKF-DE’s activities in 2012 you can see their annual report (reporting based on the calendar year, and in German).
The Greek local group was initiated in 2011. They started organising local instances of OKF working groups, and working towards becoming a Chapter in September 2012. In February 2013 they launched a new open data portal for Greece using CKAN, which attracted much praise including from Neelie Kroes at the European Commission. In April 2013 they became a Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation.
The Swiss Chapter was incorporated by 2012 and trades as opendata.ch.
There are currently 9 active local initiatives.
Established in August 2012, and launched at OKFestival in September 2012. The group held a second meetup in October 2012 which attracted local media attention, and ran a number of hackday and sprint events in Spring 2013.
Established in July 2012, with a first “hub” meeting in August 2012. The group has organised a large number of events and collaborations, including a Hackfest on citizen cyberscience and sustainability in July 2012, and a data-driven journalism meet-up in March 2013. Have been contributing to the Open Food Facts project initiated by OKF France, and engaging with Open Government Partnership activities locally.
Launched a web and twitter presence in June 2012. Has an active blog and mailing list, and projects include scraping judicial data for analysis and scrutiny.
Long established local group, but quiet. Attended Winter Summit 2013.
Established in October 2012, this is a very active group. A strong core team developed a six month plan in Autumn 2012. Initiated the Food Facts project, which has been adopted by the Brazilian local group and others, and the Open Transition project, gathering information on energy data to contribute to the national debate on energy policy. Developed a partnership with OuiShare, March 2013.
Long established local group. Recently found a new coordinator. Attended Winter Summit 2013.
Established web presence in July 2012, but problems with server migration and language support were resolved in October 2012. Attended Winter Summit 2013.
Has an ambassador: Kersti Wissenbach. Organised an event for OpenDataDay in February 2013.
Established web presence in July 2012, and launched publicly at the Free Culture Forum in October 2012. Attended Winter Summit 2013. Organised recent events including a three day data journalism event, and have translated some recent OKF policy posts into Spanish. The group are keen to move to Chapter status.
There are currently 14 active ambassadors.
- Argentina: Jorge Luiz Cabezas. “Round 2” ambassador, joined March 2013.
- Bosnia: Kerim Kalamujic.
- Canada: Diane Mercier. “Round 2” ambassador, joined March 2013.
- China: Feng Gao, Biao Xie. “Round 1” ambassador, joined February 2013.
- Ecuador: Eduardo Bejar. “Round 2” ambassador, joined March 2013.
- Iceland: Finnur Magnusson. “Round 1” ambassador, joined February 2013. Completed a translation of CKAN, and developed an Icelandic open government license in March 2013.
- India: Sridhar Gutam. Round 1 ambassador, joined February 2013. Actively seeking further ambassadors and building links in this area. Visit from Lucy Chambers and Laura Newman in August 2012 to build links, see their travel briefing.
- Korea: Haklae Kim. Email list first established in July 2012.
- Nepal: Prakash Neubane. “Round 1” ambassador, joined February 2013. Email list first established in July 2012. Hosted first event in March 2013, as part of Document Freedom Day.
- Romania and Moldova: Stefan Candea.
- Scotland: Ewan Klein. “Round 1” ambassador, joined February 2013. Longer established email list. Organised an event in April 2013 entitled “Open Data - Better Society?”
- Serbia: Uros Milosevic and Valentina Janev.
- South Africa: Adi Eyal. Email list established in July 2012. Working towards a group with support from central since November 2012.
- Taiwan: TH Schee. “Round 2” ambassador, joined March 2013. Email list first established July 2012.
The Open Knowledge Foundation has given increasing consideration to the support of Working Groups and volunteers. This is an ongoing process, including delineating the relationship between thematic Working Groups and geographically-based Local Groups, making the routes of engagement clearer for those coming to the Foundation for the first time, and developing replicable structures for volunteer management.
We seek for our Working Groups to become increasingly volunteer-led, with support from OKF Central as needed. All groups will have a volunteer Coordinator, as opposed to the current split between staff and volunteers, with a staff member as mentor. The aim is to have solid communities that do not rely on funded project to sustain interest and activity.
There are currently 16 active Working Groups. Of these, 14 now have volunteer coordinators. A six-monthly audit is undertaken, completed in September 2012 and March 2013. We are considering membership subscription options for some or all Working Groups. A pilot programme was initiated for the Open Science Working Group. More funding has been allocated to the support of Working Groups as of March 2013, in the form of micro-grants, and a number of applications have been received.
With the almost simultaneous creation of Local Group and Working Group Ambassadors, careful consideration is being given to the relationship between them and to the issue of branding. A pilot network of Open GLAM ambassadors was established in Spring 2012, which involves careful consideration of reputation factors as volunteers are empowered to represent the Foundation. In addition, Advisory Boards such as exists already for the Open Economics group are being considered for other working groups, which would help add prestige to their activities and thereby attract more participation.
Documentation was developed in Spring 2013 explaining how and why people can start a Working Group. Four approaches were made subsequently, of which one, Open Spectrum, has so far been accepted. The others (Open (City) Planning, Open Resilience to Disaster and Open Education) are currently exploring areas of overlap with existing Working Groups.
Over the coming year we will continue developing more formalised structures for the Working Groups, to help secure their long-term sustainability as a key element of our work, with volunteer leadership at their core.
Key Working Groups
These are our most active Working Groups, many of which have been supported by paid staff as part of funded core projects.
Labs became a Working Group in January 2013, before when it was viewed as a collection of unfunded projects. It is a home for coders and hackers interested in developing tools for the open community. In July 2013, it was decided not to continue to fund a Labs Developer position, but paid community coordination continued until January 2013.
A plan for the Working Group was put together in April 2013, and we are currently seeking a volunteer coordinator.
The Working Group has 14 official “members”. There are 433 subscribers to the discussion list, and an average of 60 messages per month.
The Open GLAM Working Group has 488 subscribers, with an average of around 45 messages per month.
The Working Group is experimenting with various organisational forms which may later be rolled out to other Working Groups. In April 2013, Open GLAM established its own advisory board and active member group, with monthly calls and actions. An experimental cohort of Open GLAM Ambassadors was recruited in Spring 2013.
For more information on the Foundation’s Open GLAM activities, please see the section on DM2E and Open GLAM above.
Open Government Data
The Open Government Data Working Group is the largest Working Group, with currently over 900 subscribers. The list averages around 70 messages per month.
Members of the Working Group helped promote and complete the Open Data Census during Spring 2013, and have developed a short video about Open Government Data.
We are keen to see increasing structure and activity from the Open Government Data Working Group.
The Open Economics Working Group currently has 286 subscribers. The list has an average of around 17 message per month. The Working Group also has an Advisory Panel with twenty members.
The Working Group has helped develop the Open Research Data Handbook, secured the release of automated game play datasets, and helped organise the two International Open Economics Workshops which are developing a prestigous international community around opening information on economics. The Working Group also contributed to the OKFestival schedule, including organising a popular session on “Open data for measuring social progress”.
For more information on the Open Economics activities of the Foundation, please see “Sloan Open Economics” under Core Activity above.
The Open Science Working Group currently has 568 subscribers. It is the highest-volume list, averaging around 105 messages per month. The group also has weekly google plus hangouts.
The Foundation had a paid Open Science coordination position to June 2013. This helped spur development of the Open Science and Open Access Working Groups, between which there is some overlap. It also helped develop the Foundation’s reputation as an advocate in this field.
In April 2013, a local Open Science group was launched by OKF France. We are interested in supporting similar initiatives globally. In Spring 2013, the Working Group coordinated a list of senior, notable open scientists, to help promote and celebrate open science.
The Open Spending community is not an official Working Group, but is a community of interest around the Open Spending project. There are currently 447 subscribers to the mailing list, which has around 40 messages per month.
The OpenSpending project maintains a set of community resources to support the development of a global Open Spending community.
For more information on the Foundation’s Open Spending activities, please see the section on OpenSpending above.
The Taskforce was established in January 2013. It is a task-based Working Group, rather than a thematic Working Group, targeted at active community members who would like to do something practical to help the Open Knowledge Foundation - anything from translating a document to running an event. The tasks are designed and chosen in collaboration with Working Groups and Projects.
The goals of the Task Force are to: Create a single access point where all available tasks are listed, discussed and completed; Catalyse an active community of volunteers that help out with numerous tasks; Better connect the Working Groups to the Task Force; Engage with the members and guide them in starting and completing tasks.
There are currently 40 members.
The Open Access Working Group currently has 186 subscribers and averages 40 messages per month.
The group seeks to promote open access as compliant with the Budapest Open Access Initiative. There is quite a lot of overlap with the larger and more active Open Science Working Group, and we will be reviewing the relationship between their activities in the coming months.
The Open Archaeology Working Group currently has 82 subscribers and averages 6 messages per month.
Due to the low activity of the group and difficulty finding a new coordinator, we are considering options for merging this group with another one.
Open Bibliographic Data
The Working Group for Open Bibliographic Data currently has 227 subscribers and averages around 25 messages per month.
This group has seen a marked reduction in activity since the end of the funded OpenBiblio project last year, but continues to hold monthly calls and is reasonably active.
The Open Development Working Group has 296 subscribers and averages around 22 messages per month.
While this is not currently a very active Working Group, we are very optimistic about its potential over the coming year. The Working Group recently gained a new coordinator, and there are plans for the group to become a more collaborative effort between the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Dutch organisation “Open for Change”. Members of the Working Group helped organise the Open Development stream at OKFestival 2012.
Open Design and Hardware
The Open Design and Hardware Working Group has 117 subscribers and averages around 16 messages per month.
The Working Group is now one year old, and has produced a first draft of Principles for Open Design.The group is seeking to become an umbrella for open design and open hardware efforts, and is in the process of developing a more concrete strategic plan and aims.
The Open Humanities Working Group currently has 281 subscribers and averages around 12 messages per month.
The Working Group provides a home for the Open Shakespeare, Open Milton, Open Correspondence and AnnotateIt projects. It is small but activity remains fairly constant, with weekly google plus hangouts and strong volunteer coordination.
Open Linguistics Working Group
The Open Linguistics Working Group has 157 subscribers and averages around 13 messages per month.
This is an active group offline, many of whom know each other personally, despite sometimes appearing quiet online. The Working Group published a paper this year explaining what they have done so far and what their vision is for going forward. One of their key projects is the Linguistic Linked Open Data Cloud, the most recent snapshot of which was produced at a conference organised in September 2012 in Leipzig by members of the Working Group.
The Open Sustainability Working Group was launched in December 2012. It has had a very promising first few months, with 228 members and an average of around 20 messages per month. The incubating Open Climate Science group was integrated in Spring 2013, and a new coordinator was found in May 2013.
The Working Group has a twitter account (@OpenSusty) and has just started holding monthly calls. We expect the Working Group to play an important role in any prospective campaign around Open Carbon Emissions data.
Open Transport Working Group
The Open Transport Working Group was upgraded from “incubating” to “active” in March 2013. The groups currently has 123 members, and there are around 20 message per month on average. Members of the Working Group are currently developing an Open Transport Data Handbook.
Public Domain WG
The Working Group organised a very successful Hackathon in Paris in December, the Public Domain Remix to encourage people to develop new applications using the public domain calculators. They are working on potential collaborations with dbpedia, to help gather the information that is often missing in the bibliographic metadata released by many GLAM institutions (author's birth or death date, etc).
In February 2013, the Public Domain Working Group was merged with the Open GLAM Working Group. A slimmed-down version of the website will be maintained as a project page for public domain calculator work.