Annual Report, 2013-2014

Annual Report, 2013-2014

President’s Introduction


We at Open Knowledge believe that open knowledge is not valuable unless it is used for good, for real change. We are committed to ensuring that as many people as possible develop the skills to work with the rapidly expanding output of data.  To this end we use events (our own and speaking at others’), publications (handbooks and articles) and support and enable a variety of projects, groups and initiatives which work to spread the word about open knowledge and to make open knowledge accessible.

2013/14 has been a busy year. We consolidated our rapidly expanding work into a new brand identity, and in April shortened our name from Open Knowledge Foundation to just Open Knowledge.

Our network of projects has continued to grow, deliver ideas, open data and open knowledge. All of this has been supported, and developed in a vibrant exchange of ideas in our growing network of working groups and local groups. This Annual Report gives us the opportunity to highlight just some of the progress made within our organisation, our network and the wider community we are part of.

Open Knowledge is much more than a single organisation, it is a worldwide network. This report, however, is created by and primarily about Open Knowledge “Central” – the coordinating organisation at the heart of the Open Knowledge network of local and working groups  and original non-profit behind it the projects we run, co-organise and support actively. 

I’m extremely proud of the efforts our team has made and the work achieved. We all work for a purpose  and we are looking forward to steaming ahead more rapidly than ever.

Rufus Pollock, President, Open Knowledge



Finance & Governance (June 2013-May 2014)


Open Knowledge itself (registered as Open Knowledge Foundation) has experienced incredible growth and change in the last three years and the staff team at Open Knowledge, the core founding organisation, has expanded too. Our activities and projects have changed, local groups and working groups have grown; expectations of the network, and of what Open Knowledge as an organisation might do, are evolving rapidly. 

Apart from a limited number of grants supporting our core costs and functions such as HR/finance and core communications functions, all incoming monies are dedicated funds restricted to the projects they were raised for, so are directly financing the myriad of projects carried out and supported in the wider network.

This last year has not been a simple one. We faced - and overcame - our most severe financial test to date when we discovered in Autumn 2013 that a relatively obscure VAT rule (introduced in 2010) had significant implications for us given how we operate (specifically, the combination of a distributed international team and a mixture of grant and services income).

As this issue had not been discovered for several years the result was not only a change in an ongoing cost of operating but a substantial retrospective liability that eliminated a very large portion of our accumulated reserves.

In a non-profit where your cost basis is often fixed (or, rather, your revenues and costs are closely tied) such eventualities are especially hard to deal with and it has not been easy. In spite of these challenges, we achieved a great deal last year and were able to generate more project income than before which has been applied to develop open knowledge in our different work areas.



Open Knowledge turnover

Year on year change in turnover



over 50 fold growth










2013-14 (provisional)




Reflecting our growth in income we have also grown headcount from 8 in mid-2011 to 43 at the beginning of 2014. We remain an internationally distributed, remote working staff team.

Our Board of Directors

  • Karin Christiansen, Board Chair (since May 2013)
  • James Casbon (ongoing)
  • Tom Cobbold (since October 2013)
  • Paula Le Dieu (ongoing)
  • Dr. Chris Marshall (since October 2013)
  • Jane Silber (ongoing)
  • Helen Turvey (since October 2013)
  • Martin Keegan (until July 2013)
  • Ben Laurie (until February 2014)

Our Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is an informal group who are consulted on various matters to do with Open Knowledge activities, strategy and operations, but hold no legal responsibility for the organisation. The Advisory Council exists to advise Open Knowledge team members as appropriate, and individual members may get involved with specific projects or challenges. The advice is available both on request and also by Advisory Council members proactively contacting Open Knowledge team with ideas, leads or opportunities. The Advisory Council is a group of advisors, rather than a group which aims to form consensus or decisions.

  • Dr. Sören Auer, Agile Knowledge Engineering and Semantic Web at Universität Leipzig
  • Professor Panagiotis Bamidis, Medical Education Informatics, OKF Greece Chapter
  • Pieter Colpaert, Co-founder of Open Knowledge Belgium
  • Christopher Corbin, expert advisor on Europe to the UK Advisory Panel for Public Sector Information (APPSI)
  • Daniel Dietrich, Chairman of the Open Knowledge German Chapter
  • Hannes Gassert,  co-founder of, the Open Knowledge Swiss Chapter
  • Jordan S. Hatcher, IP and Internet Law Expert
  • Becky Hogge, Journalist, former OKFN Board Member
  • Dr. Tim Hubbard,  Bioinformatics Expert
  • Benjamin Mako Hill, Technology and Intellectual Property Researcher, Activist and Consultant
  • Glyn Moody, Technology Journalist and Consultant
  • Dr. Peter Murray-Rust, Department of Chemistry, Cambridge University
  • Professor John Naughton, Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University
  • Professor Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet and Director of Gapminder Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton
  • Andrew Stott, UK Transparency Board and Open Government Adviser
  • Professor Peter Suber, Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, Open Access Project Director at Public Knowledge
  • Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation
  • Nat Torkington, Kiwi Foo Camp and Open New Zealand
  • Jo Walsh,  EDINA National Data Centre, University of Edinburgh
  • Carolina Rossini, International Law, Transactions and Policy Expert, Public Knowledge, Advisory Board of Open Knowledge Brasil
  • Mayo Fuster Morell, Open Knowledge Spanish Chapter



2013/14 Honours


  • In November 2013 Rufus Pollock was elected an Ashoka Fellow. Ashoka is “the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs – men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems.” On being elected, Rufus said that he was “honoured to accept the fellowship, but what is really exciting is seeing the work of the Open Knowledge Foundation on open data and open knowledge being recognised as a key aspect in driving positive social change in the twenty-first century”.
  •  In December 2013 the Open Knowledge Foundation was honoured as a leading civic innovator at the US National Democratic Institute’s 30th birthday celebrations. Other honorees included Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia, Beth Noveck, founder of the Governance Lab in the U.S., and Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) works to strengthen democratic institutions worldwide, and it’s really exciting to see Open Knowledge recognised as a key part of achieving that mission in the digital age.
  • In March 2014 Nesta, the UK innovation charity, announced it’s Ten Tech Heroes for Good – and Open Knowledge Founder Rufus Pollock was on the list! We’re really proud that the achievements of Rufus and Open Knowledge have been recognised in this way: focusing on the power of openness to achieve positive social change.

The selection panel was made up of Nesta experts, and set out to identify tech leaders with revolutionary ideas across the board. Rufus was recognised particularly for the groundbreaking work at CKAN, the open source platform which powers many open data portals around the world, including the UK government, the US government, and the EU Open Data Portal.

Other Open Knowledge Foundation projects which received special mention were Where Does My Money Go?, our budget visualisation tool which was the starting point of our bigger OpenSpending project to map all government transactions around the world; Open Data Commons which provides the legal tools that enable the open publication of data; and Open Shakespeare, our free online database of all the Bard’s works.



Projects, Programmes, Partnerships

Benchmarking Open Data: Open Data Census & Index

Open Data Index 2013

Autumn 2013 saw the release of the first ever Open Data Index, the product of an amazing community effort to assess the openness efforts of governments around the world.  We launched the 2013 edition of the Open Data Index to coincide with the OGP annual meeting in London at the end of October 2013. The Index will be a crucial benchmark in the coming years, enabling civil society to hold governments to account on their open promises.

Local Data Census February 2014

As part of Open Data Day some of the Open Knowledge Foundation Local Groups were working together on a special shared project: The Local Open Data Census, bringing the Open Data Census to a local level. Many community-driven sprints took place around the world. In the United States the Open Knowledge Foundation teamed up with Code Across and the Sunlight Foundation to jointly run a nationwide Local Open Data City Census hackathon. In China an online Census-a-thon took place and a new partnership network called “Open Data China” was launched to bring different Chinese parties together to collaborate on open data related projects and events. Germany also saw many activities and organized an open data hackathon around health data alongside running a Local Census sprint.

Partnership for Open Data

Early 2014 saw The Partnership for Open Data (POD) developing. It is a partnership of institutions to research, support, train and promote open data in the context of low and middle income countries. POD is a cooperation between The World Bank, the Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation, who have created a global partnership to help policy makers and citizens in developing countries understand and exploit the benefits of open data. Initial funding of $1.25 million in the first year has come from The World Bank’s Development Grant Facility.

Open Development Toolkit

Since the beginning of 2014 we have been working on an Open Development Toolkit. Plans for the new site include a curated list of Tools, which allow the user to understand, visualise or access aid data in various ways. Another focus of the site is to bring together people who have worked on building the tools from a technical perspective, along with people working in development agencies, and the potential users of the data; the whole ‘development data’ ecosystem.

As well as displaying the tools and work that have already been created within the community and encouraging collaboration, we also want to support civil society and journalists to get the skills they need to use development data in their work, as mentioned above. We’ll be doing this by working with School of Data to create an Aid Curriculum, made up of various modules on technical skills required to work with aid data. Ideally, we’d like to build upon training materials that have already been created in the sector, and make them available for remixing and reuse by others in the future.

School of Data – From Data to Knowledge

Open data alone does not empower people or produce change. Ordinary people need the skills to turn that data into knowledge: to use it to answer their questions and make the changes they want to see in the world. Our School of Data has had an incredible few years of sharing these skills across the globe, training over 1200 people from Nairobi to Bogota. There are now Portuguese and Spanish versions of the School as well, and altogether over 2000 have taken part in online trainings.

School of Data Fellowships

In May 2014 we started looking for next round of School of Data Fellows, following the success of the previous programme. This next round has 10 School of Data Fellowships slots and will be running from July to December 2014.

The concept is to give Fellows data and leadership training, as well as coaching to organise events and build communities. Fellows are part of a growing global network of School of Data practitioners, benefiting from the network effects of sharing resources and knowledge and contributing to our understanding about how best to localise our training efforts. All Fellows are part of a six-month training programme during which they work with us for an average of five days a month, including attending online and offline trainings, organising events, and being an active member of the School of Data community.

School of Data Journalism

From 30 April to 4 May 2014 School of Data Journalism ran at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. This was the third time we have run this event in cooperation with the European Journalism Centre. The Data Journalism Handbook, which was born at the first School of Data Journalism is Perugia, has become a go-to reference for all those looking to work with data in the news, a fantastic testament to the strength of the data journalism community.

In this year’s School of Data Journalism Programme, a team of about 25 expert panellists and instructors from New York Times, The Daily Mirror, Twitter, Ask Media, Knight-Mozilla and others led participants in a mix of discussions and hands-on sessions focusing on everything from cross-border data-driven investigative journalism, to emergency reporting and using spreadsheets, social media data, data visualisation and mapping techniques for journalism.

Our first embedded School of Data Fellowship

As an experiment - we seconded the newest member of the Open Knowledge School of Data team, Sam Leon, to spend some quality time working with Global Witness, one of the world’s leading anti-corruption NGOs. on a series of data-driven investigations and simultaneously to build their core data skills.  Sam’s ‘embedded fellowship’ started in February 2014.

This represents our first big organisational-level capacity building programme and we are very grateful to Global Witness for being such wonderful, open-minded hosts and partners. School of Data plans to continue investigating the embedded fellow model - which seems to be working well so far.

The Budget Data Package

The 2012 Technology for Transparent and Accountable Public Finance Report recommended that a global, lightweight standard for budget data would be a logical next step in being able to achieve some of the potential of new technology for pushing forward the state of government financial transparency. This year, we have been lucky to work with a series of partners, including the International Budget Partnership and Omidyar Network on further researching the matter and coming up with a pilotable working specification. Over the coming year, we will be working with partners in key countries to pilot it and gather feedback from users as to the usability of the specification.

BBC Memorandum of Understanding

In a great step for openness we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the BBC in November 2013. The first joint initiative in January 2014, in partnership with Wikimedia, was to coordinate the first ever “speakerthon”. Using the BBC’s vast radio archive, participants could tag and select snippets of notable individuals’ voices in order to upload them to Wikipedia articles as open content.

Follow the Money

In the last quarter of 2013 we launched a new website called ‘Follow the Money’. This is intended as a hub for the emerging Follow the Money network. Our aim is to help citizens around the world hold decision-makers to account, and make sure that public money is spent for the public good.  The project was developed in partnership with  One.  We expect the network will help organisations working on this agenda to share information about what they are doing, to develop a shared vision and principles around transparency and open data, and to spot opportunities to collaborate and gaps that need to be filled. To share experience and inform the development of the network, we also organised a “Follow the Money” session at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London, particularly focusing on the needs of campaigners in developing countries.

Open Knowledge Labs

In July 2013 we launched Open Knowledge Labs, a community home for civic hackers, data wranglers and anyone else intrigued and excited by the possibilities of combining technology and open information for good – making government more accountable, culture more accessible and science more efficient.  Labs is about “making” – whether that’s apps, insights or tools – using open data, open content and free / open source software. The project aims to involve all levels of data-interested people: interest and a willingness to get your hands dirty (digitally), be that with making, testing or helping, is all that’s needed.

The Public Domain Review

Hailed as “magnificent…a model of digital curation” by the Guardian, the Public Domain Review has continued to build an incredible treasure trove of delights from across the public domain. The most popular posts in 2013/14 were a dictionary of Victorian slang and illustrations from a Victorian book on magic, with the numerous other curios including a video of a dog’s head being revived. The Public Domain Review continue to make copyright questions cool.





2013/14 has been a year of major successes and exciting new developments for CKAN.  Open Knowledge is proud to see the CKAN community going from strength to strength.

CKAN has continued to thrive with rapid growth in the community and in new deployments. In fact, there are now so many major deployments that we struggle to keep track and have now launched a dedicated page ( and survey to track these. Some notable new launches include the national government data portals in Mexico, the Philippines and Indonesia. CKAN now powers almost every major national government open data portal.

In terms of CKAN itself there has been the usual substantive technical improvements, especially in the area of visualization. However, the most significant development has been the launch of the CKAN Association. Discussed and planned over the last two years, it was formally launched in March 2014.

Some CKAN Highlights

  • May 2013: One of the most significant CKAN instances ever was launched: in the shape of the new US government open data portal,
  • June 2013: The Canadian Government relaunched their open data portal powered by CKAN –
  • July 2013: CKAN adds the ability to preview GeoJSON data
  • August 2013: CKAN 2.1 was released with new capabilities for managing bulk datasets amongst many other improvements
  •  September 2013: We saw the launch of, a community data portal in Bermuda.  A new CKAN partner, Ontodia, launched PediaCities with a CKAN catalogue. Plus the team launched “ to go” to make it easier to reuse the code behind
  •  October 2013: A substantial new version of CKAN’s geospatial extension was released, including pycsw and MapBox integration and revised and expanded docs.
  • November 2013: Future City Glasgow launched the prototype as part of their TSB funded Future Cities Demonstrator programme, later contracting us to work with them on the City Technology Platform.
  • December 2013 saw Japan launch the beta of their open data portal OKF Belgium released an integration between CKAN and The DataTank and France launched based on CKAN.

CKAN Examples

CKAN in Pakistan

Open Knowledge was appointed to develop a CKAN data observatory platform to collate the definitive data sources on education in Pakistan and present them in a clear accessible format. Information on infrastructure, financial, enrollment, performance were brought together to provide a solid foundation against which change in Pakistani education could be tracked and analysed and the drivers and constraints of reform identified. A particular focus of the work was to design a site that could be used to support advocacy efforts in the country by Alif Ailaan, a Pakistani organisation dedicated to improving education outcomes in Pakistan.

The initiative is part of the multi-year DFID-funded Transforming Education Pakistan (TEP) campaign aiming to increase political will to deliver education reform in Pakistan. On behalf of HTSPE, Open Knowledge was appointed to build the data observatory platform and provide support in managing the upload of data including onsite visits to provide training in Pakistan.

CKAN in Glasgow

The Open Knowledge Glasgow CKAN project has been a special learning experience for us as it involved substantial amounts of custom development work over a period of eight months. Specific functionality was built to integrate CKAN with a bespoke backend enterprise solution — the City Technology Platform: Enterprise Components (CTPEC) — delivered by Microsoft.  For most users, the custom development work will not be noticed, but behind the scenes you can see the extra work gone into linking CKAN into practical workflows, which overall make the system as practical as possible for its users.

From the outset, our client envisaged CKAN  being the front-end for all users: citizens and public servants — taking advantage of ten years of investment. Officials now use CKAN to get their data into the corporate system. Citizens use it to find and use data.

The project was part of the TSB Funded Future Cities Demonstrator programme: aimed at demonstrating what cities of tomorrow will be able to do; from lighting street lamps as people approach, through to exposing real-time data on traffic light; as well as many things in between.

CKAN powered Satellites Info

There are many different satellite data sources available from public and private satellite operators.

However, getting access to consolidated information to uncover what is available and how to get it, has proved challenging. To address this, Open Knowledge deployed CKAN as a data hub  solution and built a custom harvester to pull information from various sources into CKAN. The data hub aims to be at the forefront of satellite data information and knowledge and is an aggregation of links to the suppliers of satellite data through a single interface and where possible makes the raw data and satellite derived data available for exploration and download. This project was funded by the Transparency Strategy Board for Catapults and delivered in partnership with the Satellite Applications Catapult in association with the UK Space Agency .



Policy and Campaign Highlights

Right to be Forgotten

In spring 2014 a European Court Justice (ECJ) ruling made waves. The “Right to be Forgotten” ruling may affect how privacy, transparency, and open data interact. Roughly summarized the ruling found that organisations which publish information may be obliged to “take down” and remove information when an individual requests that removal even when the information is true and is a matter of “public record”.

This is potentially a significant change, adding to the work and responsibilities not just of big corporations like Google, but also to the creators of open databases big and small. The so-called “right to be forgotten” undoubtedly encapsulates a justified fear that lots of us have about our loss of personal privacy. However, this decision also appears to have the potential for significant (unintended) negative consequences for the publication and availability of key public interest information – the kind of information that is central to government and corporate accountability. More discussion on this and related topics keep going on in the Personal Data, Privacy and Open Data Working Group.

Stop Secret Contracts

From February 2014 Open Knowledge ran its first ever global advocacy campaign ‘Stop Secret Contracts’. Our aim was to highlight the existence of such contracts and why they need to stop. In most countries around the world, governments and local authorities contract with private companies: to mine for natural resources, to provide public services, to build public infrastructure, to procure goods. In many cases these contracts are secret: they are not open, not transparent and consequently contractors cannot be held accountable by the public.

In some cases this just leads to a problem with trust, as there is no transparency. In worse cases, problems range from potential corruption, to unaccountable delivery processes, to money being lost, services not delivered, or contracts being over-priced leading to the unnecessary loss of public money.

Open Knowledge’s aim with this campaign is to raise awareness of the issue, highlight problems occurring despite governments signing up to the Open Government Partnership, and to start building campaigning skills across our network and local contacts, where an interest in this topic exists.

From the outset, the campaign has over 30 organisational signatories including Global Witness, Integrity Action, the International Budget Partnership, the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency International.

Campaigning on Lobbying Transparency

In September 2013 we initiated a joint letter  designed as an open letter to the UK Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister about the UK’s proposed Lobbying Bill. Our letter was co-signed by organisations working for greater government transparency and openness in the UK and around the world and received a good level of media-interest.  

In October 2013 we teamed up with the Sunlight Foundation to convene a new global group on lobbying transparency with an international focus, looking beyond the UK. We want civil society organisations, journalists and citizens around the world to be able to use information about lobbying to understand and report on the influence of big money on politics and to push for reforms in this area.

As one consequence, in December 2013, we joined the members of the UK OGP civil society network in signing an open letter calling on the Government to put an end to secret corporate lobbying. The government’s proposed lobbying bill at the time let the vast majority of corporate lobbyists off the hook from being obliged to say who they’re meeting, what decisions they are seeking to influence and how much they are spending. The joint letter we published in December urged Ministers to redraft the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trades Union Administration Bill in order to enable proper public scrutiny of lobbying activity in the UK.

US Public Government Data should be “license free”

Also in December 2013 we joined a band of civil society organizations – including Sunlight Foundation, Joshua Tauberer/, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation – as signees of a request to making public government data “license free” in the United States. Public data generated or commissioned by government bodies is becoming an increasingly important part of the public sphere — from new forms of civic participation, journalism, transparency and accountability to new opportunities for innovation and growth. We continue to participate in joined up campaigning activities to progress issues like this across the globe.

Copyright term extensions in TPP negotiations

In late 2013 we opposed copyright term extensions in TPP negotiations. We joined a group of civil society organisations and activists from around the world in an open letter opposing proposals to increase the duration of copyright as part of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. This followed on from another recent letter asking for greater openness around the TPP negotiations, which have been widely criticised for their lack of transparency or democratic accountability.

Company Ownership

Another important topic we campaigned about in 2013/14 has been beneficial ownership. We were involved in campaigning which led to the UK committing to make registers of who really owns companies public. Open Knowledge argued that increasing transparency around company ownership was a key commitment the UK government could make in the fight against corruption and financial crime.




Open Knowledge Conference and Festival

The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) in Geneva was another huge success with over a thousand attendees from dozens of countries around the world attending the event in Geneva from 16-18 September 2013. Inspiring talks from the likes of Jay Naidoo and Ellen Miller emphasised the social change potential of open data when applied to governance and development issues.  Organized this time in collaboration with the Swiss Chapter of Open Knowledge, this was the eighth in our series of annual events stretching back to 2005. Once again, it was a fantastic event that brought together the diversity and vibrancy of the growing global open knowledge community. A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who made this happen and especially to our partners at LIFT events and at (Open Knowledge Switzerland).

With a Knowledge, a Society and a Tools stream, the programme was community-generated and curated by the Open Knowledge Events team in cooperation with a small army of volunteers.

The theme was “OPEN DATA – Broad, Deep Connected”. In the last few years we have seen government open data initiatives grow and become important in areas such as research, culture and international development. OKCon 2013 explored how open data is not only expanding geographically but also touching new sectors and new areas. Sessions also looked at opportunities to coordinate and strengthen public policy around the world to support a truly global and interconnected ecosystem of open data.

In March 2014 an OKCon2013 Reader was published by Andreas Von Gunten, founder of the Creative Commons-based publishing house Buch & Netz, containing blogposts, white papers, slides, journal articles and other types of texts from 45 speakers, workshop coordinators of this event and other contributors.

One small note: when we first started our regular annual event it went under the name of the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon). In 2012, we experimented with the name Open Knowledge Festival to reflect the growing breadth and nature of the event, as well as the community-generated content. We reverted to standard nomenclature and the focus on government data for 2013, although the programme was still led by the community. After consideration, we have decided to use Open Knowledge Festival as our standard name and format going forward for the main event the organisation runs annually.  In May we published the full programme for OKFestival 2014, which is planned from 15-17 July 2014 in Berlin.

Other Open Knowledge Events

In December 2013 and March 2014 we ran an Introduction to Open Data 1-day-training. Targeted at organisations, such as local government councillors and officers who consider starting their own Open Data initiative, and at organisations planning who plan to work with or campaign for Open Data, the event covered a broad range of issues such as What is Open Data; kinds of data; Benefits of Open Data; regulatory requirements; data licensing; data quality and formats; an introduction to Linked Data; planning an Open Data project; data portals; publishing data; and community engagement.

Together with Open for Change, and led by the Open Knowledge Netherlands Chapter  we have been supporting a new Open Development Debate Series 2013-2014. The aim of the event series is to identify themes and tensions in the open development space and to engage the global open development community in a conversation about the pressing issues facing the open development movement. Ultimately we expect this to shape the direction of future work of the Open Development Working Group. The Debate Series started at Open Development Camp in Amsterdam in November 2013 which saw a call for a more pro-active role for the open development group to help connect and “re-contextualise” experiences in other domains from one “local situation” to another, especially towards the marginalised voices.

Participation in other’s Events

In February 2014 we once again supported Open Data Day. It was the biggest yet, with over 190 events taking place around the world. Open Knowledge’s global network participated and contributed very actively: gathering in person and remotely, with events from Nepal to Egypt, looking at everything from local government spending, to flood data, to mashing up public domain content into cool videos. As always we were proud to support Open Data Day, which has fast become a key date in the information activist calendar. The diversity of events produced across the world is a fantastic expression of the vibrant international movement which is building for open data.

In January much activity took place around Copyright Week, organised by EFF. The event promoted their six key principles for guiding copyright policy and practice.Leading up to this event Creative Commons 4.0 BY and BY-SA licenses were approved conformant with the Open Definition. The Open Definition, one of the first projects of the Open Knowledge Foundation, is the reference-point for understanding what Open is and how you can determine whether something is Open or not. It is good to see that Creative commons continue to work on ways to better display which of its licenses conform to the Definition.

In October 2013 we were involved with a number of events at and around the Open Government Partnership Summit taking place in London. Our CEO Laura James spoke at the Open Data Institute’s Annual Summit which took place in parallel to the Summit. We organised a meet-up, helped to run the Open Government Partnership Civil Society Day, before the main summit kicked off, coordinated the unconference and were involved in sessions on proactive transparency, privacy and more. Finally, we had an information stand at the OGP Summit,  as well as a dedicated space with sessions we ran and contributed to.

Also in October 2013 we participated in Open Access Week and shared information about events and activities going on during the course of the week. Open Access week is a global event, celebrating open access. Taking place in the last full week of October every year, there are many events taking place online and offline which bring together people who care about Open Access, and provide opportunity to spread the good word.

At the International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) in Nairobi, Kenya, the School of Data hosted a full day pre-conference training session as part of the mentorship programme in November 2013. The full event hosted over 110 attendees from around the world. The Crisismappers community brings humanitarians, governmental staff, civil society practitioners, researchers, and technologists in a common, equal space. Participants work on projects ranging from human rights, anti-corruption, humanitarian response and economic development in post-conflict zones. The brilliance of this cross-sector community focused on using data for their work highlights the importance for  Open Knowledge to work as a member of the greater network and help bring different actors together.

Community & Local Events 

With our network growing, from May 2014 we started highlighting more local events, run either by Open Knowledge local groups or friends in our network. The list of events, meet-ups, presentations given and hackathons organised is long. Here is just a short list of examples of all the fantastic work going on in our wider network:

  • On 3 April 2014 Thessaloniki saw the Apps4Greece award ceremony: Where the winners of the Apps4Greece award were announced after the launch of the project in November 2013 . The winning apps aim to improve the functionality of cities, businesses, services and develop entrepreneurship and innovation.
  •  Civil society Meetup (Paris, France – 24 April 2014): Organised by Open Knowledge France after the Paris Open Government Conference (April 24-25 2014) during which France announced its joining the Open Government.
  • Open Access Days in Egypt (Cairo, Egypt – 27-28 April 2014): Open Knowledge Egypt, among many other organisations and researchers, participated in the 2-day event driven by the aim to promote open access to researchers in Egypt and the Middle East, and plant a seed for future initiatives.
  • In February 2014 OKF Nepal celebrated Education Freedom Day
  • In February 2014 OKF Scotland collaborated with other organisations to create Datafest Scotland 2014
  • Open Knowledge Foundation Nepal organized Open Election Data Week from 24-30 November 2013
  • October 2013: the Ireland local group hosted a meet-up with the theme  “The Way Forward for Open Data in Ireland”
  • In September 2013 Open Knowledge Foundation Network Bangladesh (OKFnBD) joined forces with the Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN) to hold an event for the GNU 30th anniversary with GNU-a-Day in Dhaka.
  • September 2013 also saw the first ever Glasgow Open Knowledge Scotland Meet-up
  • August 2013 saw our friends from the Open Knowledge Argentina Local Group give a School of Data presentation at Hacks Hackers Buenos Aires in the good company of journalists, programmers and designers from three continents.In September, the group held a Open Spending Meetup that was visited by Open Knowledge Foundation old-timer and Knight-Mozilla Fellow Friedrich Lindenberg – which was followed later that month by a presentation at the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology and University of La Plata.
  • July 2013 Ireland local group hosted a meet-up with a focus on open data in local government
  • In July 2013 a new local group in Canada also hosted their first-ever meet-up.
  • In June 2013 the Spanish Open Knowledge Chapter organized the first Conference of Data Journalism and Open Data in Spain titled “When data tell stories”. The event took place simultaneously in Barcelona (CCCB + School of Communication Blaquerna) and Madrid (MediaLab Prado).

From April 2014 we have also run a series of Community Sessions to highlight work in our local and working groups, and beyond:

  • May 2014 Open Data Hong Kong
  • May 2014 Open Spending Working Group
  • April 2014 CKAN Update
  • April 2014 Community Feedback Session
  • April 2014 Mapping - a School of Data Skillshare
  • April 2014 Open Knowledge Brazil



Community Development

Local Groups

In January 2013 the Ambassador-scheme was launched and attracted lots of attention from around the world. The scheme allowed individuals to apply for establishing Local Groups in their country, pending a review by the existing community, and the demand proved very high. As a result there was a surge in new Local Groups forming:  Nepal, China, Scotland, Canada, Taiwan, Argentina, United States and Equador all joined the global community in the first half of the year. This tendency continued into the fall where the Netherlands, Burkino Faso, India, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Morocco, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Ireland, Lithuania, Russia, Senegal, Sweden, Norway,  Indonesia, Egypt and Denmark also joined, bringing the tally of Local Groups past 30.

Other more established groups kept advancing as well: In April 2013 the Open Knowledge Local Group in Greece transitioned into becoming an official Chapter and thereby joining the list that already included Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. In February 2014 Brazil and Spain joined this list as well by filling the criteria for becoming formal Chapters of Open Knowledge.

In the spring of 2014 many more local communities around the world formed Local Groups: Hungary, Romania, El Salvador, Philippines, Malta, Iran and Paraguay came on board and in May, Open Knowledge Ireland became a formal Chapter.

Other Local Group highlights included:

  • The Brazilian Open Knowledge  Chapter organised an open science event in São Paulo, with over 60 people participating in round tables covering the many aspects of openness in science: education, publications, tools, data, citizenry and research.
  • Japan had 19 cities with Where Does My Money Go sites only a year after the first site was set up in Yokohama, and enthusiastic engineers are forming a community of practice to share know-how and get more cities on board.
  • The Greece Chapter of the Open Knowledge has done development work on the Greek Open Data portal, and released the first version of want2know, a platform which lets citizens request data they want open access to, motivated by the Open Data Census.
  • The Spanish Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation organised the first Conference of Data Journalism and Open Data in Spain, titled “When data tells stories”  - and they also successfully launched the country’s first ever open data award.
  • The Ambassador for Morocco was invited on national television to discuss the Moroccan e-gov project with the Minister of Trade, Industry, and New Technologies; they talked about open data, the CKAN open data management system, and the Moroccan Open Data Portal, and as a result the Ambassador was subsequently invited to work with the government to help improve the national portal.
  • Open Knowledge Brazil became a finalist of the Google Impact Challenge with the Project Gastos Abertos. The submitted project focuses on Open Spending and how the federal government of Brazil and the state government of São Paulo are spending public money.

Working Groups

Open Humanities Awards

This year’s Open Humanities Awards were voted on from 30 April until 6 June. Prizes were on offer in two dedicated tracks:

  • Open track: for projects that either use open content, open data or open source tools to further humanities teaching and research
  • DM2E track: for projects that build upon the research, tools and data of the DM2E project

Humanities research is based on the interpretation and analysis of a wide variety of cultural artefacts including texts, images and audiovisual material. Much of this material is now freely and openly available on the internet enabling people to discover, connect and contextualise cultural artefacts in ways previously very difficult.

The Open Humanities Awards encourage budding developers and humanities researchers to collaborate and start new projects that use this open content and data paving the way for a vibrant cultural and research commons to emerge. In addition, the DM2E project has developed tools to support Digital Humanities research, such as Pundit (a semantic web annotation tool), and delivered several interesting datasets from various content providers around Europe.

The Awards are being coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation and are part of the DM2E project. They are also supported by the Digital Humanities Quarterly.

Open Spending

In January 2014 we released the report “Mapping the Open Spending Data Community” by Anders Pedersen and Lucy Chambers. This was an in-depth look at how citizens, journalists, and civil society organisations around the world are using data on government finances to further their civic missions. The investigation had begun in 2012, and the resulting report brings together key case studies from organisations who have done pioneering work in using technology to work with public finance data in budgets, spending, and procurements, and it presents a curated selection of tools and other advice in an appendix.

As part of this research, a four-part video series “Athens to Berlin“, was produced, which allows audiences to meet some of the fascinating characters in the world of CSOs working with government spending data and to learn firsthand about their successes and their challenges.

Open Spending rounded off a great year 2013 with the launch of the Spending Stories app in November, which enables citizens and journalists to make sense of the numbers in the news. Developed by the Open Knowledge Foundation and Journalism++ with funding from the Knight Foundation, Spending Stories is an app that helps citizens and journalists understand and compare amounts in stories from the news. Spending Stories draws out comparisons between amounts of money, giving users a context in which to understand how money is being spent across society while referencing the original news stories.

Open Economics

Opening economics makes for better research, as well as more just and sustainable outcomes. Great progress was made in 2013, including YourTopia Italy, an award-winning multidimensional index of social progress; the Failed Banks tracker, a visualisation of the big bank failures during the recent financial crash; and a set of Open Economics Principles was published in August 2013, which have been widely endorsed by the economics community including the World Bank’s Data Development Group.

Open Science

In November 2013 three new Panton Fellowships were announced with a view to run until September 2014. Our 2013/2014 Panton Fellows have been funded by the Computer and Communications Industry Association and applications were assessed by the Panton Fellowships Advisory Board. Regrettably in 2013/2014 we were only able to offer Fellowships to those who held a valid EU passport. We hope to remove this restriction in future rounds, although are unable to commit to this at present. The three 2013-14 Fellows, Sam Moore, Peter Kraker and Rosie Graves, had these focus areas to work on: Sam on open data in humanities and social sciences, Peter in transparent and reproducible altmetrics and expanding the open community, and Rosie in monitoring air quality in local primary schools and publishing this openly as part of an outreach project.

Open Science is spreading across the world! More and more local open science strands are coming together as open science enthusiasts from different corners of the globe are getting together and developing projects in their local community. Now you can join an open science community in Stockholm, Brazil or one of the other local strands of the working group.

Other Working Group News

  • In October 2013 Open Product Data became a new working group. The aim is to develop the largest open product database in the world and advocating for increased access to product data.
  • 2013 has seen the growth of local OpenGLAM groups organising professional networks that take action and promote the value of open culture within a given region or country (ex US, Switzerland, Austria etc.). The OpenGLAM Working Group is now also supported by a new set of key network partners including the Digital Public Library of America, LODLAM and the Internet Archive.
  • October 2014 also saw two more new working groups launched: Lobbying Transparency and Open Legislation. The new Lobbying Transparency group is an international collaboration with our friends at the Sunlight Foundation, aiming to help citizens understand the influence of big money on their political system. Open Legislation is strictly-speaking not “new”, but was relaunched at OKCon 2013, followed by a slew of inspiring activity regarding the opening up of laws.
  • The Open Design and Hardware working group celebrated its first anniversary. The Working Group is promoting the development of new artistic practices through projects that encourage members to actually produce new works.
  • The Public Domain Working Group was busy throughout 2013, working in partnership with OKF France and the French Ministry of Culture to develop a French Public Domain Calculator.
  • The Open Sustainability Working Group also had its first anniversary and was especially active in Finland and Italy. The group is key in the Open Knowledge global #OpenCO2 campaign to bring more transparency to emissions tracking, so big polluters are held to account.
  • Another new WG launched was Open Education, which had even before it official launch organised a spring for a new Open Education Handbook. The project invited open education experts along to share ideas and write down copy relating to various aspects of open education: resources, data and pedagogy.


The network is held together by a myriad of communication channels we use. Alongside our website and blog, we also host dozens of sites for our working groups, local groups and projects.

Our main  newsletter list has approx. 20,000 subscribers, and a significant level of discussion is happening on our mailing-lists.

In 2013/14 our social media channels really established themselves. Our Facebook Page doubled it’s fans from 4000-8000+ in this year and our twitter followers increased from 8,678 to  18,625.  

Community Survey 2013

From October to December 2013 we ran our widest Community Survey yet. Community Manager Heather Leason analysed and published the Top 10 wishes the community brought up for our work:.

The Open Knowledge Community Top 10:

  1. Community members attend events and want more.
  2. We need to make it easier to Get involved in the Open Knowledge community and any associated projects. Community members want Open Knowledge to be diverse and inclusive.
  3. Open Knowledge should provide more community resources.
  4. We connect you to each other in the global open knowledge space. Community members want us to make this easier for you.
  5. Open Knowledge is a community of data makers and folks who want us to provide ways for community members to gain more technical skills or do skillshares.
  6. Community members want us to keep the momentum on lobbying for policy and advocacy.
  7. Community members want us to be more transparent about our work. And, community members want to us to transparently share stories about open data – both the good things and the barriers/things that don’t work.
  8. Community members want to join us on the important journey to support and teach governments, businesses and civil society to open data.
  9. Open Knowledge needs more translation. (Quick plug of thanks for all the folks who offered to help on this!)
  10. Community members want us to build spaces for more open collaboration and involve them.



More details can be found on our blog.

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