Oct 14

“Open Development Cambodia” Interview with Executive Director Thy Try

Johannes Kast presents an open data mapping platform in Cambodia and interviews the executive director


ODC Logo

Open Development Cambodia is a novel, non-commercial open data platform designed to collect data and make it available, e.g. through interactive maps, in order to address environmental, economic and social issues through the unbiased lens of raw information. They also provide important, up-to-date information on natural ressources, laws & regulations, company profiles and more.

It’s the first of its kind in South East Asia and both the software that is used and the methodology are open source, transparent and freely accessible to everyone. Especially in recent years, Cambodia is undergoing constant, fast-pace changes, so the mapping software provides a useful illustration.

The ODC Team

The ODC Team

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Oct 14

Social Media in the HK “Umbrella Revolution” a double edged sword? (Slideshow)

Do not miss the slideshow with commentary from our own reporter in Hong Kong – Johannes Kast.

Blockade of Hong Kong "Occupy Central"

Blockade of Hong Kong “Occupy Central”

This autumn, all eyes were on Hong Kong – a Chinese city with its own political and economical system after the “one country, two systems” principle was introduced following the reunification between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China. This september, after some initial mass protests that got out of control, students and activists blocked the main roads in Hong Kong’s central governmental and financial district on September 29th demanding full suffrage on choosing their cities leader. Since then – with varying numbers of support – the protesters have set up peaceful blockades both in Hong Kong central and in Mong Kok on the mainland, while having to defend themselves against attacks from police armed with tear gas and batons, triad interferences and sometimes even civilian anti-protest groups.

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Oct 14


Charlotta Duse on the perils of accepting online T&Cs without first reading what they include.

I believe I am not the only one who have pressed the ”I accept”-button when finding a public Wi-Fi connection without really reading the agreement. So when I saw an article in the newspaper about this the other day, I could not resist to read it. The very click-friendly title was ”Prepared to give away your child for free wifi?”.

The article describes how many people accept the Terms and Conditions for using free wi-fi without even reading them first (at least I hope nobody read them and then accepted). This was proven when this company established an open wi-fi connection at various places in London for people to use, under the conditions that they gave away their firstborn child, their favorite pet and all their available data to the company in question. People connected and 32 megabyte (emails, contacts, searches etc) of data was collected in just 30 minutes. Not all connections were manual. The company says that ”In just a half-hour period, 250 devices connected to the hotspot. Most of these were probably automatic connections, without their owner even realizing it”.

A part from that this was an experiment made by a company who wants to sell us their service and protect us from open, and potentially harmfull, wi-fi, it raised some interesting questions.

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Oct 14

Big Data and You: Accessing Big Data

Johannes Kast on open data and big data… and the data revolution.

Big Data is shaping the way we look at the world and offers an alternative way of predicting what is going to happen next. And the amount of data is exponentially increasing. While in 2012, 2.8 Billion Terrabyte of data were saved, the IDC predicts that this number will increase to 40 Billion in the year 2020. Data is changing how we make sense of the the world, it changes classic business models drastically and it has the potential to revolutionise social sciences and the development sector.

There is an obvious benefit for companies to use their collected user data to analyse their markets and consumers, a practice that social media has monetized for a while now. And the tendency to collect massive amounts of data by government agencies has been demonstrated by the scope of the recent NSA scandal. However the Open Data and Open Government trend, which is essentially unstructured data being made publicly available to everyone, is growing as well and can potentially open up new possibilities how non-profits (or other third parties) can play a more active and creative role in shaping our world.

While it can be argued that the current form of data being released is supply driven, while it should be demand driven there are already several access points made available. With more than 150,000 data sets and tools to use them, the US Open Data initiative is a step into the right direction, offering raw information on over twenty topics, such as agriculture, climate and education.

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Oct 14

Resource – open data Kenya

An interesting example of open data application – contribution by Catarina Nilsson.

Kenya launched an online portal with government data in 2011, claiming it to be the first one in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It says on the website: “The goal of opendata.go.ke is to make core government development, demographic, statistical and expenditure data available in a useful digital format for researchers, policymakers, ICT developers and the general public.”

As we see throughout this blog and elsewhere, more and more organisations make their data available openly, which opens a world of possibilities.

But how do we, as users without deeper insight into the data collection methods, assess the data quality?

Oct 14

New open Knowledge hub launched today

Open development initiatives – examples by Catarina Nilsson.

The use of open data in development seems to increase more and more. The other day we published a piece about Sweden launching a new version of Open Aid, an open source site visualising aid data. Today we were reached by the news that a new open data hub is launched today at the Open Development Camp held in Amsterdam.

The new hub will focus on various perspectives on development and – this is interesting! – make sure to use research results from low income countries.

Working as a platform for sharing data the hub wants to improve access to content that “supports evidence-informed policy making and practice by development actors”. Hopefully policymakers in relevant contexts will get to know about and use the hub to stay informed about research that relates to their area.

For now, the Institute of Development Studies are pulling data from three of their services to the project, these are ELDIS, BRIDGE and the British Library for Development Studies.

The Oriel Open Knowledge Hub is available here: www.okhub.org

Oct 14

A story about when public data was too big, and maybe not so public after all

How open is Sweden to open data? Charlotta Duse investigates.

A daily routine at the local newspaper where I work, and at many others, is that the news chief goes to the town hall to fetch the daily public documents. In these documents one finds correspondence between institutions, decisions made in the municipality, prosecutions, judges, new guidelines, construction permits etc; basically anything that goes on nearby. 

Anyone can get these documents, the data is public and protected by the principle of public access (http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/24/55/92/61c8bc18.pdf): a principle to make sure that the democratic system can be looked into, as well as to promote civic participation. Just as we saw in Abigails post Open Data, transparency is, and should be, one part of ”the good” of open data.

After getting the daily documents, the editorial sorts out what is of interest for its readers. (It should be pointed out that this is no objective process – here lies a big risk of misinterpretation, focus on some things while ignoring others, judging what is public interest and what is not etc.) After choosing the happenings of interest the reporter write his or her article based on the document, a document often written in a complicated language, in a manner that anyone can understand the information given in it.

But some time ago, colleagues in Kalmar had troubles getting access to these public papers. The reason? 

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