This year Open Knowledge Festival took place in Helsinki between from September 17 and September 22. Victor de boer and myself (Christophe Guéret) went to this huge (1000 participants from 100 nations) conference to speak about Open Development, one the 13 topic streams of this event around “data revolution”.
There are several meanings one can find for Open Development. As explained by Open for Change, it is about making all the data produced in our increasingly connected life relevant for the citizens. The question is how to improve the daily life of the citizens of developing countries. As it has been shown in many places, access to data, participatory governance, accountability and transparency are part of the answers. All in all, Openness caries the same hopes through the world but developing countries faces specific challenges (illiteracy, lack of infrastructure, …) and have specific goals (reduce poverty, increase health, …) that are less present in developed countries.
Among the several things presented and discussed during the topic stream, the Land portal data hub about World Wide land use and the open data portal from Cambodia highlighted the benefits of having access to raw data. They both show it is feasible to put isolated, and somehow disparate, sources of data together and that this leads to meaningful insights. Having access to this data is important but this is not enough for having a concrete impact. For a start, one must ensure that the data, or in fact, the visualizations based on it are actually understandable (c.f. this post by Anahi Ayala Iacucci). Then, this data also has to be relevant, individuals whose first worry every day is to find something to eat do not care about data accessibility (c.f. this post by Linda Raftree). And finally, insights have to be translated into concrete actions.
Victor and I presented the work we do in Amsterdam about making data more accessible, relevant and efficient. This work involves the creation of systems using vocal interfaces for data acquisition and consumption and the de-centralisation of the data storages to create resilient alternatives to the centralized solutions. Although the conference was essentially non-technical, we also aimed at showing the advantage of publishing open data as 5-star Linked Open Data instead of raw CSV. We did so during an hackathon session where we used API2LOD to expose a part of the data from IATI, along with the already published IDS data. There was unfortunately not enough time to make a visualization tool using the links created, so this is still on our to-do list ;-)
The festival lasted for a week but the discussion on Open Development is not over. Everyone interested is welcome to join the mailing list of the OKFN working group on Open Development, there is also a W3C community group “DLD” for those willing to talk about solutions involving Linked Data.