Support Us

You are browsing the archive for technology.

Ignite Cleanweb

- September 11, 2012 in Environment, Energy and Sustainability, Events

Ignite Cleanweb

Ignite Event in London

This Thursday in London, Cleanweb UK invites you to their first Ignite evening, hosted by Forward Technology. Come along and see a great lineup of lightning talks, all about what’s happening with sustainability and the web in the UK.

From clean clouds, to home energy, to climate visualisation, there will plenty to learn, and plenty of other attendees to get to know. It’ll be an evening to remember, so make sure you’re there! Sign up on the Cleanweb UK website.

Confirmed lighting talks:

* Loco2 vs The European Rail Booking Monster, Jon Leighton, Loco2
* Love Thy Neighbour. Rent Their Car, Tom Wright, Whipcar
* Solar Panels Cross The Chasm, Jason Neylon, uSwitch
* Weaponising Environmentalism, Chris Adams, AMEE
* Energy Saving Behaviour – The Motivation Challenge, Paul Tanner, Virtual Technologies
* Good Food, For Everyone, Forever. Easy, Right?, Ed Dowding, Sustaination
* The Open Energy Monitor Project, Glyn Hudson & Tristan Lea, OpenEnergyMonitor
* The Carbon Map, Robin Houston, Carbon Map
* Putting the Local in Global Warming with Open Data, Jack Townsend, Globe Town
* Cleanweb in the UK, James Smith, Cleanweb UK

and more…

Cleanweb community

Cleanweb Community London

There is a movement growing. Bit by bit, developers are using the power of the web to make our world more sustainable. Whether by improving the way we travel, the way we eat, or the way we use energy, the web is making a difference. The Cleanweb movement is building a global conversation, with local chapters running hackdays and meetups to get people together.

Here in the UK, we’ve been doing this longer than anyone else. Cleanweb-style projects were emerging in 2007, with 2008’s geeKyoto conference bringing together a lot of early efforts.

It’s only really appropriate then that we have the most active Cleanweb community in the world, in the form of Cleanweb London. With over 150 members, it’s a great base, on which we’re building a wider Cleanweb UK movement. We’ve run a hackday, have regular meetups, and are building towards our first Ignite Cleanweb evening.

This is an expanding community, made of many different projects and groups, and one that has a chance to do some real good. If you’d like to be part of it, or if you already are but didn’t know it, come along to a meetup and get involved!

Cleanweb MeetUp

Technology for Transparent and Accountable Public Finance

- May 30, 2012 in Public Finance and Government Data, Publications

This post is also published at the OpenSpending blog.

In early March, we embarked on a project to map out projects which use [technology to further the aims of fiscal transparency, accountability and participation](http://openspending.org/blog/2012/03/12/technology-for-fiscal-transparency-where-next.html). Today, we are happy to announce the official release of the resulting report, Technology for Transparent and Accountable Public Finance. Preliminary findings were presented at last month’s [GIFT](http://fiscaltransparency.net/) meeting in Brasilia. Since then, we’ve been building on the comments, follow-up questions and feedback from the session.

Looking at government revenue, expenditure and off-budget information – we have attempted to identify projects from both governments and civil society which use innovative approaches to:

* Publish more or better data related to fiscal processes (aid, revenues, budgets, audits, etc. — see below),
* Help understand this data through the creation of better visualisation and data analysis tools,
* Educate citizens about fiscal processes, and assist civil society organisations promoting accountable governance,
* Facilitate direct participation in fiscal matters through participatory budgeting, citizen auditing and the like,
* Provide policymakers with complete and reliable data relevant to their work, enabling them to make better decisions.

We focussed in particular on the question: ‘Who are the users?’. We examined their motivations for getting involved, the scalability and applicability of given solutions to other contexts. The report also aims to highlight gaps that prevent users from taking up these tools.

### Report now available online

Today, the first edition of the report is published on [OpenSpending.org](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/index.html). It is also available for [download as a PDF](/resources/gift/pdf/ttapf_report_20120530.pdf). Accompanying the report is a [project database – bit.ly/TTAPF-projects ](https://bit.ly/TTAPF-projects) which contains many more projects that publish, analyse and demystify fiscal data.

The section on participatory budgeting deserves special mention. We discovered so many projects that they merited their own listing, which can be found [here](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvoV_cBqwo28dE9fZy02NEt2UGxPTnRQMTEzaUhTOGc#gid=4). As we go through, we are building up a catalog of government finance portals in [the ‘finance’ group of datacatalogs.org](http://datacatalogs.org/group/finance). There’s still a lot of work to be done there, but the group already contains the portals mentioned in the report.

As our work continues, we’d love to maintain these connections and hear updates from the projects and learn about new projects. If you have come across an interesting project and think we should feature it, [please let us know](mailto:[email protected])!

### Key Findings

We have tried to highlight specific roles which GIFT could play in promoting the good practice requirements of the report. The slides from the session can be found below:

Read about the highlights in context in the [Highlights, Gaps and Recommendations section](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter1-3.html)

### Read the report

See below for a quick overview of the contents:

* [Chapter 1 – Introduction and Methodology](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter1.html)
* [Chapter 2 – Publishing Fiscal Data: Government Perspectives](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter2-intro.html)
* [Chapter 3 – Using Fiscal Data: Civil Society Perspectives](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter3-intro.html)
* [Chapter 4 – Standards for Fiscal Data: Towards an international framework](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter4-intro.html)
* [Chapter 5 – Case Studies – Where Does the Money Come From?](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter5-intro.html)
* [Chapter 6 – Case Studies – Where Does the Money Go?](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter6-intro.html)
* [Chapter 7 – Case Studies – The Invisible Money](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter7-intro.html)
* [Chapter 8 – Putting the Parts Together, OpenSpending and Publish What You Fund](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter8-intro.html)
* [Final Observations and Review](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter9-intro.html)
* [Further Resources](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/bibliography.html)
* [Appendix](http://openspending.org/resources/gift/chapter10-intro.html)

### Get involved in the next edition

This release is version one, and we hope that the research will be ongoing as the OpenSpending community grows and the tools and network develop. As this happens, we’d really love your input. Some suggestions:

1. Feedback – let us know what you thought of the report and suggest improvements, particularly feedback for GIFT, what role would you like to see them play in this important field?
2. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting projects. We’re hoping to feature information about new projects in the blog, so drop a line to the [mailing list](http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/openspending) if you know of any we should feature.
3. Help us build up the [finance group on datacatalogs.org](http://datacatalogs.org/group/finance) and review the sites for their usefulness. Ever tried to get fiscal information out of a portal? Did you get what you were after? And importantly, could you use it once you had it? Let us know [here](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGNXNVFXdDlPNlRDaXB2bXc0aGR5UVE6MQ#gid=0).

Follow up posts on the findings in detail coming soon!

Technology for Fiscal Transparency – Where Next?

- March 21, 2012 in Announcements, External Projects, Public Finance and Government Data, Publications

 

## Who is using technology to follow the money? The hunt is on…

Over the last month, we have been working on a report entitled “Technology for Transparent and Accountable Public Finance” for the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency for next month’s Open Government Partnership meeting.

by imtfi on Flickr

We are hoping to identify the most promising projects around the world that are using technology (web, mobile or otherwise) to further aims of fiscal transparency. Of particular interest are projects that aim to:

* Publish more or better data related to fiscal processes (aid, revenues, budgets, audits, etc. — see below),
* Help understand this data through the creation of better visualisation and data analysis tools,
* Educate citizens about fiscal processes, and assist civil society organisations promoting accountable governance,
* Facilitate direct participation in fiscal matters through participatory budgeting, citizen auditing and the like,
* Provide policymakers with complete and reliable data relevant to their work, enabling them to make better decisions.

We’re particularly interested in efforts to improve transparency in 3 main areas:

* Looking at where the money comes from: In revenue processes (taxation, extractive industry, etc.),
* Monitoring where the money goes: The budgeting process (participatory budgeting, comparisons of planned and retrospective budgets) through to auditing of expenditure, and everything in between.
* The invisible money: projects that aim to improve public understanding of state owned (or semi-owned) enterprises, sovereign wealth funds and contingent liabilities – information on which often are not published as part of current budgeting practices.

There will be particular focus on the questions ‘Who are the users?’ and examining their motivations for getting involved, the scalability and applicability of given solutions to other contexts.

The report will also aim to highlight gaps – so please feel free to think outside the box; if there is cutting edge technology being used in other fields besides public finance, please feel free to suggest it – maybe no-one apart from you has thought of it yet!

## Over to you

We are now opening up to the community to let us know if there are any projects we should be aware of and include in the report.

If you are aware of any projects that we should cover in the report, or if you have any more general observations on the above, please let us know. We have created a [Google form](https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGZ1anpCaVZWTTBmR2JQWXFGc0pxeEE6MQ#gid=0) which you can use to give full details and look in more detail into some of the areas we are focussing on.

For more general comments or observations, and notes of people to contact, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line: lucy.chambers [at] okfn.org and velichka.dimitrova [at] okfn.org.

Energy and Climate Post-Hack News

- March 13, 2012 in Events, Hackathon

**Earlier this month, our [Energy and Climate Hackday](https://blog.okfn.org/2012/02/24/energy-and-climate-hackday-march-3rd/) brought together about 50 people in London and online, joining from Berlin, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, Graz and Bogota.**

With participants working in the private sector, for NGOs, universities and the public sector, we had a good mix of people with different expertise and skills. Some people had some idea on how to communicate some resource scarcity, the threat of climate change or the need to transform the existing energy structure. The challenge for developers was to visualise and present the openly available data – such as the dataset with environmental indicators from the World Bank. It was a great chance to meet and work with people that you don’t meet on a day-to-day basis, and get new ideas and inspiration. The event was sponsored by AMEE, which provides aggregated and automated access to the world’s environmental and energy information, and was hosted at the offices of ThoughtWorks.

Ed Hogg from the Department of Energy and Climate Change presented the Global 2050 Pathways Calculator Challenge . The Global Calculator would show how different technology choices impact energy security and reflect the geographical opportunities and limitations of energy technologies. It could focus on sectors of the economy, on countries and regions, or combine visualisations on both, showing implications for emissions and temperatures.

 

The Carbon Budget Challenge: Because of the controversy around how much each country “should” be emitting into the atmosphere, there are different criteria for determining each country’s share. According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility in international environmental law: “parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of future and present generations of human kind on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities.”  (Art. 3 of UNFCCC) So richer countries should bear a higher responsibility in order to ensure equitable access to sustainable development.

But it is not just the current rate of CO2 emissions that is important. Since carbon dioxide hangs around in the atmosphere for 50 to 100 years, the cumulative total emissions from historical data also need to be accounted for. According to the “polluter pays” principle, calculating the historical footprint of each country is an important way of determining each country’s responsibility. The way emissions are calculated also leaves room for scrutiny (and creative data visualisation). According to empirical evidence, the net emission transfers via international trade from developing to developed countries has increased, which poses the challenge of visualising “imported emissions”. The Historic Carbon Budget group worked on visualising historical time series of carbon dioxide emissions and comparing countries relative to the world mean.


Meanwhile, the Future Carbon Budget group worked on visualising how the world would look under different algorithms for “allocating” emissions to countries, where the weightings of each country would vary based on:

* historical emissions or the extent to which past high-emitting countries have “used up” their rights to emit in the future.
* population change and expected population growth and the rights of future generations to development
* capacity of emission abatement based on GDP and resources to invest in research and development of green technologies.

A Contraction and Convergence model, which reduces overall emissions and brings them to an equal level per capita, was put together during the afternoon. Building upon this model, developers designed a visualisation tool where one could input different implementation years, GDP and population growth rates in order to estimate the contraction and convergence path.

The Phone App to Communicate Climate Change Challenge inspired one group to show climate data and visualisations on a phone based on where the person is located. It would be either directed at the members of international organisations missions or the general public. A phone app could be useful to communicate the basic climate change facts about particular regions to the staff of international organisations like the World Bank and the IMF, saving them from wading through long and complex reports. For the general public, “global climate change” often seems too complex and distant: a phone app that communicates climate facts based on location, which can be read wherever and whenever you have time, might reach those who would not otherwise connect with these issues.

Deforestation and Land Use Challenge gathered Berlin developers  to create a visualisation of land use and forest area in the world. The Forestogram shows a world map with pie charts of land use (forest, agricultural land and other areas), based on the 5-year FAO data reports since 1990. When selecting “Usage by Kind” the user sees a beautiful peace sign made of the pies of all countries in the world.

Other ideas which we worked on included a “Comparothon” or a web-based application which allows the visualisation of data based on the relative size of bubbles. Data could be compared either for a single indicator across time, or for a single cross-section in one period.

We would like to thank Ilias Bartolini, who was an amazing host at the offices of ThoughtWorks, our sponsors AMEE and all participants who shared their knowledge and skills for a Saturday. Some notes from the Hackday can be found on the Etherpad. Some prototypes are still being developed, so if you have a similar idea and would like to join in, please let us know!

For contact and feedback: velichka.dimitrova [at] okfn.org

Energy and Climate Hackday – March 3, 2012

- February 14, 2012 in Events, Hackathon

On Saturday 3rd March we’re getting together for the Energy and Climate Hackday to data-wrangle and build apps around energy and climate data. All skills and interest groups are welcome: developers, data journalists, economists, climate scientists, environmentalists and interested citizens.

* When? Saturday 3rd March, 11am GMT (12pm CET/6am EST) to ~7pm GMT (8pm CET/3pm EST)
* Where? London, Berlin and Online.
* London – ThoughtWorks Ltd, 9th Floor Berkshire House, 168-173 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7AA.
* Berlin – Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland Offices – Coworking Space, St. Oberholz
Rosenthaler Straße 72a, 10119 Berlin
* Online – you can also join online from 12pm GMT (13pm CET/7am EST) through Skype and IRC (#okfn or #okfnecon on freenode)
* Who? Anyone! All skills are necessary and welcomed: coding, writing, illustrating, climate modelling or having concerns about the environment.
* How? Sign up on the MeetUp page and on the Etherpad.

### Hackday Challenges:

* Creating an app, which visualises different energy indicators for all countries from the WorldBank database, as in Europe’s Energy.

* Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: DECC 2050 Pathways Calculator with representatives from DECC, who would like to develop an international version of the application.

* Visualisation of deforestation data with a world map, which tracks changes in forest area and land use as well as carbon dioxide emissions… also relating them to economic indicators?

* Your ideas…

### Incentives

A successful prototype will be submitted to the Apps4Climate World Bank competition. The competition calls for an application which:

* is related to climate change; either to raising awareness, measuring progress, or helping in some way to address the development challenges of climate change.
* makes use of one or more of the datasets listed in the [World Bank Data Catalog][data] or [Climate Change Knowledge Portal][portal].
* may be any kind of software application, be it for the web, a personal computer, a mobile handheld device, console, SMS, or any software platform broadly available to the public.

The competition period ends on March 16, 2012 at 5:00 PM EST.

[portal]: http://sdwebx.worldbank.org/climateportal/
[data]: http://data.worldbank.org/

### DataParty prior to the event:

You are also welcome to join the Energy and Climate DataParty on the 29th February to data mine and mash up climate and energy data. Researchers and graduate students who have worked on environment-related topics are also invited to share their dissertation datasets on theDataHub.

If you are interested in co-organising this event and have ideas for challenges, you are welcome to join.

Lunch and drinks sponsored by AMEE and space provided by ThoughtWorks.