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How can open data help rebuild trust in business?

Martin Martinoff - October 8, 2012 in Audit and Accounting, Events, External Projects, Hackathon, Public Finance and Government Data

A few months ago, the Finance Innovation Lab launched AuditFutures – a new systemic work around rebuilding trust in business. The first innovation workshop on 4 July was a tremendous success and we have developed a strategy to move the work forward. Not surprisingly, open data came up in the discussions in two of the eight innovation domains. We feel that the knowledge and perspectives of the OKFN will bring value to the discussion.

 

Where are we?

The Finance Innovation Lab was established about four years ago by ICAEW and WWF-UK to inspire a financial system that sustains people and planet. This year, the Lab has been selected by NESTA and the Guardian as one of the top radicals who have transformed society. Building on the established success and momentum of the Lab, the Audit and Assurance Faculty of ICAEW has taken a bold initiative to innovate audit and reconnect the profession with the public interest.

The audit and accounting profession is at crossroads and we believe this is an opportunity to host a positive and proactive process about the future of the profession. Using our open and participatory approach, we organised an innovation workshop to crowdsource ideas for audit so that it can best serve society. On 4 July we convened over 120 participants from more than 75 firms and organisations.

 

What is our approach?

We designed a process to identify the emerging themes that helped form the agenda for the day. We had over hundred perspectives in the room, emerging from over twenty discussion tables. The goal of this process was to collect ideas in a transparent and democratic way, and to visually identify common patterns.

Some of the emerging themes are: the need for more flexibility in audits, standards and regulation;  integration of a broader stakeholder community;  better communication of the value of audit;  engaged dialogue with investors;  developing a new culture of challenge and critical thinking.

We clustered almost fifty themes into eight innovation domains: New Audit Methods, Changing the Culture of Audit, Serving a Wider Stakeholder Base, Rebuilding Trust, A New Reporting Model, IT Innovation, Auditor Reporting, and Recruitment and Training. We hosted in-depth working group discussions around these areas and collected further insights into what would move the ideas forward. Most participants signed up to continue working on some specific areas and we are working with them now.

You can watch a short video from the first assembly here.

 

“Open data is trending – get on board”

This was the summary tweet for one of the working groups. As part of the process of distilling insights and intelligence, we had asked each of the 16 working groups to come up with a tweet that summarises their work.

In two of our innovation domains – ‘Rebuilding Trust’ and ‘IT Innovation’ – open data came up among the discussed themes. The groups looked into what would make most difference to their chosen areas. More open data and transparent information in the audit process have the potential to directly engage wider stakeholder groups. For example, audit files and data could be made publicly open in a machine-readable format.

There is an interesting dynamic in thinking about what open business data could mean. One set of questions would focus around the range of information companies disclose to investors and public scrutiny. In the current climate of tough competition and patent wars, open data might not be regarded favourably.  Another question would be the role of auditor – what specialist skills would be the needed to analyse and visualise the data? Could Google be the next big audit firm?

 

Can OpenAudit be one of the next steps?

The Open Knowledge Foundation has made a significant push towards the transparency and accountability of published financial statements in the public and government sectors. Earlier this year OKFN published a comprehensive report on transparency and accountability in public finance. The report demonstrates the ways technology can contribute to fiscal transparency and offers perspectives and recommendations in several areas like data availability and standards for fiscal data.

In the same time, the OpenCorporates project
has made significant progress in creating the open database of the corporate world. Currently, more than 46 million companies from over 60 jurisdictions are listed (including almost 8 million from  the UK). The project was an award winner in the OpenDataChallenge and in early 2012 was appointed to the Financial Stability Board’s advisory panel on a legal entities identification for finan.

What should be the next step in rebuilding trust in business information? We would like to discuss how open data can help the audit profession and what role auditors can play in the global trend of disclosing more information to the public. It is important to view open data solutions from the perspective of the public interest. Do we have a good understanding of what is relevant and important to the sectors of society that audit serves? It is important to consider whether the users of audit would value it more if it were an insightful dynamic infographic based on open data.

The two starting points for our discussion on OpenAudit would be the business/IT models for open audit data and, more importantly, the broader question on whether provenance of data would help build trust in business.

We definitely have more questions and fewer answers at the moment. The approach of the Finance Innovation Lab is not to ask rhetorical questions but to invite individuals and organisations from diverse fields to search for the right question together. How can audit and open data help rebuild trust in business?

We believe this is a conversation worth having.

To join the discussion, please contact Martin Martinoff, project lead of AuditFutures.

OKFestival Sustainability Stream Recap

Velichka Dimitrova - October 6, 2012 in Cleanweb, Environment, Energy and Sustainability, Events, Festival, Hackathon, Topics, Yourtopia


The open knowledge community came together in Helsinki for the one of the biggest events of the year: the Open Knowledge Festival, gathering for a week more than a thousand people from civil society, international institutions, government and businesses. The event run with parallel streams showing that open knowledge and open data are transforming government transparency and accountability, democracy, cities and transport, businesses, cultural heritage, research and education and other areas of the society and the economy.

Open Knowledge and Sustainability Stream examined the value of open knowledge, open data and open source for the sustainability context. The Open Economics Working Group (Velichka Dimitrova, Guo Xu, Dirk Heine), the Centre for Sustainable Communications at KTH (Jorge Zapico, Hannes Ebner) and Cleanweb UK (James Smith, Chris Adams) and Jack Townsend from Southampton University put together a programme showcasing why openness is an important value in a sustainable future, how open data and technology can help improve the measurement of social progress and the role of open data for more efficient energy consumption. The programme also included a Green Hackathon and two sessions about the community-engaged sustainability mapping initiative Green Maps.

Jack and Chris presented the results from the Sustainability stream on the last day: slides from summary session.

James Cameron: “Open data systems: a collective response to a collective problem”

In his keynote speech, James Cameron, founder and non-executive chairman of Climate Change Capital shared his vision about a complete open knowledge system, where decision-makers are able to view geophysical, climate and economic data on a single screen and are able to analyse the information, react in appropriate manner and realise a two-directional information flow. While a lot of the relevant data and elements of such a system exists, they are not joined up, as datasets in some institutions don’t talk to datasets in other institution. We still lack the right delivery mechanisms to make use of the potential that exists in open data and open knowledge.

CO2 emissions are a very good proxy for measuring and monitoring the performance of powerful actors in respect to the climate change issue. Initiative like the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has gone on to cover water and supply chain issues and government procurement – there is tremendous data in that space, but there is clearly much more that can be done with it in the next iterations of such projects. (Video link).

Hans Rosling: Liberate the CO2 data

Data visualisation and global development guru Hans Rosling provided some inspiring and sobering insights into the scale and immediacy of the environmental challenge. The ice is melting fast but Hans can get by without the polar bears – he’s most very keen to avoid a world that’s hungry or at war because of climate change. He railed against the lack of timely and accurate emissions data. He went on to challenge many of the misconceptions about global development – focussing on the arrogance of the global north for imagining the global south as it was thirty years ago, ignoring the human progress that has been made. With an ultra-low-tech toilet-paper-roll demonstration he showed how, even with birth rates now stabilising, we are still on course to reach around 10 billion people on the planet (Video link).

Open Knowledge and Energy Data

The Open Knowledge and Energy Data session gathered different perspectives related to energy data and openness: how sharing energy use information on the community level can help reduce energy consumption, how one can better manage and understand one’s personal energy data and the importance of linked open data in the energy context (Video link).

Karthikeya Acharya from Aalto University’s School of Art, Design and Architecture shared some theoretical concepts on how opening up energy use data at the end user level can make one reflect on one’s acquired personal energy habits and how this is relevant for energy conservation and the transitioning to a less-intensive energy future [Slides].

Ken Dooley, Sustainability Group Manager of Granlund, spoke about how the availability of personal energy consumption data can promote positive behaviour change by providing a consumption comparison with peers. He showed how such comparisons can give some people the ability to prove that they are living a low energy lifestyle and will motivate others to reduce their consumption [Slides].

William Heath, entrepreneur and co-founder of Mydex Community Interest Company talked about personal data with relation to energy use and personal energy profiles and will explain why we need to revolutionize the ways we understand and manage our personal data [Slides].

Denise Recheis from Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and Thomas Thurner from the Semantic Web Company looked at Linked Open Data and its applications in real world examples and give an overview of the clean energy portal reegle.info and how they integrated the Linked Open Data principles in the project. They tried to get across the importance of readily available energy and emissions data on a regional and national levels [Slides].

Green Maps

For Green Map System, taking part in the Open Knowledge Festival was eagerly anticipated. Together with Helsinki Green Map, we provided sessions that highlighted both the locally relevant and globally linked aspects of our community-engaged sustainability mapping initiative.


As the founding director of the New York-based nonprofit that has worked with over 800 diverse project leaders in 65 countries, I found the OK Festival to be a powerful springboard as we consider the importance of maintaining trust, reliability and communication with the diverse municipalities, universities, nonprofits, enterprises, grassroots and youth groups who create Green Maps. Our process of going open made significant progress, and we’re now creating milestones to guide our trajectory. Watch our blog for news as we adopt increasingly open approaches to sharing knowledge, and let us know how you can help this effort.

Cindy Kohtala of Helsinki Green Map joined me in leading our sustainability stream sessions. On Tuesday, we focused on the evolution of the living lexicon of Green Map Icons (slides here). Used by all Green Mapmakers, these globally designed universal icons identify, promote and link thousands of natural, cultural, activism and green living resources on printed and interactive Green Maps. What new symbols are needed to highlight the fab labs, hacker spaces and co-ops show where open knowledge is taking root in communities? How do we select an open license that offers new capabilities yet prevents misuse by green-washers? How can our policies, tools and infrastructure make it easier for (often non-technical) Mapmaker communities around the world to operate according to their own unique preferences and conditions? We announced that soon, our social mapping platform will offer each Mapmaker the option to open their data to the public. The ensuing discussion was quite valuable (make open the default going forward, license choices, etc.) and it continued outdoors as we saw some of the nearby sites on the Helsinki Green Map (Video link).


Friday’s interoperability and inclusion session featured Philip Todres and Arne Purves from South Africa and Ciprian Samoila from Romania, who joined us via Skype. The Cape Town Green Map was initiated by the City to give community stakeholders a voice in the greening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Games. This ongoing project is also an instrumental part of the municipality’s successful bid for the crown of World Design Capital 2014. Arne and Philip detailed their approach and with an interactive Open Green Map and beautiful printed editions, this project successfully communicates good works and eco-assets to a local audience and at the same time, supports responsible tourism. It’s also inspired Green Mapmaking across South Africa (Video link).

Bucharest, Bacau, Cluj-Napoca and Bistrita Green Maps have been organized by Asociatia Harta Verde Romania. Its director, Ciprian described his involvement in ‘4BsHive’, a Grundtvig-funded transnational Green Map project between four river cities: Bristol (UK), Berlin (Germany), Budapest (Hungary) and Bistrita that resulted in knowledge exchange, a video and guide book. Ciprian has especially been involved with Green Map at the global level, including our transition to open. Green Map System’s first phase of interoperability will be in place this fall, and with it, new terms of service that address open licensing and support a wider diversity of partnerships and applications. These sessions along with the many insightful conversations that took place throughout the festival generated a fresh sense of how open can make significantly more of the good we have already created in support of sustainable, engaged community development.

Future, Openness and Sustainability


The session on Future, Openness and Sustainability explored the question of how openness as a value can be important for a sustainable future and how. The session was hosted by Jorge Zapico, a researcher on ICT and sustainability at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The format was a panel, where first five participants shared their perspective:

First Chris Adams, product manager at AMEE, spoke about the intersection between open source and sustainability, and recounted AMEE’s own experiences acting as a company built around using open source technology, and open data to help companies and governments understand their environmental impact and and why the hacker mindset was so relevant in bulding an open, sustainable future. He also announced the opening up of AMEE’s environmental datasets.

Hannes Ebner, a researcher at KTH in Stockholm, shared his experience on using open linked data for educational resources on organic agriculture in the Organic Edunet european project, and argued why open education is important for creating change and spreading and improving knowledge.


Jack Townsend, a web and sustainability researcher at the University of Southampton in the UK, talked about four primary ways in which open knowledge can help with creating a sustainable open society. Firstly, transparency to make actors accountable for their environmental impact. Secondly, better informing the citizens to whom institutions are accountable, building well-founding trust in relevant science and policies. Thirdly, to get more human value out of the global economy with less environmental input, through coordination, optimisation, and rethinking what we want out. And finally by innovating to find earth-friendly technology and to provide freedoms in a resource-constrained world.

James Smith of Cleanweb UK described how transparency and accountability in government and the scientific process could be enabled by Open Data, and would be essential for the public to support a large-scale transition to a sustainable society. It would also enable innovation and the discovery of new systems-level efficiencies.

The final discussion included the present public and discussed the synthesis of the different panelist. The main topic was on how the the hacker mindset was relevant in building an open, sustainable future. Two main points were discussed: first transparency, second creativity (Video link).

The Green Hackathon

The Green Hackathon at the OKFestival was a two days event part of a series of events organized around Europe. The concept at the OKFestival was to bring together developers, data experts and organizations to do hands-on work on existing projects and data and to have focus sessions discussing different projects and synergies between the participants. Some of the results and activities include:

Helsinki CO2 Visualization

A visualization of the CO2 emissions data for the city of Helsinki from Siemens and Aalto. It allows to change different variables to explore how different possible future scenarios: http://helsinkiCO2.com

Future weather and the World Bank Climate Change Portal

App uses World Bank data on current and projected weather to put climate change in a context: You choose the country you are interested in and the app tells you which country today has a climate comparable to the future climate of your country. Calculation is done by creating similarity indices using Euclidean distances for each country and picking out the best fit. You can choose between a conservative projection (optimistic) and a doomsday projection (pessimistic): http://www.guoxu.org/weather

Tim Herzog from the World Bank Open Data team gave a tour of the World Bank Climate Change Portal. Whilst we can always use more and better data, the immediate challenge for climate is understanding and translating what we already have. Non-experts need tools to understand why climate change is important, and how it will impact them now and in the future. Experts need better analysis tools for making decisions and planning. To this end, the World Bank had the Apps for Climate competition, with Jack Townsend demoing one of the winners, Globe-Town. Tim discussed ideas for new visualisations including the the Future Weather app (above), and one to visualise different emissions reductions scenarios to reflect the great lack of progress since they were last were developed a decade or more ago.

Mashing up the Carbon Map with data from the International Land Coalition

The team of the International Land Coalition (ILC) demoed the Land Matrix Portal and invited a discussion about what could be done with the data. The ILC is a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organisations working together to promote secure and equitable access to and control over land for poor women and men through advocacy, dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building. After a serendipitous conversation between ILC and Robin Houston of Carbonmap, he created a new visualisation using the same technology powering Carbonmap, to show these changes in land ownership over the last 10 years, on a global scale.

The map shows the effect of the land deals in the Land Matrix database. The “before” map simply shows the true land area of each country. The “after” map is an exaggerated rendition of the changes due to land deals, where a company based in one country buys a tract of land in another. For each land deal where the purchasing company is associated with a particular country, the size of the purchasing country is increased and the size of the country where the land was bought is reduced correspondingly. The true size of the affected land area is multiplied by 100 to make a visible difference on the map: see the Land Matrix map.

Energy Pulse and Big Oil Facts

Thomas Thurner and Denise Recheis presented two challenges relating to energy data: Energy Pulse and Big Oil Facts/Truth. Energy pulse focusses on varying production and consumption patterns of electricity around the globe, to visualise how they can be held in balance as demand increases and more time-varying supplies of renewable energy are introduced. Big Oil Facts is about visualising the subsidies given to fossil fuel production companies and how this underpins their profits – a reality often overlooked in criticisms of renewable energy subsidy.

Open Data for Measuring Social Progress

The session “Open Data for Measurement of Social Progress” brought a diverse range of panelists from academia, policy and the open data community together to discuss how open data and technology can help improve the measurement of social progress.

Guo Xu, PhD student at the London School of Economics, gave a brief introduction to the historical and existing efforts in measuring social progress. Defining progress, he argued, is power and the aim of the session is to explore how both definition and discourse can be “opened up” to the public [Slides].

Dr. Ulla Rosenstroem, Senior Specialist at the Prime Minister’s Office, presented the Findicator, a website aimed presenting Finnish statistical data in a more appealing way. In particular, she stressed the importance of indicators in summarizing and communicating socio-economic trends to policy makers and citizens alike [Slides].

Vincent Finat-Duclos, Statistical Editor at the OECD, introduced the OECD Better Life Index and showed how gamification and good visualization can help educate the broader public about the functioning and use of composite indices. Finally, he sketched the next steps of the Better Life Index: Improving robustness, extending the sample and improving the usability [Slides].

Dr. Robin Houston, Developer of Guardian’s Rio+20 Better or Worse app, showed how eliciting user’s rating on the current developmental progress can help generate useful data for statistical analysis: Among survey participants, women were on average more pessimistic than men, participants from Africa were the most optimistic and (taken with a grain of salt) iPad users were the most optimistic [Slides].

Dirk Heine, Member of the OKFN Economics Working Group, presented Yourtopia and Yourtopia Italy – two applications that allow users to define which dimensions matter most for development. Harnessing the feedback provided by the users, the app then calculates an “consensus” measure of social progress [Slides].

In overall, panelists agreed that there was a lack of high frequency indicators that span longer time horizons to allow a more nuanced analysis of trends. While diverse in backgrounds, the session illustrated how collaboration between policy, academia and the open data community may help generate innovative and exciting ideas (Video link).

Any comments for the whole team? Contact: sustainability [at] okfestival.org

OKFestival Green Hackathon

Velichka Dimitrova - September 10, 2012 in Environment, Energy and Sustainability, Hackathon, Open Economics

Green Hackathon

  • When: 19th-20th of September
  • Where: Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Hämeentie 135 C Helsinki (Hack workshop 3)

Welcome to two days of hacking for openness and sustainability at the OKFestival in Helsinki. This is an opportunity to meet great developers and sustainability experts and to help out our planet with some innovative coding.

This event is part of the Green Hackathon series of events taking place across Europe and it will comprise two days of working hands-on to improve and disseminate sustainability data. It will begin with a short presentation on Wednesday morning (Sept. 19) and end with a Show-and-Tell of the results (Sept. 20).

The focus will be on opening up and improving existing sustainability data and improving existing applications. The following challenges will be featured in the programme (time slots during Wednesday and Thursday will be confirmed in case you would like to drop by for their hacking session):

  • “Land Matrix” by Neil Sorensen, International Land Coalition
  • “Energy Pulse” by Thomas Thurner, Semantic Web Company / Open Knowledge Forum Austria (OKFO)
  • “Big Oil Facts/Truth” by Denise Recheis, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)
  • “A Github for Environmental Data” by Chris Adams, AMEE UK
  • “Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Study – Helsinki” by Markku Suvanto, Siemens Finland
  • “tbc” Ed Borden, Cosm/LogMeIn

Many different contributions are welcome, including coders, designers, data specialists, economists or sustainability thinkers. The participation format is flexible, you can stay for the whole two days or drop in and out helping out some existing team. Participation is free and a OKFestival ticket is not required. Come along and help us with the challenge of opening up sustainability knowledge and making it more accessible!

How do I participate?

Participation is free and an OKFestival ticket is not required.

This event is part of the Open Knowledge and Sustainability Stream.

To register your interest for participating: http://lanyrd.com/2012/okfestival-green-hackathon/

If you would like to participate, but are not attending the OKFestival, please e-mail us at sustainability [at] okfestival.org.

More information about the event at: http://okfestival.greenhackathon.com

This blog post is also published here.

OKFN Energy Lab: Call for Partners

Velichka Dimitrova - July 25, 2012 in Environment, Energy and Sustainability, Events, Hackathon


This blog post is also featured here.

OKF Energy Lab

OKFN Labs is launching Labs Sprints, a new initiative to create data-driven applications around a specific topic within a very short timeframe – a single week. As we start this, we’re looking for partners to help us frame the questions that our apps will aim to explore. To create such high-impact apps which can serve policy-making, our team needs a partner from the topic area who understands the background and the issue in question and can help us guide in the creations of a meaningful product.

Energy Data is theme for the first OKF Lab, taking place in Berlin 1-8 October, 2012, and bringing together a small team of coders, designers, data wranglers, technologists and policy experts. The theme is structured broadly to incorporate a wide range of sub-topics e.g. renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, fossil fuels and traditional energy structures, electricity demand and supply, government spending around energy policies as well as emissions from energy use in transport, industry, etc.

Open energy data is increasingly recognised by governments as “a powerful input to innovation” that can empower citizens, create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship and foster societal transformations. Access to energy data is also a citizen’s right: publicly-owned machine readable energy information and data should be made available and accessible to all sectors of society.

Creative energy data apps could assist users in forecasting future consumption based on previous usage data, mapping daily electricity consumption peaks and lows, providing web-based tools for emissions data-collection, comparing the efficiency and cost of alternative energy investments or presenting data in an easy-to-understand, interactive and engaging way.

OKF Lab

Organisations that are working in this area are invited to partner with OKFN Labs on presenting a challenge for our team. The partners are expected to provide some support in the process of framing the Energy Lab and present an input in the form of a presentation about current research, policy and technological gaps.

Please contact us with a short e-mail, outlining the challenge in answering the following questions.

* What is the problem you would like to solve?
* Which are the groups and relevant audiences?
* What kind of data would you like to use?

Contact e-mail: sprints [at] okfn.org

Energy and Climate Post-Hack News

Velichka Dimitrova - 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

Velichka Dimitrova - 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.

     

Open Economics Hackday

Velichka Dimitrova - February 1, 2012 in Events, Hackathon

Open Economics Hackday

Open Economics Hackday at the Barbican, London. Photo by Ilias Bartolini.

 

The following post is by Velichka Dimitrova coordinator of the Open Economics Working Group.

It is great to see people coming together and doing something cool on a Saturday. The Open Economics Hackday gathered more than thirty people at the Barbican and online, crafting fancy visualisations, wrangling data and being creative together.

The day was devoted to ideas in open economics, as a transparent and collaborative academic discipline, which presents research outputs in a comprehensible way to the general public.

We aimed at building Yourtopia 2, an interactive application showing the development of Italy on several key social progress indicators over time. Building on preceding experience with alternative non-GDP measures of human development (Yourtopia), the new project’s objective is to show how different progress can be in the separate Italian regions, as Italy is traditionally a country with stark regional inequalities.

Although originally used as a term for the gatherings of computer programmers, the Open Economics Hackday was open to people with different backgrounds and various skills. Programmers were creating bits of code, data journalists were gathering and processing data, economists were making sure the project concept addresses key problems in this field of research.

Would you like to help finish the Yourtopia 2 application? Please join the follow-up online meeting this Saturday at 2pm GMT. Confirm your participation by typing in your name on the Etherpad: http://econ.okfnpad.org/hackathon-jan-2011.

Open Economics Hack Day Saturday January 28th 2012

Guo Xu - January 19, 2012 in Events, Hackathon

**This post is by [Velichka Dimitrova](https://okfn.org/members/vndimitrova/), Coordinator for the [Economics Working Group](https://openeconomics.net/) at the Open Knowledge Foundation.**

On Saturday 28th January we’re getting together for an Open Economics Hackday where we’ll be be wrangling data and building apps related to economics — all are welcome!

* When: Saturday 28th January, 11am GMT (12pm CET/6am EST) to ~7pm GMT (8pm CET/3pm EST)
* Sign up on the MeetUp page.
* Some people will also be around on Friday 27th (same times)
* Where: Online (IRC, Skype) and also in person in London – meet us at the public space coffee area in the main hall on floor G of the Barbican.
* Who: Anyone! Coder, data wrangler, economists, illustrator or writer …
* And here is the Etherpad.

As with all hackdays, exactly what gets work on gets decided on the day (you can add suggestions to the etherpad). However, one particular idea, which we could become a submission to Apps4Italy, is set out below.

### One Idea for What We’ll Work On: ProgressVote

One of the most fundamental questions in economic research is: how do we measure social progress? Policy makers have come up with alternative measures accounting for environmental impacts, inequality, happiness and other indicators of human development.

However, the multiplicity of factors has caused another problem – how do we decide on the importance of each individual factor in a composite index? They could be either equally important (such as in the HDI) or they could be given different weights.

In our last project [YourTopia][yourtopia] – which was one of the winners of last year’s World Bank [Apps4Development Prize][apps-prize] – we offered one possible solution by letting *you* decide on which dimensions and aspects of economic development to prioritize.

However there are limitations to such an approach: faced with a myriad of technical indicators people are often overwhelmed by the complexity: Does life expectancy at birth matter more than the inflation rate or the M2 money supply? And what does M2 money supply even mean?

[yourtopia]: http://yourtopia.net/
[apps-prize]: http://appsfordevelopment.challengepost.com/

In [ProgressVote][progressvote], we’d like to improve on YourTopia in a variety of ways:

First, by combining proxy voting with the crowd-based Yourtopia approach: Instead of voting for indicators, people vote for expert statements that interpret the dashboard of variables. By doing so, it is hoped to strike a balance between expert judgements and the interpretation of the general public: Experts may be more able to interpret technical data, but in the end it is the citizens who decide which expert statement to endorse.

Second, we’d like to add support time series — so you can see how progress (or lack of it) has evolved over time — as well as better geo support — for example, so it is possible to look at regions as well as countries have performed (consider Italy for instance).

[progressvote]: http://wiki.okfn.org/ProgressVote

Interested? Then come join us on Saturday 28th January!

Please Help Assemble Data for Hackday

Dirk Heine - January 9, 2012 in Data Party, Hackathon, Projects, Yourtopia

Dear Open Economics participants,

In preparation of the upcoming hackday, we are currently searching for the data on which we will base our measurement of progress in Italy. Could you kindly help finding data series? If so, please contribute to filling this spreadsheet.

You will find there data that Italy, jointly with its European partners, has identified as key to social progress (the EU2020 targets). Most of this data is available at Eurostat but only in annual frequency and with great statistical delays. We hence need to look for sources directly in Italy, where we hope to locate it in higher frequency and with shorter delays. Could you search with us on Italian/international sources and add them to the spreadsheet?

In case we cannot locate some of these official progess indicators, we are also looking for alternative, high-frequency data series that are generally accepted as key to social progress. If you have data/suggestions for such alternatives, please add them to the spreadsheet as well.

Please let us all check this out, so that we can soon start drawing up data series for our app.

Open Data Index Hackday

Dirk Heine - July 22, 2011 in Conference, Hackathon, Open Knowledge Index

This contribution is from Dirk Heine, Working Group Advisor at Open Economics

In the OpenEconomics phone conference yesterday we decided to go forward with building a cross-country Open Data Index (see previous discussion). We now need everyone to sign up to participate for a 1 day collaborative index construction. On this day we will all try to already finish a preliminary version to test the concept.

What day would be best for you? Please participate in this doodle to determine it.

Collaboration will be online with everyone contributing from wherever you are based. We need people with different skill sets: data researchers, programmers, economists, people generally knowledgeable about sources of open data and people with aesthetics skills. So please do participate!

A note on the timing: There will be people from various time zones participating, so please try to accomodate the time window as good as possible: It is just hard to match people across time zones so we all need to be a bit flexible to make a collaborative production of the OKF Open Data Index possible.