Category Archives: Open Knowledge Foundation

Putting Open at the Heart of the Digital Age

Introduction I’m Rufus Pollock. In 2004 I founded a non-profit called Open Knowledge The mission we set ourselves was to open up all public interest information – and see it used to create insight that drives change. What sort of public interest information? In short, all of it. From big issues like how our government […]

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Open Knowledge appoints Pavel Richter as new CEO

I am delighted to announce we have found the newest member of the Open Knowledge team: Pavel Richter joins us as our new CEO! Pavel’s appointment marks a new chapter in the development of Open Knowledge, which, over the last ten years, has grown into one of the leading global organisations working on open data […]

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Thank You to Our Outgoing CEO

This is a joint blog post by Open Knowledge CEO Laura James and Open Knowledge Founder and President Rufus Pollock. In September we announced that Laura James, our CEO, is moving on from Open Knowledge and we are hiring a new Executive Director. From Rufus: I want to express my deep appreciation for everything that […]

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A Data Revolution that Works for All of Us

Many of today’s global challenges are not new. Economic inequality, the unfettered power of corporations and markets, the need to cooperate to address global problems and the unsatisfactory levels of accountability in democratic governance – these were as much problems a century ago as they remain today. What has changed, however – and most markedly […]

Also posted in Featured, Open Data, Open Government Data, Policy | Comments closed

Announcing a Leadership Update at Open Knowledge

Today I would like to share some important organisational news. After 3 years with Open Knowledge, Laura James, our CEO, has decided to move on to new challenges. As a result of this change we will be seeking to recruit a new senior executive to lead Open Knowledge as it continues to evolve and grow. […]

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Candy Crush, King Digital Entertainment, Offshoring and Tax

Sifting through the King Entertainment F-1 filing with the SEC for their IPO (Feb 18 2014) I noticed the following in their risk section: The intended tax benefits of our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements may not be realized, which could result in an increase to our worldwide effective tax rate and cause us to […]

Also posted in OpenSpending, Tax | Leave a comment

Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund Bankruptcy

Back on April 17 2012 the Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund attempted to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. There was some pretty interesting reading in their petition for bankruptcy including this section (para 10) which suggests some pretty bad public financial management (emphasis added): “Debtor has had difficulty maintaining healthy funding levels due to […]

Also posted in Spending Stories | Comments closed

Open Data Maker Night London No 3 – Tuesday 16th July

The next Open Data Maker Night London will be on Tuesday 16th July 6-9pm (you can drop in any time during the evening). Like the last two it is kindly hosted by the wonderful Centre for Creative Collaboration, 16 Acton Street, London.

Look forward to seeing folks there!

What

Open Data Maker Nights are informal events focused on “making” with open data – whether that’s creating apps or insights. They aren’t a general meetup – if you come, expect to get pulled into actually building something, though we won’t force you!

Who

The events usually have short introductory talks about specific projects and suggestions for things to work on – it’s absolutely fine to turn up knowing nothing about data or openness or tech as, there’ll an activity for you to help and someone to guide you in contributing!

Organize your own!

Not in London? Why not organize your own Open Data Maker night in your city? Anyone can and it’s easy to do – find out more »

Also posted in Code, Technical | Comments closed

data.okfn.org – update no. 1

This is the first of regular updates on Labs project http://data.okfn.org/ and summarizes some of the changes and improvements over the last few weeks.

1. Refactor of site layout and focus.

We’ve done a refactor of the site to have stronger focus on the data. Front page tagline is now:

We’re providing key datasets in high quality, easy-to-use and open form

Tools and standards are there in a clear supporting role. Thanks to all the suggestions and feedback on this and welcome more – we’re still iterating.

2. Pull request data workflow

There was a nice example of the pull request data workflow being used (by a complete stranger!): https://github.com/datasets/house-prices-uk/pull/1

3. New datasets

For example:

Looking to contribute data check out the instructions http://data.okfn.org/about/contribute#data and the outstanding requests: https://github.com/datasets/registry/issues

4. Tooling

5. Feedback on standards

There’s been a lot of valuable feedback on the data package and json table schema standards including some quite major suggestions (e.g. substantial change to JSON Table Schema to align more closely with JSON Schema – thx to jpmckinney)

Next steps

There’s plenty more coming up soon in terms of data and the site and tools.

Get Involved

Anyone can contribute and its easy – if you can use a spreadsheet you can help!

Instructions for getting involved here: http://data.okfn.org/about/contribute

Also posted in Code, Technical | Comments closed

Update on PublicBodies.org – a URL for every part of Government

This is an update on PublicBodies.org – a Labs project whose aim is to provide a “URL for every part of Government”: http://publicbodies.org/

PublicBodies.org is a database and website of “Public Bodies” – that is Government-run or controlled organizations (which may or may not have distinct corporate existence). Examples would include government ministries or departments, state-run organizations such as libraries, police and fire departments and more.

We run into public bodies all the time in projects like OpenSpending (either as spenders or recipients). Back in 2011 as part of the “Organizations” data workshop at OGD Camp 2011, Labs member Friedrich Lindenberg scraped together a first database and site of “public bodies” from various sources (primarily FoI sites like WhatDoTheyKnow, FragDenStaat and AskTheEU).

We’ve recently redone the site converting the sqlite DB to simple flat CSV files:

The site itself is now super-simple flat-files hosted on s3 (build code here). Here’s an example of the output:

The simplicity of CSV for data plus simple templating to flat-files is very attractive. There are some drawbacks such as changes to primary template resulting in a full rebuild and upload of ~6k files so, especially as the data grows, we may want to look into something a bit nicer but for the time being this works well.

Next Steps

There’s plenty that could be improved e.g.

  • More data – other jurisdictions (we only cover EU, UK and Germany) + descriptions for the bodies (this could be a nice crowdcrafting app)
  • Search and Reconciliation (via nomenklatura)
  • Making it easier to submit corrections or additions

The full list of issues is on github here: https://github.com/okfn/publicbodies/issues

Help is most definitely wanted! Just grab one of the issues or get in touch

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