How to Open Data - Analysis and Visualizations

The session was conducted as part of the Unconference at the Telecentre Europe Annual Conference 2016 (TEAC16) on October 7, 2016, in Ghent. The session was based on our experience with Open Data.

I work for Albanian Institute of Science (AIS) - a non-profit organization; our purpose is to open public sector data and create knowledge that enable information, transparency, and accountability. The organization has also been involved in enhancing the capacity of the young people in using new technologies and digital empowerment.

What is Open Data?

Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

What Makes Data Open?

  • Availability and Access: data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. Data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
  • Re-use and Redistribution: data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
  • Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, re-use and redistribute - there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups

Why Open Data?

1. Transparency

In a well-functioning, democratic society citizens need to know what their government is doing.

To do that, they must be able freely to access government data and information and to share that information with other citizens.

Transparency isn’t just about access, it is also about sharing and reuse — often, to understand material it needs to be analyzed and visualized and this requires that the material be open so that it can be freely used and reused.

2. Releasing social and commercial value

In the digital age, data is a key resource for social and commercial activities. Everything from finding your local post office to building a search engine requires access to data, much of which is created or held by government.

By opening up data, government can help drive the creation of innovative business and services that deliver social and commercial value.

3. Participation and engagement

Participatory governance or for business and organizations engaging with your users and audience. A lot of time citizens are only able to engage with their own governance sporadically — maybe just at an election every 4 or 5 years. By opening up data, citizens are enabled to be much more directly informed and involved in decision-making. This is more than transparency: it’s about making a full “read/write” society — not just about knowing what is happening in the process of governance, but being able to contribute to it.

Open Data creating value

It is already possible to point to a large number of areas where open government data is creating value. Some of these areas include:

  • Transparency and democratic control
  • Participation
  • Self-empowerment
  • Improved or new private products and services
  • Innovation
  • Improved efficiency of government services
  • Improved effectiveness of government services
  • Impact measurement of policies
  • New knowledge from combined data sources and patterns in large data volumes

Open Data Tools

  • Google Charts
  • Charts.js
  • JavaScript InfoVis
  • DataMaps.EU
  • Ushahidi
  • Geo Commons
  • Visualising.org
  • OpenDataKit

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