Open Data Day is on Feb. 22, 2014 and people around the world are organizing events to mark the day. For an overview of events happening elsewhere internationally, take a look at this map.
Tomorrow, open data enthusiasts will gather in 94 cities across the world to write applications, liberate data, create visualizations and publish analyses using open public data to show support for and encourage the adoption of open data policies by the world’s local, regional and national governments. Mountbatten Ltd, — an information technology company which produces open source website software and tools in Uganda, Africa Center for Media Excellence — a media development organization that conducts training for journalists and advocates for freedom of expression in Uganda and Fruits of Thought, a local nonprofit that offers web development and mapping training in Uganda, are partnering to organize Open Data Day in Kampala.
In Kampala, we are very excited because this is the first time a diverse group of people in the open data space will be coming together to share how open data can be used to make ordinary lives better. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but there has to be a starting point. In order to use open data to affect lives, we are bringing policy and government officials, computer application developers, legal people, potential open data users (which could be you and I, the ordinary citizens), potential open data providers and journalists together. All these categories of people are critical in strengthening the case for open data.
We are optimistic that the thoughts generated from the discussions will be pivotal in shaping the open data landscape in Uganda, precisely because the unique categories of people who contribute to the open data cycle will be present. Some of the unique groups of people we will have are the data providers like the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, who are the principal data collecting, processing, analyzing and disseminating agency, folks from Creative Commons, the Africa Center for Media Excellence — who will present a journalism talk about storytelling — and we’ll definitely have technology people to hack the available open datasets which is the lifeblood of the day!
The day will focus on the open data cycle and show how each role is equally important. If one fails, the entire cycle stops. For instance, those who have data have to be willing to open this data under an open license. This data should then be published in a way that others can use it. Those who have used it should subsequently give constructive feedback on the data they used.
I would also like to highlight the fact that it’s not about a one-day event but also the process that goes on behind the scenes and the need to understand why data is locked away in the first place. In Uganda’s case, it is the issue of how the Uganda Bureau of Statistics makes datasets that do not carry a license publicly available. To address this, on Open Data Day, we will push for the Bureau to propose a solid licensing process.
The issue of licensing is just one of a few live discussions that the open data community in Uganda will continue to engage in. Suffice to say, some discussions with government and various players in the open data space are technical and take numerous iterations to get refined, working solutions at the end of the day.
When relationships are created, the ideal plan is for them to be organic, in a positive sense. We are happy to bring like-minded people together to foster future relationships. We hope the people of Uganda will have a better understanding of why it’s important for them to have access to data about their country, but also know where to find, how to access and use this data in more valuable and practical ways.
We’ll be hosting all consequently opened datasets on data.ug — the one-stop portal for open data in Uganda.
If you want to be a part of this dynamic group of people, come join us! We hope to see you at Open Data Day in Kampala on Feb. 22! If you cannot attend in person, follow the event remotely on Twitter with the hashtag #oddkampala. You can also check out our website for links to the presentations and other resources. If you have any questions about the event, please shoot us an email at email@example.com
Ketty Adoch is a maps and data enthusiast currently working on an open data ecosystem project at Mountbatten Ltd. — an I.T. & Websites company operating out of Uganda. Her work involves building data standards procedure, cleaning and analyzing open datasets, curating open datasets, documenting technical procedures for data management tools and managing open data registries and software development procedures. She’s also building the OpenStreetMap community at Map Uganda.
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