Heading to International Open Data Conference 2015? We’ll see you there!


Next week, Sunlight, alongside nearly 2,000 open government advocates, civic hackers, journalists and policymakers from around the world, will be headed to Ottawa for the 3rd Annual International Open Data Conference (IODC). It is going to be a week jam-packed with discussions, panels and interactive workshops centered around one central question: How can we use data to make government more transparent and accountable?

IODC 2015 presents us with an excellent opportunity to brainstorm on how to tackle the common challenges within our community. We hope that hearing from the global leaders in open government will give us some fresh insight on our recent projects — and hopefully we can provide some support to others, too! Throughout the week, Sunlight is hosting or participating in several events where we’ll look to discover creative ways to answer these questions. No matter where your open data interests may lie — be it in opening up parliamentary data, supporting efforts to increase access to coveted political finance information or weighing in on a new methodology to measure the impact of open data, we’d love to see you at any of these events!


Tuesday, May 26:
IODC Unconference
Time: All day
Location: Shaw Conference Centre

With help from ILDA, Open Knowledge, Open North and Sunlight, the IODC is organizing an unconference on May 26, 2015. Participants at the international open data unconference will have an opportunity to:

  • Share knowledge and best practices from each other’s contexts;
  • Engage their peers on issues that the community considers important;
  • Coordinate and build new initiatives together;
  • Create new alliances and opportunities for future collaboration across regions; and
  • Raise awareness around who is working on what, where emerging opportunities lie, and how to most strategically advance the field.


Wednesday, May 27:
Open Data Impacts
Time: 9:30 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.
Location: Shaw Conference Centre

Strong evidence on the long-term impact of open data initiatives is incredibly scarce. The lack of compelling proof is partly due to the relative novelty of the open government field, but also to the inherent difficulties in measuring good governance and social change. Open government projects tend to operate in an environment where the contribution of other stakeholders and initiatives is essential to achieving sustainable change, making it even more difficult to show the causality between a project’s activities and the impact it strives to achieve. With generous support from the Open Data for Development Research Fund of the OGP Open Data Working Group, we at the Sunlight Foundation have tackled some of the methodological challenges of the field through building an evidence base that can empower further generalizations and advocacy efforts, as well as developing a methodological framework to unpack theories of change and to evaluate the impact of open data and digital transparency initiatives. We’ll be presenting our findings and soliciting feedback on this exciting new methodology.

Open Parliaments Pre-Conference Event
Time: 2:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m.
Location: Room 201
Note: Be sure to register for the event here!

The notion that parliamentarians serve at the behest of citizens is fundamental to democratic governance. Public access to legislative information is already bringing lawmaking into the 21st century: The proactive release of parliamentary and legislative data in open and structured formats has the potential to help strengthen and modernize legislatures, increase trust in governing institutions and empower legislatures to better represent and engage with an increasingly technology-enabled public. In this interactive panel and break-out discussion, we will showcase some of the relevant work around standards and norms on open parliaments, open politics and open data, including the introduction of discussion documents on standards on parliamentary conduct and ethics, political funding and lobbying. Register here to attend this pre-conference event!


Thursday, May 28:
Data + Parliaments
Time: 11:00 a.m. — 12:15 p.m.
Location: Room 212

Increasingly across the globe, parliaments are acknowledging that only through proactive disclosure of legislative data using open formats can citizens exercise true ownership of this information. Parliaments, citizens, PMOs, civic hackers and journalists are working together to increase openness of parliaments and foster innovation of its use, both inside and outside parliamentary institutions. This interactive panel session and discussion will explore the use of open legislative and parliamentary data as a catalyst for stronger citizen engagement in democratic governments.


Friday, May 29:
Money in Politics: Political finance regimes across the globe from an open data perspective
Time: 10:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m.
Location: Room 202

The Money, Politics and Transparency Project (MPT) is a joint endeavor of Global Integrity, the Sunlight Foundation and the Electoral Integrity Project, three civil society organizations at the forefront of transparency and governance issues. MPT is an innovative, multipronged effort that investigates the role of money in politics, generating evidence to inform the development of standards that can improve the openness, regulation and enforcement of political finance regimes across the world. In our panel discussion, the MPT team will present its research findings, and propose standards for future political finance legislation. Experts drawn from our global network will then participate in an interactive discussion of how free, open political finance information is critical for inclusive, accountable political processes. We’ll ask: How might disjunctions between de jure legal frameworks and de facto realities be minimized? How can open data standards be adapted to specific country situations? What are the characteristics of successful reform efforts in this field and what challenges impede change?

Measuring Open Data Impacts
Time: 1:30 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.
Location Room 211

Trying to measure how the release and use of government data can help make institutions more efficient and improve the lives of citizens is a question that the open data community is only just beginning to explore. Over the last few years, several research initiatives have been undertaken to begin to determine what and how this impact takes shape. In this interactive panel, we’ll showcase some recent endeavors to measure the social impact of open data in the Global South, including a new methodology framework created by the Sunlight Foundation that we hope will lay the groundwork for the research of others in the field.