Guest blog by Julian Tait, Open Data Manchester
The Federation has become a centre of open data practice, with three organisations - Open Data Manchester CIC, Open Data Services Co-operative and Open Contracting Partnership - calling it home. All three were in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the end of September at the 5th International Open Data Conference (IODC) - a coming together of practitioners, governments and civil society organisations leading best practice across the globe.
Open data...is the idea that data should be freely available to everyone to use and re-publish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control...creating better understanding (of data) through knowledge-sharing and a space for more enlightened and constructive debate, whilst also promoting more transparent and accountable practices."
Many might not have heard about open data but it is the idea that data should be freely available to everyone to use and re-publish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. Its rationale is one of creating better understanding through knowledge sharing and a space for more enlightened and constructive debate, whilst also promoting more transparent and accountable practices. It can also enable new services and ways of working. When we talk of open data we generally mean non-personal data from public organisations.
Like the open source movement, open data practice is not geographically confined and the network effect of being part of a big global community allows ideas from different continents to be shared, projects developed and techniques embedded. IODC is a great forum for this to happen and even though it is a two day event it is preceded by three days of related workshops and conferences, all with specific focuses such as the role of civic tech, gender and representation, and global development.
Washington DC-headquartered Open Contracting Partnership seeks to make better, smarter and fairer government procurement and contracting using open data. This initiative has had notable successes such as helping the Ukrainian government save $1billion a year due to reduced corruption and increasing the quality of school meals in Colombia, whilst decreasing the cost. Open Contracting featured heavily within IODC as corruption in procurement is a big issue in many countries. Manchester-based Open Heroine, Hera Hussain from Open Contracting Partnership and Chayn also discussed the need for safe spaces in open data initiatives.
Data Standards Day at IODC was run by Open Data Services Co-operative, whose work lies in developing open data standards, building tools and working with publishers and users of open data to enable information from different organisations to be shared and used. These standards include the Open Contracting Data Standard for transparency in government contracting, the 360Giving Data Standard for charitable grant giving, the International Aid Transparency Initiative for aid funding and the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard for transparency in corporate ownership. Through the creation and use of data standards in these areas it is possible to map how money and resources flow from one organisation to another, to identify corruption, understand value for money and increase participation of citizens, civil society and business in these processes.
Since 2010 Open Data Manchester has been supporting the development and adoption of intelligent and responsible data use through advocacy, training and research. It works closely with Open Contracting Partnership and Open Data Services on a number of projects from procurement to grant giving and participated in the sessions around data standards and open contracting as well as co-ran a Future of Open Data workshop that took a critical look at the possible futures that IODC participants are trying to achieve.
If you want to find out more about Open Data Services Cooperative, Open Contracting Partnership and Open Data Manchester CIC pop-over for a chat, after all we are open.
About the author
Julian Tait is the founder of Open Data Manchester, based at The Federation. Open Data Manchester has been leading the way in open data practice in Manchester since 2010. It was set up as an advocacy group to encourage and share open data practice between public bodies, business and citizens alike.