The big important open data responsibility we have

Big data Collaboration Global challenges Open data Peace

The knowledge institution Peace Informatics Lab (PIL) highlighted that The Hague came out as the place where all the open data stakeholders come together and where the Open Data Revolution takes place.

“If everything becomes transparent, you don’t see anything. Let’s publish what we work on, use it ourselves and find ways that lead to real impact. Transparency is just the beginning.”

This quote by Harman Idema, Transparency lead Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), made during the ‘Preach what you practice’ panel discussion last year at the Open Data Fair.

The open data for development fair event in The Hague brought remarkable data practitioners together on November 11 2015. International and national key decision makers and representatives were present and development aid collaborations. They together created momentum for the open data industry and specifically for the Big Data cluster ‘big data for peace and humanity’ and the Peace informatics lab.

The fair provided a platform for many organizations that normally would not cross paths to meet and share their experiences. New ideas emerged with these exchanges and partnerships emerged. A key message that emerged from the event was that to show the game-changing impact of open data we need to engage different types of experts, such as journalists, young innovative people, local NGO’s, etc.

One of the co-creative partnerships that will broaden the use of data visualisation is that between Oxfam, Zimmerman&Zimmerman, DataOpeners and PIL. This partnership will provide organisations worldwide with an open source IATI data visualisation platform called IATI Studio to enables them to re-use, visualise, analyse and publish IATI data.

Open Data is important, and Big Data is a buzzword, the two kinds actually empower each other.

Refresh my memory, what’s big data again?

In short, Big Data is staggering amount of (growing) information gathered from relevant sources. Big Data can be used for a diverse set of purposes, overall it’s used for analysis and better decision making for companies and governments.

Big Data is staggering amount of (growing) information gathered from relevant sources.

Think of data as the school rapports of your child, and big data as the school rapports of 5000 students over 100.000 schools in 100 different countries. Add to that the different subjects, and the amount of teachers and the tools used to teach. Being able to cross reference that and relationships and insights, you get a sense of what you can do with  Big Data. 

Think of the data of all the cars registered per city in the Netherlands, combined with all the weather data, together with all the trains driving from A tot B in realtime, use that to get a good prediction into where the traffic can go haywire in any given moment.

In short, lots of data sets, too complex for normal systems and processes to comprehend.

Open data is little simpler, it’s data that is open for everyone to use. Open in this sense means for example:

  • Accessable
  • Standardized
  • As raw as possible
  • Unlicensed

Although recorded in 2009, still very relevant.

Let’s use data in a meaningful and impactful way

Developing countries face huge challenges in accessing up-to-date information about aid, development, and humanitarian flows – information that they need to plan and manage those resources effectively.

Similarly, citizens in developing countries and in donor countries lack the information they need to hold their governments accountable for the use of those resources. IATI aims to address these challenges by making information about aid spending easier to access, use, and understand.

With current progress of the IATI standard, development aid can be managed more like a platform. Think of startups leveraging data to create services and advice, to increase effectivity for all stakeholders. IATI is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative

The Netherlands is the first country to use the IATI standard in all its development aid. A notable example here in the the Hague is Elva aiming to provide products and services that bridge the gaps between citizens and decision makers worldwide.

That data on its own doesn’t have meaning. When you add meaning to data through context, photos, real examples you can tell a thousand stories in an efficient and engaging way. Let’s push developments forward together!