Open data day 2014: Kampala.

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.

In a few days, Open Data enthusiasts will gather in over 100 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 worlds local, regional and national governments. Mountbatten Ltd, an IT & Websites company, Africa Center for Media Excellence and Fruits of Thought, a local NGO are partnering to organize Open Data day in Kampala. Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

Getting together

From Kampala, we are very excited because this is the first time a diverse group of people, in the Open Data space come 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. The latter can be achieved using different approaches: we are bringing policy and government people, computer application developers, legal people, potential Open Data users (that could be you and me, the ordinary citizen), potential Open Data providers, legal people and journalists together. 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 uniques groups of people we’ll have are the data providers like the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) who are the principal data collecting, processing, analyzing and disseminating agency, the legal people who will talk about the Creative Commons license, the Africa Center for Media Excellence who’ll field a journalist to 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, as each role is equally important. If one fails the entire cycle stops. Starting with those who have data, these parties have to be willing to open their data under an open license. Then someone should publish the data in a way that others can use it. Those who have used it should then give constructive feedback on the data that they have used.

Open data should experience a cycle. Image Credit: Evelien Christianse.

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.

Moving on

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.

Join in

If you want to be apart of this dynamic group of people, Come join us! We hope to see you at the Open data day in Kampala- 22nd February 2013! If you cannot attend in person, follow the event remotely on twitter with the hashtag #oddkampala. Be sure to check our website for links to the presentations and other resources. Questions about the event can be directed to info@opendatadaykampala.org.

This post also appeared on the Sunlight Foundation’s blog.