[open-development] [ciresearchers] Re: Kenya Open Data Portal (>Reflections on national portals and non-national data)

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Fri Jul 8 15:22:30 UTC 2011

Hi Tim all,
Thanks for copying this and the earlier note concerning the Open Government
Kenya initiative to the Community Informatics (CI) list.  The discussion
(and practice) on Open Data/Open Government OD/OG is a crucial one and very
very fast moving. It is also I think a major new front for CI engagement.
In very many ways I see the developments here as paralleling the very early
days of public (community) computing and public (community) networking.
There is a tremendous head of steam built up (a "movement") towards a set of
major public and private investments, technical innovations, commercial
opportunities and developments, and considerable immediate benefits to the
consumer but with very real risks of deepening and reinforcing rather than
relieving (as is the hope/expectation for many of those most closely
involved) existing social and economic inequities.
There is, I think, two major differences from a CI perspective and why I
think it is very important for CI to attempt to play a role (or perhaps
better to support others in their activities and interventions). 
    with OD/OG we are concerned not with the infrastructure (laying down the
"pipes") but very much with content and moreover with content that impacts
potentially either positively or negatively on different members of the
community and particularly the disadvantaged.  
    as well since OD/OG is concerned primarily with government data and
since government actions (or non-actions) may have variable impacts (again
both positive and negative) on various elements and strata with the
community/society the need to intervene in support of those least able to
take advantage of these opportunities/or minimize these risks becomes even
more crucial.
The key issue from a CI perspective is whether these initiatives as
currently constituted will have the effect of creating a new "data divide"
very possibly more damaging and less amenable to positive intervention than
the "digital divide" or whether through early intervention means can be put
in place to ensure the broadest possible opportunities for "effective use"
of and participation in OD/OG.
These are still relatively early days with OD/OG and there are still
considerable opportunities to intervene with significant effect.  Tim's
observations concerning the Kenya initiative is a very good beginning.  
I'm not exactly sure what to suggest as to how we as a CI community might
proceed but its great that Tim is opening up the discussion here.
(For anyone interested in this area I would strongly urge you to take a look
at the discussion(s) following my most recent blogposts
http://wp.me/pJQl5-79 and http://wp.me/pJQl5-7h -- there are some 40+
comments to date covering a very wide spectrum of reaction but particularly
from within the OD/OG community itself... 
(Many of the issues of (potential) concern to CI are raised there along with
cases and references. (My initial blogpost that set off the discussion was I
think in retrospect needlessly provocative and insufficiently
nuanced/informed but it did have the desired effect of provoking a
discussion around issues of users and uses, outcomes, impacts, in this
crucial area.  The question now is how to follow up and translate the wide
spread expressions of support for what I think is the CI perspective on
OD/OG into realities on the ground/in the datasphere.

-----Original Message-----
From: tim.g.davies at gmail.com [mailto:tim.g.davies at gmail.com] On Behalf Of
Tim Davies
Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 3:42 AM
To: Mark Brough
Cc: Jonathan Gray; LinkInfo4Dev; open-development at lists.okfn.org;
ciresearchers at vancouvercommunity.net
Subject: [ciresearchers] Re: [open-development] Kenya Open Data Portal
(>Reflections on national portals and non-national data)

Hello Mark, Jonathan, 

The license appears to be as Mark suggests. 

The wealth of spending data on the new site certainly looks interesting: are
you going to look at how this could provide some new opportunities for
matching spending and aid funding?

It also raises an interesting question I think about the design of national
government data portals (brought to mind for me because I'm looking at aid
data a lot at the moment for http://aidinfolabs.org, but very applicable to
all governments, particularly for .e.g in Europe). 

The question is: how far should 'national data portals' be defined by 'data
produced by the government', or by 'data of relevance to the citizens'
regardless of it's origins. 

For example, in IATI feeds we have details of over 260 aid / world bank
projects in Kenya (see them on the IATI Explorer here:
http://bit.ly/naI9wu), totalling by my rough calculations £975,981,840* of
commitments. This data comes from other governments and agencies, but could
be of great use to citizens. Should this data be listed in the national
government data portal? Or is it up to civil society to create a separate
portal onto this relevant data that comes neither from the national
government nor domestic civil society? Or do we expect users to be aware of
the other possible places (data.worldbank.org etc.) where they should look
to find data?

With a lot of focus on portals right now, could it be interesting to think
about some principles (not just for developers; build around citizens rather
than governments?) that could guide inclusive development of them?

All the best


*Calculated by going to http://tools.aidinfolabs.org/query/, fetching
'Activities CSV' for a query on Keyna related projects. Adding the totals of
USD and GBP commitments separately, and converting USD to GBP at today's
exchange rate. 

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 11:24 AM, Mark Brough
<mark.brough at publishwhatyoufund.org> wrote:

This looks really cool!

week> &sortBy=most_accessed&sortPeriod

Some information here:
("In short, anybody is free to use this data for commercial or
non-commercial purposes. See the terms and conditions for a more detailed

License seems to be here:

In short:
* Non-commercial (c.f. above...)
* Attribution
* Represent accurately

"the Kenya ICT Board and the government agencies whose information is
provided on this website impose no restrictions to the non-commercial
reproduction, re-publication and re-distribution of any information
published on its website"

Looks like an exception to this is where data is provided by third parties
and their copyright is "expressly reserved"

"Where any information is presented in a structure and format that is
copyrighted by a third party providing a service to the Kenya ICT Board,
users are to respect the intellectual property rights of any third party
who expressly reserves its copyright in any information, data element,
data structure, software program or other property."

-----Original Message-----
From: open-development-bounces at lists.okfn.org
[mailto:open-development-bounces at lists.okfn.org] On Behalf Of Jonathan
Sent: 08 July 2011 11:15
To: Tim Davies
Cc: LinkInfo4Dev; ciresearchers at vancouvercommunity.net;

open-development at lists.okfn.org

Subject: Re: [open-development] Kenya Open Data Portal

Tim: did you manage to find a license anywhere on how people can use the


2011/7/8 Tim Davies <tim at practicalparticipation.co.uk>:
> Hello all,
> I suspect many of you may have already seen this, but Keyna today
> it's own Open Data Portal at http://opendata.go.ke/ joining countries
> UK and US, and institutions like the World Bank in running an open data
> programme.
> The site is running the US-based commercial 'Socrata.com' platform and
> some interesting visualisations and mapping set-up by default.
> I'm frustrated to see the 'data is for developers' framing all over it -
> with big '+Developers click here' buttons, and nothing inviting or
> encouraging other forms of use of data, but if a wider eco-system of
> use can develop, aware that using data requires not just the data, but
> capacity building too - then this could be a really interesting and
> development.
> Lots of discussion and other analysis on twitter #opendatake and the
> blogosphere.
> Tim
> --
> http://www.timdavies.org.uk
> 07834 856 303.
> @timdavies
> Co-director of Practical Participation:
> http://www.practicalparticipation.co.uk
> --------------------------
> Practical Participation Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales
> #5381958.
> _______________________________________________
> open-development mailing list
> open-development at lists.okfn.org
> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-development

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


open-development mailing list
open-development at lists.okfn.org


07834 856 303.

Co-director of Practical Participation:
Practical Participation Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales -

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