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OGP Open Data Working Group Announces First Round of Recipients for Open Data for Development Research Grants

Earlier this fall, the OGP Open Data Working Group launched a call for proposals for exploring the technical and practical implications of Open Data. We are pleased to announce the selected proposals here:

  • Open North Inc. (Canada): "Recommended standards and best practices for open data"
  • Mitrovic Development & Research Institute (South Africa): "Building open data capacity through e-skills acquisition
  • Step Up Consulting (The Philippines): "Enhancing citizen engagement with open government data" 
  • Mark Frank (United Kingdom): "User centred methods for measuring the value of open data"
  • Sunlight Foundation (United States): "The social impact of open data in the global south"

The working group was pleased to receive over 80 applications for this first round of research, representing a total funding ask of close to $1million. Applications were screened to ensure that they met the criteria expressed in the Call for Proposals. Those proposals that met the criteria were then reviewed in detail and circulated to the working group’s Steering Committee. A few proposals were received from groups associated with Steering Committee members. Those members with conflicts of interest were excluded from the evaluation process.

The Steering Committee met at the OGP Regional Meeting for the Americas in San Jose, Costa Rica (November 17-19) where it decided on the successful proposals for this round of grants.
We expect that the results of this first round of funding will be presented at the International Open Data Conference that will be held in Ottawa, Canada in May 2015 (opendatacon.org). A second round of funding will be launched in early 2015, with the successful proposals announced after the Conference. We hope to see just as many well-written and engaging proposals submitted for the next round of the OD4D Research Fund.

We thank all who applied for the OD4D Research Fund. We were overwhelmed by the number of thoughtful, innovative proposals we received, and we certainly look forward to seeing the results of the winning research proposals. You can learn more about the selected proposals below.

Selected Proposals

Open North Inc. (Canada): "Recommended standards and best practices for open data"

This project supports the work of the Standards stream of the OGP Open Data Working Group, in particular its deliverable to produce a document outlining baseline standards and best practices for open data, by taking into account the differences and disparities between jurisdictions – especially in the Global South – through interviews with data publishers from developing countries and through more in-depth research into existing standards’ adoption and implementation by OGP countries. The results will be published as a white paper.

Mitrovic Development & Research Institute (South Africa): "Building open data capacity through e-skills acquisition

Opening government data to the public to be used for socio-economic development is at the core of Open Government Data (OGD). It is widely reported that opening government data can have vast potential benefits such as transparency of government affairs, efficiency of government and its agencies and innovation through services that deliver social and commercial value. As nowadays OGD are delivered and accessed by the use of contemporary information and communication technologies (ICT), notably the Internet, the providers of OGD (e.g. governments and agencies) and users (e.g. citizens) must possess certain skills in order to provide and use OGD efficiently and effectively. These skills are often referred to as ‘e-skills’. However, it is widely reported that considerable shortages of e-skills in developing countries inhibits citizen participation in so called information society and knowledge economies and as a result hinders effective service delivery by government officials. This will further impact the provision and usage of OGD. Hence, this proposed study will explore the required e-skills needed for both the provision and usage of OGD in the context of developing countries. This will be done through the use of a multiple case study methodology involving two developing countries: South Africa and Namibia. It is envisaged that the results of this study may also be applicable to other developing countries.

Step Up Consulting (The Philippines): "Enhancing citizen engagement with open government data" 

This research project will deal this primary research question - How can engagement of civil society organizations with open government data be instigated or enhanced?
To answer this question, the following secondary research questions will be explored:

  1.    What do CSOs know about open government data? What do they know about government data that their local governments are publishing in the web?
  2.    What do CSOs have in terms of skills that would enable them to engage meaningfully with open government data?
  3.    How best can capacity building be delivered to civil society organizations to ensure that they learn to access and use open government data to improve governance?

The research project will be implemented in two provinces in the Central Visayas – Bohol and Negros Oriental and will take the form of an action research which will make use of a research-based capacity building program to learn about the strengths and limits of approaches in enhancing citizen engagement with open government data at the local level.

Mark Frank (United Kingdom): "User centred methods for measuring the value of open data"

Current metrics of the value of open data typically use a “top-down” approach based around standards and principles which are assumed to be relevant. While they provide a valuable perspective and are relatively easy to implement, these top down approaches are unlikely to address the user’s most pressing concerns. We propose to research methods for developing metrics that are grounded in user’s operational needs in specific contexts – thus measuring more directly the impact and value of open data in that context. We will do this by working closely with organisations concerned with housing issues taking advantage of the data provided as part of the Nesta/ODI Open Data Housing Challenge. Through interviews and workshops we will identify specific problems that confront those organisations which might be alleviated through open data; those  open datasets that can help them with those problems; and the key characteristics that those data sets must have to be useful to them.  This should then allow us to identify metrics for data sets in that context and a describe method for arriving at those metrics.   The first stage will take place in the UK to take advantage of existing contacts and the relatively mature open data environment. The second stage will take place in India (where we also have contacts) to provide a comparison with a very different environment.  The aim is to publish a paper documenting both the metrics we have developed and the methods we used to arrive at them with a view to creating an asset that can be reused and developed by open data organisations round the world.

Sunlight Foundation (United States): "The social impact of open data in the global south"

The Sunlight Foundation is aiming to research the social impact of open data in the Global South. As a continuation of our relevant work in U.S. municipalities, our proposed research will seek to provide evidence on how open data helps: to increase transparency and accountability; to identify new efficiencies within governments; to evaluate and improve local service quality; and to increase public participation. By collecting country and local level case stories from these regions and conducting a few in-depth interviews, we will focus our research on finding what correlation exists (if any) between specific aspects of open data (e.g. the culture of “open by default”, the release of high-value datasets, or increased public consultations) and the social impact of open data. Our conclusions will be summarized in a final research paper, with concrete recommendations for improved policy advocacy on open data.

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