Open Cities Summit (VI). Ideathon workshops takeaways

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

Ideathon workshops takeaways

Open data portals and engagement mechanisms

Who is a user of the open data portal? After identifying the user, a user list sorted by priority should be drawn.

Scholars should explain what open data is and promote it’s use.

Free open data management tools.

Keep data updated and update it and make it known.

Adopting the Open Data Charter

How do tell the quality of open data? How do we know about its usage?

We have a lot of data, but we lack the storytelling, the visuals.

What makes sense for a government, what can work for them, what makes sense for technicians.

We need open data champions.

The charter seems simple but its application is complex. It is a good idea to ‘deconstruct’ it principle by principle, recommendation by recommendation, and go step by step while aiming for the whole.

Create networks of cities that have adopted the charter and see how they did it.

Competitiveness and economic development

We have to identify what is the problem. But not like “unemployment is the problem” but more focused on people. And then, try to come up with an idea that most people will quickly understand because it relies with some other familiar initiative (e.g. “Facebook for dogs”).

We can create the “Tinder for data”, a meta-data portal for open data. It would identify data that could be open and thus create opportunities.

Smart and resilient cities

Bring the users in the design of the projects.

Identify the key role players and establish communication strategies among them.

How do we enable the measurement of vulnerability and how to address it. What defines a resilient city.

Interdisciplinary collaboration and organizational change

Better name: culture change for common understanding.

Start with the challenge.

Creating common context.

Actively create and maintain feedback.

Go across disciplines and across sectors.

Interaction between civil society organizations and between civil society organizations and governments.

Fiscal transparency

Entrepreneurs, SMEs, etc.: they might find hard to find the kind of information that is relevant to them. What are they needs? What are the usual tasks that require data? Awareness on their needs and awareness of the possibilities of open data.

Try and draw a chronological story of data for firms: When starting a business, what is the information that you need? What is the government spending (procurement) in the field? What is the budget and what is the execution of that budget. Do I have benefits for operating in this field? What are the trends in my area?

Making city services accessible

It is very difficult for people to see the safety net, to know what public services can one citizen access.

To build a healthy ecosystem, accessible, interoperable, sustainable, that relates referral providers and social service services.

Standards and interoperability

A good way to understand standards and interoperability is by looking at the path that goes from raw data to indicators, in an aggregation process.

The big issue is that standards apply to very small portions of reality, while reality is much more complex. Open data, smart cities, open government, etc. begin to create their own specific (ad hoc) standards that often overlap.

Who provides the data and how?

Who will reuse the data and how?

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Open Cities Summit (IV). Public presentation of the eight projects developed along Visualizar’16 international workshop at Medialab-Prado

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

Petcha Kucha presentations of the eight projects developed along Visualizar’16 international workshop at Medialab-Prado (26 September – 5 October
Presented by José Luis de Vicente

staDAtus: a way to escape the Desert of Knowledge

Most of research results are not transparent. On the other hand, most citizens neither realize the importance of transparency nor where to get the data in case they would like to. staDatus aims at showing the state of transparency/open data portals.

staDatus is a community-based/crowdsourced project. It creates templates so that citizens can track and assess portals, especially according to what the law says. These tools will be designed with gamification methodologies in able to help citizens.


The project is made up by artists and architects and focuses on the solid waste that cities produce, with the aim to raise awareness on this issue. Another goal is to democratize art.

An app has been developed to help citizens and urban artists to share their works and to enable interaction between citizens and urban art.

My museum

The project aims at monitoring the behaviour of visitors in cultural institutions. Museums need to know what visitors do, what do they do, how do they move in order to be able to give them the best experience.

Re-thinking the museum has to take into consideration storytelling, interaction, etc.

The project has developed an app that mixes tracking with augmented reality. As the visitor moves inside the museum, the application will give the visitor (augmented reality) information, enable interaction, etc. On the other hand, this will also produce tracking data that the museum can use to reflect on the exposition or the cultural activity.


Goal: show/visualize the concerts happening all over the world as a galaxy/constellation according to the musical gender. Data comes from

The visualization can help to identify music styles geographic clusters, or how e.g. minority styles spread and evolve.

Fab City Dashboard

What is the resilience of a city regarding its manufacturing, distribution and consumption of goods?

What is the role of citizens in shaping a Fab City with open, distributed and collaborative initiatives?

A dashboard has been created to monitor eleven measurements for the resilience of a city.

The dashboard can also be used to measure the impact of a given project on resilience on the city.


Goal: Mapping micro-conflicts through people experiences.

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Open Referral

Information about health, people and social services. From long documents in PDF format to structured open data.

An application makes it easy to scrap, store and publish data. And it can be done in a crowdsourced way.

apps4citizens is a collection of apps for citizen action.

An app has been deployed to map these apps in the territory using Quadrigram.

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Open Cities Summit (III). Expert panel on what is an open city: emerging trends, scaling opportunities, strengthening networks

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

Expert panel on what is an open city: emerging trends, scaling opportunities, strengthening networks.
Moderator: Antonio Moneo-Laín (IADB)

Barbara Ubaldi, OECD

Open data needs cities because cities know who the local actors are.

Because open data is about action.

Networks of cities — within the country or at the international level — are very important.

Jean-Noé Landry, Open North

How do we reconcile the opportunity of open data with the resilience of cities.

Most of the global open data movement has been led by citizens, nonprofits, etc. How can local governments empower these actors?

It is important what happens before data is released, what are the ethics behind making data available.

Where does the demand come from? Who has the means to ask for data? We have to look into that carefully.

Stephen Larrick, Sunlight

How do we scale local open data programmes and make them global (and sustainable)?

Risk-aversion can be “medicated” by showing that your programme works in another place.

Open formats also help to connect with other actors, to scale up.

If open data is not only about data but about decentralization of democracy, about engagement of the citizen, then this ethos has to be included in the very design of any open data initiative.

We have to link engagement to specific needs. Start with the needs of citizens, not with open data.

Dinand Tinholt, European Data

How do we make open data a priority?

Build upon what others are doing.

It is important that there also is an economic insight in open data. It may not be very “sexy” but it is important to bring in companies that will use open data for profit, as they contribute to make the system sustainable, to foster demand and to maintain it live.

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Open Cities Summit (II). City leaders panel: local issues and open data solutions, lessons learned, and setting short and long terms priorities

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

City leaders panel: local issues and open data solutions, lessons learned, and setting short and long terms priorities
Moderator: Alex Howard, Sunlight Foundation, What Works Cities initiative

Juan Prada, City of Montevideo (Uruguay)

The main reason to open data is the belief that data belongs to the citizen, not to agencies. Why should the citizen be charged for the use of their own data?

In 2008 the government began its open data strategy. After an initial publication of data, the government focused on enabling the creation of open data based services developed by the citizens, such as the adaptation of Fix My Street for Montevideo.

The service behind the open data initiative acts as thus, as a service, and so has a help-desk and an analysis unit to monitor usage and make proposals of new data sets to be published, etc.

Víctor Morlán, City of Zaragoza (Spain)

Same belief as Uruguay: access to data and public information is a basic right for citizens.

Now, all services that the City Council website creates use open data as a main source. Thus, there is no need to maintain different databases and services: open data becomes useful for the City Council itself.

Privacy is dealt with in the open data initiative, and everything that is published has gone through a thorough process of compliance with the law.

Stephane Contre, City of Edmonton (Canada)

After a first deployment, the big effort now has been publishing a “data analytics website” so that people that are neither tech-savvy or data-savvy can query the data themselves.

One of the big impact has been the internal use of open data. Using specific algorithms you can use open data to improve municipal services.

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Open Cities Summit (I). Keynote: Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer, New York City

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

Keynote: Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer, New York City

After several milestones on open data and open governmetn, in 2015 New York City released its Open Data For All programme. Its aim, to actually increase the use and reuse of open data by all citizens, not just a bunch of them. Open data has to be available for all, meaning that data should be able to be used by anyone, anywhere and anytime.

Start with users

NYC made some research on who the users were and how did they use data.

Human-centered design was applied to improve the portal, and think on the portal not as a repository, but as a service.

In partnership with New York University, the portal made that you —as an individual, as a community— you could find yourself in the data, you have to feel that you are represented there. If a policy is implemented and you are not there, the policy will not affect you. So, main issues/problems/needs were identified and the date was put into motion to illustrate or lay the foundations of these issues and the policies to address them.

For instance, an Open Data Powerty model was designed using data on community concerns, infrastructures, representation, demographics, etc.

Encourage purposeful engagement

e.g. Organise hackathons and other ways of constructive engagement that has a meaning not for the city, but for the individual citizen too.

Empower agencies

Agencies have many missions and goals, and opening data usually is not one of them. Thus, they will not dedicate a part of the budget to it, no matter how insistent you are on that. So, how do we bring agencies to open up data? And make it meaningful to them?

First thing is to address standards. Try and have agencies applying standards in their data management, so that they can be reused elsewhere, or that they can “talk” to other data sets. This will sooner or later create synergies and help agencies not to open data but to achieve their own goals, which is what they really care about.

Treat publishing as the middle of opening data

When you get data from an agency, most of it does not make sense to you, out of the agency’s context. So you partner with them and try to understand their data so that you can bring them to light. For the agency, publishing data is the end; for you, publishing data is just the middle, as there is a lot of work to be done still.

Integrate Open Data into citywide processes

Case: The NYPD Was Systematically Ticketing Legally Parked Cars for Millions of Dollars a Year — Open Data Just Put an End to It. If citizens can have access to open data, they can help improve the city in many ways. So, it is not only about “data journalism” and publishing news, etc. but also about engaging in citizen processes.

You have to work to change the complexion of the community. You have to work to empower people to believe that they can make a change, that they can participate, that they can help to improve the city.

Learn, test, standardize — and learn again

Reflect about the whole process and improve it.

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ICTD2010 (IX). Keynote Speech: Tim Berners-Lee

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Keynote Speech: Tim Berners-Lee

The Web is about people — enabled by technology —, that create networks by linking. Linking is a conscious act that can be analysed: the Web Science Trust is aimed at scientifically analysing how the Web is build, what are the consequences of this or that link, how are people related by means of linked content.

Getting the Internet is not only about getting connected, but about being potentially able to access all good things of life.

It is very important to get people do things locally. It is not about localizing foreign content, of importing services… it is about people doing things home, about people blogging, chatting, being themselves on the Net and doing things. Development starts with local capacity. It is about local ownership, low cost bandwidth and low bandwidth-demanding communications, about local content again and again.

If open data are good for developed countries, why is there no more people pushing for open data in developing countries? It is in developing countries, with usually lower quality democracies, where transparency and accountability are more required. And this includes several activities that developed countries’ governments and international organizations perform in developing countries too.

Open data is about:

  • Put the data on the website.
  • Data is structured and is machine readable.
  • Open format and metadata: XML, RDF.
  • Data is linkable, with a unique resource identifier.
  • Link your data to provide context.

Indeed, open standards are key not only for government data, but for many other data like education and all ICT-enabled learning, or all business solutions, especially in developing countries where costs of ownership and costs of technological change may be much higher than in more competitive economies.

We still think of mobile phones as mainly voice devices. Data (data plans) are an add-on, you have to ask for it and, of course, pay extra for it. Notwithstanding, having data on the phone is a huge leap forward. Being able to transmit data, easily, quickly, ubiquitously should be the norm, not the exception. And, in fact, this has become technically possible at derisory costs in comparison with the past. Freeing (actuallly) low bandwidth Internet access would trigger the demand without putting at stake the sustainability of the network or of the Internet Service Providers. Mobile data plans should be free for everyone.

And what is incredible in this field is how everything integrates. And when it comes to the Internet, all countries are developing countries.


Q: Major shift in the Web in the following years? A: Mobility and much more data. The Web as a platform will definitely beat desktop/laptop computing power.

Q: What are the limits of Open Government? Wikileaks? A: Open data is actually data that the government has decided to make public. Then, we have to differentiate between transparency and privacy and (required) secrecy or stealing data. How do we define those concepts and what are their boundaries that is a difficult to answer question. Probably there’s both the need for secrecy and the need for a whistleblower.

Salma Abbasi: who’s to decide what is or what is not to be disclosed on the Net? Who’s to rate the content on the Net? A: Everyone should be able to rate the content they find on the Net. On the other hand, you can hire someone/some service to do that for you. So the default should be “all available” and let each one decide what is for them or for their children.

Douglas Namale of Map Kibera asking question of Tim Berners-Lee on internet content & governance

Ugo Vallauri: What is the future of the mobile web, beyond what we just see now in most mobiles? Stéphane Boyera: We are seing, at the same time, a boost of a mobile Internet and a tethering of the Internet in mobile apps and mobile app stores (e.g. iPhone apps). Berners-Lee: the thing is that the backbone is not closed, tethering is not mandatory. Open standards will allow anyone, any device to use specific data or a specific application. So, we have to encourage an open mobile web.

Richard Heeks: openness, transparency and accountability… where is the responsibility to be put? Stéphane Boyera: we have to begin with openness first, open nets is the first step. This will disclose lots of possibilities for people to perform actions upon those open data. Tim Berners-Lee: The value of presenting data open itself is very high. And the possibility to mash them up is incredibly interesting.

Q: What is the future of the Web with concepts like the Internet of things, augmented reality, the semantic web, etc.? A: The future is linked data. It does not seem that it will happen outside of the web with new languages different from the markup languages (or their evolutions) that we have now. So the web may change radically, but the essence of linked data will remain.

More information

Tim Berners-Lee: The 5 Stars of Open Linked Data.

Tim Unwin’s photos of the keynote.

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)