Open Data for Development Challenge 2014

04 February 2014 ⋅ 

DSC_3189Last Monday and Tuesday saw a group of developers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and NGO workers come together in Montréal for the Open Data for Development Challenge, hosted by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). The event centred around a 36 hour “codathon” around various technical challenges, as well as a series of panel discussions.

Anahi Ayala’s Storify roundups give a great overall impression of the two days (Day 1 and Day 2); so rather than doing another round up here, we thought we’d look at some of the tools and resources which came up during the two days.

In terms of resources, a good place to begin is with the Challenge Hackpads, all of which are linked from the appropriate section in the schedule. In the ‘background information’ in each pad, there’s a good selection of resources of information on the topic challenge; for example, this list of Country Aid Management Systems from the Geocoded Aid Data challenge, or this list of datasets around contracts, linked from the Open Contracting challenge.

Tools that were created (at least in part!)

Initiatives that were mentioned

  • Domestic Reporting Standard Initiative, aimed at helping grantmakers of all types work together more effectively, via establishing a shared standard to report their funding activities.
  • Information and Networks - from IDRC, “Promoting inclusive development in a networked world”
  • Engineers Without Borders’ Failure Reports - a unique initiative collecting, celebrating and learning from failures from around the EWB community.

Tools that were used during the challenges

  • OpenStreetMap- open source and openly licensed map
  • Tabula - to get structured data out of PDFs
  • D3: Data Driven Documents - helping you ‘bring data to life’, by manipulating documents based on data
  • Mozilla AppMaker - a “simple way to create and share personal mobile apps, even if you don’t know code.”
  • DataMaps - customizable map visualizations for the web in a single Javscript file using D3.js (see above!)
  • BaseX-A useful tool to download and explore the data on the IATI Registry
  • School of Data’s Recommended Tools - including tools for extracting data, cleaning it, analysing, presenting and sharing.

The discussions that took place during the panels also brought up some interesting points; for example, around the ethics of collecting and using data in international development, especially around vulnerable communities, and the potential implications, and designing projects and open data initiatives based around user needs, rather than donor needs.

In all, there was a great mix of people attending the event - some who had never attended a hackathon before, and many who had rarely had the opportunity to work so closely with people coming from such different perspectives within the sector. All in all, a great success at bringing together the open aid community, and hopefully the first of many similar occasions!