Open Development Toolkit - February update

21 February 2014 ⋅ 

We’ve been hard at work consolidating notes from the IATI TAG, speaking to many of you within the open development community, and as a result, and we have some plans for the next couple of months that we wanted to share, including the new Online IATI tools page!

To begin with, work around the toolkit will be focused on aid data, primarily because of the existing range of data, tools and training materials that already exist, thanks to IATI. We’re conscious though, that within the IATI ecosystem, there are many potential actors that we could focus on - large donor publishers, small NGO publishers, civil society groups in low-income countries, citizens from aid-donor countries, or aid-receiving countries… the list is almost endless. To avoid the risk of trying to cater to too many audiences, we’re going to focus on the specific target audience of civil society and journalists in aid-receiving countries - ie. the data-user side, rather than the data-producer side.

Our reasoning behind this is that civil society and journalists - or, ‘infomediaries’ are well placed to disseminate information that they acquire to wider society, and, especially within aid-receiving countries, their needs have been under-prioritised in the past. In addition, most of the current IATI tools produced have been done by data-producers, ie. donor agencies, rather than starting from the viewpoint of the data user. Because of this, there are few materials out there in the public sphere that meet their needs - starting from questions that people in aid-receiving countries might have, and presenting the information in a user-friendly and accessible way, for example.

Initially, we’re collecting information on all of the existing tools out there that help people use and consume IATI data, and here, we’re hoping to have your input. Whether you’ve been involved in creating the tool or portal personally, or whether you have simply used it, we’d love to hear from you - what features would you like to see on the tool? Do you know who created it, or what status it’s currently at? We look forward to seeing your contributions to this Online IATI Tools page.

We’re gathering this information on a static toolkit page, and in the very near future we’ll be working with School of Data to produce a dynamic showroom of tools, which will show the appropriate tool depending on user needs - eg. I want to know how much money is spent on maternal health issues in country X.

We’ll also be working with School of Data to produce a first iteration of an Aid Curriculum, which will be in a similar style like their other courses. This will be drawing upon some great material that has been produced by a number of organisations and institutions within the field already, and collating it into an easy to understand, modular curriculum - thanks all for sharing your material, and if there’s any more out there, we’d love to have your contributions! Among all this is the core aim of reducing duplication within the field of open development, via sharing materials, reusing and remixing, and building upon the great work that has already happened, so please send across anything you have that might be of use.

Once the initial curriculum modules have been written, they’ll also be accessible through the same ‘showroom’ as mentioned above for the tools, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for the user to find both the required tool, and supporting material to help them use it to its full potential.

We imagine that within the activities mentioned above, some gaps will start to appear - both in user needs not being entirely fulfilled through existing tools, and with supporting documentation, and that’s where we’ll be focusing our work on in the next phase of the project.

We’re also keen to curate materials more widely within the open development sphere - we’ve started an Open Development reading list and contributions to this are increasing everyday via this etherpad, and we’re collecting up people’s favourite examples of how development data has been put to use online via this etherpad, which will soon be up on the site too.

How you can get involved: As well as contributing to the resource-curating above, we’d love to have your input on existing tools - please check out the current list of Online IATI Tools and contribute where you can. As always - any questions, suggestions or hints of what else we might be missing, email Zara on zara.rahman@okfn.org.

Thanks to everyone who has got in touch or contributed so far - it’s been amazing to see the power of the open development community just within these first few weeks!