TICTeC Civic Tech Surgery #3
1:41PM Mar 24, 2022
Right I think it's two minutes past two I might kick us off. I'm sure lots of other people would join us as well. But Hello everyone and a Good afternoon from a surprisingly sunny North London and a good morning, afternoon or evening to you wherever you may be and whatever the weather may be. Welcome to the third TICTeC civic tech surgery focusing on accessing quality information for civic tech success. I'm Gavin Freeguard, a freelance consultant working with my society on the TICTeC Labs program. Among other things, I'm also associated Institute for government and a special advisor at the Open Data Institute here in the UK. And I am your chair, facilitator and host today's event. Do tell us who you are and why you're here in the chat if you'd like. Thanks to those of you who've already done so very nice to meet you. Over the next couple of hours we're going to discuss some of the challenges and dilemmas we face in accessing quality information, think everything from open data and API's to freedom of information and much else besides and hopefully move towards some solutions to some of those challenges aided by some fantastic speakers. For these first 10 minutes or so I'm going to outline outline high today will work and give you a bit more background to what we're hoping to achieve with the TICTeC Labs program of which this event is a part of some quick housekeeping first, today's event is on the record. It's being recorded and will be published online afterwards, along with minutes of today's event. You should be able to access a live transcript here on Zoom. Please let us know in the chat. If you can't. You're very welcome to share details of the event on social media. The hashtag is TICTeC. And if you'd like to contribute to today's discussion, you can use the chat here on Zoom and you can use the padlet board that you'll see and get a link to if you've not had it already. There will also be a few opportunities later to unmute your mic and tell us what you're thinking as well. If you've not used Padlet before, it looks a lot like this, you'll see the various questions we'll be covering today on the screen. If you want to add something just click on the plus signs that you should be able to see we've already had some contributions. You can add more as we go along through the event today. And there will be a few periods of silent working during today's event but we've encouraged you to add more contributions. That's the housekeeping done now for a quick introduction to the TICTeC Labs program, which is run by my society with support from National Endowment for Democracy. The aim is to discuss and tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the global civic tech and digital democracy sector. We want to grow the civic tech evidence base address some key issues and enhance the effectiveness and potential impact of civic tech projects. TICTeC which stands for the impact of civic technology conference started as an annual global inperson conference in 2015. We hope that there will be another in person event in the future. But in the meantime, through the pandemic we've converted TICTeC into a year round program of activities and events called TICTeC laps. Over the course of the program, we're taking on six topics which have been identified by our steering group. You can see the steering group on the right hand side of your screen as civic tech biggest challenges as well as accessing quality information or subject today. Those subjects are public private collaborations, insurance, civic tech is accessible scaling and replicating civic tech, tackling the climate crisis with civic tech and storytelling and reach. For each of those six topics, we're going to organize a civic tech surgery like today's to delve further into the challenges and possible solutions. After each surgery, there will be an Action Lab, a small working group of around six people who will work together to commission a piece of work to help solve challenges raised. If you're interested in getting involved in the Action Lab. We'll tell you how to do so at the end of today's event. By the end of the TICTeC Labs program in 2023. We hope we'll have six pieces of commissioned work as well as increased connections and learning across the global civic tech community. This is our third civic tech surgery. We currently have a call for proposals out on first topic we covered public private collaborations which closes on Monday, next Monday, the 28th of March, check out the TICTeC Labs website if you'd like to apply, and we've also had a surgery on our second topic, ensuring civic tech is as accessible and inclusive as possible. More to come on that one over the next few weeks. Today we're focusing on accessing quality information for civic tech success. And the big overarching question is what would help the global civic tech community to overcome common barriers to accessing quality information? Underneath that big
question, our objectives for today are to discuss the challenges involved in accessing quality information so we can establish which the most common challenges across our global community share how some of those challenges have been addressed date. Discuss what else might help tackle those common challenges that we identify. Share any existing projects, evidence or research on the topic that might be helpful. And last, but definitely not least, to explore how the TICTeC action lab that will come together after this surgery can help address one of the common challenges we find by commissioning a relevant piece of work. This is how today's session is going to run. We're starting this introduction, obviously. We'll then move on to a discussion of the dilemmas, challenges and barriers that people face in accessing quality information. We'll begin by returning to our excellent discussions for three minutes or so each will then give everyone five minutes of silent working to add thoughts to the chat and contribute to the padlet board. And then we'll see if our discussions have any reflections or if any of you would like to share some of your thoughts as well. This section will refer to question one on our padlet board what dilemmas have you faced or are you facing when accessing quality information or data for your civic tech projects? Then we'll use the same format discuss since five minutes assignment working on the chatting Padlet any further reflections to ask what people have done to try and address those issues? That's question two on the padlet board. After that, we'll squeeze in a short five minute break where you can grab yourself a drink, pop to the bathroom or add some things to the Padlet or the chat. After the break. It'll be the same format again to consider what might help tackle some of those challenges. That's question three on the padlet board. What do you think might help you further address these issues? Ie Are there any evidence or resource gaps? Well then have 20 to 30 minutes to consider two big subjects. First, whether any of us are aware of existing evidence and research that could help us tackle some of the dilemmas and challenges we've discussed. And second, given that the actual lab that follows this surgery will commissioned some work, what project ideas we think we could fund to solve some of the problems we've raised. We'll start again some silent working to add things in the chat and on the Padlet and then have some time for us all to discuss. Right at the end. I'll summarize what happens next in terms of taking this forward to an action. So there's lots of exciting discussion ahead of us this afternoon. To help us with that discussion. We have some fantastic discussions we'll be sharing their experiences. They are never Maya Gala. tiga, the co founder and principal leader of a deck road PMO in Ghana. We've got sim row from democracy club here in the UK. We've got Lera Zama from the fact checking organization checking our dough in Argentina. We've got Korea Yusoff from the CNR project in Malaysia, he will be leaving us at 3pm. But then joining us at 3pm. It will be Massey coffee from the Open Data charter so fantastic lineup of people to help us through these difficult discussions. We're very grateful to all of them, as well as to all of you for joining us today. And with that, I'm going to stop sharing my screen. So we're going to move to the first section of today's event. And that's all about the question, what dilemmas have you faced or are you facing when accessing quality information or data for your civic tech projects? As I said that relates to column one on the Padlet. And as each of our discussions to share their thoughts for around three minutes each then will have five minutes of silent working to add to the ideas on the Padlet or in the chat. And then we'll have a further five minutes or so to reflect on all of that. So for the first three minutes, I'm going to go to her Maya over to you.
Thank you very much. For us here in Ghana. It's usually an issue of bureaucracy than anything else. And so once you think that information to be easily accessible or available, it's not that easy to have access to. I remember when we started with the crew we had to at a point even purchase parliamentary information and and data to be able to use them where we're getting them in living hardcopies and using OCR technology to to extract the text from the scanned documents but because it and the opportunity to circumvent it is what it is an whilst mucousy exist for obvious reasons. It has also created a lot of inefficiencies that can be frustrating for everyone, whether you're a citizen or even an organization like ours. And what has happened is you found you found yourself in a place where public servants or people who work in a parliamentary service will exploit this to their advantage when making below the counter deal. So someone will tell you that I can make sure that you get this information or this data. But I'll take this from you even though supposed to be open. And because you're so desperate to get that information to carry out your research or, or whatever we get involved in. You would also end up maybe bending over and giving funds to these projects to get the information that you need. And so they sometimes we intentionally hoard information requested onto up the amount they're asking for. And so for instance, if you're working on a corruption Unity project, and you have to engage in corruption to get access to the data you're looking for, then you're actually back to square one because you're actually carrying out a corrupt Act, to get the information to fight the corruption or engage in the efforts around that. It's an interesting place we find we find ourselves in but that is truly the situation here in Ghana. And so that will be my first submission on this subject. Thank you.
Thank you very much indeed. Let's go to Lauer next.
Yeah, hi everyone, and in two galleries based in Argentina, but we haven't had work since 2014. Working together with all the fat tigers in the region. Most of the problems are generally similar with perhaps difference in intensity in one country or the other. And the problems are related. With the in some cases, access costs. They are the loss or to decrease that allowed us to ask for money for information, but that knows are not necessarily in all the cases apply in the sense that then the law by down then in some cases, they just don't answer or they don't answer on time. Or they use an exception that is not necessarily clear in the law. And in in a lot of cases, journalists or small organizations are not necessarily going to the judges to discuss if that request was good or bad answer by the government. And the other problem that we find these in some cases that the government when when it changed the party is the change in some cases, the methodology or in other cases, the periods in what they publish the data. And then for example in Argentina since 1997, we have the salaries of the teachers all around the country. We are a federal country, it's useful to share to the community that they are really diverse salaries depends on the provinces and the provinces that are more poor in general pay. Salaries that are not necessarily the best one and all related to the occasion explained to us that we need the better teachers and good salaries for them in the places that are the most complicated. And what the data shows us is completely the opposite. And what happened this year is that the government stopped to publish that. Then we asked for that. First informally, journalists request and they said we decide not to publish anymore because it's not useful for discuss in an inflation context, the salaries of the public servant. And then what we did is a request and after we did the for my request, they start to publish it again. Then what would that case or example show us is that there are a lot of things that are not necessary.
Not discretional. We have the right we have the constitution that allowed us to write we have the laws and someone decided not to do it anymore because of political reasons. And that happened then is a small examples that show us that we are not necessarily in a position where all the information that it should be there it is. And the other problem that we find, especially for our project that is related to automatisation of checking is that the data that the Government published is not always in in in a format that the machine is colored to calibrate them. That if I had to do that, to have the ideas on one side, the discretion of each government to publish it to publish data or not, more or less because of the convenience and the other related to formats. unhealthy.
Excellent. Thank you, Lara. Yes, I think data quality issues and governments discretion over what it gets to publish I suspect a lot of people will be nodding along to that being the problem on this call. Let's go to Korea next.
Hi, I'm Carol from Malaysia. Yeah, so we've had a long relationship with my society all the way back to 2013. Because we're Malaysia is also a Commonwealth country. So there's a lot of things that are in common with the UK and which we've inherited. So in Malaysia, you know, in terms of dilemmas, one of the challenges we face is the fact that we have a very kind of Jekyll and Hyde or contradictory situations with how the government does things. So on the one hand, for example, we have a strong federal led service by government and public servants to open beta. But, on the contrary, there are no criminal laws that says a public servant vaguely in the act of doing their work. If they share information, not specified what can face for example, up to 250,000 US dollars in fines or a year's jail for sharing that data, which another agency says they should be sharing. So we have a lot of these kind of contradictory situations. And what we've learned is that, you know, a lot of these laws when you don't have a like, for example, a federal Freedom of Information Act or you know, or an open default data by default policy or problematic loss like leftover from, like, say, sedation loss and so on. It creates an environment where it's really difficult to get quality information, even if there are initiatives within government to do so. And the second part, I would say is that we often also look in terms of how we measure quality is to actually look at the examples of where we want to be or we hope to be. And for that, we often use, you know, my society's set of services for example, they work for you or elevate tele for foi. We look at the UK Government Digital Service. We do you look, you know, We're fans of democracy club and what do they do during elections? You know, and also, you know, the work around safe beneficial ownership theater standards, right. So what we found is that we then use those and then into to access the quality that we have we then check, are we able to do these things? And that's how we actually check on whether the quality that we have the data that we have available allows us to do such things and more often than not, when we measure these things, there's a lot of things that we find out that we don't have when we want to do something, just to be quick. Like one example. My society has this, you know, common you UI that says put in your postcode and find your MPs. So a common situation in Malaysia, it's like, okay, let's have that feature too. And then we find out that there is no data available that actually maps locations where or areas that the postcode covers in Malaysia, so that's not possible at all those things so yep. So that's how we actually measure you know, where's the quality and where are the gaps by looking at, you know, best practices, ideal applications that we would like to do, and then measuring about where the gaps are for us in Malaysia.
Excellent. Thanks very much. And if you're if you're just joining us Do feel free to say hello and tell us who you are in the chat in a in a few minutes time, we'll get the Padlet boards and allow everyone else to get involved as well. But before we do that, we're going to hear from SIM about dilemmas faced when accessing quality information.
Thanks, Kevin. Yeah, just to just to I think we have a slightly different context to some of the other organizations here in that we mostly deal with election pre election information. So we have a very short timeframe in which our services are relevant. It's, you know, at most two months before the election happens itself, and realistically, it's just in the week or the day of of election. That causes a few interesting things that that maybe a different shape of problems. So if one else's first of all, UK election. Administration is fragmented, it's organized at the local authority level, which means that there are four national election there are 400 separate organizations that that carry the data that we need, and no other part of UK state aggregates or joins that data together. So we have a sort of a fragmented data problem where we have to very quickly gather data from lots of sources into one place, standardize it, make it useful to people. So that's that's kind of one shape of problem that we have another another one is, again, I mentioned the timeliness. I make a distinction between sort of haven't got good words for it, but maybe real time data versus statistical data. And what I mean by that is the UK has, has a superb Statistical Office, where there are those lots and lots of very high quality information about the state. But the publication cycle, almost by definition is is lagging what really happened. So if you want to know You know, some performance standard from the previous year, you can almost certainly find it but if you want to find it, you know for today, it's basically impossible to do. That doesn't matter most of the time, but but if you think about the election timeframe, that's that's really important to us. One really practical example of that is electoral boundaries, aren't published until about six months after the first election for those boundaries. So if you want to know, you know, who's got an election happening, you can't find out until six months after the elections happened. And it feels like lots of the conversations about open data. don't really take that into consideration. There are lots of good open data portals. We've gotten the UK data.gov. UK, which does a good job. But as I say, it's always post hoc statistical data that has this quality where it's it's been written once and it will never be changed. It's it's a snapshot. So yeah, I think of I think of lots of open data as almost like printing a book and putting it on a shelf in an archive, then having it as a service that's available. And working on that I think is really difficult and a real sort of cultural change. Because when we say open data, I mean one thing and lots of people mean the other thing, that there's a fair bit of other stuff that I could talk about by signals to the to the timeliness and fragmentation of the other two things that I've got that.
Brilliant, thank you very much indeed. So when I say Brilliant, thank you for your contribution. Well, brilliant. That's what's actually happening in the real world. And thank you all for keeping very much time as well. So we're now going to set a timer for about five minutes to give everyone the opportunity for a bit of silent working, and you can answer the question, what dilemmas have you faced or are you facing when accessing quality information or data for your civic tech projects on the Padlet? That's under column one. That's where the question is. Or you can also use chat here on Zoom. So five minutes, pop you go.
Again, once those five minutes are up, we'll have a quick summary of what's on the Padlet and that'd be time for reflections not just from our discussions from but from any of you joining us today as well. On the what's what stood out. For you
Two minutes left if you've got any thoughts you want to share in the chat or on the Padlet especially column one, which is the one dealing with the dilemmas that you have faced or are facing. 30 seconds left. Brilliant well thank you very much everyone. We'll have a quick look at what everyone's put down. Thanks for those contributions. And once we've done that, if anybody would like to contribute any thoughts sort of verbally, or really do put your hand up using the reactions button that you should see probably at the bottom of zoom. So let's see what we've got on the Padlet we've got inconsistency, which is something that's come up already. And that seems to be standards, in some cases, but not in others and things might be put into scanned PDFs, which are difficult to use when measuring audio information, music samples, civic tech work, such as those in the UK, the point that we've already heard as well. And there are formats that don't allow robots to read. So the data is not in a machine readable format. There's gatekeeping by organizations who stopped the information being released poor knowledge of the Freedom of Information Act on the side of public officials. I think a lot of us can relate to that one efficiency of government services services may not be fully equipped or resourced to be able to deal with some of those data requests. forms used for data collection do not collect all of the data required for a full open data publication. And we've got an example from Open Data Services and open ownership about beneficial ownership data. Data is not available at city scale as a problem with different boundaries. Government officials have negative perception of information requested and will feel that the information will be used to expose certain corrupt acts. There's a lack of transparency, things are not available. Because it's filed as a national security issue, or various other things. We've got a range of repressive and vague laws for access to information data in Malaysia, which we've heard a bit about most valuable data lives on private platforms that are inconsistent partners. For example, social media platforms who are very inconsistent in how they share things over time. There may be particular challenges in including children as rights holders, in particular bits of data. Personal data may present in public datasets and governments may not have data. It might not have the data that we expected to hold. And here on the chat, we've also got nepotism being a possible problem. We need education to help people use it as well as lots, lots to think about there lots of food for thought. Does anybody have any further reflections on any of that that they want to share? Before we move on to the next question? If you do, please do use the hand the raising hand tool and you should find under reactions at the bottom of your screen. Anybody got anything to add on any of that?
Do any of our discussants want to come in on any oh we've got to get a hand up from Hamza we should be able to achieve and hear what you think.
Excellent for Hamza.
Thank you so much. Quickly just to share that in Nigeria, we have a problem of the public officials actually as too scared of sharing some information because some of them are even worried that they may lose their job or immediate query or some concerns. I remember recently I went to Ministry of works, where I actually had written a question for an information on an abundant project and they had refused to giving me the information. So I had to go when I went I met a director at the ministry. And he said, the information you're looking for, actually, we can't give you and I asked why. He said I'm not permitted to give you So to summarize, I had to give him a copy of the Freedom of Information Act that we have in Nigeria, and that director admitted to me, he is not even aware of the Freedom of Information Act. So eventually he gives me the information I requested. Thank you so much.
Excellent, thank you having this. We've got people not being aware of the sort of requirements of various information law as well. Anybody else wants to put their hand up otherwise we can move on. Oh, since
I don't have a hand button, because I'm a I'm a host since I didn't know where I was trying to look for it. I think there's something really interesting about so in our case, we have a very good working relationship with the UK Electoral Commission. And that's essentially because the commission understands that we're providing a service isn't really controversial and is useful to the public as a whole and it's complimentary to the existing laws and augmenting it. And we still have frustrations inside that but it's not fundamentally a combative relationship. So I think there's something really interesting about if you're trying to get information about from the government about something that will fundamentally embarrass them or show corruption or bring them down. You're going to have a much harder time than if you're doing something that facilitates better service delivery that they want to have happen. And that relationship between the long term aspect of civic tech projects and their relationship to the States is a really fascinating dynamic that that maybe it's not for this call, but I think that's a that's a great sort of thing to think about as well and part of all this.
So thank you so things may change as sensitive products, services and relationship matures over time. Excellent. Thank you. Now my plenty.
And just to add to what Sam said, when when the government agency or the officials realize the value you present with the idea of what you want to use the data for dealing with reads and kissing points, just like you mentioned electro commission Scindia in Ghana when wanted to digitize the information on where to find a polling station to get registered for elections. Initially they didn't want to give us the data. We scraped that from their site. And then once you put that online, you realize that oh, this is what the guys wanted to do. And this is something then we also got good use shortcodes to get that immediately. They gave us the correct one. So they gave us one that we're not expecting because of the initial pushback, but I think sometimes the need to clearly understand what you're trying to do to get them to jump on board. So value. Proposition should be a way to get data from some of these folks.
Excellent, thank you. And before we move on to the next question, I'll take a quick contribution from Orione. Okay,
thank you very much. I'm really from Nigeria. And I think my own feedback sometimes it's about like sincerity. It's about civic tech, and demanding for accountability. And, you know, exposing corruption sometimes. I know we worked on a project, universal basic education projects in Nigeria. And this time around was scripted from the budget. And we were able to put out like seven projects from the budget. However, when we wrote to the national body, we discovered the OVA wanted on 19 projects, industrial year, and that was because they released the information. Now the funny thing was we actually requested for one state at the time that was released. By the time we went back to say we needed for other states. Then there was a push back. And it was that, oh, we cannot release this project to you. You need to go to the state level. So sometimes it's always funny with civic tech when we are trying to push push this information out the powder can be pushed back from government officials, even though they know what you're trying to do at the end of the day. So it's different stories for different countries. I think that's my feedback. Excellent,
thank you very much indeed. And we'll now move on to our second question. And that is what if anything, have people already done to try and address some of the issues that we've discussed so far? This relates to question two, column two on the Padlet. And I'm going to go to Carol first this time second. Has to go fairly soon. So over to you.
Yep. So what we've learned is the fact that you know, we still try to implement you know, like our like, either, you know, like they work for you or elevate Telly within our local context. And when we do these things, we actually learned that, you know, we we learned about that we can implement it in a way that works in our environment, that, you know, with the faces, challenges that we face them. So some interesting things that we learned, for example, is that, for example, that Vidushi I think, in face, Africa, or Nigeria, and ended up with a similar approach to us in Malaysia, where it's like, if we don't have open contracting data, and it's all in digital documents, then we can still have open contracting data. If we you know, get those documents, scan them. In, and then convert them into data. So, so we're still able to do it, but you know, in a roundabout manner. The other thing that we learned is that sometimes we adapt some of these tools in a way that makes sense for us. So for example, my society had a project earlier where they tried to store data on politicians, you know, in an open data standard. And in here in Malaysia, we're like, well, the politicians are also businessmen. And also, you know, and also possibly criminals as well. So we ended actually putting up all the data on all the businessmen and their relationships in the database that was supposed to be meant for, you know, to power they work for you. And so it did work really well for us. In the sense that it solved our needs, and our political situations where politicians and businessmen and cronies are the same people. But in a way that works for us that actually ended up breaking my society's interface because of the different use cases. So yeah, so what we've learned is that you know, these challenges are not always a hindrance. It can actually lead to us learning more about how to actually use them in our local context. Okay, and just another point, for example, it's like for, like elevate Celli, even if you don't have an foi act, what we learned in Malaysia is that we can still apply, you know, the standards on how to measure performance. So I'm Elijah tally. And then we also learned that just the act of storing all the different requests, it actually gives us data on a mapping of which government agencies actually hold the data. That we're looking for. So it's not just whether it's an foi request, but other things just by learning from, you know, local implementation. So yes, that's
what I got to share.
Thank you since some grants for optimism, which is always good, and I'll go to Sim next system.
Sure. So I I think that the two things I said before, so there's the the fragmentation and then there's the timeliness of official data. On the fragmentation. We've essentially used crowdsourcing we have we have a huge community of people who have a very focused weekend, getting all of the candidate data that we need. It's coming up in a couple of weeks. If anyone wants to take part, I can share details. So So that's been a huge thing, and that community maintenance has meant that a job that would take one organization 1000s of hours is can be done in a weekend, which is really great. The timeliness stuff and the infrastructure stuff. We've just built a lot of the very, very basic infrastructure that we need to exist. We we manually build a database of all of the boundaries that take place just so that we can get that data before it's published officially, which is far too late for us. That sort of work that I mean, it works it's a solution but it trying to find any sort of sustainability or funding for that thing when you try and explain even what the problem space is. And all the funders get really bored and don't want to hear about shapefiles and things like that is is interesting. So it's it's a funny bit of hidden work that we've got that we need to try and find a good way of communicating because it's not apparent that well, as someone said earlier, you know, if you want that really nice smile, society, looking postcode to thing, service, you've got to have the bit in the middle, and that's the boring bit, but it's the important bit so that that's, that's also as I just alluded to in my comment before, we've just partnered with with those 400 organisations to for local authorities, we spent a long time making friends with them. It's not easy, and it's again, it's quite, it's quite boring, not that they're boring, but it's quite boring, tough to do have the same conversation 400 times. And that's something that we've only been able to do by hanging about for the last six years or so. And getting more trust from the from the state itself.
Excellent. Thank you really interesting how both talked about the sort of way that you've had to fill in the infrastructure to sort of work around and have government is approaching what should really be basic information released but never turns out to be that basic or straightforward. Thank you. Let's go to Lauer next.
In our case, related to the challenge about formats, not able for for robots, it is more or less seem said is one to one conversation with organizations that are working trying to to improve the access to information policies in general costs. From together we are not necessarily sitting in the same table as government, asking them to change their policy then what we try to do is to also give some examples for the organizations that are doing that work to knock the door of the government and explain with with specific details why that is a problem. The present problem, not necessarily something that's going to happen in 10 years. Today's problem and and related to to the discretion or or that decision of when when the government decides to change for example, the period of the publication or stop publishing something that used to be published in the past etc. We use the more traditional strategy of what self journalists saying, having a good conversation with the public servant in the private conversation but saying to his or her we should tell the world these costs if not, they're not costs of the decisions you are making and that decisions is or affecting the the access to information right of millions of people, then we use that most strategy one more, trying to help the people. There's a lot of people trying to push this agenda inside the the the governments or the parliament's or etc, but on the other side, helping them also to put it on the front page or put it on the agenda to to to make a cost of of that type of decisions, and the stoical strategy that we have in together all around the world in different attacking attacker says, we we work to to make people be more interest about good data. And then we are working on the demand. Showing for example, when something is this information, you're using data to explain that we are trying the people to value more that then that's that's the general one, not necessarily specific talents, but the the big, big challenge that all of us has related to how we move more people and not just we that are experts or activist in in the importance of this. We need better data to make better decisions then if people don't don't realize you don't pay enough attention to that government have less incentive to invest money or or to take this seriously.
Excellent, thank you. And I think I think would be interesting way of thinking about the demand side as well as supply side when it comes to solutions as well. Now Maya able to.
For us, it's it's been a situation where we've tried to leverage relationships that we've built, especially with people who have the decision making power. I mean, this can be expensive in the long term due to the considerations involved, but it's convenient compared to the frustration. One has to go through so sometimes, we'll invite them to brown bag series, which is learning events, and be with sitting there and see the importance of of the work that we do to everyone every stakeholder including citizens, which obviously they are they are part of even before holding the positions that they hold and so sometimes either out of embarrassment or out of just better understanding of our needs and the needs of citizens and they will then work with us to change the situation or the status quo rather than stick to what the always done. And so it's been helpful in a lot of ways in certain instances in gaming acts to actually either advise on how information should be made available on their websites or or even in different forms and what would be the best way to do that. In certain instances given access to actually build the technology for them to capture certain types of information. So relationships. It has been a good approach for us to solve this problem.
Thank you guys, strong theme that's coming through how to build those relationships over quite a long time put quite a lot of efforts into doing that and helping people to sort of learn what's going on and what they need to be doing. Thank you. So we're now going to give an S Carol you want to reflect on any of that when you leave. I don't know if you're coming quickly.
Now it's okay. Just before I leave, I actually put it into third Padlet you know on things that we can do. So there's a little picture there and I hope it's self explanatory. So my colleagues are actually here, Kelly. So if you have any questions on that approach, yeah. Do you contact them? And again, thank you so much for having me. Well, and you know, giving the time before I jump off to the next call right now. So again,
thank you for joining us, and for everybody else. And we're now going to spend five minutes thinking about that second question, What, if anything, have you done to try and address some of the issues and it's column two on the Padlet. Feel free to put some contributions on that column to on the Padlet or you can use the chat here on zoom as well. We'll have five minutes for that a bit of silent working and then again, we'll have some time for reflection and people to chip in. So five minutes what if anything, have you done to try and address these issues second column on the packet
By halfway there. He doesn't seem to have minutes left. If you'd like to add anything to come to the Padlet or in the chat on zoom as well.
And yes, just to emphasize anything that's come up in the checks. The video of this event will be available afterwards along with some minutes as well.
Just half a minute left. That had left column number two things that you've already tried to overcome some of the challenges and barriers. Again, you can check your resume as well. And once we've summarized books, books, you can you can put your hand up to reflect on what we've got. And time is up. Let's see what we've got in column two. Padlet What if anything, have you done to try and address these issues? I think a lot of similar themes emerging and came from what I discussed and said as well, probably stories in the media to increase the cost of stopping publishing or not publishing data, and archiving government websites just in case any documents should go offline. That's a good one. And speaking with the Information Commissioner here in the UK when finished information requests have been refused. And obviously there are similar organizations and officials elsewhere as well. Work with the public sector to improve data capture something that open data services and ownership are working on. We've had a bit already about post publication re standardization to try and to wrangle those different formats into something that's a bit more consistent, approaching data to citizens so open data for citizens through platforms webinars. Science, diffusion and grounded ground based collaboration, collaboration between non governmental organizations and government as well as requesting information through the relevant government ministry to try to solve some issues and retaining a good relationship with the government. So trying to avoid that confrontational approach and again, developing personal relationships to get access to research data, as well. Excellent. Does anyone have any reflections they'd like to share on any events? Again, please use the reactions button to raise your hand if you can, or sort of say in the chat, otherwise, or if you want to by discussing so you can actually put your hand deck and I'll be able to see that anyone got any thoughts on any of that? Before we go for a short break? No reflections on any of that. Monica that said let's hear from you will unmute you
thank you. Um, I think for me, it's interesting to see that in other countries, I am in Mexico a lot. We are interested in the quality of data related to the quality of water so long, like 20 or 30 years ago, some of the researchers that found the bad quality of water. They have like this confrontation to government alliances, and they be privileged information with the journalist and make like a lot of fusee because they don't care about these issues, despite of the several negative efforts to help and and now we are like approaching like more collaboration with them and they're more open. There's more information citizens are more aware of different things and I think that this culture, the transformation of culture, like Blade awareness and this public of policies of the opera and government data and things like that are helping a lot of countries through that. And it is interesting to see that this is happening in another countries because I have like the sense that maybe it is not being in the same way but was glad to see that it is going through this way.
Excellent. Thank you. Yes, it's always always helpful to know who else is going through similar things and but there are a lot of similarities. between countries but also some differences as well. Does anybody else wants to come in on this before we go for a short break?
Excellent, in which case, we'll take a short break now where you can grab a drink pop to the bathroom that will continue to add some things in the chat and on the padlet board. And we'll start again at 10 past three, where our next question will be, what do you think might help further address the issues that we've been talking about? Are there any resources or evidence missing that will be helpful to us? If they did exist? That's the question we'll come back to at 10 past three, but for now, we'll be taking a short break for nine minutes. or so. Hello again.
Everyone. We'll get going again. In just under a minute or so. Excellent, well, it's 10 past three. So we will get restarted. And in a few moments, I'll ask our discussants to give their reflections on our next question, which is, what do you think might help further address issues that we've discussed? Are there any resources? Is there any evidence missing that will be helpful to us if they did exist, and I will start by going to natty natty coffee is joining us from the Open Data charter first, and has also been looking through everything that people have put on the Padlet from the first couple of questions as well. So Natalie, if you've got any reflections on some of the challenges and dilemmas that you face in accessing information, and if you've got any ideas for what you've already done to try and address some of those, we'd love to hear those as well as anything else that you think would help address the issues. So and thank you for joining us and over to you.
Thanks and I'm sorry for being late I had a previous previous call that I needed to participate in. So during the break, I started reading what everybody was writing. So the Open Data charter actually promotes openness from from governments and some of the challenges that we've been meeting now that we're fundamentally working on symmetric open data openness we've encountered maybe can have a higher level of problems in understanding what the data means. And let me just double click on that. For example, we've been working on climate change data there's a massive amount of data that governments create around that theme. Most of which, at least with the governments that we worked with, was created in order to like internally being used and to send to the UN as a reporting mechanism and government officials didn't understand why that that data, like which added value, openness would bring to that data. But aside from that, Napa now that those governments are starting to publish that data, the level of technicity that the climate change data community actually actually works within made it made it difficult for the open data for civil society organizations from from Open Data community to actually understand what the data was, was like saying, because there's a really high level of technicity and terms and everything within the climate change community. So it's not even can be we we kind of started to understand that we needed data translators, you know, like, in order, for example, to do a hackathon or online innovation challenge or something like that. We couldn't just say okay, just call people to reuse the data and figured out what to do with that because because they were stuck. So So and each thing that we've been working on, aside from the anti corruption which is kind of the old the old and that everybody knows, agenda, still really important. Anyway, those are kind of the challenges that we're meeting. It's, it's not that easy. Once the data is out there the reuse bid, as the data is getting super technical. It's it's, it's a really high entry barrier. And climate change is super clear. So I guess, I guess that's, that's one of the reflections that I have, and and so to be able to add value by reusing that for civic tech edge projects. It's harder and we're working on that, but I that's one of the biggest challenges that we've met in the last couple of years.
Excellent, thank you. And do you think there's anything that could help address some of those problems, as well as the sort of start moving the event into the practical solutions that we might consider anything that you think any resources or evidence that's currently missing them be quite helpful to us in tackling some of those challenges?
So what what we've done is going to make the connections between the public servants that are actually kind of creating the data and civil society organizations so they can actually speak and understand well, like a national country determined contribution means so that then the data it's it's more understanding, it doesn't even have to do with metadata it that you could have like a data dictionary behind that but national and like like that term actually means something only for the climate change community. So we needed to have those conversations happening. Also also with with civil society organizations that work within the climate change community that don't recognize themselves as data organizations, also kind of bringing them into the conversation and kind of making the point that that even their advocacy projects will could be stronger if they use the data. So trying to make that shift towards them not not seeing themselves as part of the data conversation into like, yeah, data will help your but you you might not be kind of a data mining organization whatsoever, but data will help your case. But it's just bringing everybody together via events, sessions roundtables, blogs, or podcasts. So anything can help to kind of lower that entry as I was I like that entry barrier.
expressly I'll go to our next
i Hi, now the I listened to Natya and she remember me the same problem that we have from the beginning. Perhaps today, it's a bit more sophisticated for people that work on data costs, the barrier is for us. But what I what I think is that these kind of translators or people trying to explain why these data can mother me, should be part of the gap that the data community or civic tech been having for a long, long time for the four decades in I think perhaps the new thing is in the situational level, or the anti corruption last of the people that work in data feel more comfortable with the terms or the quality of the data, etc. But the citizens that we supposed to serve, don't necessarily understand us to understand us. The new thing is with the climate change agenda, or perhaps the gender agenda, or etc There are specific things that also the data community needs to know before this translator for citizens, but perhaps his use, what I'm trying to add is perhaps what not, he said is not necessarily a problem, cause they put us in the same situation that most of the citizens used to be in the past, related to our own agenda. Was what I think is we always have this gap between data and why Why'd that's gonna matter to me. I don't know if if I was clear enough to make my point. But what I'm saying is, I listened to her and said, Okay, perhaps this is a problem or a chance or an opportunity to be more realistic about the gap that perhaps in the past, we didn't have the chance to realize.
Excellent, thank you, Lara. haven't come yet. So quite profound points in there about understanding and intermediaries between different groups and government and particularly with the public as well. And so if anyone knows of any resources or evidence on sort of that, actually really helpful thing to add to the Padlet. I'm going to go to nevermind next and then we'll give sim after that.
Thank you very much. So for for us, so for me. I believe that. I mean the full activation of the Right to Information Law in Ghana would help we're a long way to help solve this problem. I think. Currently, the way we leave the link to enter the law is to put a gatekeeper commission that oversees people requesting for information and then waiting till the information is made available or or the commission would maybe give, you know, to a letter or something to go to the state agency to get information. I think that that in itself is a bottleneck and so proper activation of of the law and enforcing agencies to release information will be important but also critically if we find ourselves in a place where some critical information is not subjected to ask and get basis but it's available and accessible by default. Then it helps everyone civil society, citizens. Academia, anytime you need information, you know that once you're working on this area, the information is available by default. And so all you need is to go to this particular place, whether it's a web portal, or even if you went into their environment they may have some information kiosk there for you to access information, then it will be a good way to go back. Also, maybe if there was a client house or for public data, and then it will help because I mean, I don't know about the countries other countries by in Ghana information scattered across different government agencies and even different offices or departments. And sometimes it makes it difficult to make sense of or even have tried to have access to them. And so in order to ensure that eschew any form of delays or any form of frustrations, if we had a clean house where all the information is and I I just go to this particular place that I need ABCD and have access to it, then it will be it will be an awesome way to go about it. And maybe another approach would be to build a capacity for those who work in these agencies to sometimes be able to put that data in forms that is easily consumable, especially if for people like us who want to ensure that it's machine readable, then it will be easier for us rather than going to get a pile load of paper and come in to scan them and OCR them before you can actually do any form of work with so it's just it's just a situation where there's the there has to be commitment from the governments that in terms of stakeholders for us to be able to have access and make use of the information that we we need and we ought to thank you.
Excellent, thank you. So government delivering on things it's already promised terms of information laws, but also somewhere where we can we can find all of the information, understand how to access it, but also supporting people inside government to understand how they should publish it on our behalf. That's really, really helpful. Thank you. Sen.
Yeah, it's it's a big one, isn't it? It's, it says lots of things to think about. The thing that's really clear, I said in the chat, the thing that's very clear to me is that the tech part civic tech is really, perhaps overplayed sometimes. And what we really need to be doing is having a doing a good job of building these relationships, both with people in the government and the potential users, whether they're journalists or general public outside. I really liked the point earlier about I don't want to kind of set up a sort of a a hierarchy or gold standard here to say that, you know, my society is is you know, what everyone should be aspiring to, or they do like my society. But that that point of going you know, to what extent can we implement a freedom information website to what extent can we implement they work for you? Do we have boundaries that allow us to go from postcode to boundaries, you know, trying to have a sort of a ranking or a checklist of things that are the capabilities that are there, and then some presentations of what you might do. If you had capability x in your country? What could you then do with it and why is that important? I think trying to evidence those things is is really important. And we get maybe a bit lost in the in the tech side of it. And if I can, if I can serve the thing that I think we should do less of which is sort of the same, same as my first point, is I think we focus a lot on on data standards and standardization. And maybe lead with that in our approaches to fixing things because when you're in the weeds, I mean, I really understand it when you're in the weeds of trying to do something. You feel yourself saying, If only this was all set, if only somebody else could do this work, basically if only this is all standardized, and and I could just do the fun bit. It would all be better, and then you start pushing for a standard. But really, when you push for a standard, what you're not doing is explaining why you want that and what what the value is to everybody else. And I think we probably should spend more time demonstrating that value than talking about the need for the standards because it's a bit a bit too tech heavy for a lot of people.
Excellent, thanks. And yes, trying to make it understandable to as many people as possible why these things matter is absolutely vital. So we're not going to give everyone five minutes of silent working on the this question which is going to be column three on the Padlet. Do you feel free to put things in the chat as well? Five minutes on? What do you think might help you further address the issues that we've discussed? IE, are there any resources or evidence missing that will be helpful to you if they did exist? So that's the third column on the Padlet five minutes has already started. Excellent.
Three minutes left. I think we've only got one thing Oh, just as literally, as I say that. Somebody else is added to column three of the tablets, but yes, just under three minutes to add any thoughts that you might have? Do it on the Padlet or you do on the chat in zoom?
just under a minute left for this one? And use column three the Padlets for YouTube things in the chat. as well?
Excellent that is time? I think so let's see what we got in the Padlet. What do we think might help us further address these issues? Are there any resources or evidence missing that will be helpful if they did exist? Well, we've got moving the mindset in a way of accessing information on an institutional rather than a personal level. So accessing information through good personal work relationships, sort of taking it up. Beyond that. We've got building tools for open data analysis can open data services, developed some tools that might help people to do facts, understanding the underlying problem that data is supposed to help solve before we start advocating for open datasets publishing with a purpose Excellent. Understanding that to publish good data you need to help people provide you with it. So helping them do so explain the value of open data standards rather than just advocating Open Data Standards in and of themselves, which we've already touched on a little bit. And programs that make data available and useful for civil society. Excellent. Thank you for all of those. Does anyone have any further reflections on any of that? If you do, you can raise your hand using the raise hand to under reactions. Or if you're one of our discussions, you can just put your hand up and I will see you doing so. Anyone that wants to come in on any of that? No, in which case we can move to be final section of today's civic tech surgery. So thank you, everyone for a really good discussion so far. So we've considered what the challenges are, how people have previously tried to overcome them, and some things that we perhaps like available to help us tackle those challenges in future. What we're going to do in this last section is start thinking really practically about some possible solutions. So the Action Lab or working group that will come after today's civic tech surgery, we'll have two and a half 1000 US dollars available to commission a project that aims to solve one of the problems that we've highlighted today. So what we'd like to do in the time that remains is consider two things. First of all, what's already out there that could help us solve the problems we've identified. Is there existing evidence are there existing resources that could help us tackle the dilemmas we discussed? That's column four on our Padlet just so we don't end up reinventing the wheel and commissioning something that's already exists and that we could be using to help us. And the second question is what project projects could we fund to help us with the dilemmas we've discussed? Or is column five on the Padlet? That's it. If there was one thing that TICTeC Action Lab could commissioned to help you better access quality information or data for civic tech projects? What would it be? That could be learning materials, it could be events, it could be training, it could be case studies, it could be research, it could be all sorts of weird and wonderful things. So we're going to give you I think, eight minutes or so. And we may not even need that long that cut that cut that little bit short. Think about those questions. So what resources and evidence etc is already available. And what's the TICTeC action advocate commission that's currently missing? Those are columns four and five on the Padlets. You can put thoughts in the chat as well. And obviously take a bit of time to read through everybody else's put that as well. Once we've done that, we'll spend some time discussing and reflecting upon what we have. So eight minutes on the timer. We might not use all of it to fill in columns four and five of the Padlets what resources evidence are already out there, and what the TICTeC action could commission that would help us overcome some of the problems in accessing quality information. So hopefully the time will start now.
In fact, I don't think they'll take off for like minutes we'll give you two minutes from now for any final thoughts and and then we can spend some time discussing what we first got two minutes left.
One minute left to add columns four and five on the Padlets things that are already out there that we can learn from and ideas and TICTeC actual commission and then once we summarize what we've got, I will come to our discuss and see if they have any reflections on what's been heard. Give you 10 More seconds. Anything that you're any sentences that have written any half formed ideas, put them down now and we will end the timer there. Excellent. Thank you, everyone. For all of those. Let's see what we've got. So let's start with the existing evidence or research or projects that may help us with our dilemmas. We've got the open up guide on climate change data, which is linked there I think which is great. We've got OGP the Open Government Partnership, which may be useful in understanding what open government data is already available in your country. Got social tip or social tick. This non governmental organization helps with technology appropriation. Sounds interesting. If you put that down, please do feel free to add a bit more detail in the Zoom chat. Be interested to hear more. We've got legislation advice. So how easy it might be to get for instance, an foi law in particular country had drafted and how could the campaign be started? That might actually be stepping into number five as well things that have been TICTeC action and commissions and sort of guidance on how to do that. We've got various projects which rank countries when it comes to things like open data for instance, open data barometer, we've got the CNR project in Malaysia, who working from the ground up in applying best practices and standards we may be able to learn from some of the work they've done, particularly when it comes to specific communities facing particular problems. We've got data partnerships, as an instance, Facebook has funded multiple civic tech groups to collect data and share that with the rest of the world. We've got a UK law providing access to public sector datasets and some resources when that we've got Alpha Telly, which is the sort of engine powering what do they know and other foi related services around the world. When it comes to Padlet column five there was one thing that TICTeC action advocates commission that would help us access better quality information or data for civic tech project. We have got case studies that focus on things that don't work and not only the successful experiences interesting, we've got training civil society and community based organizations on the relevance of accessing quality information and guiding them on how to engage the relevant institutions are very practical so far. We've got events and training to improve the storytelling skills of public servants and data organizations or NGOs and and journalists as well. Training on data, open data and data mining for thematic civil society organizations so they can learn to better use data out there. And something we touched on earlier many CSAs do not recognize themselves as data organizations. This was mentioned earlier as well a clearinghouse of data that's been made available to date and we may have an example from the Knight Foundation already on net research on how to access on how access to information rules, applied data sets and how those rules would work in practice against them quite practical to help people use that. And the SM is given an example of being unsuccessful in asking for a particular fly to be provided as an ongoing dataset, which I think in the UK there is something in the Act which should lead to do that but wouldn't government is applying it is probably a very different question. And I think we've got some useful things in the chat from Monica as well, which goes to the social tgic and Spanish website that can be translated to English as well. Excellent. So I will go to our discussions. First of all, see if they have any reflections on all of that. I'll go to Sim first then Messi, then nevermind then Lera sim What do you think I was
worried you come to me first I need more central flex but no I it's there's there's loads of good stuff in here. I have to say I confession is that I end up being quite blinkered you know, you work in your day job and focus on the jobs that you see in front of you and maybe don't think about the wider international network or even national network in the UK sometimes. But I guess I'll take this opportunity to say if, if I can help anyone on this call. I'm very happy to chat about things. We've got some experience of doing the stuff in the UK and I'd like to hear more about the stuff and sort of open offer to talk more with others. I think fundamentally that's what it's going to come down to is more events like, like TICTeC is trying to host and more collaboration between the practitioners in this space.
Thank you so let's go to the next the next
and, uh, one thing that because I was reading the chat about the translation and everything and one of the main things that I think could be done is actually translating into not only Spanish, which is my main main language, a lot of existing resources, and also French. There's a huge brand Francophone Open Data community. The last tools that we created in the Open Data charter were actually in Spanish, French and English. Because there is already a load of resources but but out there, but they're mainly in English. And that actually makes it complicated, mostly for global south to be able to use those resources. So I guess that would be my main
Excellent, thank you. So yes, I think we have a theme emerging about collaborating across borders and how we can make that as easy as possible. Excellent. Nevermind. So next.
I think that we need to focus on getting people tools that would be today simple to use and also given them the skills or giving them the training to be able to do each phase because once you are looking at the key requirements around availability and access, then people need to understand how to make the data or the information available, and how to make it accessible in forms that people can easily consume. And so if if we can simply just provide simple skills or simple tools for people to work with in making data available and also making data accessible then we can get the message to consume in about the world where sometimes internet may not be accessible, or even if it's accessible may not be affordable. You want to always look at the most simplest or easiest ways for people to to consume data and information. So if it means having partners or stakeholders that would get the information closer to people or demystify the data and information then it's a good thing. So collaboration capacity building, and then tools are the way to go. Thank you.
Excellent, thank you. So again, very strong themes of communities collaboration has to come to tools coming through their lower over to you.
Yeah, perhaps adding on that is I agree that we need an IME as, as it's clear focus on how we fill the gap with citizens or not with experts. Then create tools that can allow in a simple way that more people can or make requests or look for data, etc. But try to create and use all the digital power of this community also to to make be on board much more people. I just put in the in the paddle. A tool that we create that basically helps people that are not necessary. People that know the law, how they can make a request. And then they they made simple questions that people should fill the gaps or the blanks and just send it is not just one thing that we should do but I think we also should be to weigh in that type of thing. Excellent, thank you. So
again, instead of using the expertise of this community, the sort of data and open data and transparency we're trying to reach beyond that, to give citizens and as somebody put in the Padlet, those civil society organizations that work on particular areas that don't think about data as much to be able to give all those the tools and the capacity as well. Excellent, thank you. Does anyone else on the call have any reflections or anything they'd like to share on any of that? If you do, please do use the raise hand tool down on the reactions button. Of course, feel free to put it in the chat on the Padlet as well. We will keep the Padlet open for a short while after this events. And you can add some further things later.
If nobody else has anything that they would like to say. Then I'm just going to sit and tell you about what happens next and hopefully my screenshare will work perfectly. Can people see a slide by my screen share? Excellent. That's always a good start. And so as mentioned earlier, as well, and civic tech surgery today was to sort of help surface some of the dilemmas and challenges and also start thinking about some of the solutions and what will happen is that we will come up with an action lab or working group and that will take those affirm that forward. So that Action Lab will work together. They'll commissioned some work. We've got up to two and a half 1000 US dollars to be able to commission some sorts of projects to help us tackle some of the dilemmas and challenges that we've raised today. Anybody can apply to join that Action Lab. And if you've come today, you probably already on the TICTeC mailing list or my society mailing list, which is where the information will be. But if you're not, please do sign up to the TICTeC mailing list because that's where the details will appear. I think the link will be going in the chat if it hasn't already. And then once the working group, the Action Lab has thought about what they'd like to commission. Then there will be a call for proposals published on my Society website. Again, sign up to the mailing list to know exactly when that happens. And when those cool bonuses published, you will be able to apply it for that. As I mentioned earlier, we've already got a call for proposals act from the first Action Lab which is about showcasing public private collaborative collaboration, civic tech success stories. So you've gotten to Monday to apply for that there will be a call going out at some point in the next few weeks or making civic tech accessible and inclusive. As I said once the Action Lab following this civic tech surgery has met there will be a call for proposals on something which will help us all access quality data and information more easily. And you can indeed see the links in the chat. So unless anybody else has anything that they are desperately wanting to share with the group, and as I said, we will be keeping the Padlet open for a bit as well. So you can add things there. And I think all that remains me to say is a huge thank you to our excellent discussions. Thank you very much to you. And thanks to everybody else who's joined us today and thanks to the National Endowment for Democracy as well for supporting the TICTeC Labs program. So like I said, Remember and keep an eye out for the call for proposals. You've got until Monday to apply for the first one that's out there. And yes, make sure that you sign up to the TICTeC mailing list to keep up to date with everything. Thank you very much indeed for joining us and enjoy the rest of your day
everyone, thanks bye, everyone.