February 11, 2014

Open Institute Launches the Open Duka Platform


The Open Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the Open Duka platform. Open Duka was conceptualised as a catalytic tool for transparency, accountability and governance. As a tool, Open Duka showcases the power and use of data that is liberated from multiple sources and organised in one platform.

Open Duka is open source. The platform has the ability to easily create and visualise relationships between different entities ranging from organizations, individuals, tenders and contracts awarded.

“We looked at this space and realised that there was a problem that we needed to solve: citizens, civil society organizations, community groups and media organizations had no way of identifying and investigating the relationships that individuals had with each other, with organizations or with transactions and dealings such as government contracts. There was also no place where citizens could verify the existence and legitimacy of organizations”

– Benjamin Charagu, Open Institute’s Social Innovation Lead

Open Duka

The beta version, released today, is the culmination of one year’s work. The first goal of the project was to identify the sources of data that were needed to create relationships as well as distinguish between sources of data that were easily available and those that needed to be curated, digitised, scrapped and catalogued.

Some of the data that can be found on Open Duka include information published in the Kenya Gazette, a weekly publication released by the Kenyan government that publishes notices of new legislation, notices required to be published by law, or policy and announcements for general public information. Other Information that can be gleaned from Open Duka include government procurement information, ownership of listed companies and tenders approved by governments and other Bretton Woods institutions.

At the launch, Jay Bhalla, the Founder and Trustee of Open Institute said that there is often a challenge that is faced by people when trying to get data – particularly when it is held by the government, but it’s not impossible to piece together and scrape data from different sources and create relationships and a story.

“The Open Duka platform gives us the perfect opportunity to show that even though data may be closed or in formats that are not digitised, with a bit of effort we can still turn closed data to open data. We have now taken this data and created a conduit for others to have access to clean data and build applications around the data through the platform’s API.”

– Jay Bhalla

The platform easily enables you to make connections between people, institutions, contracts, tenders, and other gazzetted information.

This is just the beginning. The Open Institute has designed an outreach strategy to promote the use of the platform and data through roundtables, trainings and showcasing the platform at various events.

The Open Duka platform is an open source platform, with the code available freely on our Github repository and has been created to be easily implemented for any organization, government and individual. Going forward, we intend to continue populating the platform with different datasets and making the same available through the platform’s API.

We shall during this beta phase be releasing new features, the release of a plug-and-play easy to install version and providing support for other organizations who intend to use the platform.

The Open Duka platform is funded by the Africa Technology and Transparency Initiative and is a partnership with Kenya Law.

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