African Data Journalists and Code for Africa Hacktavists this week traveled to Nepal to be part of the country’s Open Data Initiative launch. The grassroots initiative dubbed Open Nepal week, is a series of week-long activities that is aimed to catalyze and spur the Open Data Movement in Nepal.
The week began with a Media Leaders round-table with focus on ‘Open Data and the Future of News’ for Media Owners, Executives, and Thought Leaders in Nepal, and focused on the business case for data-literate media and data-driven reporting. This includes an introduction to the role of data in news media, from reporting to business models, as well as discussion of potential revenue streams that can be realized from a stronger orientation to data-driven reporting. The Round-table further solicited input from the media leaders, and explored next steps, such as training, technical knowledge-sharing and more.
Media owners were also encouraged to participate in Nepal’s first ever Data Literacy Boot-camp, a two day boot-camp that brings Journalists, Developers, Govt. Agencies and Civil Society Organizations together to learn much needed data skills and insights in driving a Data Driven culture. The Data Literacy Boot-camps have been pioneered by the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the World Bank Institute (WBI), with the first one being held in Kenya, in January 2012, and have since been delivered everywhere from Moldova to South Africa resulting in scores of civic media ideas and projects built by participants. The initiative is part of the greater Ujuzi program.
The Boot-camp in Nepal is another example of Africa sharing technical expertise with other Countries and Continents. In addition to the Data Literacy Boot-camp the same (and expanded) cohort from the Boot-camp will return to use their skills to brainstorm and ‘build out’ data-driven stories, apps, tools, services and more, to be “pitched” at the close of the day, for team prizes. A total of 14 ideas were presented with two winners emerging for a total of $1,000 prize money to be shared amongst them. The winners were Wizevote, an application that provides information on political candidates and gives Citizens a platform to make comments and see the level of support for the Candidates, and Mybudget a project that aims to track government budget expenditure and the impact in various Thematic areas.
“The common thread among these engagements on the ‘demand side’ of open data is the crucial need for the public proliferation of ‘actionable information’, which is information that does more than ‘inform’ – it enables. It is information that is ‘opened’ by government or even by the public, around which members of the public can gather, stress test, debate, and translate into a cause. It is information that both government and citizens can use to inform legislative priorities, and which helps to guide reforms.” says Craig Hammer who leads the World Banks Media Development Program.
In the Hackathon teams participated to identify a problem (if they don’t already have a problem statement to work on), and the use data (and programming skills) to build an app or useful tools to solve the problem.
The Teams were supported by Global experts from around the world including a technical team from Code for Africa.
“We’re are very pleased to be part of the Open Nepal week. This demonstrates the power of knowledge exchange and open innovation. African trainers helped the journalists and developers of Nepal to learn new skills and technologies — and now the ‘graduates’ of this process are looking to team up with African partners to make their creations are reality,” says Open Institute Executive Director, Jay Bhalla.
The African Media Initiative is the continent’s largest umbrella association of African media owners, senior executives and other industry stakeholders. AMI’s mandate is to serve as a catalyst for strengthening African media by building the tools, knowledge resources and technical capacity for African media to play an effective public interest role in their societies. This mandate includes assisting with the development of professional standards, financial sustainability, technological adaptability and civic engagement.
The World Bank Institute (WBI) is a global connector of knowledge, learning and innovation. It is part of the World Bank Group, and connects practitioners, networks and institutions to collaboratively find solutions to challenges.
The International Center for Journalists is a non-profit organization that advances quality journalism worldwide. Its programs combine the best professional standards with the latest digital innovations. ICFJ believes that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition.
The Open Institute is a Global Catalyst think-tank of domain experts that provides technical and advisory services in the Open Data and Open Governance space. Open Institutes mission is twofold: to deepen Civic engagement with Open Data Initiatives, and to help other Countries to replicate the successes of Kenya Open Data Initiative.