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CKAN Community Hangout May 2014

Rufus Pollock - May 19, 2014 in Association, Community, Events, Meetups

The next CKAN Community hangout is on Wednesday 28th May and will be chaired by Antonio Acuña of data.gov.uk.

  • When: Wed 28th May at 4pm London (BST) / 11am East Cost US (EDT) / 5pm European (CET)
  • Where: Online (Google Hangout)
  • Agenda and Signup: online shared meeting doc

Topics to cover include:

  • Community show and tell – people can share what they’re up to
  • Discussion of high-level roadmap
  • CKAN Association updates and discussion

There is an open Google Doc for the meeting with an agenda and more information

We recommend putting yourself down if you’d like to attend so we can plan for numbers.

The meeting will be by Google Hangout and we hope to run it as a hangout on air so it will stream (and get saved) on YouTube.

Going to OKCon? Come to the CKAN workshop!

Mark Wainwright - September 9, 2013 in Events

If you’re going to next week’s OKCon in Geneva, don’t miss the CKAN workshop on Monday afternoon. Whether you’re not sure what an Open Data portal is but think you might need one, or you need help with an installation, or you’re a coder who wants to develop your own extension, or you want to get involved in this open source project in a range of ways, this workshop is for you.

[Photo: CKAN workshop]

CKAN workshop at OKFest 2012 (photo: Juha Huuskonen)

CKAN product manager Irina Bolychevsky and developer Adrià Mercader will lead the workshop, and places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up or for any queries, e-mail <ckan@okcon.org>.

If you would like to come to OKCon but haven’t registered yet, there’s still time – but hurry!

CKAN powers new Open Data portal in Canada

Mark Wainwright - June 18, 2013 in Deployments, Events, Extensions, News

The Canadian government today relaunched its Open Data Portal, data.gc.ca, using CKAN 2.0. The launch was timed to coincide with the adoption of an Open Data Charter by Canada and other G8 countries today, at a summit in Northern Ireland.

The portal, which was developed and deployed in-house, includes a number of adaptations to CKAN, most notably a bilingual extension enabling metadata to be entered in English or French and translated, and fixed tags available in both languages. Like CKAN itself the extension is open source and freely available for other sites to use.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that creation of the next-generation Open Data Portal demonstrated “our firm commitment to a more open, transparent and accountable government”, and that it would “generate innovation and the economic social benefits that come with it.” It makes some new datasets available to the public for the first time, including data on housing, health and environment.

The site joins another new Canadian portal, the official data catalogue of the city of Ottawa. Ottawa’s portal has also recently moved to CKAN, to take advantage of features including custom RSS feeds, the API, and better search features.

CKAN for Research Data Management workshop

Joss Winn - February 27, 2013 in Events

The ‘researcher’ user group

On 18 February, over 40 people participated in a workshop in London which focused on the use of CKAN for ‘research data management’. The event was led by the Orbital project at the University of Lincoln.

After some initial presentations, participants broke into groups to gather a list of requirements for CKAN – or any data management system – in a research setting. You can read all about the day, and what we produced, over on the Orbital project blog. There are also write-ups from the DCC, Datapool, data.bris and LSE.

We hope that the workshop marked the beginning of a CKAN user and developer community within the higher education and research sectors. If you’re interested in joining us, feel free to add yourself to the new CKAN4RDM mailing list. The results of the workshop will also form part of the research for a paper I am presenting at the IASSIST conference in May. The abstract is as follows:

This paper offers a full and critical evaluation of the open source CKAN software <http://ckan.org> for use as a Research Data Management (RDM) tool within a university environment. It presents a case study of CKAN’s implementation and use at the University of Lincoln, UK, and highlights its strengths and current weaknesses as an institutional Research Data Management tool. The author draws on his prior experience of implementing a mixed media Digital Asset Management system (DAM), Institutional Repository (IR) and institutional Web Content Management System (CMS), to offer an outline proposal for how CKAN can be used effectively for data analysis, storage and publishing in academia. This will be of interest to researchers, data librarians, and developers, who are responsible for the implementation of institutional RDM infrastructure. This paper is presented as part of the dissemination activities of the JISC-funded Orbital project <http://orbital.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk>.

I hope to see some of you there.

Workshop: CKAN for Research Data Management

Mark Wainwright - January 7, 2013 in Deployments, Events

A workshop in London in February will bring together people who are using or considering CKAN for managing research data. Anyone interested should see the announcement and get in touch with the organiser, Joss Winn.

Although most CKAN installations are for finding government and other official data, its value is increasingly being recognised for other kinds of data – including academic research data. It was recently adopted by Bristol University’s data.bris, who will use it to harvest metadata from existing systems, and provide a searchable interface and fixed URLs for datasets.

The Orbital Project at Lincoln University decided last year to adopt CKAN. The Kaptur project on visual arts research data, in partnership with four higher education institutions, is one of the latest to be evaluating CKAN.

Join CKAN team for Open Government Platform (OGPL) webinar, 19-20th December

Irina Bolychevsky - December 19, 2012 in Events, News

The CKAN team will be joining a webinar on the Open Government Platform (OGPL), an open source platform for open data and open government.

Jeanne Holme, Evangelist for Data.gov writes:

We’ve been working hard on the Open Government Platform (OGPL), an open source capability for open data and open government around the world. This has been an active collaboration with the National Infomatics Centre of the Government of India and the US Government Data.gov team. The decision to move to an open source platform has been both challenging and rewarding.

As with any open source capability, the code is only as strong as the community around it. We are getting close to releasing the first complete package of OGPL and would like to get your ideas, feedback, and commits before we proceed. To help with this, we will be holding two information webinars this week (Wednesday and Thursday, December 19 and 20, 2012), and have updated the code and documentation on Github.

We’re delighted that CKAN will be part of the OGPL (watch this space for further details!). An agenda and further details for how to join the calls are available here.

CKAN in EC Open Source speech

Mark Wainwright - December 19, 2012 in Events, News

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, proudly namechecked CKAN in a video address to an Open Source Conference in Amsterdam last week. She referred to the Open Data Portal being developed for the European Commission, she said:

We are building a portal for open data – so citizens can get a wealth of Commission data in one place, easy to find, easy to search, and easy to use and re-use. [...] Not only that, but our portal will be based entirely on open source solutions. It uses the CKAN system, built in Europe, that many other governments are also using: including the UK and Australia, and now under consideration by the US and Canada.

As Kroes mentions, the US and Canada have been considering CKAN for some time. Excitingly, both have decided in its favour, and have CKAN data portals due to launch in the spring.

Hosting LOD2 in Cambridge

Mark Wainwright - October 5, 2012 in Events, News

The CKAN-powered data portal at publicdata.eu aggregates information on data from about 20 data portals across Europe. It’s part of the EU-funded LOD2 project on Linked Open Data, which held its regular plenary meeting over three days last week – hosted in Cambridge by the Open Knowledge Foundation. This meeting marked LOD2′s half-way point, two years through its four-year duration.

The last plenary was in Vienna in March – my write up here has much more information about the project. By a happy coincidence our meeting this time co-incided in Cambridge with a conference organised by Opening Up, another EU open data project, and we were able to link up with them at their event.

A taste of Cambridge

As host, my main concern this time was with the organisation of the event, which happily ran without a hitch. Meetings were held in style in the fine surroundings of Newnham College, with conference accommodation at another nearby college. Our visitors (from France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Serbia, and beyond) thus had a taste of the Cambridge experience, enhanced with dinner in a good local pub and a lunchtime punt trip on the River Cam. For additional authenticity, there were a couple of quick downpours while we were out on the river. Luckily they didn’t last long enough to spoil anyone’s fun.

The power of the coffee break

After the breakout sessions for each of the project’s ‘work packages’ I ran two very short ‘Open Space Technology’ sessions on Friday. OST emerged out of the observation that conference-goers often find the most productive part is the coffee breaks – where they can discuss and sort out the problems on their mind at the time. Despite its overly grand name, I’m a great fan of OST as a way of quickly setting up workshops and discussions on the ‘hot’ topics of the moment. Though we had time for what was barely a taster of OST, several productive conversations ensued that would perhaps have ‘fallen between the gaps’ of the individual work packages.

One topic emerged as particularly hot – that of usability. LOD2 is primarily a research project so the focus in the first two years has been mainly on results. It’s interesting and encouraging that so many partners are now keen to give attention to usability too, which is sure to help LOD2′s outputs survive after the project ends.

CKAN at OKFestival: raw data now!

Mark Wainwright - September 27, 2012 in Data, Events

Last week’s OKFest is finally over, after a hectic week of talks, workshops, films, hackathons, and more. You can read about highlights such as Hans Rosling’s brilliant talk over on the OKFN blog. The biggest challenge for me was being in two places at once on Wednesday afternoon, with both the CKAN workshop and a panel discussion, including me, in the Open Science stream on ‘Immediate access to raw data from experiments’, where I was on the panel, running in nearby buildings at overlapping times. (Happily I more or less pulled it off.)

The CKAN workshop was a surprise hit, with over 30 people crowding round to hear about CKAN’s latest features and future directions. Some went on to ask questions of CKAN developers about installing, using the API, writing extensions, and more, while others joined a discussion with Antonio Acuña, head of data.gov.uk, about starting a users’ group and about data.gov.uk’s experiences and recommendations.

The experimental data session led to a lively and interesting discussion, chaired by Panton Fellow Sophie Kershaw. From the panel, I spoke about the advantages of publishing data as soon as possible. Researchers are the biggest re-users of their own data and stand to benefit most from publishing it – provided the publication platform chosen is simple to use and provides added value.

[IMG: Panel discussion]

L to R: Sophie Kershaw, Mark Wainwright, Joss Winn, Mark Hahnel

Next, Joss Winn of the Orbital project spoke about the platform they are developing (based on CKAN) to enable immediate access to various kinds of experimental data. He stressed that immediate access need not mean immediate publication – it may not be possible to publish the data now for various reasons. However, a good management system should help the researcher rather than be an extra burden, and makes it trivial to publish later at the flick of a switch. Finally, Mark Hahnel of Figshare pointed out that funders will increasingly look at all outputs from research they fund, not just publications – and increasingly this may mean that researchers are required to publish data.

Researchers often have reasons for not publishing data – some good and some bad. But this week Ben Goldacre’s new book provides a timely reminder that data left unpublished can lead to research that does not forward the cause of knowledge, and even actively retards it. Surely almost all scientists starting out in their career hope to expand the frontiers of science, and there couldn’t be a clearer demonstration that one simple step will help: publish the data!

A weekend at DDC: mapping water scarcity in South Sudan

Mark Wainwright - September 4, 2012 in Events, News

Last weekend saw the Development Data Challenge, a two-day hackathon to develop projects using international development data organised by PublishWhatYouFund. The event was expertly chaired by the excellent Mark Brough, research officer at PWYF, and kindly hosted by the Guardian. About twenty people attended, with programmers and non-programmers present in about equal numbers.

A range of excellent questions had been submitted in advance by Guardian readers and others, and proceedings began by discussing these, grouping them, and winnowing out a few on which we felt we might make some headway in a couple of days. As well as other sources, a number of potentially useful datasets had been collected on the DataHub.

[IMG: DDC]

Mapping water in South Sudan

The group I found myself in included my new colleague Dominik Moritz, a student from Germany who is showing his mettle as an intern developer with CKAN, and mapping expert Sam Larsen, among others. Our brief was to look at the effectiveness of aid, originally in Malawi – because someone had a good source of Malawi data – but we changed course dramatically with the arrival of Sara-Jayne Farmer (above), a Brit now based in New York who has worked with UNDP and had some data from the world’s newest country, South Sudan, that she was keen to explore. The data included location of settlements and of wells and other water sources, so a natural question was: how close are the settlements to water sources? As Sara pointed out, if you are 6 miles from water, then walking to fetch it is a 4-hour round trip – which probably means that if you are a girl you don’t go to school.

A low-cost intervention?

While our coders worked on plotting the data we had, I searched for hydrological data that we could use to enrich the results, and Sara researched licensing conditions that would enable us to publish the data. A demo of the resulting code shows how much can be done, as well as how interpretation inevitably shows up gaps in the data. With it you can view, for example, settlements over 5000m from a water source (in a single state, Central Equatoria). But how many people live there? We did not have population data for the settlements, so we can’t say. Overlaying a hydrological map (the image layer) shows that these most affected villages are all sitting on aquifer. On the surface, it certainly seems that drilling wells here would be a low-cost way to improve access to water for those who most need it. (On the other hand perhaps, for example, water there is so accessible that the villages have hand-dug wells that are not recorded in the data.)

[IMG: Water map]

The real challenge

Dominik has written up the technical aspects of the coding process on the School of Data blog, and Laura Newman has written an overview of the other projects on the day. The take-home message from all of them is simple: for development projects to deliver aid effectively and reliably, we need lots of data – financial data, health data, demographic data, economic data, even, as we’ve seen, geological data. As more and more data becomes freely available, the real challenge is to make full use of it.