120+ CKAN Portals in the Palm of Your Hand. Via the Open Data Companion (ODC)

  • Osahon Okungbowa
  • 24 Sep 2015
CKAN is a powerful open-source data portal platform which provides out-of-the-box tools that allow data producers to make data easily accessible and reusable by everyone. Making CKAN as Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has been a key factor in helping grow the availability and accessibility of open data across the Internet. The emergence of mobile devices and the mobile platform has led to a shift in the way people access and consume information. Popular consensus  and reports show that mobile device usage and time spent on mobile devices are rapidly increasing. This means that mobile devices are now one of the fastest and easiest means of accessing data and information. Yet, as of now, open data lacks a strong mobile presence. Open Data Companion (ODC) [pronounced “Odyssey”] seeks to address this challenge by providing a free mobile app that serves as a unified access point to over 120 CKAN 2.0+ compliant open data portals and thousands of datasets from around the world; right from your mobile device. Crafted with mobile-optimised features and design, this is an easy and convenient way to find, access and share open data. ODC provides a way for CKAN portal administrators and data producers to deliver open data to mobile users without the need for additional costs or further portal configuration. ODC provides key mobile features for CKAN Portals:
  • Mobile users can setup access to as many CKAN-powered portals as they want.
  • Browse datasets from over 120 CKAN-powered data portals around the world by categories.
  • Receive push notifications on your mobile device when new datasets are available from your selected data portals.
  • Download and view data records (resources) on your mobile device.
  • Preview dataset resources and create data visualisations in app before download (as supported by the portal).
  • Bookmark/save datasets for later viewing.
  • “Favourite” your data portals for future easy access.
  • Share links to datasets on social media, email, sms etc. right from the app.
  • In-app tutorial videos designed to help you quickly get productive with the app. Tutorial videos are available offline once downloaded.
To ensure that ODC is usable by all CKAN portals in the wild, the app uses the publicly open and powerful CKAN API which is supported by all CKAN portals. By using the CKAN API to access portals’ data and meta-data, the app safeguards portals from external malicious attacks; more importantly portal administrators remain in control of the data being delivered to the public through the app. For instance, in order for ODC to provide in-app previews and visualisations of datasets, portal administrators must install the correct CKAN resource preview extensions. Basically, whatever dataset can be accessed from a CKAN portal website, can also be accessed by ODC through the CKAN APIs.

How to Make Your CKAN Portal Available to the Mobile Community

Making your CKAN portal available to the mobile community through the ODC app is done in 3 easy steps. As a portal administrator, ensure your CKAN portal is running on CKAN 2.0 and above (at the time of writing latest CKAN version is 2.4); ensure your portal is publicly available on the World Wide Web. Finally, submit your portal details to the CKAN Census (where the app developer will periodically check for new portal submissions) OR submit the portal details directly to the developer through the feedback section of the app and the app website. That’s all!

Feedback Welcome

ODC is available for download on the Google Play Store and all feedback is welcome. The app is actively developed, so more features will be released. Send feedback through the app or follow ODC on Twitter. You can also read more about the ODC vision, objectives and features from the app website. Bringing CKAN Portals to the mobile platform is a big step in improving open data accessibility and reusability. It also opens doors to more public involvement in open data growth. I am excited to see what these new opportunities produce, first for the CKAN community and then for the Open Data community in general.