October 27, 2016 Nancy Salem

Nancy Salem is a Senior Research Specialist at the Access to Knowledge for Development Center at the American University in Cairo, working on the project ‘Harnessing the Economic Power of Data in the Middle East and North Africa’, focusing on the the role and potential of data in economic and community development in the MENA region. Salem completed her MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and holds a BA (Double Major) in History and Multimedia Journalism from The American University in Cairo.

As part of the series of Regional Talks held at IODC 2016, a diverse set of panelists from the Middle East and North Africa converged to review activities and promising initiatives taking place in the region.

A growing community of data projects and partnerships was discussed during the talk. A Data-Driven Innovation week held in February 2016 by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) was highlighted as a high point for the region, bringing together numerous attendees from all over the region to showcase work and build collaborations.

The talk was moderated by Raed Sharif, Senior Program Officer of IDRC’s Networked Economies team, who has been heavily involved with data and open data projects throughout the region.

Jennifer Colville, who manages the Innovation portfolio for the MENA Region in the UNDP regional office in Amman, emphasized the need for more and better data in the region, paired with better access, usability, and data literacy. Much of the UNDP’s work focuses on garnering interest on both the demand and supply side of data, looking to further burgeoning partnerships in the region.

This point was further highlighted by data researcher Nancy Salem from the Access to Knowledge for Development Center at the American University in Cairo. The Data Revolution project at the Center has been mapping out the larger ecosystem of data in the region, with partners in Morocco and Palestine. Building a multidisciplinary community has been essential to this effort, bringing in “unusual suspects” into the scope of data.

Jazem Halioui, Founder and Director of Webradar from Tunisia, showcased the country’s progress in open data. Several ministries have launched open data portals, and budgets have been consistently opened for the past 2-3 years. The  constitution additionally has ensured the right to access to info, right to privacy, and includes open government principles.

Both Ali Rabaie, Data Scientist and CEO of Rebaie Analytics Group from Lebanon, and Dr. Hossam Abdel Gawad, Professor at Cairo University and Director of SETS North Africa, heavily underlined the abundance for data driven innovation in the region.

Rabaie praised a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem while looking for more mentorship in the region. The successful Lebanese startup LittleBits was highlighted.

Abdel Gawad underscored both the potential of a large population of youth and the new opportunities created by technology . He pointed to a mass of data created by connected devices, which creates value that can be used in different sectors.

For the upcoming year, the different panellists emphasized the need to build upon the community that has begin to form between the different partnerships and initiatives. There is specific focus on the possibilities of data for development, as well as data-driven innovation. There is a demand for open data in the MENA region, and capacity building across sectors should continue to strengthen progress made thus far.


October 11, 2016 IODC

Two days. 87 talks. 28-preevents. 1.660 attendees. More than 3.000 hours of shared experiences. Millions of kilometres travelled by all participants. Participants from all these sectors: Private 25%, GOV 24%,NGO 19%, Academic 11%, Independent 7%, Multilateral Agency 2%, Media 2% and Other 4%. More than 2.800 users tweeting. More than 72 million Twitter impressions and more than 11.000 tweets mentioning #IODC16.

We, the organizers and the whole team that made IODC16 possible, want to say THANK YOU ALL, GRACIAS to all of you, attendees and speakers. It’s been an intense week sharing knowledge and experiences but you well deserved it. Don’t forget to visit the IODC site in the next few weeks to review those sessions you could’t attend and to check the Flickr photos with some of the greatest IODC moments.

See you in Buenos Aires in 2018.

October 6, 2016 IODC0
  • The fourth edition of IODC16 convenes more than 1,500 guests from a hundred countries that will participate in the most relevant international meeting about open data.
  • The Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society has highlighted the opportunity and recognition that this Conference brings to Spain.
  • The event deepens in the international roadmap started by the Open Data for Development Network in the 2015 Ottawa edition.  
  • The geographic location of Spain and its reputation as a leading country in the open data field have been crucial for its election as the base of this year’s edition.

Thursday, October 6, 2016. Víctor Calvo-Sotelo, Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society, opened the 4th International Open Data Conference, IODC16, which will close tomorrow Friday, October 7, at the IFEMA Convention Center (Madrid, Spain). During his intervention, Mr. Calvo-Sotelo, highlighted the opportunity and recognition that the celebration of this internationally recognized gathering of the global open data community brings to Spain. IODC16, under the motto ‘Global goals, local impact,’ has been organized by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, along with the World Bank, the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) and the Open Data for Development Network (OD4D).

The Secretary of State was accompanied onstage by the Councilman of Citizen Participation, Transparency and Open Government at the Madrid Town Council, Pablo Soto; the Director of Technology and Innovation at the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC), Naser Faruqui; the Director of the World Bank’s Development Data Group, Haishan Fu, and the Acting Director of the European Commission, Javier Hernández-Ros.

During his intervention, the Secretary of State insisted on the need for a thorough learning during the course of the Conference so as to promote the data-opening concept and data reuse as determining elements for the economic development and as a high-value service for the citizen. In this line, Mr. Calvo-Sotelo indicated that the open data sector has a direct impact on the Spanish economy of about 1,600 million Euros. 700 million of these plus 5,000 job positions were directly related with public databases in 2015.

He also highlighted the improvement of public services, estimating that data reuse allows saving 7,000 lives per year, as it improves health response, reducing the waiting-time for finding a parking spot by 2,549 hours, or reducing energy consumption by 16%, among many other purposes.

The other authorities intervening in the opening ceremony have also addressed the role of public administrations in the release of information, which helps creating a large number of opportunities to generate new business models and provides the citizen with added value, such as the mapping of areas prone to flooding; where public money goes; the destination of donations during a natural disaster; the visualization of market prices for medicines; the offer of local information, such as the quantity of available parking spots; air quality or noise levels, among others.

An ambitious multi-topic programme

IODC16 convenes more than 1,500 participants coming from more than a hundred countries who will attend the 82 sessions scheduled during the event. More than 330 experts from 50 different countries will show their work and reflections on the importance of open data as a high-value asset in 24 sectors including healthcare, environment, journalism, agriculture, education, transport or smart cities.

Among the issues addressed, there is the analysis of the role of the international roadmap elaborated by the Open Data for Development Network (OD4D) during the previous edition held in Ottawa, and how debates at IODC16 can promote a greater local impact.

Economy and businesses are other topics of interest at the Conference, with sessions gathering corporate executives from multinationals such as Telefónica or Amazon Web Services, along with representatives of the Open Data Institute and the World Bank.

During the sessions, participants will also assess the challenges and opportunities that open data can generate to achieve an optimal use of production and extend the use of official statistics to support the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDO).

Also, adding to the abovementioned information, the sessions will address the management of natural resources through the promotion of environmental data, the provision of services in healthcare and education, fiscal transparency through open budget data, the access to information through proactive divulgation of the fight against corruption, besides highlighting the opportunities presented by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to extend and deepen in those efforts.

Global regional initiatives

At IODC16 there is also a space to know the different open data projects being executed on the main existing interest areas. This way, regional talks have specialists coming from everywhere in the world.

Madrid, open data capital

The election of Madrid as the host city of the event is motivated by its privileged geographical location, which has helped to promote the participation of North Africa and Latin America in IODC16. Also, Spain is one of the leading member states in open data and a reference for other countries, as indicated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report ‘Government at a glance,’ which places the country in sixth position. Likewise, the Open Data Barometer, developed by the Web Foundation, place Spain in 31th position in a total of 86 countries, meaning an advancement of four position during this past two years.


October 5, 2016 IODC

Some of you are already here and some others are on their way. Welcome everybody!

The IODC will take place in north-IFEMA Convention Center. If you are attending the event by taxi, you can ask your driver to drop you on the north gate. In case you get off the taxi on the south gate (where the subway station is located) you will be able to walk to the north side following the event signs. IODC accreditations will be distributed in the front counters of the north gate, just going up the escalator as the event posters will signal. If you accessed the convention center by the south gate, you will be able to cross the turnstiles, but you will need to take a 10 minutes walk to the north gate in order to get your IODC accreditations.

If you are planning to get to the IODC in public transport, you can easily take subway line 8 to Campo de las Naciones station. This is the airport line as well and it connects with the main train stations if you change from Metro (local subway) to Cercanías (regional railway).

By car, you will be able to get to IFEMA by road M11 (exits 5 and 7), road M40 (exits 5, 6 and 7) and road A2 (exit 7). The parking lot is not free and the maximum charge is 15€. We recommend to park on the brown one since it is the closest parking lot to the event.

The venue is well signaled so you don’t struggle to find it. However, you can find the IFEMA map.

In case you need any help, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone 902 510 928


Principle Four of the Open Data Charter, adopted a year ago, recognizes that open data should be easy to compare and be presented in structured and standardized formats to support interoperability, traceability, and effective reuse. The Charter calls on data producers to:

  • Implement consistent, open standards related to data formats, interoperability, structure, and common identifiers.
  • Ensure that open datasets include consistent core metadata and are made available in human- and machine-readable formats.
  • Ensure that data users have sufficient information to understand the source, strengths, weaknesses, and analytical limitations of the data.
  • Engage with standards bodies to encourage increased interoperability between existing standards and support the creation of common, global data standards.

Open Data Standards Day on October 5, 2016 at the upcoming 4th International Open Data Conference is focusing on three areas where we can start turning the Charter’s principles into practice.

Can we get some basics right when publishing open data?

Jose Luis Marin from will further his arguments outlining simple rules to follow to ensure that data is reusable. Deirdre Lee from Derilinx will talk about the work of the W3C Data on the Web Best Practices group and the Open Data Technical Framework developed for Beata Lisowska from Development Initiatives will talk about the challenges implementing DCAT and offer up the Development Data Hub as a typical example of a portal in desperate need of metadata. This session will aim to reach a common approach to deploying metadata and put out a call to all data producers to join us in these efforts.

Joining up data on beneficial ownership

Grand corruption is a networked problem; to fight it we need a networked solution, and nowhere is this more true than who controls and benefits from companies. Hera Hussain from OpenCorporates will lead a workshop on the Global Beneficial Ownership Register alongside Kristen Robinson from The Web Foundation and Georg Neumann from Open Contracting Partnership which is tackling this by collecting and linking together beneficial ownership datasets and self-disclosed corporate data. By doing this, it will enable investigators and corruption fighters to see the connections between ownership of companies and trusts the world over, and allow governments and business to more easily see who they are really doing business with. The session seeks to explore user needs and use cases while testing assumptions on what the register needs to deliver to provide the transparency needed to reduce fraud and corruption.

Identifying organizations

Consistent use of identifiers across datasets is vital to enable joined up data, and activities that can ‘follow the money’ across different datasets. However, data publishers frequently struggle to use organisation identifiers consistently, and the lack of authority lists of public bodies means government entities are rarely referenced consistently. This is a problem facing a range of standards-setters and, when the Joined-up Data Alliance was formed at IODC 2015 in Ottawa, this went to the top of the agenda. Open Data Services has won the backing of the International Aid Transparency Initiative, Open Contracting, Natural Resource Governance Institute, OpenAg and 360 Giving to build a common platform with a universal methodology. Steven Flower will reveal a minimum viable product and lead a workshop exploring use cases and user needs.

Open forum

Open Data Standards Day will kick off with an open forum for anyone to present their work dealing with practical solutions that improve the comparability and interoperability of data. If you would like to join us on October 5, please register here. If you would like to present your work, please drop a line to Bill and James. We will also highlight the outcomes from Open Data Standards Day at the Action Session on Standards at 8:30–9:30 on October 7 in IFEMA Room B.

Featured image: Marius Neugebauer


September 26, 2016 Lejla Sadiku

This blog provides information on the Regional Talks: East Europe Session, which will be held at the 4th International Data Conference (IODC) on Friday October 7, 2016 from 18:00 – 19:00 (CEST) in Room D. Further information on the session can be found here.

Since the last edition of the International Open Data Conference (IODC), which was held in Ottawa, Canada in May 2015, a lot has happened in East Europe with regards to open data. In this post I will share some of the activities and key outcomes related to open data in this region recently and explain what to expect at the East Europe Regional Talk at IODC 2016 in Madrid, Spain.

Openness and transparency in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

With growing disenchantment with movements on open government and questions whether innovation has delivered for development, the open data community of East Europe and Central Asia (ECA)met in June 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey to discuss to what extent has open data delivered on its promise for our region?

In recent years, the movement has expanded quickly; for example, some countries have adopted the Charter, portals have proliferated, and communities are growing. However, the extent to which the movement has delivered for development and good governance goals remains debatable. The results, as demonstrated by the GovLab’s Open Data Impact research, can be multifaceted but they require alignment of many factors, not the least policies and performance metrics, public infrastructure, partnerships, and problem definition.

What does that mean for middle-income countries in the ECA region? Can open data be a meaningful vehicle of change in small countries with disconnected citizens? Of the many conversations, several key messages have emerged over the past year:

  1. We need to work more politically: Engaging political actors, comprehending their objectives, and applying open data in addressing their priorities, should constitute an iterative process rather than only an initial engagement. In our experience, while the quick wins work in the short run, the political buy-in needs to be strengthened, refreshed, and maintained over time. In contexts where open data has brought about results, such as Ukraine, the political actors have been continuously engaged.
  1. Institutionalizing is key: The culture of use and reuse of open data must be instilled in public space in this region, including schools and universities. Beyond civic engagement, at a time when data-related skills are in high demand, open government data can be used to foster more cohesive societies, active citizenry, and in improving skills for younger generations—be it through coding schools, data journalism, or stronger STEM education in public schools and universities. ODECAs regional data journalism academy brought together lecturers from eight countries during August 2016, and while the feedback showed an overwhelming enthusiasm with the content, some universities already included Excel in their curriculum for fall 2016.
  1. Solving problems through open data: Open data is a powerful tool, one that can be used for the empowerment of citizens, improving efficiency of the public system and strengthening the economy. But beyond this narrative, the value and relevance of open data is demonstrated in its potential for sense-making and problem-solving. Namely, availability of data in emerging crises, such as the migrant crisis last year or terrorism threats, can be key in even saving lives.

So with these key messages in mind, we come to East Europe Regional Talk at the 2016 International Open Data Conference, where our main questions will be: (1) what does open data bring to this part of the world,  and (2) how  can we enhance its effects?

The talk will bring together governmental leaders from local and national level, academia, civil society, and international organizations to emulate the open data ecosystem of the ECA region. While taking a critical perspective of accomplishments thus far, the panelists will discuss on how to create a conducive environment for tangible results from open data.

Should you be interested in further engaging in sessions or activities pertaining to open data and this region, the following pre-events and sessions will also be relevant:


Cover photo by Chris Leggat

July 12, 2016 IODC

As an introduction to the 4th International Open Data Conference, Madrid will host an approximate of thirty more events organized by different institutions and organizations from 3th to 5th October.

During the days prior to IODC16, the attendees to this important Conference for the global open data community will be able to complete their open data agenda with a broad programme of activities where they can share their experiences and knowledge.

These pre-events will be held in different locations across the capital of Spain and will cover topics such as open data and development, public policies, data journalism, smart cities, education, science, statistics, standards or culture, among others.

To read a detailed description of the pre-events, please click here.

June 30, 2016 IODC

The 4th International Open Data Conference, IODC16, has opened the pre-registration process to attend the event that will take place on the 6th and 7th of October, in Madrid.

A pre-registration form is now available at IODC website for all those interested in attending this important appointment for the global Open Data community.

Due to the high number of participants expected and the limited number of seats, pre-registration is needed in order to guarantee the participation of the maximum number of people in an orderly way.

Those whose application has been validated will receive a confirmation email with further instructions to formalize their registration to IODC16.

May 26, 2016 IODC

Collaborate with! We invite you to participate on the official IODC16 blog. Publish your own content, giving more visibility to your projects, ideas and thoughts. And, if you have already worked with us in previous editions, we encourage you to elaborate on your work.

The posts you send us can deal with different topics such as smart cities, data journalism, health, education, data visualization, agriculture, energy, mobile applications, environment, culture, open government, elections, standards, mapping, problem-solving based on open data, etc.

If you visit the official blog you will see that the 4th International Open Data Conference is based, to a certain extent, on the conclusions made at IODC15, held in Ottawa last year. Hence, since Canada, we have been working on a roadmap founded on five basic action areas:

  • Open Data Charter: to establish shared principles about open data.
  • Principles: to develop and adopt good practices and standards related with data publication.
  • Skills and learning: to develop the capacity of producing and using open data efficiently.
  • Problem-solving: to strengthen open data innovation networks.
  • Measuring: to adopt common measuring and evaluation tools.

With the purpose of standardizing the collaborations sent by the open data community, we attach a file with a basic template that you can complete and send to

We thank you for your participation and involvement in IODC16.

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