2014 has been a big year for us in Switzerland. An openness culture spreading among civil administration, NGOs, SMEs, backed by the efforts of makers, supporters and activists throughout the country, has seen the projects initiated over the past three years go from strength to strength – and establish open data in the public eye.
Here are the highlights of what is keeping us busy – and information on how you can get involved in helping us drive Open Knowledge forward, no matter where you are based. Check out our Storify recap, or German– and French-language blogs for further coverage.
To see the Events Calendar for 2015, scroll on down.
2014 in review
Our hackdays went global, with Milan joining Basel and Sierre for a weekend of team spirit and data wrangling. The projects which resulted ranged from the highly applicable to the ludicrously inventive, and led us to demand better from elite sport. The event was a starting point for the Open Knowledge Sports Working Group, aiming to “build bridges between sport experts and data scientists, coaches and communities”. We’re right behind you, Rowland Jack!
The international highlight of the year was a chance for a sizeable group of our members to meet, interact and make stuff with the Open Knowledge community at OK Festival Berlin. Unforgettable! Later in the year, the Global Open Data Index got journalists knocking on our doorstep. However, the recently opened timetable data is not as open as some would like to think – leading us to continue making useful apps with our own open Transport API, and the issuing of a statement in Errata.
The yearly Opendata.ch conference attracted yet again a big crowd of participants to hear talks, participate in hands-on workshops, and launch exciting projects (e.g. Lobbywatch). We got some fantastic press in the media, with the public encouraged to think of the mountains of data as a national treasure. At our annual association meeting we welcomed three new Directors, and tightened up with the Wikimedia community inviting us to develop open data together.
CERN’s launch of an open data portal made headlines around the world. We were excited and more than a little dazzled by what we found when we dug in – and could hardly imagine a better boost for the upcoming initiative OpenResearchData.ch. Improving data access and research transparency is, indeed, the future of science. Swiss public institutions like the National Science Foundation are taking note, and together we are making a stand to make sure scientific knowledge stays open and accessible on the Internet we designed for it.
Swiss openness in politics was waymarked in 2014 with a motion regarding Open Procurement Data passing through parliament, legal provisions to opening weather data, the City of Zürich and Canton of St.Gallen voting in commitments to transparency, and fresh support for accountability and open principles throughout the country. This means more work and new responsibility for people in our movement to get out there and answer tough questions. The encouragement and leadership on an international level is helping us enormously to work towards national data transparency, step by step.
The Swiss Open Government Data Portal launched at OKCon 2013 has 1’850 datasets published on it as of January 2015, now including data from cantons and communes as well as the federal government. New portals are opening up on a cantonal and city level, more people are working on related projects and using the data in their applications to interact with government. With Open Government Data Strategy confirmed by the Swiss Federal Council in April, and established as one of the six priorities of the federal E-Government action plan, the project is only bound to pick up more steam in the years ahead.
With Open Budget visualisations now deployed for the canton of Berne and six municipalities – including the City of Zurich, which has officially joined our association – the finance interest group is quickly proving that it’s not all talk. Spending data remains a big challenge, and we look forward to continuing the fight for financial transparency. This cause is being boosted by interest and support from the next generation, such as the 29 student teams participating in a recent Open Data Management and Visualization course at the University of Berne.
We may be fast, but our community is faster. Many new open data apps and APIs have been released and enhanced by our community: New open data projects were released by the community: such as WindUndWetter.ch and SwissMetNet API, based on just-opened national weather data resulting from a partial revision of the Federal Act on Meteorology and Climatology. Talk about “hold your horses”: a city waste removal schedule app led to intense debate with officials over open data policy, the results making waves in the press and open data developers leading by doing.
An OpenGLAM Working Group started over the summer, and quickly formed into a dedicated organising committee of our first hackathon in the new year. Towards this at least a dozen Swiss heritage institutions are providing content, data, and expertise. We look forward to international participants virtually and on-location, and your open culture data!
What’s coming up in 2015
Even if we do half the things we did in ‘14, a big year is in store for our association. Chances are that it will be even bigger: this is the year when the elections of the Federal Council are happening for the first time since our founding. It is an important opportunity to put open data in the spotlight of public service. And we are going to be busy running multiple flagship projects at the same time in all the areas mentioned.
Here are the main events coming up – we will try to update this as new dates come in, but give us a shout if we are missing something:
- 21. January: Open Finance and Participatory Budgeting, Bern
- 3. February: FlashHack with OpenCorporates, Zurich
- 6. February: Data Canvas Visualization Challenge, Lift15, Geneva
- 21. February: International Open Data Day
- 27. & 28. February: Open Cultural Data Hackathon, Bern
- 05. & 06. June: Open Research Data Hackdays, Lausanne & Basel
- 01. July: Opendata.ch Conference 2015, Bern
- 04. & 05. September: Election Hackdays 2015, Lausanne & Zurich
So, happy new year! We hope you are resolved to make more of open data in 2015. The hardest part may be taking the first step, and we are here for sport and support.
There is lots going on, and the easiest way to get started is to take part in one of the events. Start with your own neighbourhood: what kind of data would you like to have about your town? What decisions are you making that could benefit from having a first-hand, statistically significant, visually impressive, and above all, honest and critical look at the issue?
Lots is happening online and offline, and if you express interest in a topic you’re passionate about, people are generally quick to respond with invitations and links. To stay on top of things we urge you to join our mailing list, follow us on social media, and check out the maker wiki and forum. Find something you are passionate about, and jump right in! Reach out if you have any questions or comments.