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Open Decisions API's - Global Standardization -session @OKfestival 2014
Thursday, July 17 • 12:00 - 13:00
Global Open Decisions API makes it easy for municipalities to publish decisions data in real-time and the social agents to receive search specific decision information online 24/7 thus increasing democratic transparency. Around the globe people are working in order to open the local decision making data (agendas, meeting minutes, bills, votes, transcripts, city council videos etc.) and building standard API's so that the application developers could create transparency and participation apps. Would the time ready for a globally known and used decision making API de facto standard? (such as: http://open311.org/).
Relevant search specific municipal decisions data takes a lot of time and effort to find from the varying forms of non-machine readable documents. At times even the decision makers themselves do not have a clear understanding of the causal relations leading to current decision making agenda. Also in order for the democratic process to work, a democracy needs an enlightened electorate who can make fact based voting decisions. If the civil servants, journalists and media can not follow up on the chain of events leading to a public decision - no enlightened electorate can exist, and the lack of transparency and the lack of citizen participation in decision processes will continue beating the way for corruption.
During the session, we discusses the following points:
- Theme 1: Use cases & needs - How are you using decision making data currently or what kind of ideas you have?
- Theme 2: Proliferation - How can we promote the adoption of existing good API standard?
- Notes will be put to the etherpad [all facilitators]
- After the session we will write a blog post and send it out to different lists (OKFN -lists, Sunlight, My Society, Open parliament list (150+ parliament monitoring orgs), etc.) in order to gather feedback from wider audience -> see. line 130 [Scott&James will write]
- Skype Call in the beginning of September [Jogi&Petteri will invite]
Session attendees and other interested (please add your email address)
Markus Petteri Laine - firstname.lastname@example.org +358458990700 Twitter: @Patteri77
Scott Hubli - email@example.com; +1 (202) 728-6336 Twitter: @OpenParl
Antti Jogi Poikola - firstname.lastname@example.org +358443375439 Twitter: @apoikola
James McKinney email@example.com
Miska Knapek, firstname.lastname@example.org - will participate at OKFestival
Jaakko Korhonen, email@example.com
Tarek Amr - firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrian Collier - email@example.com
Timo Tuominen - timo.tuom
Ohyoon Kwon - Code for Europe/ Amsterdam firstname.lastname@example.org
Joonas Pekkanen - email@example.com
Jami Pekkanen firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Stott andrew [dot] stott [at] dirdigeng [dot] com - not at Transparency Camp, will be at OKFest - please keep me in touch with this important initiative
Niels Erik Kaaber Rasmussen email@example.com interested to participate at OKFest
Jari Bakken - lead developer at Norwegian PMO Holder de Ord - Jari Bakken <firstname.lastname@example.org> - profile : https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jari-bakken/11/896/210 - comes to OKFestival
Pekka Koponen - email@example.com
Mark Boyd - firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mgboydcom
Robin Gonga email@example.com
Alida Yonli firstname.lastname@example.org
Miske Knapek email@example.com
Finn Packs firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Webb email@example.com
Tanja Lahti firstname.lastname@example.org
Kalle Uutela email@example.com
Kai Schmidt firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Legal Analyst, Monopol Kommission http://www.monopolkommission.de email@example.com
Jami Pekkanen firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Chang email@example.com ICT Manager, Digital Media and Technology Programs www.asiafoundation.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Alicja Peszkowska email@example.com
Niels Rasmussen firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Feraren email@example.com
Mahdi Ben Jelloul firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Schumann email@example.com
Borje Lewin firstname.lastname@example.org
Hami Kekkonen email@example.com
Theme 1: Use cases & needs
How are you using decision making data currently or what kind of ideas you have?
Group A (Miska):
The group outlined several problems in current decisionmaking processes that they would like to see addressed:
1. It is not easy for ctiizens to have input on processes due to:
- They don't know when the next meetings are scheduled or what's discussed there.
- They don't know the history of the issue discussion. Quite often what is discussed and/or accepted at a meeting is a 'logical' consequence of the things discussed and accepted at earlier meetings. Thus citizens can't really have a large influence on a meeting, even if they knew when it'd be and what'd be discussed, without knowing the history of the process
2. Without knowing the history of the process, it is difficult to learn from it, either in terms of what a politician does, or the outcomes from various policy decisions.
- - It is difficult to understanding the sort of decisions and perspectives a politician has, without knowing which processes they've been involved in and how they've voted.
- - It could be possible to learn from the history of decisions made, and the effects they've had. If, in addition to meta descriptions of the processes, documents describing the sureveys, research guiding a decision, as well as surveys of the impact of policies, could be linked, it would help researchers and citizens draw knowledge from policy decisions. For example, one could review similar historical policy decisions, to guide current decisions.
- Making it possible to review the history of a process and to find similar cases historically, would enable:
- Citizens and politicians review the track record of politicians, to find out what kind of politicans they are and the policies they support; making it possible for citizens to add or remove support for politicans.
- Citizens: to find out when and how they can affect a process.
- Citizens, researchers and policymakers learn from previous decisions, hopefully guiding future decisions.
Group B (Juha & Jaakko):
Juha & Jaakko will update
1. Preparation, fact checking
2. Political process
Ilpo, Oulu: Visualization of decision data as a layer on top of a 3D map web application.
Liquid feedback and deliberate democracy use case. Ordering complex decision within the organisation. Pirate Party, Net party, Reddit.
Amsterdam crowdsourcing every quarteer a district agenda is set, social problems, development porojects etc. Local people can propose ideas and set up projects potentially supported by the city.
Plugging into open spending.
Group C (James):
Tanja Lahti, City of Helsinki
Kalle Uutela, City of Helsinki
Jami Pekkanen, City of Helsinki
Timo Tuominen, City of Helsinki, Code4Europe Fellow firstname.lastname@example.org www.forumvirium.fi
- Open Ahjo
Kai Schidt, German legislature
- performing a survey on what other legislatures are doing in terms of data
Michelle Chang, Asia Foundation
- projects across Asia around elections (200,000 candidates project), service delivery, legislation, electoral promises, finance
Mahdi Ben Jelloul, French administration
- attached to the Prime Minister's office, EtaLab
- budget simulation of reforms to the tax-benefit system
- multiple agencies, e.g. pensions, unemployment insurance, income tax, family benefits
Niels Rasmussen, Denmark
- parliamentary monitoring, EU monitoring
- day-to-day job involves modeling the Danish economic forecast
* Lack of common standard identifiers
- for merging datasets
- for detecting duplicates, without false positives, e.g. electoral candidates with the same name and little information to disambiguate them
* Connecting various entities, modeling the often rich relationships within the network
* Protecting privacy, limiting the exposure of personally identifiable information when making data available via APIs
- Supporting not only current data but longitudinal data, changes over time
- Visualizing data, to help people make sense of it
- Adding structure to unstructured data, e.g. interpreting and transforming French tax-benefit laws into code
- Unrecorded data, making it difficult to achieve transparency and monitoring goals
- Discovering and learning about relevant existing standards
- Limited technical capacity
- Scraping HTML, PDFs, images
- Governments rarely provide the desired data in machine-readable formats
Theme 2: Proliferation
How can we promote the adoption of existing good API standard?
- stories from other standards (good and bad examples)
- who are the key players
- what is target audience (cities, civic hackers...)
- how the specification should be governed
We started by discussing the need for a way to map the existing standards, where are they used, case studies.
We discussed how existing standards and efforts (e.g. Semantic Web, RDF, and Frictionless Data) can be used.
We discussed the need for a version control system to track changes in standards and allow for submitting ammendments
We also discussed the case for crowdsourced data and how standards should account for ways to evaluate the data's authenticity and validity
Group A (Petteri):
Members: Markus Petteri Laine OKFFI, Greg M. Brown NDI, Hami Kekkonen (HRI), The Dutch Rep, The British Rep.
To successfully expand the reach of this API standard, the following are key:
- Need to collect good use cases and demonstrate value early on in the process ; it could be valuable to really measure how much money and time is going to be saved in this process and indicate clearly the increased quality of life by simple examples. The Helsinki and Jyväskylä experiences can be surveyd early autumn.
- Who are the key players? Need to have the right partners and support groups to give the project legitimacy.
- Getting governments to participate in the process of developing this API or standard
- Maybe make it a core API that can then be changed by the partners? Holistic adoption is likely unrealistic
- Find a way to translate the differences between different data standards – this would be a good way to avoid competing standards
- Define carrots and sticks for adoption. The open decisions API standards adoption may become a funding criteria in the EU28. Who should be lobbied?
- The German http://oparl.org/ developers have shown initial interest to jump on board. Other mentioned potential early adopters could be Chicago, Philadelphia, Jakarta, and Zaragoza. The standard can be marketed widely when three cities from three differend countries have adopted the standard.
- The group is going to continnue active work in autumn 2014.
Group B (Scott):
Scott will update
Group C (Jogi):
Antti Poikola (Finland), Robert (Hungary), Pekka (Helsinki), Christian (Trento), Amy (Edinburgh), Esko Reinikainen
- City SDK ( http://www.citysdk.eu/ ) experience: first APIs harmozized and implemented in a project in 8 cities and then spreading to more places
- It is difficult to get a city to adopt anything
- the base systems are not capable to provide data in good format -> Get the system vendors on board (can be asked / surveyed which vendors systems cities use)
- Culture problem in governmental bodies, old fashioned etc. -> Find one person in the council pushing things forward
- Are the cities co-operating - are there existing national networks?
- Well cocumented and useful standards get used - No fancy marketing needed
- Identify first mover organization in each country - who would be closest to do this in your country?
- Mapping the existing work
- Research existing data specifications/standards, research use cases, and tie the existing work together into a common schema
- maybe existing linked data ontology
- some XML standard to annotate legal documents
- people don't know abot local projects / applications because they are done in local languages
- For the trustworthines it is important to know how the standard is governed, how it will evolve, who can suggest changes and how
- internationally would be important to recognize the main players (only tech standard setting side or also international associations of local govs etc.)
- only legislative standard that has been widely adopted by legislative bodies is the Akoma Ntoso XML format
- API should support multilingual documents
Blog post draft
Generally recognized and widely used de facto standard API for decision making data. By the next OKfestival (in two years) decision making data from 200 governments (local, regional, national) available via common standardized API.. Can be so that the governments them selves apply the standard to their systems (Case Helsinki) or can be via screen scraping (case x). Benefits (what positive results can be achieved when the vision is met?)
reality check the vision - is it possible or are the cities and decision making data too different in different places? This is question for the blog post readers to commment on.
2. Summary of the session (how to get towards the vision)
- Scope of the API: - should it be targetted more fore cities or for all kinds of decision making bodies?
- The differences are mostly superficial (for example cities, states, counties etc.), all the data deals people, organizations and topics (decisions)
- Differences between nations might be bigger
- Scope the effort by define "decision making data" - it may not be possible or ideal to try to fit all under the same API
- Small common core + optional parts of API
- It is possible to create a standard that can be used in part (fx. only for voting data or only for meeting agandas)
- Approach: for the moment discussion in various forums, next step is to go "under the same name" and publish the first vesrion of the global standard
- Which stakeholders should we involve in this early stage? Who is interested - open call
- Technical development: list the collected use cases / requirments (from the notes above), evaluate against the existing work and comment on the possible roadmap
- idea: cross project hackathon - let developers get to know the other similar projects and share knowledge
- Proliferation: list the collected ideas for proliferation (from the notes above) and make possible timeline & roadmap
- search for bigger funding for surveying the current status of the cities for example
Background about Open Civic Data, Popolo, Poplus and Helsinki Open AHJO -projects and how do those relate to each others
Open Civic Data
GitHub: https://github.com/opencivicdata/ which is creating infrastructure to more easily build government monitoring websites
- Who are behind the project
- Team is part of Sunlight Foundation
- The project is funded by google.org
- At the moment no politicians involved or supporting, but some civil cervants do support
- First cities to be approached
- NY and Chicago
- Kansas City
- Also collaboration with the Canadians and Chileans
- Don't try to build everything at once. Start with smaller pieces, the way Poplus has done with its "components" strategy, one component at a time: http://poplus.org/catalogue.html
List of other projects
See the post: https://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-government/2014-March/003430.html
- Projects seeking funding, whose progress has therefore been limited:
- Outside these initiatives, which have a greater or lesser focus on standardization, there's of course all the major software vendors to governments for creating and editing agendas and minutes. Granicus is the biggest in the US, and their Legistar API makes these documents available in machine-readable formats. They are possibly the most open to working with the open government community.
- Sunlight's http://openstates.org/ and http://opencivicdata.org/ include support for agenda data.
- in Germany since early 2013 there is a voluntary effort to develop a specification for such an API called „OParl - Initiative for standardization of open access to parliamentary information systems in Germany.“ Involved are civil society organizations, some German cities and their public IT service providers as well as German makers of parliamentary/council information systems. (Marian Steinbach initially came up with the initiative)
- For meeting minutes, there are a few initiatives I'm aware of, but I don't know that they're widely supported yet. Akoma Ntoso has a "debate record" document type. And I know that MySociety's components strategy envisions a "SayIt" hansard system, though I'm unsure of its current status.
- Sunlight's own debate analysis site is Capitol Words, but it doesn't yet offer much in the way of data format guidance. We're likely to be taking a closer look at the site in the new year, though. For now, I'd say that James M.'s pointer toward Granicus is an excellent suggestion.
- OpenCivicData's Event schema (which can be used for meetings with agendas) can be found here: https://github.com/opencivicdata/pupa/blob/master/pupa/models/schemas/event.py
- Minutes vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next. Some are closer to transcripts (Tom Lee mentions several relevant projects), while others look a lot like agendas with more details filled in, e.g. vote outcomes.
- The super-class to agendas, minutes, transcripts, etc. would be "documents" - I've collected some of the existing standards/projects at https://github.com/opennorth/popolo-spec/issues/13 some of which are more relevant to agendas and minutes.
- http://api.okf.fi/console/, which is following google places api with Point Of Interests, addresses and road vectors (In Finnish: https://trello.com/c/JqBdRy47/28-avoin-osoitetietopalvelu-jalostusalgoritmit-ja-jalostettu-avoin-data )
4. Call for action
- Mapping existing work / resources -> If you know more related initiatives add links to comments and tweet with #opencivicdata - let's link to this pad and keep the resource master list for a moment here
- Join the deeper discussion in one of the listed forums
- Invitation to join the Skype in September?