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Open_Decisions_APIs Open Decisions API's - Global Standardization -session @OKfestival 2014
Hashtag: #opencivicdata
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:

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:  

Next steps

Session attendees and other interested (please add your email address)
Markus Petteri Laine - +358458990700 Twitter: @Patteri77
Scott Hubli -; +1 (202) 728-6336  Twitter: @OpenParl
Antti Jogi Poikola - +358443375439 Twitter: @apoikola
Greg Brown
James McKinney
Miska Knapek, - will participate at OKFestival
Jaakko Korhonen,
Juha Yrjölä
Nati Carfi
Siem Vaessen
Ben Colmery
Ben Webb
Marco Montanari
Tarek Amr -
Adrian Collier -
Timo Tuominen - timo.tuom
Ohyoon Kwon - Code for Europe/ Amsterdam
Joonas Pekkanen -
Jami Pekkanen
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 interested to participate at OKFest
Jari Bakken - lead developer at Norwegian PMO Holder de Ord  - Jari Bakken <> - profile :  - comes to OKFestival
Pekka Koponen -
Mark Boyd - Twitter: @mgboydcom

Robin Gonga
Alida Yonli
Miske Knapek
Finn Packs
Ben Webb
Tanja Lahti
Kalle Uutela
Kai Schmidt Senior Legal Analyst, Monopol Kommission
Jami Pekkanen
Michelle Chang ICT Manager, Digital Media and Technology Programs
Alicja Peszkowska
Niels Rasmussen
Happy Feraren
Mahdi Ben Jelloul
Robert Schumann
Borje Lewin
Hami Kekkonen

Session notes

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.

In summary:
    - 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
3. Execution

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
 - 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
Data sources
* Crowdsourcing
- 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?

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: 

Group B (Scott):
Scott will update

Group C (Jogi):
Antti Poikola (Finland), Robert (Hungary), Pekka (Helsinki), Christian (Trento), Amy (Edinburgh), Esko Reinikainen

Blog post draft

1. Vision
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?

- 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

- Technical development: list the collected use cases / requirments (from the notes above), evaluate against the existing work and comment on the possible roadmap

- Proliferation: list the collected ideas for proliferation (from the notes above) and make possible timeline & roadmap

3. Resources

Background about Open Civic Data, Popolo, Poplus and Helsinki Open AHJO -projects and how do those relate to each others

Open Civic Data
GitHub: which is creating infrastructure to more easily build government monitoring websites



Helsinki OpenAhjo

List of other projects
See the post:

4. Call for action

  1. 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
  2. Join the deeper discussion in one of the listed forums
  3. Invitation to join the Skype in September?