The first Open Data Citizen Hack: establishing the Barcelona OpenDataLab (September 16th-18th 2016)
On the 16-18 of September, the Open4Citizens project organised their first open data hackathon in Barcelona. This event also marked the launch of the local OpenDataLab, which will support citizen op data initiatives in the Catalan capital. The hackaton was done in Fabra&Coats, an old building reconverted into a city council equipment.
Over the course of three days, a diverse crowd gathered to explore the opportunities for creating social value that an effective use of open data can provide.
A large number of attendees were enticed to take active part in the hackathon, forming groups across the hackathon themes of health, urban services and local culture.
The group formation was made in an open session where the attendees can choose wich topic they were interested in and wich backgraound had every of them, so the groups were ruled by the axis of multidisciplinarity.
The Open4Citizens methodology structured their innovation process, streamlining their creative energy from the identification of the social challenge, to conceptualising the solution, to selecting the open data, and finally onwards to planning the implementation of their scenario. In this process, participants made use as well of the OpenDataLab online platform, which provided a set of tools and training materials for both novice and advanced users.
Also, the hackaton set up three separated spaces, one was the “ideation room”, where the groups had several displays with the available datasets and the inspiration cards. The other one was the conference spaces, were the groups can do speeches and test the final expositions. The last space was the creation area, where all the methodology process was displayed along the walls and the groups can create and explore their projects. The mentors of the hackaton scorted the groups in all the process.
The ideation room
The process of the topics were developed via co-creation methodologies, encouraging the groups to explore all the potentials of the data and the potentials of improving urban problems, that were detected in a previous process of ethnographies.
Six citizen projects were presented, addressing topics such as pollen allergy amelioration, the fostering of participatory urban governance, citizen reclamation of empty plots, safer urban cycling, reducing harm in substance abuse, and the teaching of civic values in schools.
In the following months, these citizen projects were offered the OpenDataLab post-hack support package. This package was composed of a set of activities of technical, user experience and financial sustainability mentoring. In this regard, the Open4Citizens vision is that these projects would find in the local OpenDataLab a supportive environment in which to bring their project to real life, thus bringing the value of open data to the citizens.
You can check the video of the event here!
The Casablanca Green Mobility Creathon: an experiment in social impact and sustainability (19th May 2017)
On the 19th of May 2017, the Open4Citizens project co-organised the first Open Data Hackathon for citizens in Morocco. The event was labelled a Creathon, since it was shorter in duration than a standard Hackathon, and was focused on the non-technical development of attractive open data based concepts. The aim was to invite citizens who had registered in advance on an open Internet platform to reflect on the Open Data in order to address some of the city’s problems and challenges in the fields of global environment, mobility and health. The goal of the event was to arrive at a set of proposals and solutions that would improve the quality of life of Casablancans.
Participants in the event analyzed the different challenges proposed, exchanged with fellow citizens and proposed solutions that aimed to have a clear impact on the needs of the citizens. Citizens and organizations involved in the project had access to city data and data experts, which supported participants in exploring how open-data-driven applications can help them respond to their needs. A team of student researchers from the Green Tic-TICDev research center was trained to accompany the various groups on the data visualization side, inviting citizens to analyze them and propose solutions to improve the quality of services and quality of the data.
Creathon participants being briefed on the goals and structure of the event
The overarching topic of the hackathon was decided to be citizen sensitization and education to the environment. The hack event tried to build upon the momentum generated by the 2016 Marrakesh climate conference, to help empower the citizens of Morocco as digital social innovation leaders in the field of environment protection.
The representatives of Casablanca Services, SDL in charge of the city’s digital plans and services, did not miss this momentum of solidarity and offered themselves and distributed to the different groups to help them answer the different questions of Citizens participating on the availability or not at the level of the city of Casablanca of certain services that the groups thought to propose. This was a valuable help and avoided the participants to rely on ideas of projects or e-services already deployed or being deployed in Casablanca. Students from the TICDev research center at Hassan II University were also very active in helping citizens, especially on the technical level, by presenting the data requested by each group according to the chosen topic on a computer medium.
The Open4Citizens methodology at work
Open4citizens consortium expert explaining the hackathon methodology to the participants
Four specific challenges were presented to the participants:
- How can we use open data for better information on public transportation?
- How can we reduce pollution and waste with usage of open data?
- How can we use open data to educate and increase the public’s awareness of climate change?
- How can we use open data to make the city more sustainable and attractive?
The participants worked on these challenges with an abridged implementation of the O4C methodology, adapted to fit the 3 hour timeframe of the event. The Creathon took place all afternoon in an excellent international atmosphere and very studious of the participants and very responsible of the onlookers who passed and stopped to take pictures or ask questions. We also had spontaneous testimonies of Casablancans and tourists who greatly appreciated the initiative including a Jordanian tourist who gave us a good testimony on his appreciation of this initiative.
The hackathon outcomes
Six projects were presented by the hackathon participants. These were reviewed and evaluated by a jury panel composed of four local experts:
- Joundi Meryem (GreenTIC & TICDev research centres)
- Mr Mezzyane Amine (Start-up entrepreneur in Casablanca in the field of multimedia)
- Mr Ghabari Youssef (Casablanca City Council, Casa benefits)
- Mr Amrani Omar (Journalist, hacker activist and blogger of Casablanca – Chronicles of the Future)
After the presentations and withdrawal of the jury for evaluation, three projects were declared as winners:
- 1st prize, 5000 MAD: Casa Library, on promoting the heritage of Casablanca– an app which increases the value of stigmatized urban areas by crowdsourcing tangible and intangible cultural heritage items, thus creating a virtual citizen ethnographic museum
- 2nd prize, 3000 MAD: We Green Move, on intelligent and green mobility – an app which recommends personalized smart city movements based on carbon footprint reduction strategies
- 3rd prize, 2000MAD: Casa We Clean, on a waste management solution – a crowdsourced, gamified system for citizens to prioritize the areas waste management services should focus on
The implementation of the prized projects was considered in the next coming months, as two departments of the Casablanca municipality (Education for the Environment and Smart City) were considering to secure funding to implement some of the top rated ideas.
From an Open4Citizens project perspective, this exciting experiment provided a window to generalize the methodology- The Casablanca creathon can therefore be considered as a proof of concept, that the OpenDataLab methodology can be successful in empowering citizens in other cultural and socioeconomic contexts.
Thus, a new line for research for the OpenDataLab concept was opened, as such experiences can play a role in innovating development projects, unlocking the potential of open data for the benefit of the citizens of developing countries.
You can also check a short video on the experience below (many thanks to our Moroccan friends for editing!)
Public Procurement Ideathon (7th-8th July 2017): co-creating open data solutions for a fair, transparent and efficient public procurement
The next step for Open4Citizens was to organize a Public Procurement Open Data Ideathon in Barcelona. This event was carried out in partnership with the Catalan Government’s Secretariat of Transparency and Open Government for the next days July 7 and 8, in collaboration with the i2CAT Foundation, and within the Open4Citizens framework.
This event consisted of a participatory dynamic where solutions to society’s challenges were explored, and aimed to mobilize various social agents to co-create digital tools that use open data of the Catalan Government. The objective was to empower citizens with regards to public procurement, so that their government’s expenditures could move towards an ideal of being legally and ethically impeccable, socially responsible and economically efficient.
The outcomes of the hackathon would become the modules or functionalities of the public procurement dashboard, a set of digital tools co-created with the collaboration of all the involved actors that the Secretariat of Transparency and Open Government wants to make available to the public to contribute to better public procurement.
The introduction to the ideathon was given by M. Raül Romeva, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, and the presentation of prizes was be attended by Mr. Jordi Graells, General Director of Citizen Services.
Mr. Raül Romeva, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, opening the event
The preparation of the challenges included a process of ethnography and analysis of the existing context. This process was materialized in carrying out a series of interviews with people and relevant institutional representatives of the world of open data and public procurement. The objective was to acquire a suitable degree of understanding of the problems and realities of public procurement, in order to co-define with the maximum participation of the community the challenges to address in the framework of the hackathon.
- Finally, the challenges that were defined to be posed to the participants were the following:
- Challenge 1. Improve the visualization of the contracting information for the citizens: How to better communicate the public procurement data to the public in order to make them more understandable?
- Challenge 2. Implement a system of public procurement alerts: How do we design a system of alerts (red flags) that, based on a set of relevant parameters, makes a predetection of the risks of bad practices in public procurement?
- Challenge 3. Provide citizens with innovative user-friendly tools to analyze public procurement: How do we facilitate the work of journalists of data, activists and citizens, with tools that allow the analysis and exploration of the data by providing contextual information of other sets of relevant data
- Challenge 4. Increase public procurement efficiency: How do we determine if government contracts are economically efficient and socially sustainable throughout the lifetime of the contract, from bidding to execution and closing?
The teams hard at work
The two best proposals of the total of projects were rewarded in two ways:
- Two prize nominal ticket prizes of € 1500 and € 900 for the first and second prizes respectively, with a maximum of € 250 for each member of the winning work group.
- The impulse from the Secretary of Transparency and Open Government for the two winning ideas, as open source projects to Github with a GPL2 license. The Generalitat committed itself to invest in the beginning of its development, via open tender, prior study of technical feasibility.
The jury of ideathon was composed of the following people, professionals with extensive experience and renowned prestige in the field of open data innovation:
- Mercè Corretja, General Director of Public Contracts in the Generalitat de Catalunya
- Jordi Graells, General Director of Citizen Services in the Generalitat de Catalunya
- Xabier Barandiarán, Director of Democratic Innovation in the City Council of Barcelona
- Eli Vivas, data journalist in El Periódico and co-founder of HacksHackersBCN
- Eva Belmonte, Project Manager at the Civio Civic Foundation
The project presentations
The quality of all the ideas raised was high. Finally, the jury granted the distinction of the first and second prize to the two following projects.
The first prize was taken by the Open Frau project, presented by Aleix Sanchís, Quim de la Cruz, Roger Pujolar, Mario Muñoz, Esther Viñeta and Roger Folguera. Open Frau is a digital tool that aims to help detect, prevent and denounce the bad practices in public procurement, based on open data and the knowledge of citizens. The application is based on algorithms for the detection of risk patterns in the public contracts, applied to the massive and dynamic treatment of the data. In this way, the system automatically detects contract files where there is more risk, and alert the technicians responsible for investigating the case.
The second prize was awarded to the Contraktació project, presented by Mònica Moya, Mercè Farré, Josep Romero and Marc Celeiro. The platform implements a system that helps the people in charge of the contract, together with the participation of the citizen, in monitoring the implementation of the contract in question. The application makes the citizen participate in the assessment of the degree of quality and compliance with the contracts, and channels this information to the responsible technician. The citizen crowdsourced information allows public officers to go beyond a legalistic approach to contract validation, and incorporate in their assessment factors such as quality of delivery or citizen satisfaction.
The awards were given by the Secretary of Transparency and Open Government, Jordi Foz, in accordance with the verdict of the jury.
You can check out the video of the event here!
Barcelona Urban Challenges Hack (11th-12th January) – establishing partnerships with creative communities to tackle urban challenges with innovative open data solutions
On the 11th January 2018, the Department of Innovation, Knowledge and Visual Arts of the Institute of Culture of Barcelona launched a series of calls for community grants for innovation projects, with the aim of promoting collaboration between the creative communities and the City Council of Barcelona to utilize open data to solve the concrete challenges faced by the city residents. The Open4Citizens project partnered with the City Council for this event, by offering on the 12th of January a project preparation workshop based on the O4C hackathon methodology, with the aim of co-creating open data based proposals to these calls with community groups.
One of the main features of these programs is to offer the possibility for social, cultural, scientific and creative communities to participate in the generation and implementation of city projects. The projects will work on the research strategies – in the field of innovation in creative companies in techno-politics, urban planning and community action, among others – that characterize the work of the Barcelona Laboratory.
The City Council of Barcelona, through its different areas, facilitates the implementation of the winning projects of these calls through programs of their own. Besides the economic contribution associated with the calls, a group of experts and mentors accompany and advise the different projects in their implementation.
Presentation of the calls for community projects
As defined in the several calls for innovation projects launched by the city council, there are several challenge tracks. The challenges of the hackathon event mirrored the Therefore, the proposals had to be submitted to one or more thematic vectors, where the transversality of the proposals was a valued factor to be assessed:
- Techno-politics: Empowerment, Digital Inclusion, Distributed and Direct Democracy, Sovereignty, Collective decision-making, among others.
- Urbanism: Mobility, Tourism, Gentrification, Air Quality, Climate Change, Management of Urban Empty Spaces, Community Management, Recycling, Circularity and Sustainability, among others.
- Community Action: Crowdsourcing Platforms (Time Banks, Resource Exchanges), Citizen Challenge Platforms, Networking Tools for Civil Society, P2P Training Platforms, Platforms to Dynamise Local Economy, among others.
- Creative Industries: Technology supporting the Performing Arts, Digital Cultural Heritage, Valorisation of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage, Recovery of Historic Memory, Proposals deploying Design and the Arts for Social Good, Innovative Approaches to Education, among others.
The event also included an introductory open data training workshop, in the format of an Open Data Jam. In this participatory learning-by-doing workshop, carried out on the evening of the 11th, the O4C platform developed by the Open4Citizens project (https://test.opendatalab.eu/) was used to explore, process and visualise two datasets relevant for the local community: one containing the more than 10,000 citizen proposals contributed to the Decidim.Barcelona citizen participation platform, and the other with the full set of AirBnB short-term rental properties for tourists curated by the Inside AirBnb data hacking collective.
The teams at work
The team projects were presented publicly at the end of the event, in an open session where each group disclosed a succinct abstract of their project idea, and how open data played a role in the solution. Also, each group provided feedback to co-create the calls for projects – that is, to reflect on what they required from these calls from projects so that their projects could be accommodated.
These presentations yielded rich recommendations on the usage of open data and the scope and shape of the several calls for projects to be launched throughout 2018, thus allowing citizens to co-create not only the specific projects to be funded, but also the public policies supporting these calls for projects.
The hackathon event was closed with an extended presentation of the next steps to be followed for the participant teams. In the coming months after the hack, the participants to the hackathon can be supported to prepare projects for the several calls for innovation projects launched by the city council, which have substantial prizes of its own. The best projects, selected by a jury in accordance with the legislation which regulates the calls for projects, will be awarded with:
- A cash prize per team, to be used in developing the project. This amount will be reduced by the corresponding taxes according to current regulations
- Incubation of up to five members of each team for three months at the Canòdrom Creative Research Park, accompanied by a team of mentors proposed by the Jury, in order to develop the winning project, plus residence of three months at the end the incubation period, to refine the prototype with the participation of the community and explore sustainability and upscaling options.
- A public presentation of the project to the creative community and prospective investors within the framework of urban large-scale cultural events (such as the 2018 edition of SONAR + D), after the incubation period and before the residence period.
- A live public demonstration of the project with citizens during urban large-scale citizen events (such as the La Mercè 2018 street festival), at the end of the residence period.
You can check out the video of the event here!