How Do We Make Open Data Useful? An East African Perspective

“What is the use of open data that makes it relevant for everyone?” This candid question was raised at the East Africa Open Data Fest held in Nairobi in August. People from a range of backgrounds and organizations were asked to assess the International Open Data Charter and exchange views on how to strengthen open data policies in Africa by sharing experiences about what has or has not been working in the region.

Some great questions were raised about the meaning of open data: How do you say open data in your local language? How would you explain open data to your grandmother? Does open data have any relevance to the daily bread and butter issues that African citizens face?


What HXL hashtags are people using?

The Humanitarian Exchange Language is a simple data standard developed collaboratively by representatives from 15 humanitarian organisations and released in March 2016. HXL’s goal is to improve data quality, automation, and interoperability, without placing a major burden on the people and organisations who provide humanitarian data (see Simon Johnson’s blog post “How HXL is being used at the British Red Cross” for an example of these benefits in practice). The standard continues to be guided by an informal working group.

HDX Python Library

The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform provides a simple and convenient graphical interface to enable users to examine and add datasets, but what if you want to write a computer program that can do this? What if you wish to bring together multiple datasets from several organisations and perform sophisticated processing upon them? CONTINUE READING

New Features: ‘Contact the contributor’ and ‘group message’

When designing for the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), I’m always curious to know more about how people are using the site as part of their daily workflow. One consistent request from users has been the ability to connect directly with contributors to ask questions about their data. This direct communication follows a network model where people have access to each other without having to go through a central point, i.e. the HDX team.

European Refugee and Migrant Trends Visualized

For the last years, thousands of refugees and migrants from conflict-affected countries have tried to reach Europe in their attempt to find a better life. According to UNHCR, more than 1.2 million people arrived by sea from January 2015 to June 2016, whereas in the same period of time more than 6,700 people died or were missing from their pursuit to cross the Mediterranean Sea.