Monithon shortlisted for the ODI Open Data Award

We’re happy to announce that Monithon was included in the short list of possibile winners of the Open Data Institute Open Data Award!
The ceremony will take place on the evening of the 4 November in London during the ODI Summit, a 2-days conference with talks and training opportunities.

The panel of international judges includes Beth Noveck, director at The Governance Lab @ New York University and Rahma Mian, ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow, Pakistan.

The Open Data Institute was founded in 2012 by Professor Nigel Shadbolt, chairman of the Institute, and Tim Berners-Lee, recognized as the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Now the Institute is at the center of a global network of “nodes” aiming at “catalysing the evolution of open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value”. The Italian node of the ODI is based at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler – Digital Commons Lab in Trento.

In this spreadsheet you can find all the nominees in the award 5 categories: Business, Innovation, Social Impact, Publisher and Individual Champion.  Monithon is included in the Social Impact category, and is in great company! The UNHCR, MySociety, the Social Investment and Finance Team at the UK Cabinet Office and Internews Kenia have all been shortlisted in our category.
We are also very happy to see other initiatives from Italy like Enel (Open Data Business Award), OpenPolis / Depp (Innovation), and Regesta.exe (Publisher).

Fingers crossed! 🙂

The NeverEnding Story of the Bike Lanes in Cagliari

During International Open Data Day on February 22, The Sardinia Open Data association joined the 2014 Monitoring Marathon promoted by Monithon.it and launched a local initiative – a civic walk – to pay a visit to the Su Siccu bike and pedestrian lane in Cagliari that received funding from the European Union.

The aim of this citizen monitoring was to understand the reason why eleven years of work were necessary to build a six hundred and twenty metres cycling/pedestrian path. We did so through on-line and off-line tools as we reported in our citizen monitoring report here on Monithon.it (in Italian).
The connected mapping party we organized – a little walk with GPS and notebooks to take note of thing of interest and localize them on OpenStreetMap – gave us the chance to check in detail every additional service and equipment installed along the path to improve the use of the public area.

pista_susiccu

Su Siccu (from Sardinian language, the dry area along the sea) is a portion of the city cost line, between the dock Molo Ichnusa and the Bonaria shore. Walking along the path you can admire a stunning perspective of the Cagliari’s gulf on one side and the shrine of Bonaria with its majestic staircase on the other side. Behind the path there are small kiosks, called “I ricciai”, where people can buy fresh sea urchins, local bread and white wine.

Until a few years ago this area used to be in poor condition. Now its redevelopment is part of a special program of urban development financed by European Regional Policy, called “Programma integrato per lo sviluppo urbano e la mobilità ciclabile, pedonale e pendolare nell’Area metropolitana di Cagliari” (“Integrated program for urban development and mobility in the Cagliari area”).

The story begins in the 2003 when the city was governed by the mayor Delogu. That year an agreement was signed to demolish a wall that divided the Ichnusa dock and the Garau dock, which was part of a military area managed by the Navy. The wall was dismantled in 2005 and the decision was that it would be used for public benefit. The building of the new path actually started in 2006.
The pavement was refurbished and new service areas were designed to adapt the place to its new function. A wooden sidewalk was built along the “Ammiragliato” building.

Once the first and second part of the path were almost ready, the project stopped. The whole area enclosed couldn’t be accessed until 2012. In that year the construction restarted but unfortunately many damages occurred since the place had been abandoned for six year.

On October 8th 2013 the path was ready, and could be inaugurated. On January 8th 2014 also the wooden walk path was open. After eleven years, the project cycle lane along the sea finally ended and Cagliari inhabitants now can use and enjoy the public area.

Su siccu path is only one piece of a larger project that includes a suggestive itinerary starting from the city centre, continuing along the sea and then leads to the regional park of Molentargius-Saline, a famous wet area, to reach finally the Poetto beach, where another cycling lane is going to be build shortly.

Su Siccu path is not only important from a naturalistic and touristic point of view, but is also crucial for the effectiveness of local mobility. In fact, it is part of a wider project of alternative paths and connections that everyone hope to have available as soon as possible.
Cagliari is rapidly becoming a metropolitan center with an increasing amount of people commuting from the surrounding areas. A more efficient public transport is a frequent demand from citizens that institutions have to handle every day.

During our monitoring we met a lot locals complaining about the delays of the works and the lack of information from the city government.  In their opinion, public money is not used efficiently and it does not make real benefit to the citizens. Sardinia Open Data could hear and witnesses the voice of cyclists, who recognized the that project is now completed and enjoyed the results.  However, they still could not realise why it took such a long time to build this lane and think that the overall investment was too large compared to actual results.

Kevin Legge, a local citizen from Cagliari Città Ciclabile association, pointed out in a short interview that he wishes that the city government will pay more attention to cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. At the same time, he recognizes that cyclists, pedestrians and drivers often disagree on what should be the best mobility solution.

In conclusion, urban redevelopment and local mobility are key component of the future development of the city of Cagliari. This is even more pressing since Cagliari is now candidate to become one of the European Capitals of Culture 2019 and is waiting for the final verdict. Civic awareness is more than needed to build the future in a way that ensure a real participatory process that involves all citizens in key local policy decisions.

Monithon at the United Nations – 4th place at the #OpenGovAwards!

The partnership between OpenCoesione (government initiative) and Monithon (civil society) represented Italy at the Open Government Partnership High-Level Event held on September 24th in the United Nations Building in New York.  The partnership was nominated through a public consultation that took place at the end of May 2014. The result is incredible – a fantastic 4th position and a brilliant “Silver Award”, based on the votes of an international panel of experts.

It was a great honor to represent Italy (and Italian civil society in particular) with my friends Carlo Amati, Simona De Luca e Aline Pennisi from the OpenCoesione team – and being recognized in front of Barack Obama, Francois Hollande and 9 other heads of state, official delegations from 65 countries and hundreds of civil society representatives. Unfortunately, the Italian political representatives were missing.  It is also good to receive better scores than other OGP founding Countries with longer traditions of openness and transparency than Italy such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands.

Photograph by Evan Abramson for OGP

In the video from the official streaming of the United Nations, you can watch the awarding ceremony. The full video also includes the brief speeches by the representatives of the 3 top teams Denmark, Montenegro and the Philippines.

 

What the judges say about Italy. The international panel based its scores on the applications from the different Countries and considered 4 different criteria: Credibility of Partnerships, Depth of Engagement, Evidence of Results and Sustainability.

If we analyze the scores as published on the OGP website (here the CSV of the data that I scraped), we discover that Italy is in the #1 position for 2 criteria out of 4!

Great expectations.  I really hope that Italy will actually invest on such a crucial topic for democracy, institutions and the economy.  We would like to win an award that considers not only the best practices but also the average value of the initiatives in a Country.

Everybody knows that awards are not really important in themselves, but I think they can help inspire more ambitious objectives for the future. I would like to thank all the OpenCoesione team as we share the same exciting adventure – and in particular Damien Lanfrey and Chiara Ciociola for their fundamental help in drafting the application for this award.
I speak on behalf of the Monithon initiative when I say Thank You and Congrats to all the people who are so enthusiastically being involved in the citizen monitoring of public policy!

2014-09-24 17.14.19

 

Photo credit – OGP/Evan Abramson. 

Open Action! Good news from the Open Knowledge Festival 2014

Open Minds to Open Action. We are back from Berlin and learned a lot of good stuff that we are ready to report.as been an intense stream of events and a collective and interactive exploration. Debates, round tables and experimental workshops covered a huge set of topics.  This quote is from the festival’s about page: “Organised by Open Knowledge and owned, in the broadest sense, by the open community, the Festival will bring together over 1,000 people from more than 60 countries to share their skills and experiences; encouraging them to work together to build the very tools and partnerships that will further the power of openness as a positive force for chaWe had the impression of being immersed in a world where “open” is a given rather than an adjective, a pre-condition rather than a goal. This was the leitmotif of every story told, and every person we met.bag_okfest14

What did we learn? What can we do with open data and Monithon community?

We had the chance to take part in many stimulating sessions and meet interesting people. Many of these have inspired new actions and solutions for our citizen monitoring marathons.
A breathtakingly fast-paced session dealt withd Italy’s improvements withentioned not only ourity anexperiment – which scraped data for 10,000 previously Mafia-owned buildings to enable effective reuse of these assetOpen Budgets”) and e main Italian information system for tracking goverment expenditures.  The Italian context is evolving slowly, with a significant Norths, such the development of the Italian Government’s  More info on this session can be in the notes fro

Not just official sessions. One of the most inspiring encounters we had was the one won initiative based on monitoring the quality of government services such as licence permits. Info on citizens’ rights and government obligations is displayed in plain English on the Bantay portal. However, its purpose is not simply to complain – “Don’t hate, participate!” is its motto. Targeting  high school students, its goal is to collect structured feedback on administrative procedures. “We are firm believers in the feedback loop. Rating on Facebook and Twitter will only get you so far. If we use proper channels for feedback, we have a chance of actually turning these complaints into cases which can later on lead to reform”.  Using the data collected, they compute a “Red Tape Index” for each agency, which includes ratings of compliance, transparency, facilities, process flow etc., with the ultimate goal of identifying malpractice and demanding change. In Italy e light on the public health system”).

Strengthening Monithon method. This great example gave us the opportunity to re-think our method of citizen monitoring.  The session o an additional, nos are used and, in particular, which companies benefited from that funding to supply goods and services. The project Open Contracting has developed a set of guiding principles that include “Participation, Monitoring, and Oversight”.  Even more concretely, this project is developing a global standard in order to publish procurement data which has already yielded some results. In Slovakia, for instance, data were published by the government as early as 2011. The same happened in Nepal and Georgia, where official governmental data (published in PDF format…) were re-published and visualized, with the aim of making them easier to understand and facilitating engagement on the part of the citizenry. In Georgia, thanks to open data on public contracts, it was possible to identify potential cases of corruption or false competition (6% of the total). These are the “golden rules” of the Slovak working group, which was among the first communities to take action: 1. Get the data, 2. Make it as available as possible, 3. Understand the data, 4. Involve people, 5. Take action, 6. Be able to cooperate. The main critical issues of this process are the willingness of governments to provide comprehensive data (e.g. about subcontracting) and, once the data is open, citizen engagement. According to Eva Vozarova of Fair Play Alliance, “Disclosure is just the beginning.”
What about Italy? Tracking financial flows is possible through the CIG, unic code of tender by National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC) for tracking financial flows. Its portal has published the database of public procurement, with the chance of searching and downloading open data.

opencontracting

Don’t be naive. With these words Beatriz Busaniche (core team member of Creative Commons Argentina and founding member of Wikimedia Argentina) closed her keynote. She stressed the need to improve public participation so that they can truly challenge the existing decision-making mechanisms.

This is precisely what we want to do with the Monithon project, as these are our next steps:

  1. Developing Monithon method, by making our toolkit better-equipped and more accessible for use by individual citizens and civil society.
  2. Experiment with what the World Bank calls “closing the loop”, i.e. that theoretical cycle that starts with the availability of open data on funds, moves through the collection of feedback from users, and ends with concrete action being taken by the government based on the feedback received.
  3. Encourage the involvement of a larger number of national and local communities, through the use of the “train the trainers” method. The Monithon core staff wants to act as a catalyst for local independent actions, which will allow our project to finally scale up.

Monithon and OpenCoesione will represent Italy at the OGP Awards!

Public voting nominates Monithon and OpenCoesione to represent Italy at the OGP Awards!
The public consultation that took place at the end of May has officially made its choice: with an 82% share of the votes, the OpenCoesione-Monithon partnership (which includes also A Scuola di OpenCoesione) will be Italy’s candidate at the OGP Awards.
We will have to wait July to know the winners, but we consider this result already an important landmark for Monithon. As a citizen journalism and civic media platform, the positive feedback received from the civil society during this public consultation is already a moral win.
If a 82% of votes in our favor wasn’t gratifying in itself, we were immensely pleased by the many positive comments that accompanied the votes – some of which you can read at the end of this post.
A big thanks to all of you: knowing we have your support and appreciation will enrich our work with renewed enthusiasm, as we continue to open our project to volunteers willing to contribute to this success.
We’ll be waiting for you on monithon.it and on our mailing list!
Comments from the public consultation:
“An example worth studying: OpenCoesion is an empowering government initiative; Monithon is an example of what citizens can do thanks to a wise open data policy.”
“What I appreciate about Monithon is its spirit of openness and sharing, which is put in practice during its activities. It is easy to follow and promptly able to attract new people in the loop. I hope it will win and expand its coverage to other funds.”
“The project covers the whole of Italy through a national network, while also being admired and studied internationally. It is a link between technical and civic education, allowing people to make a concrete use of open data.”
“The initiative tangibly fosters civic engagement and an active involvement of citizens, even without requiring specific expertise. The project gave many citizens the opportunity to tell stories, report bad practices, and also publicize good practices.”
“One of the best contributions to the study of open government and methods for civic participation – on an international scale.”
“One of the most important examples of civic monitoring and grassroots participation.”
“Monithon’s platform is extremely user-friendly and usable. Once it will interact with OpenCoesione more directly, it will become a best practice model for every Public Administration.”
“Excellent idea to involve young people with the daily problems of their city. All the candidates are great projects, but I am tied to Monithon because of a deep fondness towards its representative members, because of their passion and because of the originality of the approach.”
“Civic monitoring is the first step on the road of active and reactive citizenship: to become citizens who are able to observe, evaluate, control and communicate in regards of the works and intervention carried out with public funds.”

A new monithon at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia

A new “monithon” is coming at the International Journalism Festival 2014. Meet us at the 2nd #ijf14 hackathon to unleash the power of open data and citizen journalism, and come investigate how the city of Perugia spends its public funds.

During the event, a curious crew of monithoners will mash, remix and play with the information from OpenCoesione – the national open data portal on EU and national policies for development and cohesion. Our idea is to start from a selection of ICT projects funded by EU Structural Funds and reveal whether there are inconsistencies behind the projects for public wi-fi hotspots in Perugia.

According to the official data from OpenCoesione, the project should have been completed by December 2013. Yet, the city has so far used only 60% of the total funding available. During the Festival everyone will be busy tweeting, writing emails and sharing on the web the latest conference highlights: all thanks to our 3G signal. But what’s the money flow behind Perugia’s public wi-fi hotspots?

This starting question intertwines with many other issue that can find an answer through the OpenCoesione portal. We could expand on Perugia’s other 3500 EU funded projects, or explore national ICT projects aimed at the improvement of technology diffusion in schools, or at the development of a broadband network… The options are endless; the projects on OpenCoesione are 749,112; the financed amount reaches 74.9 billion euros and the money flows in the hands of 73,898 subject.  Some examples:

 We have the big data, now we need the big brains: if you want to join the forces with our crew of citizen monithoners, meet us at the Hotel La Rosetta, from 9 am to 6pm. 

The programme of the day.  In the morning we will do background research to decide on which are OpenCoesione’s most interesting projects to monitor. Then, after lunch, we plan to physically walk around the city to visit these projects, do interviews, collect data and shoot photos and videos. At the end of the day we will organize all the evidence in a “citizen monitoring report” and upload it on Monithon.it. Saturday morning, all the participants of the monithon event will report the main findings in a dedicated panel.

For info and updates:

 

Photo by Stefano Parmesan