TOPIC STREAM 06: Open Development

Open knowledge – from open data, to open educational resources, to open software – can play a powerful role in supporting sustainable global development. The Open Development stream is about exploring how the OKFest community can engage with key development challenges, from addressing chronic poverty, to providing access to education and healthcare and addressing climate change and natural resource management. It is also about bringing voices from development actors into the heart of the Open Knowledge debate, supporting two-way learning about making open data and open knowledge work for development. We’ll be mixing up presentations from the cutting edge of open development, with critical conversations to develop shared visions of open development, and practical workshops and hack sessions to put ideas of open development into practice.

Supporting everyone to participate: We know that events like OKFest can be pretty overwhelming the first time you encounter them (we certainly found it so the first time we took part!), but we are passionate about making sure everyone can join the discussions, contribute to, and learn from, the wealth of keynotes, sessions and workshops – so the Open Development Guest Programme Planners will also be on hand to support participants working in development and new to the Open Knowledge World to navigate the conference, with daily birds-of-a-feather gatherings and catch-up sessions.

Finalised programming

For more detailed info on each session, please click on the titles.

Session 1 “Open Development is a Freedom Song”: People, Power and Social Change

Wednesday 19th September, 11:30–13:00 @ INSPIRE auditorium

Special guests will invite the audience to debate how ‘openness’ enhances traditional development approaches. Invited contributors include: Tariq Khokar, World Bank (USA); Phillip Thigo, Social Development Network (Kenya), Linda Raftree, Plan International USA and more. Get involved! What does open development mean to you? Send us an email with your answer to opendevelopment [at] okfestival [dot] org. *Quotation kindly supplied by Ineke Buskens, GRACE Project.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 3:00)

Session 2 Open Development and aid flow: using open aid data

Wednesday 19th September, 14:00–15:30 @ MEET 8th Floor Auditorium

Exploring developments in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and tracking aid to developing countries.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 5:45)

Session 3 Africa Live! Live broadcast between Helsinki and Africa’s innovation and technology hubs

Wednesday 19th September, 16:00–17:30 @ MEET 8th Floor Auditorium

Join us as up to 40 of Africa’s innovation and technology hubs engage with and debate the value of open data for development and share examples of mobile and web apps already developed using open government data. We hope to have speakers from Hubs in Helsinki, as well as a virtual connection with other Hubs throughout the session.  This session is co-hosted by and kindly supported by Sida.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 14:00)

Session 4 Taking it Local: 10 ways to make ‘open’ relevant in low resource or marginalized contexts

Wednesday 19th September, 18:00–19:30 @ MEET 8th Floor Auditorium

This session will discuss some of the realities and challenges that development practitioners and non-governmental and community-based organisations face in accessing and using open data. It will call out assumptions often made within the concept of ‘open’ and push participants to think about ways that open data can be made more accessible to those who face barriers such as language, gender discrimination, lack of income and lack of connectivity.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 10:20)

Session 5 Introduction to IATI, the open aid data standard for development NGOs

Thursday 20th September, 11:30–13:00 @ MEET 8th Floor Auditorium

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) was created in 2008 at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra. This Initiative has created an open data standard to make development cooperation more transparent and accountable to citizens and many development agencies have already started to publish to this common open data standard. This session is organised by the OpenAid Project, Plan Finland, the Finnish NGO Networks KEPA and KEHYS and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present IATI. We will describe the standard itself, its link to the development effectiveness debate and how IATI can be of huge benefit for development NGOs and for the aid system.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 5:20)

Session 6 How to implement IATI as an Development NGO – practical Workshop

Thursday 20th September, 14:00–15:30 @ MEET 8th Floor Auditorium

In the second session on IATI for development NGOs Joni Hillman from the NGO network BOND and Rolf Kleef from Open for Change and working with the NGO network Partos will share the experience of NGOs in the UK and the Netherlands on implementing IATI and on development open data strategies more generally. There will be a presentation of a practical tool for IATI implementation for smaller NGOs . Together with representatives from the MFA and KEPA we will discuss if and how NGOs in Finland should implement the IATI standard and how such an implementation could be supported.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 4:30)

Session 7 Development Data Challenge Hackathon

Thursday 20th September, 11:30 – 17:30+ @ HACK workshop 1 (max 20 participants)

With an opportunity to continue this work at the Helsingin Sanomat Open Datajournalism Hackathon on Friday 21 September. Kindly supported by Sida. Free entrance. Registration in advance not necessary, but if you want to make sure to get one of the 20 seats and some lunch, please let us know that you plan to come! (Link to registration form will be added later.)

Join us to work with newly released open data on aid and development projects and answer the big questions, including:How can we use aid and government spending data to answer questions about development? Where does the money go and what has it achieved? Is possible to find correlations between how money is being spent and how the lives of people are improving? What tools would help make this information more accessible?

The event is part of a global series of Development Data Challenges, supported by Aidinfo, DfID, The Guardian, Open Aid Register, Open Knowledge Foundation, Publish What You Fund, Sida and World Bank Finances. Experts on datasets such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) will be present at the hack to help you get going quickly and to show what tools are already available for exploring the data. Further info about the challenges and suggested datasets to work with can be found on

Session 8 The challenges of crowd-sourcing data

Thursday 20th September, 11:30–13:00 @ INSPIRE meeting room

A joint workshop session with the Research and Education stream, looking at solving the common challenges of collecting and analysing crowd-sourced data. Practical workshop with lots of action so bring your energy and enthusiasm!


Session 9 Open Development Lightning talks

Thursday 20th September, 14:00–15:30 @ INSPIRE Foyer

A series of talks around the theme of ‘Open Development’.


Session 10 The Land Matrix: the Online Public Database on Land Deals

Friday 21st September, 11:30 – 13:00 @ INSPIRE meeting room

The Land Matrix ( is an online public database that permits all users to contribute to and improve data on land deals, and for this data to be visualized. The event will present an overview of the Land Matrix, the technical aspects of land deals and data integration and encourage audience participation in overcoming the challenge of verifying land deal information, encouraging crowdsourcing and accessing ‘invisible’ data that may be available on land deals. The event will explore way of dealing with complex data integration of local and national databases, and encourage activism and volunteerism by developers attending the OKFest.


Session 11 The Land Portal: Prototype-users and data aggregation

Friday 21st September, 14:00 – 15:30 @ MEET 8th Floor Auditorium

The Land Portal is the global gateway for land related information, aggregating information on land from multiple sources and building a specialized community of land experts from civil society organisations, governmental and intergovernmental institutions and academia. The Land Portal is entering its second phase of development with the aim of consolidating existing information and giving the website a new skin to encourage crowdsourcing and fulfill the needs of stakeholders. To this end, the Land Portal partnership has created case studies to guide the development of user-group needs for the selected “prototype-users”. This event will present the Land Portal and its successes and failures to date, and will invite participants to evaluate the user prototypes and suggest practical solutions for an overhaul of the Land Portal.

>> VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (start time 12:40)

Session 12 IATI Technical group meeting

Friday 21st September, 14:00 – 15:30 @ Comics Centre workshop

Topic Stream Summary Video

Summary of OKFestival Open Development programme. Start time on video 7:10. A part of OKFestival Summary Sessions at INSPIRE auditorium, Friday 21 Sept.

Participant Testimonials

“The idea of ‘open development’ is gaining ground in the International Development field – from a series of open data and open access policies at the World Bank, to the growth of open aid data, and grassroots projects to use open data to inform poverty reduction. OKFest gives us a great opportunity to bring together those interested in what ‘open’ has to offer to development, and to develop shared understanding and shared plans for action.” Tim Davies, AidInfo, UK

Guest Programme Planners

Un-coordinator: Sarah Johns

Guest Programme Planners:

  • Mika Välitalo: ICT4D Program Manager, Plan Finland
  • Pernilla Näsfors: Transparency and Social Media Manager, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
  • Duncan Edwards: ICT Innovations Manager, Knowledge Services, Institute of Development Studies, UK
  • Linda Raftree: Senior Advisor ICT4D, Plan USA
  • Tim Davies: co-Director of Practical Participation, Consultant on the AidInfo programme
  • Claudia Schwegmann: Claudia Schwegmann, Manager OpenAid Project, Board Member OKFN Germany
  • Neil Sorensen: Communications Specialist, International Land Coalition, Italy

The stream is kindly supported by the the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).