Where's My Data? Submission for Knight News Challenge 2015

Posted by Sumandro Chattapadhyay at Oct 01, 2015 09:15 AM |
We are very excited to be contribute to a join submission with DataMeet and Oorvani for the Knight News Challenge 2015. We are proposing "an application for users to search for locally-relevant data, discuss missing data, demand data, explore and respond to data demands by others, and start data crowd-sourcing exercises." Please go to the submission page and support our project. The text of the proposal is available below. It was prepared by Nisha Thompson of DataMeet, Meera K of Oorvani, and I. The 'Where's My Data' banner is created by Nisha using icons from the Noun Project.


Please support our project by visiting and 'applauding' it on the Knight News Challenge website: https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/data/entries/where-s-my-data. You will have to log in to the website though, apologies for that.


Where's My Data? Search, Demand, and Collect Data

In one sentence, describe your idea as simply as possible.

An application for users to search for locally-relevant data, discuss missing data, demand data, explore and respond to data demands by others, and start data crowd-sourcing exercises.

KNC 2015 - Where's My Data


Full Description

The proposed application aims to solve two key problems in accessing reliable data faced by citizens, journalists, and researchers. The first problem is knowing where a required data set can be found, and the second problem is collecting the required data set if it does not exist in the first place.

Many individual initiatives have been developed to collect specific data. For example, Powercuts (http://powercuts.in/) was a Ushahidi installation to crowd-source data using Twitter, Kiirti (http://www.kiirti.org/) was used to map complaints about auto drivers, IChangeMyCity (http://www.ichangemycity.com/) is a platform that collects general complaints from around Bangalore. However, these apps were either short lived because they could not sustain their one premise or they do not give insight into what people want to know and what data is important to them. Also, they often did not open up this data to be used by others, beyond visualisations offered on the sites.

Citizens have many questions regarding their urban surroundings - how much water is coming to the neighbourhood daily, where are the waste pick up trucks, what is the status of a road repairing process, etc, the answers require data that either is difficult to get or doesn't answer their query in the way they want. Journalists and researchers are also interested in collecting and analysing these same data sets. A one off platform for one issue won't properly represent the demand for information in modern day (data starved) India.

For example, a local residents’ group wanted to impress on their elected rep the seriousness of the incidence of a disease, as the local government was not taking concrete steps to manage the emerging epidemic. In the absence of official data on suspected cases of illness, this application could help them to reach out through e-mails and social media networks to do a quick survey on how many residents or their family members have got affected.

The application will not only make it easier to undertake such crowd-sourcing efforts, but also to share the data back and make it open for usage by others, including journalists and researchers.

We are already building an Urban Open Data Platform for Bengaluru, India. The application will allow searching this portal and any other such portal, especially if any is developed by the municipality. It will also pipe the crowd-sourced data to this Urban Open Data Platform.

KNC 2015 - Citizen Matters

 KNC 2015 - Open Bangalore

This tool will reduce duplication of data gathering, gives data a longer shelf life and acts as a source of public data that feeds into a city-wide urban Open Data Portal under development by a consortium that we are part of.


How will the Application Work?

  1. The application will allow the user to search for data across the data catalogues connected to the application.
  2. If the data is not found, the user can post details about the required data, which other users in her/his networks can see and comment on. They can either point the person towards an existing data set, or support the need to collect the data being demanded.
  3. When the user finds out that the data set s/he needs does not exist, the application will allow her/him to start a crowd-sourcing exercise, using various channels such as e-mails, social media posts, web-based questionnaires, etc.
  4. For each of these channels, a separate plug-in will be developed so as to open up the software development process. For this project, we will focus on developing plug-ins for two channels: 1) questionnaires integrated with the Citizen Matters website, and 2) use tweets to collect replies using a unique hashtag.
  5. User can share the crowd-sourcing request within her/his own social networks, or use one of the groups (say, the Citizen Matters group focusing on local journalism, or the DataMeet group focusing on open data enthusiasts in the city) to share their calls for data collection.


Briefly Describe the Need that You're Trying to Address

A common cry in Indian cities is the lack of datasets required to understand issues, either at local or at national scales. This tool will be the place to voice demands, ask others about potential sources, or an easy way to create data sourcing activities.This will enable journalists, advocacy organisations, and researchers to search for data and help others to find the data they are looking for. It also records demands for non-existing data and helps take initiatives to collect such data.


What Progress have You Made so Far?

The team is already working on an Urban Open Data Platform, that will host public data, and a data catalog. We have already executed a few crowd-sourcing projects, and helped develop tools for journalists and researchers interested in civic issues.A data source search tool has been in development in the form of Open Data JSON <https://github.com/datameet/opendata.json>. A Bangalore focused data catalog has been in use for awhile as well and provides a base of data to use for people’s search <http://openbangalore.org>.


What would be a Successful Outcome for Your Project?

Success for this project means having a better understanding of what information is needed most by people and what data is required. We will gain detailed evidence regarding what kind of data people want. This entails a collection of questions, who is asking and from where, and what data gaps exist. The number of crowdsourcing projects initiated shows the intensity of the need, and how comfortable citizens are asking for data and proactively starting a data collection project.


Please List your Team Members and their Relevant Experience/Skills

Meera K, Oorvani Foundation, a media group who will provide editorial support to curate data, dissemination of data or queries, and audience reach. Nisha Thompson and Thejesh GN, from DataMeet, open data community, who will provide the technology and community aspects of the tool. Sumandro Chattapadhyay of the Centre for Internet and Society, will help planning the project and linking the effort with other Indian and global initiatives in open data and development.



Sumandro Chattapadhyay

As a Director at CIS, I co-lead the researchers@work programme, and engage with academic and policy research on data governance and digital economy. I can be reached at sumandro[at]cis-india[dot]org.