As seen on GMA Network online on February 17, 2015 @5:40pm
On February 21 (International Open Data Day), Bantay.ph, a platform that uses technology in mobilizing citizens to demand good governance, will host the very first citizen-initiated “Data Jam.”
Done in partnership with the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI), the Data Jam aims to get citizens to participate in governance via data analysis and visualization.
The event also aims to teach the general public and journalists alike the fundamentals of data visualization and data-driven journalism through a real hands-on experience.
“Data Journalism in the Philippines is still a wide-open field,” notes TJ Dimacali, Philippine Cyberpress president. “It’s an exciting frontier, especially for tech-savvy journalists. But it’s also something anyone can do, given the right tools.”
Bantay.ph co-founder and 2014 School of Data Fellow Happy Feraren explains: “The information that we hope to mine from the activity can give us an insight on how and where exactly our systems of governance are failing. It can help us identify what exactly is going wrong and instead of pointing fingers, we can use this information to improve the lapses of the bureaucracy.”
The Data Jam hopes to introduce the frontier of using data to raise awareness and give feedback to government. Feraren adds, “We will group writers, graphic designers, and data analysts together to come up with questions and find the answers together.”
The program and activity flow will be based on the international School of Data toolkit. Using the open datasets of Bantay.ph and the Civil Service Commission, the event wants to get people with the right skillsets to work together and discover new stories from the raw datasets provided. Overall, it’s a new way to shed light on national issues and is a slicker and more efficient way to give feedback to government.
The Philippines has been a signatory of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) since 2011, which essentially encourages participatory governance and openness in the bureaucracy. One way that the OGP suggests is the use and application of open data provisions. Given the amount of public data, there should be a conscious effort to make these datasets available and easily accessible. And at the same time, citizens should make use of these datasets to ensure transparency is met.
“We want to promote that kind of culture where we make data-driven decisions, especially when it comes to matters of governance. There is so much we can do to track what government is doing and how they are performing. It’s one concrete way to tell them, as citizens, that ‘we are watching you,’ ” says Feraren. “It’s one way we can promote a culture of active citizenship – where we don’t just rely on mainstream media to know what’s really happening. There’s a whole lot of data out there that we don’t look at and given the right training and awareness, citizens CAN mine their own insights out of publicly available data.”
The Data Jam is organized by Bantay.ph and SEATTI, co-sponsored by the Open Knowledge Foundation, The School of Data – Philippines, and the Philippine Cyberpress.
Interested data analysts, storytellers, and graphic designers can RSVP via firstname.lastname@example.org – LIMITED SLOTS ONLY and RSVP is a must. It will be held in on February 21, 1-5pm at the AIM Conference Center. Full details will be sent to confirmed participants.
Press release from Bantay.ph