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3rd Open Data Ireland Meetup

Posted by Dominic Byrne on Fri, 15 Feb 2013 12:33:35 GMT

Back after the Christmas break, the 3rd Open Data Ireland Meetup took place on Thursday 24th January 2013 and was once again generously hosted by Eamon Leonard and EngineYard. The theme of this meetup was Citizen Engagement and Open Government Partnership, and was attended by around 50 people.

First up was Paul Maassen @maassenpaul from the Open Government Partnership @opengovpart.  Paul spoke about Citizen Engagement and Technology as Pillars of Open Governemnt Partnership.  He welcomed the announcement in the 2013 Budget speech by Minister Brendan Howlin that he would be bringing proposals to Government for Ireland to participate in the Open Government Partnership.  Paul explained that the concept of the Open Government Partnership builds on Open Government momentum to further advance transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.  It is based on equal partnership between government and civil society.  Countries joining the Open Government Partnership are required to develop an action plan through a consultation process involving citizens and civic society.  The action plan should reflect Open Government principles of Transparency, Citizen Participation, Accountability and Technology and Innovation.  Paul also outlined examples of various Open Government initiatives around the world including the Twaweza change initiative and Open Budget Survey.

Frances Irving @frabcus from ScraperWiki joined the meetup via Google Hangouts to talk about the work of mySociety.  Frances spoke about a number of projects created by mySociety including TheyWorkForYou, FixMyStreet and WhatDoTheyKnow.  He commended the work of John Handelaar in Ireland in creating FixMyStreet.ie and KildareStreet.com  He also spoke about Alaveteli – the Freedom of Information software behind the WhatDoTheyKnow site in the UK, which can be deployed in other countries.  Frances was actually involved in what was probably the first Open Data related event in Ireland in 2010 when ScraperWiki organised a Hacks and Hackers event in Dublin.  This was the event at which Fingal Open Data was launched.

After the now customary break for Pizzas and Beers and lots of discussion on the preceding talks, it was time for Arthur Doohan @artied to give his presentation on Active Citizen @ActiveCitizen_.  Active Citizen is an Irish non-governmental organisation which advocates the use of technology for civil engagement and government transparency.  Its main focus at present is to encourage and assist Ireland to join the Open Government Partnership.
A discussion then followed starting with the Open Government Partnership and broadening out into the structure of future Open Data Meetups.  Active Citizen are looking for input from citizens to feed into the process of Ireland joining the Open Government Partnership.  There is also the possibility of time being made available at Open Data Meetups for discussion in small groups to discuss this topic.  Paul Maassen emphasised the partnership aspect of the Open Government Partnership and that it was not simply a case of submitting proposals to Government, but that Civil Society play an active role in developing and implementing the country’s action plan.

A number of people expressed a desire that time be given over at future meetups to start doing some work on developing applications, seeking to have more Open Data released or discussing other relevant topics of interest.  There was general agreement to this proposal and it was suggested that those attending could break into smaller groups to work on these and any other matters of interest.  Róisín Shortall T.D. has preliminarily agreed to attend and speak at the next meetup and it was agreed that this should go ahead if confirmed.  International Open Data Day will be held on Saturday 23rd February 2013 – two days after the next meetup.  It was agreed that the group should organise an Irish hack event on this day and that time would be given over at the next meetup to do preparatory work.

The first Open Data Ireland Hack Day will take place on Saturday 23rd February 2013, at Dublin City Council's Wood Quay Venue as part of International Open Data Day - for details and booking see http://wiki.opendataday.org/Dublin2013

Update: The next Open Data Ireland Meetup will take place on Thursday 7th March 2013 at 6:30pm in Engine Yard.

Thanks to everyone who attended, to Denis Parfenov @xzy_ for organising and to Eamon Leonard @eamonleonard for hosting.

#opendatairl tweets from the meetup have been storified at http://storify.com/FingalOpenData/2nd-open-data-ireland-meetup-1

Dominic Byrne,
Fingal County Council.

27th January, 2013


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