Creative Commons Arab World Hangout at Open Data Day 2015

[This is a guest post by Sadeek Hasna]

On February 22, the Creative Commons Arab World community organised Google Hangout session about Open Data in the Arab World. The online event was on the occasion of the Open Data Day 2015. The Hangout was moderated by Sadeek Hasna (Syria), and Riyadh Al-Balushi (Oman), Faiza Souici and Abdelhak Fareh (Algeria), and Naeema Zarif (Lebanon, Arab World regional coordinator at Creative Commons) attended. You can watch the recorded discussion here (in Arabic):

Sadeek Hasna kicked off the session with a brief definition of Open Data. Abdelhak Fareh then reflected on the similarities between Open Data and Free/Open Source software initiatives. Fareh explained that the idea of Open Source was to ensure some rights for users and to enhance the sharing culture. Fareh concluded his introduction with a short summary of how the idea of “free and open” extended to other domains of knowledge.

Riyadh Al-Balushi then discussed the word “open” and its different facettes, both legal and technical. Al-Balushi also highlighted that it is not a requirement for data to be licenced under the conditions for Attribution and ShareAlike for it to be open. He followed up citing the different kinds of Open Data (e.g., cultural, government) and explained the benefits of this kind of data: transparency, participation and engagement.

Faiza Souici followed up with an explanation of the Open Data stars system and the need to use structured and open file formats among other measures when producing and releasing data.

Naeema Zarif, the Arab World regional coordinator at Creative Commons, then spoke about the popularity of the idea of sharing in the region and the need for sustainable projects which support this culture.

Once these introductions were over, the discussants addressed some specific challenges and discussed examples of data use in the Arab World. Riyadh Al-Balushi elaborated on why Oman needs Open Data. Furthermore, Riyadh also elaborated on the reasons why he supports the idea of adopting Creative Commons licenses by the Omani government instead of composing a new one. According to him, adopting a given Creative Commons license will be more efficient and will possibly ensure greater compatibility with ShareAlike requirements.

The participants then gave examples of open data uses in Arab World :

  • Souici gave an example from Egypt about the MorsiMeter, a project that aimed to monitor how well promises made by the former Egyptian president Morsi during his campaign were kept once he got elected.
  • Fareh gave examples about using Open Data in Tunisia as well as the, a project by Al Bawsala aiming to monitor the activities of the Constituent Assembly in Tunisia.

Riyadh Al-Balushi then spoke about a collaboration project between the Qatar National Museum and the British Museums. He then addressed the initiatives for Open Government Data in Qatar and Dubai as well as his participation in the Global Open Data Census. Governments in the Gulf have often bootstrapped Open Data initiatives, yet the data is outdated and is not released under permissive licenses.

Sadeek Hasna then spoke about First Mile Geo, a project in Aleppo, Syria, which provides data about the crisis with actionable information such as availability of bread and electricity. In conclusion, Hasna also mentioned the importance of Open Data for business, and its benefits for businesses in making informed decisions.

Lastly, Naeema Zarif addressed the importance of Open Data for journalism in the Arab World citing the example of Syria Deeply.

As a conclusion, the participants expressed their wishes to have specific types of data open. There was an agreement about the importance of Open Data in education, while others mentioned the need to open data in law and in science.

Further reading:

Posted on: February 25, 2015, by :