As part of the global UN Shift Week of Innovation Action, Kolba Innovation Lab organized Open Data Talks in Yerevan, Armenia. This was the first meeting held on open data in Armenia, hosting international and local speakers, as well as guests from Government, community of innovators, geeks and civil society representatives.
As Kolba Lab is a space for experimentation and innovation, it was decided to host the international speakers via Google hangouts and also have live streaming so that everyone interested could watch the event online.
First presenter, Frank Kresin who is Research Director at Waag Society presented the Smart Citizen Kit. Smart Citizen Kit is an open-source environmental monitoring platform. The project is based on geolocation, Internet and free hardware and software for data collection and sharing. Users could contribute information on air pollution, noise, temperature and humidity and to compare with other cities.
During Samvel Martirosyan’s talk on open data in Armenia the main point which was highlighted was that open data available in Armenian web space was used by journalists for their investigative articles and it’s not sufficiently mainstreamed into civic monitoring or watchdogging. Presenting numerous numbers of platforms that make the data open and available, Martirosyan mentioned, that the main issue was not about the data being open, but about people who didn’t know how to use that open data.
The same idea about people’s perception of open data and its usability was delivered by the next speaker, Ron Salaj who was managing the UNICEF Innovations Lab in Kosovo. “Having a hacker mindset is the key element to implementing citizen science. For me, it\'s about human intervention and 10% about technology and data" – said Salaj on citizen science project.
Along with presenting open data situation globally and in Armenia, the speakers and the audience agreed that open data could be quite sensitive in terms of making private data available for wide public. However, as many open data platforms present information generated through crowdsourcing, there is a need for data verification. Thus, summing up the event the guests agreed that there is a need for organizing discussion on how open data could be applied in media, in the activities of civil society organizations and development agencies, as well as how it could be useful for active citizens and online users.
“SHIFT - a Week of Innovation Action” is held the week of 22nd September 2014. SHIFT aims to accelerate innovation for development by connecting UNDP innovators, and encouraging Country Offices across the globe to experiment with different approaches to development.