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TAG News - October 2012

Since the July newsletter, we’ve seen the number of IATI publishers on the registry jump from 65 to 91 unique publishers! As well as these new publishers focusing on making their data available in IATI format for the first time, we have seen a large number of existing publishers working hard to review their data for the second or third time to look at what else they can make accessible or improve in terms of quality.

Also in the past few weeks, the community has been involved in some fantastic events like the Data Development Challenge in London and the OKfestival in Helsinki. You can find out more about these events and other progress from within the IATI community below.

In our last newsletter we floated the idea of working groups on documentation and accessibility. While we had limited interest in this more formal approach, it is clear after the IATI TAG meeting at OKFestival, that we may benefit from a less formal ‘matchmaking’ approach. That is, putting members of the IATI community in touch with each other on various topics such as accessibility and web interfaces being developed, as well as implementation lessons learned.

If you do want to be put in touch with other organisations on particular topics, get in touch with Kim Borrowdale, our IATI Delivery Manager and TAG community facilitator.

Join the mailing lists

To receive the latest IATI Standard announcements, join the IATI Announcement mailing list.

This is a broadcast channel only for latest news on the standard and is particularly important for publishers.

If you’d like to get involved in more detailed technical discussions, you should also join the IATI technical mailing list. If you are on Twitter, follow us @iati_aid

Events coming up

  • EU technical workshop on the common standard - 7 November, Brussels
  • IATI Partner Country Caucus meeting - 15 November, Paris
  • IATI Steering Committee meeting - 16 November, Paris
  • BOND NGO and IATI workshops - Full day workshop, 27 November and Skype surgeries are available on 1 November and 6 December contact joni.hillman@bond.org to sign up.

Got an event you’d like to promote in the next newsletter? Email Kim with the details.

Blogs and articles on recent events:

  • Development Data Challenge in London on 25-26 August – read the Guardian article and Simon Whitehouse’s summary.
  • OKFestival in Helsinki from 22-26 September – read our blog on the event or go to okfestival.org for more information including videos of some of the sessions.

Latest news on implementation

We have seen a greater range of publishers to the IATI registry in the last couple of months including UN-Habitat, Dutch NGO HIVOS, DECC (UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change), CDC Group and the ILO.

Publish What You Fund Aid Transparency Index 2012 – This year’s index was launched on 1 October. We are pleased to see IATI form such a strong part of the assessment criteria and encourage all to look at the specific actions recommended for each donor as a guide to useful practical steps to implementation. Read aidinfo’s blog post on the Index.

Validation tools are now available for you to check the format of your XML file and validation against the IATI Schema prior to publishing. The IATI Secretariat has identified errors in how files are formatted that form barriers to publisher files being compliant with IATI. In helping you remove these technical barriers, you should be freed up to spend more time on the data quality in terms of what you are publishing, rather than how. Feedback on the validation tools is very welcome. Email Kim with your thoughts on these tools and/or what you’d like to see next.

Update on the country pilots

Project in DRC 5 – 9 November
Work will focusing on setting up live exchange of data from IATI into the Aid Management Platform.

Project in Colombia 13 – 16 November
This is a scoping mission to understand more clearly the demand for information, and to test the feasibility of IATI adding value to the data that APC are capturing currently.

Project in Rwanda 26 – 30 November
This mission will be used to do an initial test of automatic data exchange, once the Government’s initiative to link their Development Assistance Database with the Integrated Financial Management System has taken place.

Update on the IATI Standard

  • Technical review of decimal upgrade 1.02 proposals – the worked up proposals have been refined in the past week and are available for your review on the Wiki.
  • The global common standard – a working group convened by the DAC and IATI Secretariat has now agreed a common implementation schedule covering the DAC’s CRS (Creditor Reporting System) and FSS (Forward Spending Survey) and IATI elements. It is planned that this will be sent to all Busan endorsees shortly by the Global Partnership support unit.
  • As well as the implementation schedule itself, recipients of this email will receive a one page communication explaining the common standard, followed by more detail on implementation support.

Access and use of data

  • IATI data access - It was clear from the TAG meeting in Cookham that the community would benefit from a registry data extracting tool to more efficiently re-purpose and re-use the data, particularly when the data that a user might want could be segmented across multiple files.
  • The IATI TAG Secretariat took this feedback and built it into a specification that was put out to tender. Six organisations, from across the globe, pitched for the work. The IATI TAG Secretariat, along with independent members of the TAG community, scored each bid against an agreed assessment criteria. After assessing these six very credible and competitive bids, the Open Knowledge Foundation have been selected as the developer for this tool and will now be working with the Secretariat to develop an initial technical version of the data extraction tool. Through the IATI Technical Wiki and technical mailing list there will be opportunities to input into the development process, and we will provide updates through the next newsletter on progress for your comments and input.
  • API Guidance discussion: Discussions are starting about conventions to use in APIs working with IATI data. You can find more details and join the discussions on the Technical Wiki and mailing list.
  • Helsinki Development Data Challenge Following on from the London event, the Helsinki Development Data Challenge discussed what had been achieved at the previous event, the scope now that more data has been published, and what is still needed. Mark Brough from Publish What You Fund worked with the Finnish MFA to visualise their 2011 CRS data in OpenSpending. Although this is out of date information, the visualisation tries to show the potential of this type of information which when current, could be used to make more informed decisions about aid allocations. The Finnish MFA are now developing a data warehouse so that they can move forward with this work.
  • Open Development Cambodia, IATI and OKfest - Huy Eng Hang and Terry Parnell from Open Development Cambodia attended the hack and demonstrated their website. On it they have been mapping land ownership along with the various concessions being granted. By doing so they hope to expose corruption, with land grabbing being a particular problem. In particular, they are interested in lobbying aid donors who are planning projects in Cambodia to make them aware of the issue of land grabbing and how their work can mitigate against rather than exacerbate the problem. They saw IATI, with its forward looking commitments to spending data as a useful resource for their work.
  • Linked Data, IATI and OKfest - On a more technical note, Victor de Boer and Christophe Gueret, from the Free University of Amsterdam, demonstrated the potential of linked data to extend the availability of IATI. You can see the results of their work here and Simon Colmer wrote up the details of their work on the hack here.
  • IATI TAG and OKfest - On the final day of OKFest, members of the TAG in attendance came together for a technical meeting. Members from UNDP, UN-Habitat, BOND, UNOPS, the Finnish MFAZimmerman and Zimmerman and more shared lessons learned on accessibility tools and IATI implementation. Some exciting intiatives in the pipeline!

Your thoughts on the IATI websites

The IATI Secretariat has had anecdotal feedback that the development community find the IATI websites quite difficult to navigate. The primary piece of feedback has been that ‘just about everything I need was there, I just struggled to find it’. We will be working to resolve this over the coming months but are in need of more detailed feedback. The team will be calling several of you for brief phone conversations about the website. Thank you in advance for making time to contribute to this project and please email Kim with any specific feedback in the meantime.