Annual Report

Empowering civil society
and journalists to use
data more effectively
in their work

We believe in learning by doing,
and we are building communities
of data storytellers all
around the world

There is huge potential to use data and open data to improve the lives of citizens around the world, especially in increasing the transparency and accountability of governments. However, many of the groups who are closest to the problems – NGOs, journalists, and citizens – currently lack both the skills to use data effectively, and the awareness of the potential of data for their work.

School of Data has been working now for two years to address this need, successfully training civil society organisations and journalists, teaching them to use data to find evidence, create compelling visualisations and tell stories to present their arguments in a more effective way. Our mission is to empower the citizens and organisations who wish to use data ‘for good’, with the skills they need.

2014 was a year of lots of ‘firsts’ for us. We started our flagship Fellowship scheme, which saw us working with 12 incredible data storytellers from around the world. We ran our very first summer camp, in Berlin. Dedicated community members launched localised nodes of School of Data in France, Spain and Greece. Our core team got smaller, but our range of activities got bigger, run by people who know their local contexts far better than we do.

We can’t thank our wonderful, dedicated, passionate community enough; for guiding us, for holding us to high standards, for showing us where and how School of Data is needed in their communities, and for having so much fun along the way!

Your School of Data team


Open Development Toolkit

In January, we <a href=”http://schoolofdata.org/2014/02/04/introducing-the-open-development-toolkit/”>launched our first shared project</a>, together with <a href=”http://devinit.org”>Development Initiatives</a>: the Open Development Toolkit. This was our first foray into topic-specific data, in this case, looking at data around aid, and trying to encourage potential data users to actually use the vast amounts of data made available on the topic.

Data availability is not the same as data accessibility. Overwhelmingly, though not always, international development organisations are making tools and portals without considering the needs of data users. So, we created an Aid Data curriculum focused on meeting those needs, thinking specifically about information intermediaries in aid-recipient countries. We put the modules online and sent them to our community, and we tested out these modules offline in trainings with School of Data fellows. We also created a <a href=”http://opendevtoolkit.net”>community-focused online hub</a>, curating news, data portals, reviews and walkthroughs of how to use them.

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This year, we also seconded the newest member of the Open Knowledge School of Data team, Sam Leon, to spend some quality time working with Global Witness, one of the world’s leading anti-corruption NGOs, on a series of data-driven investigations and simultaneously to build their core data skills. Sam’s ‘embedded fellowship’ started in February 2014, and together they delivered some incredible, data-driven outputs like <a href=”https://www.globalwitness.org/deadlyenvironment/”>this interactive infographic</a> on the sharp rise of deaths of environmental defenders, and <a href=”http://greatripoffmap.globalwitness.org/”>The Great Rip Off</a> site to accompany Global Witness’ campaign against anonymous company ownership, together with developers from J++.

This represents our first big organisational-level capacity building programme and we are very grateful to Global Witness for being such wonderful, open-minded hosts and partners. Read more about this here.

"It’s transformed the way we work, it’s made us think differently how we communicate information: how we make it more accessible, visual and exciting. It’s really changed the way we do things."
Brendan O'Donnell,
Senior Campaigner at Global Witness

School of Data Journalism, Perugia

Since 2012, Open Knowledge and the European Journalism Centre (EJC) have been invited to run the School of Data Journalism at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. The School of Data Journalism track runs a series of panels and workshops at the festival, designed to introduce data journalism to beginners.

In this year’s School of Data Journalism Programme, a team of about 25 expert panellists and instructors from New York Times, The Daily Mirror, Twitter, Ask Media, Knight-Mozilla and others led participants in a mix of discussions and hands-on sessions focusing on everything from cross-border data-driven investigative journalism, to emergency reporting and using spreadsheets, social media data, data visualisation and mapping techniques for journalism. Check out the resources that we gathered from the track <a href=”http://schoolofdata.org/2014/05/23/ddj_resources/”>here</a>

“I teach in several journalism schools in Italy. You won’t get this sort of exposure to such teachers and tools in any journalism school in Italy. They bring in the most avant-garde people and have a keen eye on what’s innovative and new. It has definitely helped me understand what others around the world in big newsrooms are doing and, more importantly, how they are doing it,”
Guido Romeo,
Data & Business Editor at Wired Italy

Summer Camp

School of Data Summer Camp from Sam Muirhead on Vimeo

Q. What do you get when you mix 47 international data experts, 4000 post-it notes, a villa in Potsdam, lots of fresh air and sunshine?

A. An incredible insight into the hidden talents of your chosen trainers, detailed plans and a buzz from new friendships which fuels a 6 month long fellowship.

The School of Data Summer Camp was held on July 18 – 21, 2014 at Villa Adlon in Potsdam, Germany as the kickoff event to our international fellowship programme. School of Data partners, network leaders, fellows, special guests and staff focussed individual and community growth with through an intense 4-day programme of participatory activities. Participants honed their facilitation skills and learned the fun, hands-on School of Data way of doing things, shared their own training and data storytelling tips and tricks, and helped lay excellent foundations for the community to interact and grow.


“After this camp, everything is a lot clearer for me - the vision is clearer, I know more how to do things and how to make data more relevant in a country like the Philippines.”
Happy Fereran
2014 Fellow, based in the Philippines

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Responsible Data Forum

One of our main aims at School of Data is to encourage people to use and work with data - and this series of events helped us think through how we, and the wider community, can do so in a responsible way. We joined the engine room in their Responsible Data Forum series of events as an agenda partner, to help develop tools and strategies to deal with the ethical, security and privacy challenges facing data-driven advocacy.

Our work within this series of events included joining the kick-off event in Oakland, collaborating on the Resource Sprint in Budapest, and taking part in a booksprint to produce a book on Responsible Data in global development. All of the resources produced through the event series are available online, and the series is ongoing. It was a great opportunity to work with some brilliant organisations and bring together our collective experience to face these new challenges!

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2014 was an exciting year for Escuela de Datos: 3 big events (AbreLatam in Mexico, the Data Journalism Sessions in Spain, and the OGP meeting in Costa Rica); over 30 data trainings all over Latin America, and several events to keep this community growing in size and strength.

This year also saw the addition of two fellows to the Escuela de Datos family: Antonio Cucho, the young man behind the Open Data community in Peru (and who is heavily involved in Ojo Público, a promising data journalism project); and Rubén Moya, a Mexican computer scientist that found his calling as a data trainer, and in helping organizations seize the power of data.



This year, the group in Spain organised activities primarily in Madrid and Barcelona in a mix of ofline events and e-learning workshops. They held monthly sessions at Medialab-Prado Madrid and CCCB Barcelona made up with free workshops, with all of the talks streamed and/or recorded.

This year, they also held the three day long Annual Conference on Data Journalism and Open Data, attended by almost five hundred people- the conference was full of talks, workshops, barcamps and hackathons, too! The group's main goals for 2015 are to keep sharing data driven journalism knowledge in through offline events like datafests, hackathons, barecamps, data expeditions and workshops in more cities, to launch an online presence, and to prepare their first MOOC.




Throughout the start of the year, our Brazilian partners in crime, Escola de Dados , led by the Brazilian chapter of Open Knowldege, <a href=https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/programadedados2014_01>held online and offline study groups </a>, to teach people how to programme following edX’s Introduction to Computation and Programming using Python.

They partnered up with Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) and Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) to offer a 30-hour-5-day-hands-on Introduction to Data Journalism course, benefitting 55 students from 12 different cities in Brazil. And it's not even over yet. The same 30-hour course that took place in the cities of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro will also happen in São Paulo between February and March 2015. For Portuguese readers, there’s lots more about this on their blog.



At the end of 2013, the group in Greece teamed up with the Media Informatics Lab of School of Journalism & Mass Communication, and the Master of Web Science of School of Mathematics of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, to translate the Data Journalism Handbook into Greek.

After all this prep work, they were ready in 2014 to lauch the local version of School of Data with a bunch of materials translated into Greek. They also ran their first data expedition creating articles based on data and some great infographics. From Spring semester 2015, a new undergraduate course on "Data Journalism" will be running, too- look out for updates on their blog!



Our group in France have localised a version of the School of Data site, with translation into French and set up of the Ecole des Données site together with translation of some of the basic online courses into French. This year, they also held a public data expedition on the subject of Air pollution in Paris urban area, and we were very happy to see members of the group at our Summer Camp in 2014.



Online and offline events form a big part of School of Data; this year, because of the Fellowship scheme, we did a lot more offline events than we have in previous years, reaching many more people! Our current- and ever growing - total of events shows over 90 School of Data events taking place in 30 countries, reaching over 2000 participants . If you don't see your event showing up on the map below, get in touch with us!




Senior School of Data fellow Tarek Amr from Egypt joined the <a href=”http://ab14.globalvoicesonline.org/english”>Arab Bloggers Meeting</a> in Amman, Jordan, held in January 2014. They collaborated with <a href=”http://tacticaltech.org/”>Tactical Technology Collective</a> to present sessions on Data Collection, Cleaning and Visualisation, and provided more technical workshops on tools and best practices for Data Journalists and Bloggers.

Training together


We’ve discovered that carrying out training in pairs has lots of benefits - for the participants, a variation in training styles, and for the trainers, the opportunity to learn from your peers and colleagues. So, in June, Sergio from SocialTIC and our very own Anders Pedersen travelled to the Philippines to carry out a data expedition and training for journalists, civil society, and civil servants. More details <a href=”http://schoolofdata.org/2014/06/09/escuela-de-datos-en-filipinas/”>on the blog</a>!

Exploring Water Data


Joining up lessons learned from various parts of the world came into force again in Tanzania, when Michael Bauer, our Senior School of Data Fellow Ketty, and David from Code for Africa came together in Tanzania to work with the Ministry of Water, and to hold an impromptu data expedition! Check out what they did <a href=”http://schoolofdata.org/2014/06/12/an-expedition-into-tanzanian-waterpoints/”>here.</a>

Hack the elections


Bosnia and Herzegovina has one of the world’s most complex election systems. Never put off by a challenge, our School of Data fellow Codrina and Data Diva Michael <a href=”http://schoolofdata.org/2014/08/22/hacking-the-worlds-most-complex-election-system-part-1/”>spent a week wrangling data on the Bosnian electoral systems</a>; and the work they began is still being updated- take a look at the <a href=”https://github.com/zastone/electionsBiH”>Github repo they created!</a>

Think Tanks


Despite our stated target audience being civil society and journalists, we often get lots of interest from people who don’t fit into either of those categories. Ruben Moyo, School of Data fellow in Mexico, ran a three day training for academics and people from think tanks in Mexico City - their enthusiasm for the training was the biggest surprise in Ruben’s fellowship thus far!

Pizza Data Meetup


One of the best results that we could hope for comes when participants of a data training we do are so enthused by the topic that they organise their own meetups. We are so happy to see that this has happened in Bandung, Indonesia - where former workshop participants who had worked with School of Data fellow, Yuandra, have set up a regular meet up, named <a href=”http://schoolofdata.org/2014/12/04/pizzadata/”>Pizza Data Bandung</a>. Participants meet up to talk about data, and eat a slice of pizza. A dream combination!


Open Data Party


So what happens when you have 102 Nigerians representing all the six regions of the country in Abuja to teach and learn about what they can use data or open data for? It was an action – packed, idea generating, brain storming, mind grooming which will help me in my advocacy as well as in tracking how the budget of my country is being spent, a challenging and yet fun – filled event as described by Clinton Ezeigwe of People to People International. The event was organised and lead by our fellow extraordinaire Olu, read more in his blog post .

Data journalism


Three major data journalism events were held in Beirut, Lebanon, this year, which our Senior Fellow Ali Rebaie participated in. They included the MDlab academy workshop at the American University of Beirut, working with trainees from across the Arab region; a data-driven journalism day at the Lebanese American University focused around skills needed by members of a senior journalism class, including scraping, cleaning and data visualisation best practices; and working closely with a local newsroom, Al Mayadeen to help them work more closely with data. We're so happy to see this kind of long term engagement happening!



We started the Fellowship programme in a pilot in 2013, as a response to this question: how to ensure sustainable, long term impact if School of Data trainers are only present on the ground for short periods of time? Answer: Long term engagement, from people who are already in those communities.

The Fellowship programme started with the aim of recruiting and training the next generation of community leaders and data trainers, so that they could go on to provide long term support within their communities, and train others to do the same.

We opened a call for fellows in May this year, and the fellows began their 6-month engagement with us by joining us at the Summer Camp in July. Somehow, the fellowship has already come to an end - but watch this space for news of the next round, which will be launching soon!


Nisha Thompson
Why is the fellowship important?

“Basic understanding of how to use spreadsheets for data management and maintenance is largely lacking in Indian non-profits. I've found that working with people on simple things like how to use spreadsheets effectively can completely transform their relationship with data."

Nisha Thompson

2014 Fellow, based in India
Ruben Moya
On activities, as part of his fellowship:

"Together with SocialTIC, I carried out workshops in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. I realised that Mexico is the leader in lots of things in Central America- but that we need to support other countries across Central America more. Being a School of Data fellow, and having the institutional support and the brand behind me has given me lots of opportunities; it has meant that people are more interested in what I'm doing"

Ruben Moya

2014 Fellow, based in Mexico

“Storytelling and targeting communication is a big part of what I do as an information designer, whether it's for a social development project, commercial advertising, a client pitch, or conference talk. I believe that the ability to present information in an inspiring and engaging manner is vital".

Hannah Williams

2014 Fellow, South Africa
Yuandra Ismiraldi
Satisfying moments of the fellowship:

"Over the past few months, I’ve been working with Publish What You Pay here in Indonesia. After just a few of trainings, I was so happy to see that they created, and published, their own visualisations with their own data -- without any help from me!"

Yuandra Ismiraldi

2014 Fellow, based in Indonesia
Dona Dzambaska

"The concept of Open Data is still very fresh among Macedonians. Citizens, CSOs and activists are just beginning to realise the power hidden in data. They are beginning to sense that there is potential for them to use open data to support their causes, but in many cases they still don’t understand the value of open data, how to advocate for it, how to find it and most importantly - how to use it!”

Dona Dzambaska

2014 Fellow, based in Macedonia
Oludotun Babayemi

"I have found through working on local campaigns that for open data to be successful one has to identify a ‘champion’, for example, someone in the government, who is interested in affected community. Also, equally important, is to communicate, in simple and clear means, that data back to the affected community, and thus create a feedback loop."

Oludotun Babayemi

2014 Fellow, based in Nigeria
Rita Zagoni
On her proudest moment of the fellowship:

"After we’d done our first workshop, there were Hungarian government investigations against NGOs working in our field. I felt revolutionary doing “underground” workshops for people who are being investigated against - it really made me realise just how important our work is. That was a great moment!" "

Rita Zagoni

2014 Fellow, based in Hungary
Siyabonga Africa

"Johannesburg itself is a city of dichotomies: rich and poor, developed and undeveloped, connected and unconnected; and civic technology organizations are key in efforts to bridge these gaps. Currently, two of our cities are already beginning to collect and disseminate datasets for public use: Cape Town and Johannesburg. My hope is to inspire people and groups to use these datasets for projects that will better society."

Siyabonga Africa

2014 Fellow, based in South Africa
Codrina Ilie

"The best thing about this fellowship has been meeting all of the other fellows, and gaining insights into all of the work everyone is doing everywhere in this incredible world. It really kept me going!"

Codrina Ilie

2014 Fellow, based in Romania
Antonio Cucho
Why is the fellowship important?

“I love being a fellow. There's lots of work that I've been able to do because of being a fellow; it gave me support, as there's a big community behind me, which gives people faith and trust in what I'm doing. I also enjoy learning about the experiences of different fellows. Each trip I've done has taught me so much. I feel like being a fellow, we're doing good things; teaching data skills like this is a form of activism – we’re getting people involved in political processes."

Antonio Cucho Gamboa

2014 Fellow, based in Peru
Joachim Mangilima

"In October we had a workshop with education data, with departments of several education agencies from the government of Tanzania. Despite these agencies having to deal with data of a similar nature, it is very rare to find them talking together about data - naturally, this causes a lot of duplication in their work. This workshop provided that rare moment for those agencies to talk about how to improve and harmonize their datasets and also how to make sure their datasets conform to open data standards, making easy to share data not only across agencies, but also to the wider public."

Joachim Mangilima

2014 Fellow, based in Tanzania
Happy Feraren
On her proudest moment so far:

"I always felt that Open Data was only for those who had great technical skills and that it was something I could never do. It has been half a year since I first attended an OKFworkshop and now I've conducted one along with my mentor. It's unbelievable! What's even greater is that all of this happened with the support of an open global community - where people were just happy to help and collaborate online. I didn't need a special master's degree or whatever to learn something. I found that all the things I wanted to learn more about were already written in a shared document or captured in a video skillshare. If not, all I had to do was ask. "

Happy Feraren

2014 Fellow, based in the Philippines

Behind the Scenes...

Behind the scenes of School of Data are a core team of Open Knowledge staff, and a multitude of advisors, and passionate and dedicated community members! We tried to name as many of you as possible, but undoubtedly we might have forgotten some; please submit a pull request and add yourself, if you’ve been involved in School of Data this year!

Current Staff

Lucy Chambers

Lucy leads the Knowledge Unit, which focusses on supporting data users (particularly journalists and NGOS) by organising training via School of Data and building software tools to fix data problems.

Lucy Chambers

Knowledge Unit Director

Milena is based in London and joined Open Knowledge as Programme Manager for School of Data in August 2013. Among others, she is working with and supporting local partners, building the School of Data network around the world and building programmes like the Fellowship 2014 scheme.

Milena Marin

School of Data Programme Manager
Sam Leon

Sam is the School of Data Fellow, embedded in Global Witness. He lives in London and has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in the History of Ideas. He is interested in debates around open culture and the emerging discipline of the Digital Humanities.

Sam Leon

Data Wrangler extraordinaire

Zara is based in Berlin, and joined the Knowledge Unit to focus on the use of data around international development, through which she has built up the Open Development Toolkit, written online training modules for School of Data and carried out trainings with civil society groups.

Zara Rahman

Open Development Toolkit lead

Tony works part time for School of Data in shaping the materials, masterminding the blog and running workshops. You can also find him out and about on site visits to learn more about how organisations use data "in the wild" to help build on and shape the courses.

Tony Hirst

Data Storyteller

Past staff (from 2014)


Michael was part of the School of Data team from its beginnings until September 2014; he's gone on to take the lessons he learned from School of Data and apply them in real-life journalism, as one half of the data journalism team at Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

Michael Bauer

Data Diva

Heather joined us to share her fantastic community management skills with us, introducing programmed activities like community skillshares, community surveys, and other processes of listening to and learning from our community.

Heather Leson

Community Engagement Director

Anders managed people, funding, trainings; we only realised how much he did, when he had left! He's now gone on to lead Open Data work at the Natural Resource Governance Institute, in DC.

Anders Pedersen

Business Development Director

James served as our guru of funding proposals and partnership management, as well as providing general support to Lucy.

James Hamilton

Knowledge General Manager
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Neil joined us to wrangle data, create infographics and data visualisations, and as a technical writer, among many other things.

Neil Ashton

Technical Writer
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  • Tryggvi Björgvinsson
  • Mathilda Hus
  • Daniela Mattern
  • Mr and Mrs Mattern
  • Katelyn Rogers
  • Rufus Pollock
  • Rahul Ghosh
  • Beatrice Martini
  • Sam Muirhead
  • Ali Rebaie
  • Ketty Adoch
  • Tarek Amr
  • Cristian Consonni
  • Francesca De Chiara
  • Marco Menchinella
  • Eva Constantaras
  • Stefan Wehrmeyer
  • Friedrich Lindenberg
  • Allen Gunn
  • Annie Game
  • Dirk Slater
  • Sam Smith
  • Danja Vasiliev
  • Annabel Church
  • Alex Woodham
  • Tin Geber, Alix Dunn, Christopher Wilson + the engine room
  • Lisa Gutermuth and Tactical Technology Collective
  • Michelle Kovacevic


Open Knowledge logo </div>


Hewlett FoundationPartnership for Opena DataOpen Society Fundations




SocialTICMetamorphosisPWYPCode4South AfricaAMIK-MonitorFundatia Pentru o Societate Deschisa
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