January 15, 2012
Welcome to Acclar Open Aid Data. We’ll be posting news and announcements here about our own work, as well as other important events in the open aid data community.
How we got started
Acclar is a joint venture by two Canadians who have long been passionate — obsessed, even — about open information. David Megginson has worked with free software and open standards for two decades, including a stint chairing the World Wide Web Consortium’s XML Core Working Group. Michael Roberts has been involved in the aid community for 15 years, and initiated the International Development Markup Language (IDML), a pioneering open-aid standard that is still in widespread use.
Michael and David met during the development of the new International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), where Michael continues to assist with the development of the standard, while David created and maintains the IATI XML schema. We decided to pool our experience and skills to help spread open aid data more effectively than either of us could individually.
What we hope to accomplish
Due to strong advocacy by CSOs, and the passion and hard work of its members, IATI has attracted an unprecedented amount of support across the aid world. There is, however, a lot of work ahead to ensure that donors are able to implement IATI and other open aid standards completely, effectively, and sustainably.
Publishing open aid data is much more than just exporting a database or spreadsheet into an open format and dumping it online. In many cases, opening an organization’s data will require deep institutional change. Here are some examples:
- an initiative to develop a new vision with all stakeholders (not just the IT department)
- a willingness to share information that was formerly never meant for outside eyes
- an effort to align that information with unfamiliar classification schemes
- a commitment to keep publishing that information month after month and year after year, through staffing and organizational change
We have seen similar efforts in aid and other fields succeed, but more often, we’ve seen them fail. Through Acclar, we plan to work with aid organizations, not to advocate open aid data (because others are already handling that job very well), but to help organizations move from commitment to implementation. As we explore this new and exciting area, we’ll be posting more here.
Let us know what you think.