Data-Meet: Open Data Camp

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DataMeet was started on 26th January, 2011 by a handful of data enthusiasts who started a google group where people could share tips for working with data. The intent was always to work on data in India. Since there were many data groups in London working on the similar theme, it was felt there should be one for India as well.

  • About the Event:

The idea of conducting Open Data Camp event was done to help in fostering a stronger community where lines of communication are open that can help in identifying solution to problems to enable a more meaningful impact of the data to the lives of the engaged citizens all across the country. Data Camp is a one or two days conference and it involves people who are working with data, in many different sectors, to come together and share their ideas. By making data open, it can possess the capability of creating a more accountable and transparent mechanism to improve the policies and implementation of the projects across industry, citizen sector organizations, and governance. Data Camp is a platform that can provide the citizens the space to work on identifying the problems around collecting data and utilizing it meaningfully to enhance the positive impact towards the society.

This year the Open Data Camp was focused towards learning about the pollution monitoring networks coming up in cities across the country. The focus was to look at the role of data in fighting pollution and how open data can help in developing solutions to curb the issue. Pollution data, however, can also help in informing other disciplines looking to make impact in urban planning, development, and resource management, in making effective rational decisions during the right time-frame.

Activities Involved

(Click here to view the full schedule of the event.)

The event was for two days where on the first day, a proper conference on air-pollution situation and the efforts by both state and non-state actors was discussed. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) was represented by Dr Nagappa B, who is the scientific officer of KSPCB. He explained the current situation of Bangalore as well as the report on the study they conducted on the state of air-pollution in Bangalore and degree of scope for effective air-quality management. He also discussed the findings of the current 2014-15 annual report. He also highlighted the issues of management of expensive state controlled air-pollution machinery as they require a substantial space and face problems in terms of scalability. However, the idea of involving different 3rd party players and their air-quality assessment machinery raised doubts in terms of verification and accuracy of the data. The most important fact that, however, could have involved further discussion was for whom the data on air-quality was useful and how to identify the target population that could make use of the air-quality data.

The second presentation was made by Dr. Priyanka Jamwal. She gave a presentation on the topic "Identification of contaminant sources in surface water bodies, modeling the fate and transport of contaminants in urban hydrological systems and assessing the risk to human health due to exposure to contaminants". Her presentation was quite interesting in terms of highlighting the comparison between the state regulatory mechanisms in assessing the water-quality and how the results were proving to be wrong due to exclusion of certain key parameters in the water-quality assessment. She also highlighted how the assessment process is difficult due to expensive machinery and how open source, cost-effective hardware can help in making water-quality assessment easy. She also highlighted that it may not necessarily involve every individual the capability to assess the water-quality in a scientific manner as it would involve some degree of know-how. But she did agree to the fact that having too many water-quality assessment stations in any place will help the community in making effective rational choices regarding water management.

The next session was about the kind of air-quality data being collected by different organizations such as India Open Data Association, Hindustan Times and Yuktix. It also included a presentation by [ Sensors Without Borders] on their outdoor air-quality assessment device called "Jellyfish". The session was quite productive as it helped in understanding how air-quality data could be presented through unique visualization formats and the potential that open-source access can have on the whole society and drive it for a positive change.

The next session was followed by a presentation by a Bangalore based do-tank called "Sensing Local". The group presented as to how different kinds of air-quality data can help in planning the necessary actions that can help in better addressing the issue of air-pollution in different metropolitan cities of India. The presentation involved sharing of ideas in terms of actions and how it can help in shaping positive externalities for the citizens.

On the second day, at the Google office, a workshop was conducted for children between the age group of 6-15 yrs where the kids were made to develop sensors of their own along with the know-how about the programming. The session was quite productive as it helped the kids understand how easily they could assemble an environment monitoring device as well as integrating multiple different sensors with it. The children were also given a brief presentation by Rahul who explained integrating the sensors with Audrino board and the Grove Base shield for effective data transmission. The kids also exited towards the idea of AirOwl and how they could contribute to the society by sharing the air-quality data through their own AirOwls. The session was concluded with a proposal of having every player involved in air-quality assessment to share his/her findings and know-hows so that it could help in creating a strong network as well as greater engagement of the community in this issue.

Why Important For IODA?

The event was important for India Open Data Association for the following primary reasons:

a) It helped in IODA interconnecting with different open-data enthusiasts who liked the idea of "India Open Environment Data Project" and wanted to be a part of it.

b) It helped IODA by providing it a good platform for sharing its vision of making the data open and offering multiple kinds of solutions/actions via crowdsourcing.

c) It helped in clearly explaining the idea of strong networking between different open-data players to connect together and share their knowledge in terms of hardware testing, data collection, visualization etc so that the whole community could benefit as well as create far greater options on improving or evolving the existing stage of operations.

d) It also helped IODA in setting an example via its open APIs as to how making data open can help in involving players from different fields to engage with the information and its further development.

People Who Helped Us In Bangalore

We are really grateful to Thej and Nisha for inviting us to participate in this 2 days open-data camp and giving us the space to share our ideas and vision with a larger audience.

We are also very grateful to Mr. Pradeep Kumar Panda, a very good friend of Mrutyunjay and a resident of Bangalore. Pradeep owns a flat in Bellandur and he was very kind enough to provide us the accommodation at his place during our 2 day visit to Bangalore. Pradeep too is an open-data enthusiast and he too participated on the 1st day of the open-data camp at Google, Bangalore.


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(Dr. Nagappa explaining the Bangalore air-pollution situation)

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(Dr. Priyanka Jamwal explaining the water pollution crisis and her findings)

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(Sensors Without Borders presenting "Jellyfish")

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(M2 at his best)

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(M2 explaining the idea behind open APIs)

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(Sensor workshop at Google on day 2)

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(Rahul, Thej and the team explaining the know-how)

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(Children assembling their own sensors and programming the firmware)

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(With Pradeep during our last day at Bangalore)