Directors' blog

Links, thoughts and updates from the directors of Dim Sum Digital.

Archive for the ‘Open data’ Category

World Radio Day and South Africa’s first high school radio station

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Feb 13 is World Radio Day, a day set aside ‘to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio; to encourage decision makers to establish and provide access to information through radio; as well as to enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters.’

Ahead of the day, a high school in Khayelitsha has been speaking about the launch its own radio station with a team of 11 youth reporters who have been developing their skills in the areas of research, interviewing and content production.

But if you’re reading this thinking, ‘so far, so ordinary’ for High School radio, think again.

This is a place where almost half of the population live in shacks.

Where the average ANNUAL household income is just 14,600 Rands (£633.48).

Against that backdrop these young people, calling themselves the Optimistic Youth Reporters started work two and a half years ago with the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) at the public high school Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT).

Principal at COSAT, Mrs Phadiela Cooper said the students had grown in confience: “It has just been such a wonderful eye opener for me, to see how these kids have grown.”

CRF executive director Mike Rahfaldt, said: “High school radio gets young people speaking about the issues that affect them, and reflects their own experiences and those of their communities. We are hoping that COSAT will be the first of many high school radio schools across South Africa to launch their own station.”

* Find out more about the initiative and hear examples of the students’ work by clicking on the links in the interactive image above.

Written by sarahhartley

February 13th, 2016 at 7:38 am

Data journalism academy sets to work

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Journalist Raymond Joseph addresses some of the first fellows at the data journalism academy

The doors opened, and the first Fellows came along. The data journalism academy at Code 4 South Africa is now up and running.

Day one saw participants explore some of the data tools available including the impressive Wazimap which takes census data to a new level and provides journalists with embeddable graphics as well as new insights into geographies and demographics.

Likewise, People’s Assembly which allows for in-depth connections to data about elected representatives.

The activity at the Academy is now also being detailed via social media with a dedicated Twitter stream
@Code4SAJourn and on the Facebook page:

* This is a School of Data initiative kindly sponsored by Omidyar Network, Code for Africa, Knight Foundation and the Indigo Trust.

Written by sarahhartley

February 2nd, 2016 at 7:45 am

New local and global work getting underway here

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Trainees at work in Codebridge earlier this year

A new month – and the beginning of some new contracts which we’re very excited to be getting started on here.

Alongside ongoing work at Talk About Local, we’re very pleased to be starting work in the UK with Nesta, the national innovation charity, and internationally with The Indigo Trust.

Nesta has selected our hyperlocal publication, The Richmond Noticeboard, to be one of ten such outfits in the UK to take part in its Action Research in Audience Analytics programme for the next four months.

We’ve written more about that here.

Overseas, we’re starting on a year long project back in South Africa. Building on our previous training work in that country, we’ll be working alongside the Gates Foundation-backed data journalism initiative and setting up a new newsroom.

Working with Indigo Trust grantees, the newsroom will operate to highlight their important issues to the wider news media space and produce content, ideas, inspiration and, of course, data for media organisations in country and elsewhere.

The newsroom will dovetail into the cadet school being run by Raymond Joseph to give students real, hands-on newsroom experience at the Code4SouthAfrica base in Cape Town.

Through this innovation, we aim to address what we see as a dilemma facing many NGOs, organisations, independent journalists and activists in getting attention for their concerns. We are developing a process which concentrates on the way those issues might distribute through local and global news flows. In our commitment to an ethics of openness, it is intended that content produced during the program will be licensed for re-use and allow for other publishers’ own creativity to come to the fore in determining the final presentation of the journalism.

How this innovative project develops will also be the subject of upcoming blog posts here as well as being updated via my semi-regular newsletter too. (You can sign up for that here).

The approach we’re developing here at Dim Sum Digital, which is intended to help both media and cultural organisations interact with new audiences, is moving into a new phase with these projects and we look forward to sharing and reflecting on our experiences here.

Written by sarahhartley

October 1st, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Journalism,Open data

Crunching marriage data on Valentine’s morning

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It is legal, under special circumstances, for a 12 year old to get married in South Africa. That’s just one of the startling facts revealed through the open data work carried out by Code4SouthAfrica which you can interact with above.

As Adi Eyal explains:

The most disturbing part of the diagram is on the far left. Girls younger than 16 are getting married. Two 12 year-olds were married off, one to a 20 year old man, another to a 67 year-old.

The data set looked at 161,000 civil marriages in 2012. Trends such as popular months for marrying (December) and the most common age to get hitched are all there but it’s in the outliers that the biggest stories lie.

On Valentine’s day, who could fail to be touched by the story of a 92 and 94 year old taking the plunge!

Having been introduced to this data (we are currently working out of Code4SA’s Cape Town base) prompted me to have a look at the same situation in the UK.

But to no avail. The Office for National Statistics offers a listing for ‘age at marriage‘ in its menu but – not one piece of data is available. A couple of mentions in aged articles and summaries and that’s your lot…….

Not so open with our national statistics.

Written by sarahhartley

February 14th, 2015 at 7:44 am

Data and culture metrics for arts organisations

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Capturing ideas

Gathering a group of arts organisations together to talk about ‘measuring cultural value‘ was never going to be an easy task. As researcher Franzi Florack pointed out in her opening remarks to the assembled culture thought-leaders in Manchester this week, every word in that phrase can be contested.

In the first of the two workshops looking at the sort of measures and metrics which could be useful when concerning cultural value (however that’s eventually defined!) participants were faced with a series of questions seeking to assess areas including, but by no means limited to, economic, cultural and social impact.

Please note, this is a cross post from the official research blog which contains further updates from the project and can be seen here but I felt the points deserved a wider airing as the issues raised are likely to cross into many other sectors of work and it would be interesting to hear from others who may be wrestling with similar complexities.

This blog post contains some notes the day from myself and Julian as we start to focus on the issues. We were both invited to attend to help formulate the provocations for the next workshop which looks more at data aspects and would appreciate any input you might have to the debate.

Some of the issues raised yesterday:

  • is a framework to assess cultural value even necessary/relevant/desirable?
  • when co-producing metrics, (how) could participatory events be used for the activity?
  • how can evaluation be longitudinal enough to include community?

Working in groups, participants considered their own organisation’s methods of data collection and evaluation. These included feedback surveys left in venues, interviews with visitors, random telephone cold call research interviews, social media monitoring and collation of newspaper reviews.

Small matter of reading

Some interesting points emerged including:

  • was collection and evaluation steered by financial imperatives?
  • notable that traditional marketing segmentation still seems widespread use across organisations.
  • changing role of front of house staff mentioned as venue ‘hosts’.
  • the friction between rewarding loyal engaged audiences and developing new ones through outreach to non-audiences and non-visitors.
  • discussion about the extent to which data collection was driven with funders in mind.

The two of us were asked to finish the session with a very brief introduction into the big data session which will come next.

Julian spoke about the need to identify gaps in the data currently being collected, and also referred to some of the rhetoric surrounding the ‘big data’ agenda which, in itself, can sometimes put up barriers to finding new, collaborative ways of working.

I used two case studies from the media sector to illustrate different ways in which data is being harvested, visualised and analysed. The first was this example from ReFramed.TV and the second, this opensource platform from

Before the next session on March 16, we will post some provocations into the internal critical friends forum and elsewhere. Further debate via the comments here also most welcome.

Written by sarahhartley

January 20th, 2015 at 9:19 pm

News you can use #ipiwoco

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Updating notes from presentation by Justin Arenstein.

Apps for Africa looks to build projects which have tangible outputs. Support a range of projects everything from journalism drones to data visualisation, fact-checking sites, reporting apps and map-based story telling.

90 projects live and available for newsrooms to use.

GotToVote project, which cost just a few hundred pounds to build, credited with increased voting levels.

In Kenya a ‘dodgy doctor’ checker which checks against a spreadsheet of qualifications and any cases against them. Very simple tools driven off a spreadsheet. Every time the paper runs a story about a dodgy doc, they embed the tool for people to be able to check their own doctors.

“Databases like this are evergreen. They have an impact by amplifying news.”

Written by sarahhartley

April 14th, 2014 at 6:48 am

Making parliamentary data come alive #ipiwoco

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These are updating notes from the breakfast session on data.

People’s Assembly recently launched in South Africa – bit similar to in the UK.
Track proceedings, bills and committees. Lots of information to engage citizens in democratic process.

In Kenya – Mzalendo turned data on attendance of MPs into a front page story.

Lungisa platform is for reporting issues in locations via mobile eg. Broken stuff. Now looking to use the platform for people in communities to tackle water and sanitation issues.

Citizen Journalism projects going on in townships to highlight issues such as rubbish introducing rats.

Written by sarahhartley

April 14th, 2014 at 6:19 am

On the crime beat to open data with #hackthecity



Hacking underway

What could you do with crime and justice data?

A map to tell you the safer places in a city to park maybe? Or how about a way to check the work has been carried out near you by those who’ve received a court sentence to do it to see justice being done?

Utilising data available within the crime and justice field was one of the challenges facing attendees of Saturday’s Hack the City event in Sheffield.

Developers, designers and various general interested oddbods like myself were invited to share some ideas and see if maybe the room could come up with the next killer app or business idea for data.

Alongside a general city based hack, the event organised by Open Data Sheffield was also an opportunity to meet with those involved with the Open Data Institute’s Immersion programme.

The series lead on the project, Simon Whitehouse introduced participants to the scheme which is looking for people to engage in a process which will result in a data business looking at how open data projects can be constructed to achieve one of the following:

- increase community involvement with the criminal justice system
- create further evidence for what are effective interventions for rehabilitation
- address the rise in personal crime
Home Office representatives were also present and introduced the data sets already opened up around policing – – which includes more than the headline grabbing neighbourhood crime mapping data such as extra police officer details for neighbourhood teams.

The Home Office is hoping that by opening this data, developers and communities will start to engage more in conversations about policing and they’d especially like to see more activity around the Police and Crime Commissioner roles.

The hacks were well on their way at the point I left and were competing for prizes. They included building an email alerts system into this web map for stolen bicycles, a transport app for Sheffield, a ‘where not live’ crime mapping app and this library recommendation from the two youngest hackers to attend.

The full hacks, videos from the day and more information with developer links can be found at the website here.

A wiki with useful data in the crime and justice area has been set up here and the ODI’s website has the full details of all the current data challenges here.

Written by sarahhartley

September 8th, 2013 at 9:53 am

Video: Data journalism camp 2013, Istanbul

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I grabbed a quick word with some of the participants at the end of the first data journalism camp we hosted in Istanbul. Here’s how the journalists found the experience.

Written by sarahhartley

February 6th, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Data Journalism Camp 2013: Ready to get started in Istanbul #djcamp2013

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djcamp2013The next two days will be taken up with DJ Camp 2013 in Istanbul. This event is part of a programme created through Uclan’s Media and Digital Enterprise programme and will see Francois Nel, Megan Knight, Patrick McGee and I working with a group of journalists in Istanbul.

It’s all about data journalism – from sourcing information, work on verification and different outcomes including mapping and other visualisations.

The work comes at an important time for the development of an open data culture for the city. Late last year, Istanbul’s links with representatives from Manchester’s digital community kicked off discussions about the challenges and benefits of opening civic data sets during a visit from Julian Tait and Adrian Slatcher.

Now, in this separate initiative, we will pick up on that conversation again and look forward to hosting a panel event with representatives from Istanbul city council as well as prominent editor and columnist with national newspaper Milliyet, Mehves Evin tomorrow evening.

During the two days of workshops and coaching, there will be a liveblog running which you can see at the Uclan Made blog here:
and I’ll hope to do more updates here and on the Flickr group for MADE Turkey here.

The hashtag for the event is #djcamp2013.

Written by sarahhartley

January 25th, 2013 at 4:12 pm