During our ongoing research, we have witnessed how the principles of Open Knowledge are being applied in almost all areas of our society. We have seen how software developers are considering Open Source as a serious model for releasing their products, how governments are sharing their data to bring more transparency or even how non-proprietary…
Independent since 2008, Kosovo is a very young country and we were looking forward to discovering it and meeting locals there. This time, the organisation we are documenting is a non-profit called FLOSSK created 5 years ago by a very young group of Hacktivists. We were impressed to know that, although most of them haven’t been to college yet, they have already realised so many projects supporting Open Knowledge and specially promoting open source technologies. They organise each year in Pristina the biggest balkan conference about Free Software, gathering experts from the area and other countries (including well know figures from the open source world as Richard Stallmann) and about 300 participants, mostly Kosovan students. The fifth edition takes place in September 2013 and FLOSSK is currently working hard on it.
Besides this annual event, the non-proft organises also regularly workshops and other events to divulge open source technologies and teach their benefits for a developing country like Kosovo. FLOSSK has already developed projects related to open data as well and we were really interested in their experience while setting up Prishtina Buses, an info platform about public and private bus lines and stations in Pristina, gathering and releasing data from their own. And also ku me votu?, a civil tool to know the location of your polling station, created for the elections 2010 in cooperation with the municipalities. You can learn more about FLOSSK watching the interview with them below.
Our workshop took place at ICK (Innovation Center Kosovo), an incubator for technological initiatives and event space in Pristina, under the patronage of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Around 20 participants were there and for the first time till now we could count with a representative of the public administration among them, Mr. Elshani, Head of e-Governance in Kosovo, who participated in the open debate making it very constructive and informative by sharing concrete details.
Although Kosovo does not have an open data platform yet, the public administration has made the first steps towards the open government data initiative. As a young country, Kosovo has to face the lack of historical data and the high costs of building the infrastructure for releasing it in an open manner. On the other hand, it has the advantage of being able to start from scratch without having the problem of adapting old systems. A big concern of Mr Elshani was that data has to be accurate before being released, quoting him “better to have no data, than inaccurate data” but he was overall positive about the role of open data in Kosovo.
The same way it happens in Albania, there are different and even more independent groups of people working with open data in Kosovo. Some of the participants have been active at Unicef Innovation Labs creating projects like a survey of university students about their opinion and wishes about the current and future state of the world. Also, they pointed out a data visualisation of the government and municipalities expenditures created by the GAP Institute.
We hope that synergies in the near future between public administration and civil society makes able to strengthen the first steps already been done in this country and are looking forward to seeing what the talented hackers from FLOSSK will achieve.