ODI St Petersburg: bringing you what’s new in open data in Russia

With open data gaining momentum in Russia, the team at ODI St Petersburg – a newly formed ODI Story Node – introduce themselves and give you the latest innovations and events in the region

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By Irina Radchenko and Dmitry Pavlov

Who are ODI St Petersburg?

At the ISST Lab of ITMO University, we are striving to put open data into practice, conducting research and designing tools that allow people and companies to take advantage of the open data movement and emerging technologies.

ISST Lab runs a number of programmes with a strong open data focus.

We explore linked open data in education with LOD-ITMO, offering new ways of creating courses with open and linked data, and enriching the educational experience for students with advanced course materials.

Our Ontodia programme visualises linked open data with interactive graphs, serving as a visual editor of ontologies and open datasets for non-programmers.

We also work on enriching sensor data with SemIoT, a platform that simplifies data acquisition from sensors and helps deliver meaningful data about city environments to end-users. Similarly, our Foodpedia programme is designed to expose the open data on food products to consumers to assist them in making informed purchase decisions. The project offers a mobile app for in-store use-case scenarios.

We are also working to enrich cultural experience with a Russian Linked Culture Cloud. A fully interactive Web portal for Russian cultural heritage data, it integrates data for heritage institutions (museums, galleries, etc) to create a common ‘infospace’ experience for site visitors.

How we became an ODI Story Node

We found out about the ODI and its network of nodes in September 2013 thanks to our team member Irina Radchenko, who at that time was taking an Open Data in Practice course at ODI. There she learnt about ODI Nodes and quite soon she initiated the establishment of ODI Moscow supported by the NGO “Information Culture”. In time the node migrated to St Petersburg, to be hosted by ITMO University.

At the beginning of March we put the wheels in motion to become ODI St Petersburg, and join the ODI’s global network as a Story Node.

As a Story Node, we will focus on spreading the word about open data success stories and encouraging others to adopt open data principles.

From now on, we will be posting news and reviews about practical open data tools and solutions, and what is going on in the open data world.

What’s new for open data in Russia?

So far, 2016 has been a lively year for open data in Russia.

In January, Information Culture, an NGO that promotes open data, released a report on the state of open data in Russia in 2015. The report assesses the openness of government resources and provides the list of key datasets, such as Companies, Crime and justice, Transport and infrastructure, and much more. Beyond that it contains brief profiles of current open data projects, and explains the activities of the Russian Open Data Council.

Other examples of government open data projects featured in the report include:

The report concludes that despite many important successes, the openness and accessibility of Russian government data requires systemic reform. It urges for proper legislation to govern the rights and restrictions on access to information.

At the beginning of March, many Russian open data groups headed to Montevideo in Uruguay, where the 9th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV) was held. The Russian participants presented several papers on open budgets, and updated the audience on two open budget projects. One was on the development of the open budget format, and the other on the methodology for evaluating and rating open municipal budgets in Russia.

Also in March, many in Russia celebrated International Open Data Day. The most notable event was a seminar held by Impact Hub Moscow. It lured over 60 open data enthusiasts from all over the country, and included a hackathon, unconference and session on open science. You can find a press releases (in Russian) here.

Get in touch

If you would like to send us ideas about stories to write about, especially on open data in and around Russia, then get in touch with us at [email protected]. You can also keep up-to-date with what we are up to with our newly launched Facebook page.

Irina Radchenko is Associate Professor, analyst and researcher at ITMO university, and Dmitry Pavlov is a lecturer and tutor at ITMO university.