Open Knowledge International

Open Knowledge International (OKI), known as the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) until April 2014[2] and then Open Knowledge until May 2016,[3] is a global, non-profit network that promotes and shares information at no charge, including both content and data.[4] It was founded by Rufus Pollock on 24 May 2004[5] in Cambridge, UK.[6]

Its slogan is, "Sonnets to statistics, genes to geodata ..."

Open Knowledge
Formation20 May 2004
FounderRufus Pollock
TypeNonprofit organization
FocusOpen knowledge broadly, including open access, open content, open science and open data
Coordinates52°14′08″N 0°09′15″E / 52.235435°N 0.154033°ECoordinates: 52°14′08″N 0°09′15″E / 52.235435°N 0.154033°E
Area served
Key people
Rufus Pollock


130413 Hume Norham London Wiki 236
Joris Pekel[7] presenting at GLAM-WIKI 2013[8]

The aims of Open Knowledge International are:[1]

  • Promoting the idea of open knowledge, both what it is, and why is it a good idea.
  • Running open knowledge events, such as OKCon.
  • Working on open knowledge projects, such as Open Economics or Open Shakespeare.
  • Providing infrastructure, and potentially a home, for open knowledge projects, communities and resources. For example, the KnowledgeForge service and CKAN.
  • Acting at UK, European and international levels on open knowledge issues.


In November 2018 Catherine Stihler was appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Open Knowledge International. She joined the organisation in February 2019.[9]. Between 2015-2017 Pavel Richter took on the role of CEO of Open Knowledge International. Pavel was formerly Executive Director of Wikimedia Deutschland.

The Open Knowledge International Advisory Council includes people from the areas of open access, open data, open content, open science, data visualization and digital rights. In 2015, it consisted of:[10]


As of 2018, Open Knowledge International has 11 official chapters and 38 groups in different countries.[11]


Local groups

Working groups

It also supports 19 working groups.


Interview with Michael Bauer, Open Knowledge International former employee at Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona[13]

Many of Open Knowledge International's projects are technical in nature. Its most prominent project, CKAN, is used by many of the world's governments to host open catalogues of data that their countries possess.[14]

The organisation tends to support its aims by hosting infrastructure for semi-independent projects to develop. This approach to organising was hinted as one of its earliest projects was a project management service called KnowledgeForge, which runs on the KForge platform. KnowledgeForge allows sectoral working groups to have space to manage projects related to open knowledge. More widely, the project infrastructure includes both technical and face-to-face aspects. The organisation hosts several dozen mailing lists[15] for virtual discussion, utilises IRC for real-time communications and also hosts events.


Open Knowledge International is an active partner with organisations working in similar areas, such as open educational resources.[16]

Open Knowledge International has produced the Open Knowledge Definition, an attempt to clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the terminology of openness,[17] as well as the Open Software Service Definition.[18] It also supported the development of the Open Database License (ODbL).[19]

Outside of technology, Open Knowledge International plays a role in advocating for openness broadly. This includes supporting the drafting of reports, facilitating consultation[20][21] and producing guides.[22]

Rufus Pollock, one of Open Knowledge International's founders, and current board secretary sits on the UK government's Public Sector Transparency Board.[23]


Banner for the Geodata project in Spanish
OpenGLAM Logo
OpenGLAM logo

The foundation places a strong interest in the use of open source technologies. Its software projects are hosted on GitHub, which utilises the Git version control software. Some of the projects are listed below:[24]

  • CKAN, a tool that provides store for metadata. This enables governments to quickly and cheaply provide a catalogue of their data.[25]
  • Datahub,[26] a community-run catalogue of useful sets of data on the Internet. Depending on the type of data (and its conditions of use), Datahub may also be able to store a copy of the data or host it in a database, and provide some basic visualisation tools.
  • Frictionless Data,[27] a collection of standards and tools for publishing data.
  • Open bibliography, broadly construed as efforts to catalogue and build tools for working with and publishing bibliographic resources,[28][29] with particular emphasis on those works that are in the public domain and public domain calculators. Examples include the Bibliographica,[30] Public Domain Works,[31] Open Shakespeare,[32] Open Text Book[33] and The Public Domain Review[34] projects.
  • OpenGLAM,[35] an initiative that promotes free and open access to digital cultural heritage, held by GLAMs: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.[36] OpenGLAM is co-funded by the European Commission as part of the DM2E (Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana) project.[37]
  • Open Economics[38]
  • Open Knowledge Forums[39]
  • Information Accessibility Initiative
  • Open geodata[40]
  • Guide to open data licensing
  • "Get the Data" — a web-site for questions and answer on how to get data sets.
  • POD - Product Open Data


Much of the collaboration with other related organisations occurs via events that the foundation hosts.[41] Its premier event is the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon), which has been held occasionally since 2007.[42] Other events have been organised within the areas of data visualisation[43] and free information network infrastructure.[44]

Annually, Open Knowledge International supports International Open Data Day

Panton Principles and Fellowships (Open data in Science)

The Panton Principles (for Open Data in Science) in 2010 had large contributions from Open Knowledge people and in 2011 Jonathan Gray and Peter Murray-Rust successfully obtained funding from OSF for two fellowships, held by Sophie Kershaw[45] and Ross Mounce.[46] In 2013 OKF obtained sponsorship from CCIA[47] for 3 fellowships, which were awarded to Rosemarie Graves,[48] Sam Moore[49] and Peter Kraker.[50][51]


D-cent logo

Open Knowledge International also supports Apps for Europe,[52] and D-CENT, a European project created to share and organise data from seven countries, which is running from October 2013 to May 2016.[53]

See also


  1. ^ a b Open Knowledge Foundation. "About Us". Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  2. ^ Davies, Tim (12 April 2014). "Data, information, knowledge and power – exploring Open Knowledge's new core purpose". Tim's Blog. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Open Knowledge International – our new name!". 23 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Open Knowledge: About". Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Open Knowledge Foundation launched". Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog. 2004-05-24. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Figure 4—figure supplement 3. DNA alignment of cpmrp–related ABC transporter sequences in C. populi". doi:10.7554/elife.01096.012.
  7. ^ GitHub Account Name jpekel (17 June 2011). "Joris Pekel | Extended Profiles | Open Knowledge Foundation". Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  8. ^ "GLAM-WIKI 2013/Schedule - Wikimedia UK". Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  9. ^ "Catherine Stihler appointed new CEO of Open Knowledge International". 2018-11-30.
  10. ^ "Open Knowledge: Advisory Council". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Open Knowledge: The Global Network". Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  12. ^ "OKFN Network page". Open Knowledge International.
  13. ^ "Michael Bauer: "Necessitem periodistes per posar les dades en context" - Vídeo - CCCB LAB". 3 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Project Info: Who is Involved with the project?". HM Government. These include the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN): CKAN stores the catalogue behind and a growing number of open data registries around the world.
  15. ^ Open Knowledge Foundation. " Mailing Lists". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  16. ^ Open Educational Resources Commons. "About". Retrieved 1 November 2015. Strategic Development and Outreach Partners ... Open Knowledge Foundation
  17. ^ "Open Definition". Open Definition. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Open Software Service Definition Launched". 2008-07-14. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  19. ^ Creative Commons (2009-02-23). "CC Salon Berlin and openeverything focus – Feb. 26". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  20. ^ Open Society Foundations (September 2010). "Public Feedback Solicited on Access to Information and Open Government Data". Retrieved 1 November 2015. Information Program grantee Access Info Europe, together with the Open Knowledge Foundation, are holding a public consultation on open government data and the right of access to information.
  21. ^ Electronic Frontier Foundation (2005-03-23). "Digital Rights Management: A failure in the developed world, a danger to the developing world". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  22. ^ Dietrich, Daniel. "Open Data Manual". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  23. ^ "New Public Sector Transparency Board and Public Data Transparency Principles". HM Government. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  24. ^ "projects - The Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 1 November 2015. Open Knowledge Projects
  25. ^ "Feature Tour | ckan - The open source data portal software". 2012-03-28. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  26. ^ "". 2006-06-23. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Frictionless Data". Frictionless Data. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Open Bibliography". JISC. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  29. ^ "Open bibliography and Open Bibliographic Data | Open Bibliographic Data Working Group of the Open Knowledge Foundation". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Open bibliography and Open Bibliographic Data". Bibliographica. 2010-05-20. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  31. ^ "Home". Public Domain Works. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  32. ^ "Open Shakespeare". Open Shakespeare. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  33. ^ "Open Text Book". Archived from the original on 12 September 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  34. ^ "ABOUT". The Public Domain Review. Open Knowledge Foundation. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  35. ^ "The Open Definition - Open Definition - Defining Open in Open Data, Open Content and Open Knowledge". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Workpackage 4: Community building". 31 January 2014.
  38. ^ "Open Economics". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  39. ^ "Open Knowledge Forums". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  40. ^ "Open Geodata Community |". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  41. ^ Holloway, Michael (March 2008). "PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMATION: OFFICIALLY BETTER WHEN SHARED". Digital Rights Group. Retrieved 1 November 2015. And if you get excited by material that's free to access, reuse or re-distribute, then please come down to tomorrow's OKCon, for a day of seminars and workshops around the theme of 'Applications, Tools and Services'.
  42. ^ Open Knowledge Foundation. "About". Retrieved 1 November 2015. The Annual [sic] Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon)
  43. ^ Gehelenborg, Nils. "Workshop on Open Visualization". Nature Network. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  44. ^ Doctorow, Cory. "Free Information Infrastructure event in London next weekend". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  45. ^ "Sophie Kershaw | The Stilettoed Mathematician". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  46. ^ Mounce, Ross (2012-06-06). "CV". Ross Mounce. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  47. ^ "". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  48. ^ "Rosie Graves - University of Leicester". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  49. ^ "scholarly skywritings". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  50. ^ "Science and the Web". Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  51. ^ "Panton Principles: Panton Fellowships". 2012-01-12. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  52. ^ "Apps for Europe | turning data into business". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  53. ^ "D-CENT". Retrieved 29 October 2015.

External links

Media related to Open Knowledge at Wikimedia Commons


The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) is a web-based open-source management system for the storage and distribution of open data. Being initially inspired by the package management capabilities of Debian Linux, CKAN has developed into a powerful data catalogue system that is mainly used by public institutions seeking to share their data with the general public.

CKAN's codebase is maintained by Open Knowledge International. The system is used both as a public platform on Datahub and in various government data catalogues, such as the UK's, the Dutch National Data Register, the United States government's and the Australian government's "Gov 2.0". The state government of South Australia also makes government data freely available to the public on the CKAN platform. The Italian government makes available the open data of the Data & Analytics Framework on the CKAN platform.

Catherine Stihler

Catherine Stihler (born 30 July 1973) is a British Labour Party politician. She was a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Scotland from 1999 to 2019, being re-elected in 2004, 2009 and 2014. In October 2014, she was elected as the 52nd rector of the University of St Andrews. Since February 2019 she has been Chief Executive Officer of Open Knowledge International, a non-profit organisation which fights for open data and helps groups access and use data to address social problems.

Comma-separated values

In computing, a comma-separated values (CSV) file is a delimited text file that uses a comma to separate values. A CSV file stores tabular data (numbers and text) in plain text. Each line of the file is a data record. Each record consists of one or more fields, separated by commas. The use of the comma as a field separator is the source of the name for this file format.

The CSV file format is not fully standardized. The basic idea of separating fields with a comma is clear, but that idea gets complicated when the field data may also contain commas or even embedded line-breaks. CSV implementations may not handle such field data, or they may use quotation marks to surround the field. Quotation does not solve everything: some fields may need embedded quotation marks, so a CSV implementation may include escape characters or escape sequences.

In addition, the term "CSV" also denotes some closely related delimiter-separated formats that use different field delimiters, for example, semicolons. These include tab-separated values and space-separated values. A delimiter that is not present in the field data (such as tab) keeps the format parsing simple. These alternate delimiter-separated files are often even given a .csv extension despite the use of a non-comma field separator. This loose terminology can cause problems in data exchange. Many applications that accept CSV files have options to select the delimiter character and the quotation character. Semicolons are often used in some European countries, such as Italy, instead of commas.

Open-door academic policy

An open-door academic policy, or open-door policy, is a policy if a university accepting to enroll students without asking for evidence of previous education, experience, or references. Usually, payment of the academic fees (or financial support) is all that is required to enroll.

Universities may not employ the open-door policy for all their courses, and those that have a universal open-door policy where all courses have no entry requirements are called open universities. The policy is seen to be a part of the educational revolution. From the dictionary meaning of the open-door policy, which is the idea of granting access to those who want access to the country freely, a similar idea can be drawn in terms of education.According to Deepa Rao, the open-door academic policy is one of the main ways in which adult learners become a part of university/college life. The recognized demand for post-secondary education made many institutions commit strongly to the policy, but many concealed limitations in the policy can prevent some from securing a degree.

OpenStreetMap Foundation

The OpenStreetMap Foundation is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales on 22 August 2006. It is a non-profit foundation whose aim is to support and enable the development of freely-reusable geospatial data. As its name suggests, it is closely connected with the OpenStreetMap project, although its constitution does not prevent it supporting other projects.

Open Data Indices

Open data indices are indicators which assess and evaluates the general openness of an open government data portal. Open data indices not only show how open a data portal is, but also encourage citizens and government officials alike, to participate in their local open data communities, particularly in advocating for local open data and local open data policies.

There are two mainstream methodologies, which are Global Open Data Index and Open Data Barometer. The Global Open Data Index evaluates an open data portal from 11 different aspects based on the Open Definition of open data, while the Open Data Barometer adds two more indices compared to the previous one.

Open Database License

The Open Database License (ODbL) is a copyleft ("share alike") license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use a database while maintaining this same freedom for others.ODbL is published by Open Data Commons (see also Open Data), part of Open Knowledge International (was Foundation).The ODbL was created with the goal of allowing users to share their data freely without worrying about problems relating to copyright or ownership. It allows users to make free use of the data in the database without worrying about copyright of the creators, and add to the data or use in other databases. The license establishes the rights of users of the database, as well as the correct procedure for attributing credit where credit is due for the data, and how to make changes or improvements in the data, thus simplifying the sharing and comparison of data. Users no longer need to worry of repercussions of violations of copyright law or stolen information when using an Open Database License.

Open admissions

Open admissions, or open enrollment, is a type of unselective and noncompetitive college admissions process in the United States in which the only criterion for entrance is a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance or General Educational Development (GED) certificate.

Open collaboration

Open collaboration is "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike." It is prominently observed in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums, mailing lists and online communities. Open collaboration is also thought to be the operating principle underlining a gamut of diverse ventures, including bitcoin, TEDx, and Wikipedia.Open collaboration is the principle underlying peer production, mass collaboration, and wikinomics. It was observed initially in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums, mailing lists, Internet communities, and many instances of open content, such as creative commons. It also explains some instances of crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption, and open innovation.Riehle et al. define open collaboration as collaboration based on three principles of egalitarianism, meritocracy, and self-organization. Levine and Prietula define open collaboration as "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike." This definition captures multiple instances, all joined by similar principles. For example, all of the elements — goods of economic value, open access to contribute and consume, interaction and exchange, purposeful yet loosely coordinated work — are present in an open source software project, in Wikipedia, or in a user forum or community. They can also be present in a commercial website that is based on user-generated content. In all of these instances of open collaboration, anyone can contribute and anyone can freely partake in the fruits of sharing, which are produced by interacting participants who are loosely coordinated.

An annual conference dedicated to the research and practice of open collaboration is the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym). As per its website, the group defines open collaboration as "collaboration that is egalitarian (everyone can join, no principled or artificial barriers to participation exist), meritocratic (decisions and status are merit-based rather than imposed) and self-organizing (processes adapt to people rather than people adapt to pre-defined processes)."

Open content

Open content is a neologism coined by David Wiley in 1998 which describes a creative work that others can copy or modify freely, without asking for permission. The term evokes the related concept of open-source software. Such content is said to be under an open licence.

Open energy system databases

Open energy system database projects employ open data methods to collect, clean, and republish energy-related datasets for open use. The resulting information is then available, given a suitable open license, for statistical analysis and for building numerical energy system models, including open energy system models. Permissive licenses like Creative Commons CC0 and CC BY are preferred, but some projects will house data made public under market transparency regulations and carrying unqualified copyright.

The databases themselves may furnish information on national power plant fleets, renewable generation assets, transmission networks, time series for electricity loads, dispatch, spot prices, and cross-border trades, weather information, and similar. They may also offer other energy statistics including fossil fuel imports and exports, gas, oil, and coal prices, emissions certificate prices, and information on energy efficiency costs and benefits.

Much of the data is sourced from official or semi-official agencies, including national statistics offices, transmission system operators, and electricity market operators. Data is also crowdsourced using public wikis and public upload facilities. Projects usually also maintain a strict record of the provenance and version histories of the datasets they hold. Some projects, as part of their mandate, also try to persuade primary data providers to release their data under more liberal licensing conditions.Two drivers favor the establishment of such databases. The first is a wish to reduce the duplication of effort that accompanies each new analytical project as it assembles and processes the data that it needs from primary sources. And the second is an increasing desire to make public policy energy models more transparent to improve their acceptance by policymakers and the public. Better transparency dictates the use of open information, able to be accessed and scrutinized by third-parties, in addition to releasing the source code for the models in question.

Open source

Open source is a term denoting that a product includes permission to use its source code, design documents, or content. It most commonly refers to the open-source model, in which open-source software or other products are released under an open-source license as part of the open-source-software movement. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.

Open university

An open university is a university with an open-door academic policy, with minimal or no entry requirements. Open universities may employ specific teaching methods, such as open supported learning or distance education. However, not all open universities focus on distance education, nor do distance-education universities necessarily have open admission policies.

P2P Foundation

P2P Foundation: The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives is an organization with the aim of studying the impact of peer to peer technology and thought on society. It was founded by Michel Bauwens, James Burke and Brice Le Blévennec.The P2P Foundation is a registered institute founded in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its local registered name is: Stichting Peer to Peer Alternatives, dossier nr: 34264847.

Peter Murray-Rust

Peter Murray-Rust (born 1941) is a chemist currently working at the University of Cambridge. As well as his work in chemistry, Murray-Rust is also known for his support of open access and open data.

Rufus Pollock

Rufus Pollock (born 1980) is an economist and founder of Open Knowledge International. He is a Shuttleworth Foundation alumnus,, an Ashoka Fellow, an Associate of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge and President of Open Knowledge International which he founded (as the Open Knowledge Foundation) in 2004 and served as a board director until 2013. He continues to act as Board Secretary. In addition to his academic work, whilst at Open Knowledge International he initiated a wide variety of projects, many of which continue to be active today. For example, in 2005 he created The Open Definition which provided the first formal definition of open content and open data, and which has remained the standard reference definition. In 2005–2006 he created the first version of CKAN, open source software for finding and sharing datasets, especially open datasets. CKAN has continued to evolve and today is the leading open data platform software in the world used by governments including the US and UK to publish millions of public datasets.

The Open Definition

The Open Definition is a document published by Open Knowledge International (OKI) (previously the Open Knowledge Foundation) to define openness in relation to data and content. It specifies what licences for such material may and may not stipulate, in order to be considered open licences. The definition itself was derived from the Open Source Definition for software.OKI summarise the document as:

Open means anyone can freely access, use, modify, and share for any purpose (subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness).

The latest form of the document, published in November 2015, is version 2.1. The use of language in the document is conformant with RFC 2119.The document is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which itself meets the Open Definition.

The Open Source Definition

The Open Source Definition is a document published by the Open Source Initiative, to determine whether a software license can be labeled with the open-source certification mark.The definition was taken from the exact text of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, written and adapted primarily by Bruce Perens with input from the Debian developers on a private Debian mailing list. The document was created 9 months before the formation of the Open Source Initiative.

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