1. Update on InformataZyrtare.org

    Valon has sent us a quick update on their project too. In terms of the international development:

    “There are quite a few bugs in Internationalized (i18n) version of the WDTK code. Seb and Faton are testing and fixing them. Also Faton did some tweeks for Kosovan specific code.”

    As for the local site:

    “I have translated most of the strings in Albanian, I’m hoping to finish it in a few days.”

    There is also news on the project of mapping of public institutions:

    “The project has been approved last week and we will move forward very soon. I have spent some time last week helping our young team members with administrative and scheduling stuff.”

  2. Update on InformataZyrtare.org

    Valon has sent us a quick update on InformataZyrtare.org. Apart from few meetings with various local NGO’s Valon has also presented about the project during TechSoup Global meeting about “Community Driven Innovation”.

    “Present were representatives from a number of mission based  NGOs and a number of local technologists.  In the meeting we explained InformataZyrtare project, how we got the idea, what mySociety has done, etc. We also emphasized very good cooperation between us (FLOSSK) and Gap Institute in InformataZyrtare project which is leading to new concrete ideas about new projects in the near future.”

    The team has also worked on the guidelines for public institutions, which is basically a collection of team’s ideas for better implementation of the FOI law on the digital front. How about development?

    “On the development front, Faton has made the changes in the code to suit our law. Now, more or less we could have had the site online but we decided to wait a bit more until the multilingual (i18n) version of the site is done. Seb is working on that and Faton is getting up to speed with it as we speak, hopefully they can have a production version ready for next week.”

    Valon is also researching the best approach to the interface, which should be documented shortly.

  3. InformataZyrtare.org last week

    Valon has sent us his update on work of their project last week.

    The team was working on better understanding of ruby and the code itself, but also git and places, as well as mode of adding their own, country specific bits of code. They added new institutions to the project list, finalised hosting of the site and developed their marketing strategy a bit too.

    Valon is also mentioning more specific points his team focussed on last week:

    • “Researched and developed a safer method to login to admin page
    • Tested first draft version of the new interface
    • Developed the second iteration of the FOI request flow chart
    • Developed first draft of stages that FOI request goes through”

    Lot’s of good work done! We hope to see the site up sometime soon and direct you to it so you can follow the developments there as well.

  4. News on InformataZyrtare.org from Kosovo

    Valon Brestovci has been quiet for a while due to his illness and now is back with few points from Kosovo.

    First of all there have been changes in the team – next to the interface developers Kosovo team welcomed new core developers. Now, based on the finalised research the team can start their work on the interface. This week Valon is moving the project to permanently hosted place and working with Seb Bacon and the rest of the team on adjusting the code to the local, Kosovo specific conditions.

    Good to have them back and let’s hope to hear more soon!

  5. Update on InformataZyrtare.org from Kosovo

    I have posted about this project earlier, but today I had a chance to talk to Valon Brestovci about the recent developments in Kosovo. Looks like the team has experienced some unexpected difficulties in the early stages of their project as a result of the newly introduced Freedom of Information Act. The law introduced about 3 months ago states that all public institutions have to assign a person or a team of people responsible for all matters related to the freedom of information. It is a big shift and InformataZyrtare.org team realised that large amount of institutions do not have people assigned to  those new tasks yet or if they do it is really difficult to identify their e-mail addresses. Valon and his colleagues are now looking at alternative solutions to this new challenge (if you have any tips, please let them know!).

    Second major task is a comprehensive list of all public institutions! Valon’s team has a list they use for a start and work on this, but obviously it will take time to collate all data on it. In response to this particular issue he referred to the possibility of a new project at their partner organisation, FLOSS Kosova. Currently in the proposal stage, the project aims to identify, list and map out all public institutions. Valon is actively involved in the process of proposal writing to ensure that both organisations benefit from this new idea.

    This is the situation in Kosovo for this week. I hope to have the next update around Monday, so stay tuned!

  6. What Do They Know – next steps


    Today I had a chat with Seb Bacon who is in charge of collaboration on clones of What Do They Know software. He is currently working with project from Kosovo we have mentioned earlier, but his work is more general. The main idea is  to understanding the laws in each country to build a consistent software package. In the UK, for instance, authorities should usually respond to freedom of information requests within 20 days.  In Kosovo, authorities have to issue a decision within 7 days, and will be fined if they don’t.

    “The reality of all local implementations of ideas like What Do They Know is the fact that usually thinking short teems is easier on a national level. It is in everyone’s interest however to think in long term solutions and build effective teams that work internationally. This is really not so much a software issue, but a question of successful collaboration.”

    Seb himself is a programmer, but at least half of his time is taken by talking to as many people as possible – now developers from Kosovo and What Do They Know team.

    When asked about the tools used for this collaboration, Seb pointed out a mailing list and regular conversations over Skype. It’s early days of this collaboration so we can expect that this is going to evolve. There is also GitHub project repository for the software, which has a dedicated wiki.

    In terms of promotion the collaboration has its own brand and website: http://alaveteli.org/ so we can expect all involved sites to link to it. The ultimate vision would be that the package can be used by any county. In which case all it would take for people who heard of it to navigate to the site, take the code and use it. One of the practical challenges to make it work locally is and will remain the fact that the software requires a lot of human input – at least 3-4 volunteers spending good amount of time on requests is crucial.

    We will stay in touch with Seb to learn more about this process and with the developers from Kosovo to hear their thoughts on the local implementation so keep an eye on our blog.

  7. InformataZyrtare.org – WhatDoTheyKnow clone project from Kosovo

    I think I might have mentioned earlier on this blog that we are awaiting information about Kosovo based WhatDoTheyKnow clone implementation. I have talked today to Valon Brestovci from FLOSS Kosova, the manager of InformataZyrtare.org, who shared more information about the team and their plans. When asked about the current stage of the project, Valon responded:

    “We are doing the phase 1 of the project which is installing (and fixing the installation procedures), analyzing and understanding the code and having the site up and running.”

    He also explained how the team is set to work on various aspects of implementation and promotion:

    • “Ben and Petrit are doing the programing part,
    • couple of guys from GAP Institute will help with getting the information about institutions, promoting the site and setting up meetings with civil society,
    • there will be a couple of guys doing work on the interface,
    • I will be managing the whole thing. Right now I’m helping Ben and Petrit with setting up the system, next week I’ll have meeting regarding interface requirements/design.”

    I know it’s early days, but was eager to find out more about the plans for promotion and communication too:

    “We have not started with promotion yet, we intend to do it at a later stages of project. I have identified target groups who might use/benefit the most from using the site.

    • Civil society
    • Press
    • Students
    • Research institutions (Institutes, Universities, Schools,…)
    • Public Institutions
    • Others

    We will use various tools to do the promotions like setting up meetings, adverts in newspapers and online, social networks, blogs, etc). Of course all of these are open for debate and any suggestion is appreciated.”

    I will do my best to update you on the local background, introduce the team in more detail and feed the information about the development of the project as we are awaiting its launch in the upcoming weeks.